Why You Should Switch to Non-Toxic Deodorant


This past weekend I asked someone, “If you don’t trust what the government allows in our food supply, why would you trust what they allow in our personal care products?” (or our water, our prescription drugs, our household cleaners for that matter…). The person looked a little perplexed, and it definitely got them thinking.

I explained that the US government hasn’t passed a major federal law governing the safety of our personal care products since 1938. Companies aren’t even required to disclose exactly how or where their products are manufactured, which is why toxic chemicals like heavy metals make their way into our bathroom cabinets, our lip glosses, and our kid’s “baby oil” from contaminated sources in overseas production facilities and even on our home turf in America. Not only that, the FDA does not have the authority to mandate recalls of personal care products they deem harmful. They can only suggest the company participates in a voluntary recall at their own financial burden. Haha, yeah right.  (source: FDA website) 

It’s not like scientists haven’t discovered the potential and proven dangers of the toxins in our personal care products. They have. In fact, the European Union has banned 1,400 of the 1,500 chemicals that American cosmetics company Beautycounter has banned from their products. America has only banned 30 of the 1,500 chemicals known to be potentially harmful or confirmed to be harmful.And just because a shampoo gets washed out of your hair or a mascara touches just your eyelashes doesn’t mean these chemicals aren’t getting absorbed through your skin and mucous membranes.

One of the biggest potential offenders in your bathroom

is actually your deodorant.

Why deodorant? Well we put it on every day, sometimes multiple times a day, and we apply it to our underarms. Our axillary lymph nodes can be found in this area of our body. Other lymph nodes can be found in the groin and in the neck. They are part of our larger lymphatic system, which is responsible for filtering and draining fluids, bacteria, and toxins as well as acting as an important part of our immune system. Yes, the lymphatic system is INCREDIBLY important in preventing autoimmune diseases!!


Current research is challenging the safety of typical over-the-counter underarm antiperspirants, but it still isn’t clear the quantity of chemicals absorbed through the skin. Maybe the research will turn up that we were always in the clear, but I’m going to say likely not since it has been proven that toxic chemicals applied to the skin do pass the skin barrier and can be absorbed into our bloodstream.

And frankly, our bodies were MEANT to sweat! It’s one of our detoxification mechanisms, so why would we block that using an antiperspirant? Especially one full of these chemicals like these!

  • Parabens (endocrine hormone disruptors)

  • Aluminum (linked to Alzheimer’s disease and heavy metal toxicity)

  • Propylene glycol (a synthetic chemical solvent)

  • Silica (a Prop 65 carcinogen)

  • Phthalates (endocrine disruptors linked to permanent birth defects)

  • Formaldehyde contaminated synthetics (a carcinogen)

  • Triclosan (which can lead to liver toxicity and thyroid dysfunction and has been banned by the FDA last year in effect as of September 2017).

What’s in a popular Dove women’s anti-pespirant that is potentially absorbing into your bloodstream? Mmmm… 

Active Aluminum Zirconium Tetrachlorohydrex Gly (15.2%). Purpose: Antiperspirant. Inactive Cyclopentasiloxane, Stearyl Alcohol, C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate, Ppg-14 Butyl Ether, Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Peg-8, Fragrance (Parfum), Dimethicone, Silica, Polyethylene, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Steareth-100, Bht, Hydroxyethyl Urea.

source: Dove website

One could argue that the dose is in the poison. We don’t slather on deodorant over our entire bodies, mascara is only applied to our eye lashes, and foundation only touches our face.

But the Environmental Working Group is disproving that notion. The poison may be in even the lowest dose of a partially-carcinogenic chemical (which are found in MANY of our personal care products).The Environmental Working Group has its own team dedicated to cancer prevention research. This is from a 2015 article titled “Rethinking Carcinogens”:

The Halifax Project team investigated 85 common chemicals not known to be carcinogenic on their own and found that 50 can disrupt cancer-related pathways (known as the Hallmarks of Cancer) at low doses typically encountered in the environment. The researchers go on to propose that combinations of these chemicals could cause cancer by disrupting multiple pathways and overwhelming the body’s defenses. This thinking is in-line with the current understanding of cancer as a multi-step process. They also noted that even in the lowest doses, these potentially cancer-causing ingredients were disrupting cancer-related pathways. You didn’t need to glug a bottle of parabens a day!

It’s simply that the everyday choices we make overtime make our bodies more prone to developing and having difficulty fighting cancer. One of the first products I switched out for safer was my underarm deodorant.

Although it hasn’t been without-a-doubt confirmed that the aluminum and hormone-disrupting chemicals found in deodorant definitely cause breast cancer, I’m not willing to put chemicals on top of the lymph nodes nearest my breast (and that breast cancer frequently spreads to).

I went without deodorant for 3 years between 2013 and 2016. I lived in colder climates for most of the time, so it wasn’t a big deal, but once summer hit in Austin, Texas, I knew I needed to bring deodorant back into my routine! Now that I live in Florida where it’s pretty much 80 degrees or warmer year round, yeah I can’t away with no deodorant anymore!

After trying 3 different brands of safer deodorant from Whole Foods that neither prevented perspiration or covered up any sweaty smells, I had almost given up. But then I discovered Primally Pure.


Primally Pure is this truly inspiring skincare and beauty company started by Bethany McDaniel. Bethany is a fellow new mom whose passion for safer products has extended to a full line of highly effective solutions to our everyday problems like dry skin, fine lines, stinky underarms, chapped lips, and even beard itch (man problem, ladies!) She’s been a huge inspiration for me throughout my journey in motherhood and switching to safer products. Bethany is one of the most generous and kind people I’ve “met” in our Paleo community of business owners! And her products are innovative, environmentally-conscious, and well-researched.

Primally Pure Charcoal Deodorant is the only safer deodorant I’ve tried that doesn’t just look pretty but it works. It is SO effective, I put it on in the morning and I don’t have to fear what I’m going to smell like by the end of the day. Showers are a luxury these days since staying home with an 8-month-old doesn’t give you much time for self care.

I use the Charcoal Deodorant because it contain non-nano zinc oxide to beat odor, arrowroot starch to absorb moisture, grass-fed tallow and coconut oil to sooth and moisturizer, baking soda to deodorize and best of all detoxifying charcoal and clay! 

Compare THAT to the list of ingredients in Dove deodorant above! Start small with your lifestyle changes – even just switching to a safer deodorant can make a big difference in your overall toxin burden.

Paleo & Gluten-Free Pregnancy Batch Cook


My Paleo & Gluten-Free Pregnancy Batch Cook


I’ve been asked to share how I’m preparing in advance to nourish my body during the immediate post-partum period when sleep is at a bare minimum, and daily or twice weekly trips to the grocery store aren’t manageable. Because of my food allergies, I don’t request any sort of meal train from friends or family as it’s important for my autoimmune health that I’m not eating any triggering foods immediately post-partum as my immune system “turns back on” after birth. For more information on what happens to the immune system during pregnancy and post-partum, please read this article.


Since my husband is not a maverick in the kitchen, I wanted to stock the freezer with at least a couple weeks of meals for the family (myself, my husband and my almost 3-year-old daughter) that we can pop in the fridge overnight to defrost and heat the next day. For me, the meals need to be nourishing, high in protein (filling, cortisol-regulating and important for producing quality breast milk) and tasty enough for me to look forward to meal time (so I actually prioritize it instead of constant snacking).


By choice, I’ll be maintaining as close to an AIP diet as possible after birth to hopefully reign in my immune system as much as possible. After my first daughter’s birth, I had a minor Hashimoto’s flare but a terribly itchy and somewhat painful 4 week chronic hives episode. I had never had hives before, but since it’s a symptom of a wonky immune system, I realized that it was likely a result of my immune system being suppressed during pregnancy and then turning back on a bit too aggressively post-partum. Avoiding excess sugar and focusing on protein, fat, fresh food carbs and bone broth is how I feel my best, so that’s my game plan for hopefully regulating my immune system as much as possible this time around.


How to Safely Store Your Batch Cooked Food

The safest food storage options for batch cooked food you’ll be storing in the freezer are:

  • Glass storage containers like Pyrex brand. Pyrex containers can leak liquids, so I always store them upright and flat in the freezer. The lid can be removed and the container can be brought to room temperature and placed in a preheated oven. Stock up on a dozen glass containers with lids in different sizes – trust you can never have enough storage options!


  • Food-grade silicone storage bags like Stasher Bags (come in a variety of sizes). If buying another brand, read the materials list carefully. Some silicone bags are a mix of plastic and silicone or contain PVC as well. Stasher bags do not leak – I’ve even tested this with liquids!


  • Plastic is of course the most budget-friendly option, but I only use it when I’m storing something that’s been wrapped in parchment paper and then placed in the plastic bag. Plastic is most likely to leach into your food if you’re placing warm or hot items into the bag or container as well, so if glass and silicone are not in your budget, cool your foods completely before storing in plastic and never re-heat in plastic.



3 Places You’ll Find These Recipes


On my blog – that’s easy – they’re linked below!

In my print cookbook The Healing Kitchen – available on Amazon!

In my ebook Enthused



When to Start Batch Cooking

Around 35 weeks pregnant (unless you’re pregnant with twins and have a higher likelihood of delivering early) is a great time to start hunkering down in the kitchen!


So you don’t overwhelm or fatigue yourself, create your recipe list and divide them up over the next 3 weeks (weeks 35 through 37). Create your shopping list for each week and remember to factor in your daily meals too! I’ve found it challenging to batch cook and not have my daily meals also lined up because then I just wind up eating my batch cooked food and my freezer remains empty!


Most recipes will stay safe in the freezer up to 6 months, although it’s unlikely you’ll be batch cooking that many meals. For me, I just want to get through the first few weeks on as many freezer meals as possible while establishing the breastfeeding relationship and then hop back into the kitchen to make fresh food from there on out.


Breakfast Recipes

After frequent nights of interrupted sleep and marathon nursing sessions, most mamas are going to wake up hungry and potentially with dysregulated blood sugar. One of the easiest ways we can ameliorate wonky insulin and cortisol levels is by starting our day with a mix of protein, fat and some carbs (especially if you’re nursing). These Paleo freezer-friendly breakfast recipes will ensure you have some high-quality protein on hand that you can eat one-handed. Round out these breakfasts with a quick-steamed kale or spinach side for some extra greens, or a smoothie made from organic greens, berries, dairy-free milk and Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides.


2 pounds homemade Breakfast Sausage Patties from The Healing Kitchen or buy 2-pounds Breakfast Sausage from ButcherBox, form into patties, cook and freeze. Their breakfast sausage is nightshade-free and seriously delicious!


16 Grain-Free Breakfast Burritos
Make gluten-free breakfast burritos by rolling up your choice of grain-free Siete tortillas (I like the cassava ones) with a protein filling. Here are some ideas: Bacon & Egg, Ground Beef, Zucchini & Onion, Pulled Chicken, Cooked Spinach & Onion. 


Garlicky Greek Lamb Skillet from The Healing Kitchen

Cool completely in the refrigerator and then store in a sealed glass container.

Crispy Salmon Hash from The Healing Kitchen (double batch)

Cool completely in the refrigerator and then store in a sealed glass container.


In the freezer: 3 packages nightshade-free, grass-fed sausages, 3 pounds US Wellness Meats Braunschweiger, 3 packages each frozen organic blueberries, raspberries and strawberries (for smoothies)


In the pantry: 1 large container Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides (for smoothies), 12 packs Paleo Angel Power Balls for quick collagen and gelatin protein bites with healthy fats from coconut (Vanilla Cupcake is my favorite)



Make-Ahead Proteins

Blood-building, protein-rich foods are necessary parts of a post-partum diet for many reasons including restoring your iron levels and providing sufficient protein in your breastmilk for baby’s optimal growth and development. Thankfully, protein is the easiest of the food groups to batch cook ahead and store in the freezer, preserving all the yummy flavor and texture of your favorite meats. My batch cook protein plan includes grass-beef, grass-fed lamb and pastured chicken, which is also rich in B vitamins and selenium.


2 lbs Taco Beef  for the Above Breakfast Burritos ( Taco Beef from The Healing Kitchen)

Cool completely in the refrigerator and then fill each Siete tortilla with a small amount of beef. Fold in the sides and roll. Wrap in parchment paper and store in a single layer in a sealed plastic bag or two to save space.

2 lbs Anti-Inflammatory Meatballs

Freeze in a single layer on the baking sheet and then store in a sealed silicone or plastic bag to save space. If you’d like to defrost in batches, store in a glass container in layers separated by a sheet of parchment paper, so you can remove one layer at a time. Defrost in the refrigerator and reheat in a 300 degree oven until just warm. 


 Speedy Shanghai Stirfry with Turkey from The Healing Kitchen (double batch, freeze in two containers)

Cool completely in the refrigerator and then store in a sealed glass container. Defrost in the refrigerator and reheat in a skillet over medium heat until warmed through.


Mojo Pulled Chicken from The Healing Kitchen

Cool completely in the refrigerator and then store in a sealed glass container.

Defrost in the refrigerator and use this seasoned pulled chicken in a variety of ways: to top salads, as a protein addition to soup, in cauliflower rice bowls, or in Siete Tortillas for a quick taco night. 


Lamb with Olive Tapenade “Rice” (double batch, freeze in two containers)

Cool completely in the refrigerator and then store in a sealed glass container. Defrost in the refrigerator and reheat in a skillet over medium heat until warmed through.


Pecan Crusted Chicken Tenders (double batch, freeze in two layers separated by parchment paper)

Cool on a wire rack completely and then store in a sealed glass container, each batch separated by a layer of parchment paper so you can choose to defrost just 1 pound at a time. Reheat in a 300 degree oven and then place under the broiler for a minute or two to crisp up.

Sweet Plantain & Beef Casserole from Enthused

Bake in a Pyrex casserole dish with a lid option, so you can simply cool the casserole, cover with the lid and store in the freezer for reheating! Reheat in a 350 degree oven until warm.


Gut-Healing Soups

Bone broth rich soups and easily digestible vegetables are some of the most healing foods a woman can eat at any point in her life, but particularly while recovering from pregnancy and childbirth. Women who tested positive for GBS may have undergone antibiotics during labor which constitutes a focus on rebalancing the gut flora with gelatin and mineral-rich broths. Sure, soup isn’t the easiest food to eat one-handed and you certainly don’t want to eat it while baby-wearing, but find 15 minutes to enjoy a bowl or two a day for this important healing meal ritual.

Freezer storage tips for all soups: I like to cool the soup completely in the refrigerator in an ajar 7-cup large round glass Pyrex container. This size allows me to defrost one or two meal’s worth of soup for the family (or 4 meals worth of soup for myself). Often times, I can split a recipe into 2 7-cup containers, so we don’t get “soup burnout” by eating the same soup multiple days in a row.

Yellow Chicken Veggie Soup


Hamburger Stew from The Healing Kitchen


Amazing Acorn Squash Curry (vegan) from Enthused


Italian Sausage & Roasted Vegetable Soup from Enthused


Chicken Soup (I don’t use a specific recipe here – just a good ol’ classic chicken soup made with onions, carrots, celery, herbs, chicken, chicken broth, and any other veggie additions you’d like)


Snacks/Breads/Low Sugar Treats

Rosemary & Prosciutto Stromboli (triple the recipe for 3 large strombolis and then cut in half)

Cool completely in the refrigerator and then wrap individually in parchment paper and store flat in a sealed plastic bag. Silicone isn’t necessary since your food will only be touching parchment. 


Avocado Carob Fudge Bars (cut into squares for an easy breastfeeding or labor snack full of healthy fats)

Store in the freezer in a sealed glass container. When ready to eat, pop a few in the refrigerator for the next couple days or defrost on the countertop for 10 minutes prior to eating. 


No-Sugar-Added Cherry Pie Bars (cut into squares for an easy snack or healthy, low sugar treat)

Cool completely and freeze in a parchment lined plastic bag in the freezer. Lay flat to save storage space. When ready to eat, remove a few squares and defrost on the countertop for 15 to 30 minutes. 


Thin Crust Pizza (quadruple the recipe so you have 4 crusts ready to go for on-the-go pizza night)

When it’s time for pizza night, defrost however many crusts you’d like to make on the countertop. Top with your favorite toppings and bake in a preheated oven until warm. 



Flavor Additions & Sauces

Freeze all of these sauces in sealed glass containers. I prefer to freeze in small 4 to 6 ounce containers, so I can defrost just the amount I need for whatever meal I’m making.

Garlic Cream Sauce from Enthused

Sofrito from Latin American Paleo Cooking by Amanda Torres

I like to have this nightshade-free Sofrito on hand to add spice and flavor to a quick stir-fry or sauteed cauliflower rice, or even to toss with cooked, pulled, plain chicken. 

Real Caesar Dressing from Enthused

(for quick kale caesar salads and chicken caesar collard wraps)


How to Avoid Toxins In Your Makeup

Steps on how to avoid harmful toxins in your daily makeup routine! Did you know your makeup likely contains heavy metals like lead and mercury, hormone disruptors like phthalates and parabens and carcinogens hiding under words like “fragrance?” Learn all about how to identify toxins in your makeup and my favorite safer makeup brand!


Oh makeup… as Lauren Conrad put it at the ripe age of sixteen, “It’s like art for our face.” And I couldn’t agree more. Makeup is an artistic expression for many of us, a way for us to stand out or make a statement, and often times just a fun morning ritual that makes us feel more awake and ready for the day. 


Makeup’s history spans thousands of years at this point with the first “products” created from earthly clay, copper and ash.


In modern day times, most cosmetics in the marketplace contain a mix of:

  • parabens (widely recognized hormone disruptors)1,4-dioxane (a potent carcinogen),

  • heavy metals (like lead, mercury and arsenic),

  • phthalates (endocrine disruptors and carcinogens)

  • plant extracts,

  • alcohol,

  • PEGs (often contaminated with carcinogens),

  • fragrance/parfum & flavorings (which require no disclosure or testing and can contains hundreds of thousands of chemicals),

  • hydrolyzed wheat protein (thought to be unlikely to cause a gluten reaction except in very sensitive individuals),

  • retinyl palmitate (a cell disrupting potential carcinogen),

  • mineral oil (which can be contaminated with more dioxane),

  • aluminum,

  • titanium dioxide

  •  and water. 


You can probably figure out which of those ingredients you want to be putting on your skin every morning and kissing your kids or partner with and which you do not.



The Cosmetic Industry Is Hardly Regulated 

The FDA does not approve cosmetic ingredients before they hit the market with the exception of colorants. 

The FDA does not require “fragrance” or “flavoring” ingredients to be expanded on or made transparent to the public. Those words can mean absolutely any chemical, whether or not it has been tested for safety. 

The FDA is currently unable to issue mandatory recalls of cosmetics with known toxins in them such as lead or arsenic. That’s right. If L’Oreal knows their lipstick contains lead (as third-party testing has revealed), they have no obligation to pull it from the drugstore shelves. 

The FDA has no legal limits on heavy metals in cosmetics despite Health Canada’s guidance on the issue. 


Heavy Metals in Cosmetics Are Rampant

“Natural” mineral makeup is often times more likely to be contaminated than non-mineral makeup as the mining and manufacturing process of minerals makes heavy metals like lead, arsenic, mercury and cadmium more bioavailable. 

The vast (vast) majority of cosmetics companies do not test their sources or their end products for heavy metals which can be contaminated in harmful amounts with repeated chronic exposure (such as daily or weekly use). Repeat exposure is key here. The FDA has recommended  cosmetic companies set the level of allowable lead in lip products to 10 ppm but it does not require this limit nor does it test marketplace products nor issue recalls if products exceed this amount.


What Makes Beautycounter’s Makeup Different: 

Beautycounter triple tests each batch of color cosmetics for 12 of the most common heavy metals including lead, mercury, arsenic, nickel, cadmium and copper. We aim for non-detectable levels in every batch and often times achieve that or very low levels of 0.5 ppm (which is why we don’t believe any cosmetics company can truly call themselves “heavy metal free” for true transparency). I have yet to find another cosmetics company going to this level of testing for every single batch of ingredients and final product.  


Is Talc In Makeup Harmful?

In recent years, talc has gotten a bad rap in the media after a well-publicized lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson alleged their baby powder directly caused reproductive cancer. It turns out it wasn’t talc that was the issue but the asbestos-laden talc that J&J was sourcing for their best-selling baby powder. Sufficient evidence exists that J&J hid their knowledge of this asbestos contamination for decades from the public.


What Makes Beautycounter’s Makeup Different:

– Beautycounter sources only certified asbestos-free talc which is both tested by our trusted source as well as our own third-party tester for every single batch




These five Beautycounter makeup products perform like my old MAC & Sephora favorites & I’m always getting compliments on my makeup when I wear them! 

 1. Tint Skin Foundation: a lightweight, breathable and buildable foundation that helps you achieve that bright, hydrated and slightly luminous glow. It’s not a heavy matte foundation, which I prefer, as heavier foundations cause me to breakout or my skin to look dull and dry.

2.Luminous Highlighter These new highlighters are the best I’ve ever used (and I’m coming from MAC & Sephora) – finely milled cocoa butter powder helps them go on naturally but provide a noticeable and gorgeous glow. Apply to your cheekbones, bridge of nose, cupid’s bow, shoulders & anywhere else you want a natural glow with either the Powder Brush or Fan BrushThey can be used as eyeshadows too!

3. Color Intense LipstickI personally prefer a more matte, long-lasting lipstick so Beautycounter really upped the ante with this lipstick line. Safer lipsticks have the reputation or wearing off fast but not here! Don’t be fooled by the name – there are plenty of neutral colors including Brunch, Backstage, and First Date (for a light rosy pink). No gluten or soy either and you can rest assured you won’t be slathering your lips in lead or mercury as well! 

4. Velvet Eyeshadow Palette in Classic: To me, this is the perfect all-in-one day to night palette. Browns, neutrals and golds look beautiful on all skin tones and you can really achieve the most natural to a bold, dramatic look with this palette. I recommend the All Over, Crease and Precisioneyeshadow brushes for applying Beautycounter’s eyeshadows. Great mix of mattes & shimmers for all ages.

5. Touchup Concealer Pen: A sleepy mama’s dream come true for under-eye darkness, redness or breakouts. I love this Chanel-inspired concealer pen and how long it lasts me too. Just a few dabs under my eyes and in the corner of my nose where I’m prone to redness, and I’m looking like I got more than 6 hours of broken toddler-banging-on-our-door sleep! 



Email me at alaena@grazedandenthused.com



The Best Less Toxic Nail Polishes

Bring these safer nail polishes to your next salon appointment (or use at your at-home pedicure)! Nail polish is one of the most harmful beauty items in our bathrooms… good thing it’s an easy one to switch to safer AND still love what you’re using!


Nail polish admittedly was one of the last beauty products I switched to safer. Even up until last year I was going to nail salons on a whim that I knew weren’t using the safest polishes… hint: if the nail technician is wearing a mask or the salon gives you a headache, run!


Even my conventional OBGYN during pregnancy advised me to avoid painting my nails while pregnant because the toxins like formaldehyde and phthalates can be so harmful to a growing fetus. It was hard to give up a good pedicure during pregnancy but now there are plenty of safer options on the market to choose from!


 Some safer polishes are water-based (like Piggy Paint) & others are still alcohol-based like conventional polishes but still a much better choice (you’ll read why below). Alcohol-based nail polishes, even the safer ones, do perform better than water-based – they dry quicker and last longer. 


If you’re looking for a long-lasting manicure without sacrificing color pay-off and chip-resistance, check out the below brands. 


One more thing before we get to the fun stuff…


Before you close out this article, check out this BIG WIN in the salon industry that Beautycounter helped propel earlier this year. The Salon Safety Act was passed in California as a direct response to salon workers’ complaints that the products they were using in their salons was causing health harm to themselves and their growing babies. Check out this article by the NY Times“Perfect Nails, Poisoned Workers” for a closer look into the industry’s dirty not-so-secret secrets.


Generally, safer nail polishes are divided up into three categories:
5-FREE, 7-FREE (less common) AND 9-FREE.
Zoya is a 10-FREE brand!


5-FREE Polishes Do Not Contain:

  1. Dibutyl phthalate (DBP) is on the California Prop 65 list and has been linked to birth defects and cancer. It’s a plasticizer that makes your polish bend and form to your nail so it’s in nearly every conventional polish.

  2. Formaldehyde is a widely known carcinogen used to embalm humans and animals… so really it has no place in a living human being’s products.

  3. Camphor in larger amounts is a neurotoxin but also is the ingredient that causes yellowing of nails as it prevents nail from getting the oxygen and nutrients they need

  4. Formaldehyde Resin is a by-product of formaldehyde that doesn’t have the same carcinogenic effects but is linked to allergies and dermatitis

  5. Toluene is particularly concerning for pregnant women as it is also linked to birth defects as well as respiratory irritation at chronic exposure (i.e. salon workers)


In addition, 9-FREE Polishes Do Not Contain:

  1. Xylene is an eye, skin and respiratory irritant that is absorbed systemically

  2. TPHP (triphenyl phosphate) is an endocrine disruptor linked to alterations in lipid metabolism (fat storage) and reproductive health harm

  3. Ethyl Tosylamide is banned in Europe. It’s a plasticizer with antibiotic properties.

  4. Animal Products

Here are some high-performing 7 & 9-free polishes to try: 

tenoverten (I used to go to their salon in ATX!)
Cote (a small CA-based company Beautycounter’s founder supports)
Smith & Cult (just tried at a local salon & LOVE the packaging & neutral color selection)
Ella & Mila is a 7-free brand that eliminates those first 7 toxins in the above list (it’s a great choice for young girls too)


My favorite high-performing 10-free nail polish brand is Zoya (and it’s one of the longest-wearing I’ve found with the most varying color selection). They also include LEAD in their 10-free list. They have over 400 polish colors (most of them are 10-free but there are a couple lines that are 5-free), and I find they last a long time – especially as a pedicure. They even have nail repair products. I don’t recommend their hand lotion or hydrating body/nail products though. 




Does our skin always absorb what we put on it?

Have you heard that “fact” that says what you put on your skin gets absorbed into your bloodstream within 26 seconds? I heard it for years, and I would knowingly use toxic shave cream and body wash and frantically rinse it off before my 26 second in-my-head countdown went off!

Now that I’m more educated on what is safe for our skin, lungs and other organs, I can’t help but laugh at the sheer lunacy of my in-shower ritual.  There is an idea in the clean beauty industry that EVERYTHING we put on our skin gets absorbed into our bloodstream and causes dire health consequences. And that’s simply not true.



The everyday product I’m most passionate about helping others switch to safer is SKINCARE. Why? Because the average woman uses 12 products on her skin daily which can contain upwards of 100 different chemicals – most of them with little to no safety testing and many of them with proven harmful effects such as immunotoxicity, hormonal imbalance, reproductive/fetal harm, infertility, PCOS, autoimmunity, and cancer. 


While 100% of every chemical we put on our skin does NOT reach the bloodstream, many chemicals have UP TO a 60-70% absorption rate (some have a 0% absorption rate or will only be absorbed if skin is broken – i.e. a cut, scrape or open blemish). Each chemical we apply to our skin has a varying penetration and absorption rate. Some chemicals in presence of others increase absorption rate and broken skin significantly will increase rates as well. Molecule size affects the ability of products to be absorbed into the bloodstream, which is why there are certain chemicals we don’t have to worry about being absorbed like gluten (the molecule size in it’s non-hydrolyzed state is too large to penetrate the skin barrier) and silicone (which creates a barrier blocking absorption but can also clog pores). 


Think you’re completely immune to what goes on your skin entering your bloodstream though? I ignored the facts for years until I read countless studies showing correlative and causative links between the ingredients I was putting on my skin and my chronic health issues that DO NOT RUN IN MY FAMILY. I recommend using PubMed to do your own research too (search words like “phthalate”, “paraben”, “triclosan” “personal care products”) to find science-backed articles examining these particular chemicals. 


In fact, phthalates are one of the most heavily studied environmental toxins used widely in the personal care industry with dangerous health effects documented in hundreds of studies worldwide. Not only do their metabolites show up in your urine, but men with higher concentrations of phthalate metabolites in their urine also demonstrated decreased total sperm count and concentration as well as altered sperm morphology.







Did you ever see this ABC news segment showcasing the lab work results for the anchor who eliminated toxic chemicals from her skincare/makeup routine? Within less than a week of eliminating her previous products, her lab work showed a significant decrease in levels of harmful chemicals.


In a separate study, in just 3 days teenage girls who eliminated toxic personal care products saw a  significant reduction in the concentration of hormone-disrupting chemicals in their urine. Our bodies have several mechanisms for proper detox and methylation – they just need a break from the daily load in order to regain efficiency. Trust me, your internal organs will thank you for the support! We live in a toxic world and many of the toxins we simply can’t avoid (i.e. Round-Up impacts all of our air quality not just farmer’s), but the ones that touch our skin… we have an immediate ability to say “No” and choose better.



  • More than 200 chemicals have been found in the body of nearly all Americans – including newborn infants – and the majority of them have toxic or potentially toxic effects. These chemicals are frequently absorbed via the skin and respiratory system.

  • 16 different hormone-disrupting chemicals, linked to early puberty, hormonal imbalances, reproductive concerns, PCOS and more, were found in the bodies of teenage girls

  • Currently, more than 85,000 chemicals are registered for use in the marketplace with the vast majority of them with little to no safety testing

  • Only 2% of the chemicals in the marketplace have been verified for safe use on children




The clean beauty industry is growing rapidly which means there are plenty of safer options in the marketplace now. You can’t even walk down the beauty aisle of Wal-Mart without seeing packages adorned with green leaves and words like “all-natural” which hold no industry regulation. Greenwashing, or the marketing industry’s slippery tendency to use words, colors and images that mislead consumer’s to believe their products are “healthy” is a whole OTHER topic though.


The reason I personally support Beautycounter and joined their mission as a Consultant is because they set the bar high for industry safety standards. Our headquarters also works tirelessly to lobby for stricter regulation at the federal and state level – so we’re not just changing the industry with our products but with legislation too. I wanted to be able to provide my audience a solution to the very real problems I was presenting; a solution that I trusted, loved using myself and have been using on myself and my kid (soon to be kids) for over two years now, nearly exclusively.


Beautycounter’s strict ingredient screening (from source to finished product), contaminant and heavy metal testing, and commitment to only using ingredients they feel confident will not have a harmful effect on human, animal or environmental health is bar none. I’ve never found another makeup company that tests for heavy metals – let alone TRIPLE tests for them in every single batch. I find it empowering each day I’m applying my lipstick or foundation that I know *not just am guessing* my makeup has been tested this stringently.

And what makes every lifestyle change more doable? If you love what you’re doing or using! Think of how much easier it is to make a healthy dietary switch when you’re armed with the best-tasting recipes or starting a new fitness routine when the activity gives you joy! Same goes for personal care products – and Beautycounter has made the switch to safer so much easier for me because the products PERFORM like all my old toxic faves that I had so much fun playing with!


Take Beautycounter’s Skincare Quiz HERE for 10% off your regimen!


Take my 2-minute survey here & I’ll email you back with a budget-conscious routine addressing all your skincare concerns!

My Pregnancy with Hashimoto’s (Part 1)

Well, hello again! It’s been a long while since I published a blog post… in fact the last one I published was right before we found out we were expecting baby #2! Recipe testing, writing and overall being inspired took a back seat to babying myself while I grow this baby. I announced on Christmas that I am pregnant with another girl, and I knew I’d get a slew of questions on how it happened (considering a lengthy history with infertility and autoimmune disease), how life has been, and how I’ve been managing autoimmune disease during this pregnancy while also parenting a toddler and running a full-time business with Beautycounter.


You also submitted some thoughtful questions that I’m going to answer today in a simple Q&A format to make scanning to whatever questions you’re most curious about easier.


Q: When are you due? When/how did you find out?


A: I am due March 31st, 2019 with a baby girl (we’ve had her name picked out for months!) We had been trying for a second baby casually for about 6 months (essentially not-not-trying) and more seriously for another 4 months before we conceived (within 10 months total) which is a dramatically shorter time than last time. I had been discouraged after months of negative pregnancy tests and a very early chemical pregnancy. After that experience, we decided to stop trying, buy an RV and travel the country for 3 months with Grace during spring of 2019 (we even went to an RV show to pick it out & started loosely mapping our route). About two weeks later, after telling our friends & family of our master plan, we conceived this baby to our surprise. We were even trying to avoid my most fertile days, but with both pregnancies so far, conception has occurred early in my cycle (around day 7-8) versus during the “normal” time of day 10-14.

I tested on day 29 of that cycle (in July 2018) expecting a negative test, as I had been experiencing fatigue and sore breasts and figured my period was just a day late. I was shocked to see a bright blue line appear immediately. Grace and I were home alone, and she was sitting on our bed. In a bit of a daze with a big smile on my face, I scooped her up and told her she was going to be a big sister, and we took a photo together. I actually didn’t tell my husband for 10 DAYS because I was nervous it could result in another early miscarriage, and I am a protector of my emotions. I like to process something first before I share it with others (hence the near third trimester pregnancy announcement).


Q: Did you have morning sickness? How did you stay on a nutrient-dense diet with it?


A: With both pregnancies, I’ve had pretty severe morning sickness, not just nausea throughout the day. From around 5 1/2 weeks to 14-15 weeks, I was throwing up between 2 to 4 times a day and had ALL the food aversions like most moms-to-be. My aversions were the same as last time: animal protein, vegetables (especially raw), warm beverages and basically anything that wasn’t a simple carb or fresh fruit. My meals were very carb-heavy, sometimes just a bowl of pineapple, clementines, grapes and strawberries, other times some gluten-free, egg-free avocado toast with lots of pink salt. For protein, I could manage a few nibbles once or twice a day of seafood like wild salmon or scallops (likely because seafood is easier to digest than chicken, beef or pork). I survived some days on energy balls, green juice, orange/grapefruit juice, and fresh citrus and berries in those early weeks. I wasn’t worried about the lack of nutrient density in the first trimester and simply listened to my body, knowing the nausea and aversions would (mostly) pass like they did last time. Trust that stress during pregnancy over your diet is much more impactful for you and baby than not eating what you consider or a book considers the “perfect” pregnancy diet, especially during the first trimester. For me, first trimester is survival mode.


Q: What prenatal/supplements do you take during pregnancy?


A: During the first trimester and first few weeks of the second trimester, I could not stomach a traditional prenatal, so I did the powdered Nutreince supplement packs that you mix into water in the AM & PM. They don’t taste amazing (I buy the unflavored), but they usually didn’t cause me to throw up like a regular prenatal capsule vitamin did. In my second trimester and beyond, I take the Thorne Basic Prenatal (it’s a very basic multivitamin but it has the proper form of folate for someone with Mthfr, and you only need to take 3 capsules/day versus 8 capsules/day with Seeking Health’s Optimal Prenatal) plus an array of other supplements like Vital Choice’s Wild Sockeye Salmon Oil + Vitamin D,  an additional 2,000 IU of Vitamin D drops, Magnesium Glycinate, Trace Minerals in water in the evening, Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides (a scoop in our smoothie each day), and a supplement my functional medicine doctor prescribed to me called Mitocore. I also take a variety of probiotics (when I remember) such as the ones from Hyperbiotics, Jarrow Sac Boulardii (I find it helps with pregnancy constipation) and the prebiotic fiber from Hyperbiotics goes into my smoothies (about 2x a week). I also just added Jarrow Women’s Probiotic to get a variety of bugs and hopefully avoid testing GBS positive this time. I plan to continue all of these supplements post-partum while breastfeeding and beyond.


Q: Should people with Hashimoto’s wait until their antibodies are low to conceive?

A: This is definitely a question for your doctor because antibody levels are so relevant to the person, and just because you do have high antibody levels does not guarantee a miscarriage. You can read more about the connect between thyroid antibody levels and miscarriage, infertility, low birth weight, pre-eclampsia and other pregnancy complications in Dr. Sarah Ballanytne’s aritcle HERE.

I may be a unique case, but I have had elevated antibodies at conception for both pregnancies. There are instances of mothers’ miscarriage coinciding with elevated antibodies, but it’s hard to know if it’s the overall inflammation, imbalanced sex and thyroid hormones or the actual antibodies that is causing the pregnancy loss (or something else, like Mthfr or a genetic or blood clotting issue). For me, remission is TPO antibodies between 30-40 (no matter my diet/lifestyle, my numbers do not fall below this range and that’s okay). My TPO antibodies were 60 when we conceived this baby (I had a slight flare from consuming Four Sigmatics immune-stimulating mushroom tea the month prior – also the month of the suspected chemical pregnancy curiously). When I conceived Grace, my TPO antibodies were in remission but my thyroglobulin antibodies were in the hundreds (I had a very severe flare from switching from synthetic thyroid hormone to porcine thyroid hormone, which my body mounted an extreme attack against that lasted an entire year – this was in 2015).

My thryoglobulin antibodies have remained at a 0 the entire pregnancy, while my TPO antibodies have hung out around 30-40 (most recently a 29). With Grace’s pregnancy, they actually dropped to 0, but I think the level of stress that comes with caring for a toddler (who isn’t the best sleeper), running a business, and not eating entirely AIP (I was mostly AIP with Grace) has caused them to hang out in that range.

The decision to start conception with elevated antibodies is not an easy one, and I certainly don’t feel comfortable recommending waiting until the fall below a certain range OR trying to conceive if you’re in a severe flare. I can’t tell you why my body has been able to carry two babies (so far) with elevated antibodies, but so far both babies have been healthy (fingers crossed since this one is still in my belly!)


Q: What was your thyroid like before you conceived?


My thyroid levels (TSH, free T4 and free T3) were normal at conception but my reverse T3 was slightly high, and my TPO antibodies (as stated above) were slightly high (but I wasn’t feeling flare symptoms). My levels have been wonkier this pregnancy and hard to catch. We haven’t made any adjustments to my T4 medication (Tirosint – a preservative/additive/dye free version of Synthroid) since my numbers still fall in the normal pregnancy range for TSH, free T4 and free T3 (I’m on 137 mcg), but my reverse T3 has crept up. My functional medicine doctor believes its due to mitochondrial insufficiency (essentially not getting ENOUGH nutrients during pregnancy to keep up with my body’s demands AND the growing baby’s demands, which my body will always prioritize). This is why she prescribed me the Mitocore supplement, and I started eating organ meats again as soon as I could stomach them. I’ve never had an issue with reverse T3 before, so it’s something we’re keeping an eye on. I have a full thyroid panel done every 4 to 5 weeks during pregnancy (every 2 weeks during the first trimester). It’s about $32 with insurance, which is the lowest I’ve ever paid for a full panel.

If you want to learn more about why reverse T3 is an important test to include in your thyroid panel, please read this article.. Essentially, high reverse T3 means you’re still in a hypothyroid state (or may be feeling that way) even if your TSH and free T4 and T3 are normal. The thyroid is not a simple organ – it interplays with a variety of bodily systems and finding the right medication dose for you can take months and months – sometimes lowering T4 and adding a small amount of T3 can help bring reverse T3 down, so we are exploring that now.

Read about How I Manage Hashimoto’s During Pregnancy here.

(including how often I have my thyroid tested during pregnancy and post-partum)


Q: Has your diet changed? Do you still drink kombucha?

A: My diet has changed – it’s not quite as nutrient dense as it was with Grace (different cravings but still a whole foods diet). I let myself eat some gluten-free grains, dairy and sugar during the first trimester, if that’s all I felt like eating (like our local gluten free cafe’s amazing carrot cake that I couldn’t stop craving but have since weaned myself from!), but I also majorly crave citrus, salty grassfed steaks, steamed beets, wilted spinach, wild salmon, pistachios, dark chocolate and grass-fed ghee (all good blood-building foods). Now that I’m in my third trimester, meals are more nutrient dense, but I don’t have a large appetite except in the morning and usually later at night, and I can easily go 5-6 hours without eating or just having a small snack. I’ve read the pregnant body naturally falls into a ketogenic state more readily, which is likely why I can keep such a stable glucose levels for a longer period of time during pregnancy (I’m never, ever hangry when pregnant). Whereas with Grace’s pregnancy, I made sure to eat cruciferous veggies and kale 3x a day, this baby seems to want more healthy fats, fruits (pineapple, grapefruit, citrus mostly), cooked spinach, spinach & organic berry collagen smoothies, and beverages (like kombucha, celery juice, red raspberry leaf tea, chicken broth, almond milk, tart cherry juice “spritzers” and orange juice). I’ve actually had a hard time digesting cruciferous veggies even with the proper digestive enzymes!

Other nutrient dense foods I’ve been including once the aversions went away: US Wellness Meats Braunschweiger, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, organic green apples, organic pastured chicken breasts, the occasional grassfed cheddar, sprouted rice, massaged kale salads, grassfed beef (steak, ground, sausage), white sweet potatoes, Medjool dates, and did I mention CRUNCHY SUNFLOWER SEED BUTTER? I’m currently going through a jar every 10 days over here!

I don’t track anything, and I don’t question what I’m eating. I know I could be even “more nutrient dense” or eat more food in general, but I’d rather listen to my body and not stress, knowing this baby will get everything she needs inside and outside the womb, as long as I’m respecting my body’s wishes.

I decided to continue with kombucha this pregnancy, but I don’t make my own. I buy the low alcohol versions from GT’s, Mother Kombucha (a local fave) and Health-Ade (the Pink Lady Apple from Trader Joe’s mmmm!) and drink max 1/2 a bottle (8 ounces) per day with the permission from my midwife. It was one of the first questions I asked her because I missed my ‘booch so much the first go around, and it’s better than drinking the alcoholic cider that I have craved my entire pregnancies (yeesh!)


Q: When did you get your period back post-partum since you did extended breastfeeding?

A: I breastfed Grace from May 2016 to April 2018 (just shy of 2 years). My period returned at the 14-month mark in July 2017, so it was exactly 12 months from that time that we were able to conceive. I weaned from middle of the night feeds around 13 months, which helped my period come back. For reference, I did not have a cycle from the time I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s in 2008 until right before we conceived Grace in August 2015. For my body to naturally stimulate it’s own cycle in July 2017 was a HUGE health win for me, and it was the first time it had done that in nearly 10 years on its own. I did not experience an autoimmune flare from weaning because we did so very, very slowly. I haven’t had any major autoimmune flares since 2015 – just a couple smaller manageable ones.

If you’re worried about your period not coming back while breastfeeding (and it’s been over 12 months), you could always get a hormone panel done such as the DUTCH test but know that the results will be slightly skewed as your female sex hormones may still be stunted from nursing. I have mom friends who do not get their period back until they’ve weaned completely, and I also have mom friends who don’t get their period back because they’ve lost too much weight breastfeeding, not eating enough calories and exercising too much. We all have a different threshold of sensitivity to our hormonal balance, but if you have lost a significant amount of weight while breastfeeding or you have a disordered relationship with your body, food and/or exercise, it may be time to take a peek into your habits and mental wellbeing.

I also want to point out that to conceive both times, I’ve had to gain weight. I think I would have conceived earlier this time around if I had been at a heavier weight from the start, but I needed to gain 5-7 pounds of fat (doesn’t sound like much, but on a 5-foot-frame, it’s pretty significant) to do so. I was also not exercising during conception other than walking. Previously, I had still been running/sprinting and doing some HIIT workouts at the gym 4 days a week, and waking up early to do them! I got a knee injury, stopped working out, and then conceived this baby within two months, which I don’t think is a coincidence as I was really trying to heal adrenal issues during this time.


Q: Any big differences between this pregnancy and your first?


I would say so! My lifestyle during my first pregnancy was very simplified and easy. I was finishing writing The Healing Kitchen, living in Austin, worked only 20 hours a week at a pediatric clinic as an occupational therapist, hiked and worked out (fairly intensely, still disordered at the time) every day, and had a LOT more time to prepare meals. This pregnancy I’m juggling a 2 1/2 year old (and wanting to soak up every last second of our time with her as an “only child” before baby arrives), working 35-40 hours a week, and fitting in meals and movement when I can. For movement/exercise, I walk between 3 to 4 miles a day with my dog (never breaking a sweat or getting my heartrate up though… he’s an old man) and do yoga 3x a week (at this point, modifying significantly). About 1x a week, I may pick up a set of dumbbells and do some biceps curls and shoulder presses or 50 kettlebell swings, but exercise isn’t at the top of my priority list as I have SPD (symphysis pubis dysfunction), and I don’t want it impacting my labor like it did last time. And simply, I don’t have the motivation to get a heart-pumping work out in – my body has been craving rest more than anything,

My first pregnancy my thyroid was also more stable and I had bounds of energy during second AND third trimester. This time, my energy is more focused on mental efforts and my intense “nesting instinct” and less so focused on my kinesthetic needs. I’m also unable to tolerate cruciferous veggies this pregnancy without getting seriously bloated, the baby is MUCH lower, I have a posterior placenta (makes pregnancy so much more fun now that I can actually feel her little tushy, head and back with my hands), and my anxiety is MUCH lower too (so I’m sleeping better for the most part!) Braxton Hicks started early, I’ve already experienced some labor contractions, and I’ll also be birthing in a birth center this time versus a hospital.


If you have any other questions, please leave them below and I’ll answer them if I can! I will likely be doing a Part 2 to this post as I did receive a lot more questions than addressed above!




You need to try the Beautycounter Overnight Resurfacing Peel!


I’ve been bottling up my excitement for over a month about Beautycounter’s new at-home Overnight Resurfacing Peel!

FIRST: Let’s clear up a few misconceptions about the name of this new magical spot and line-busting treatment!

#1 It does NOT peel your skin. The word “peel” here means that it is dissolving and sloughing off thousands of dead skin cells (invisible to the naked eye), resurfacing skin to reduce hyperpigmentation, dryness, dullness, fine lines and oil-prone areas of your face.

#2 You do NOT peel it off your face. It looks, feels and goes on like a serum, and in the morning, you simply wash your face to wash away the dead skin. No extra steps needed, friends!

#3 It gives the RESULTS of an in-office treatment but without any downtime, redness, skin peeling, or burning. For some people, the first few applications may tingle, but this just means you’re benefitting from the AHAs!

#4 Yes, it’s safe to put acids on your face. In fact, the skin prefers acidic conditions and naturally creates an “acid mantle” on the top layer to protect from environmental hazards like bacteria, viruses, microbes and harsh weather conditions. Alpha hydroxy acids are commonly found in skincare products because of their powerful exfoliating capabilities.


How Often Can I Use It? You may use the Overnight Resurfacing Peel at night, after cleansing and toning, and before moisturizing. Start with applying up to 3 nights a week. I have found I can use it 7 nights a week prior to my usual serum and moisturizing routine without any skin sensitivity, but I probably apply it closer to 5x a week to make it last longer.

How Do I Use It? Cleanse and tone skin as you typically would. My favorite way to prep skin for the Overnight Resurfacing Peel is cleansing with the Cleansing Balm and toning with the Rejuvenating Toner Pads. Apply 1-2 pumps of the Overnight Resurfacing Peel to face and neck, massaging it in in circular motions to increase circulation. Let sit for 1-2 minutes to dry and allow the actives to penetrate skin before proceeding with your regular oil, serum and/or moisturizer nightly routine.

Can Sensitive Skin Use This Product? Yes, just be sure to do a test spot behind your ear to make sure you’re good to go, but generally at-home acids are a great choice for sensitive skinned individuals who cannot tolerate in-office prescription-strength treatments, chemical peels or microdermabrasion. Ask your dermatologist before use if you recently received an in-office chemical peel or are using high-powered prescription creams.

Can I use it if I’m pregnant? If you are pregnant, I would just check in with your doctor & let them know it contains a small amount of over-the-counter salicylic acid (oral salicylic acid is the main concern during pregnancy, FYI). I personally would feel comfortable applying 2x a week as a pregnant woman, but I think the decision should be up to you! A 2011 study on skincare safety during pregnancy noted that the amount of salicylic acid that penetrated the skin varied from non-detectable to 25% (when used in high, daily doses, or on open wounds).


Okay’s let chat about what’s IN the peel that makes it a product I think every woman and man needs in their bathroom!

The Overnight Resurfacing Peel contains 15 total acids including 7 resurfacing AHAs (alpha hydroxy acids) to slough off the top two layers of the skin that have the hardest time shedding.

These top two layers are responsible for dryness, dullness, build-up that can cause breakouts, blackheads and large pores, and also where visible hyperpigmentation, sun damage, scarring and fine lines is most evident.

Resurfacing the skin means treating and decreasing our most common skincare concerns that our regular routine may not effectively or deeply target enough.


Dullness/Uneven Tone


Fine Lines/Wrinkles

Hyperpigmentation (i.e. sun damage, light scarring, melasma, age spots)

Large Pores/Blackheads

Oily/Breakout-Prone Skin



GLYCOLIC ACID: sourced from sugarcane, this acid is the one of the most common high-powered exfoliators to treat signs of aging, skin discoloration and melasma. It is also indicated for use in oily skin, blackheads and acne.

LACTIC ACID: sourced from fermented sugarcane (to keep this product dairy-free) is another popular AHA that resurfaces skin to reduce the appearance of fine lines, skin discoloration, acne, and dullness. It also helps improve skin elasticity and plumpness by stimulating collagen synthesis.

PHYTIC ACID: sourced from plant extracts like beans or oats (no concern for gluten from these extracts, safe to use if you don’t eat oats or beans – it’s not the same as ingesting them at all). Phytic acid’s main benefit is lightening and brightening skin. I have sun damage from growing up in Florida as well as melasma on my shoulder from pregnancy & I saw an improvement in skin evenness after the first night!

SALICYLIC ACID: derived from willow bark and probably the most commonly used BHA (beta hydroxy acid), salicylic acid is a workhorse for sloughing off any of the dead skin the other acids can’t get to and an acne healing and prevention powerhouse.

MALIC, TARTARIC, ASCORBIC AND HYDROXYSTEARIC ACID: these acids are all powerful in their own way. Malic acid is used to decrease hyperpigmentation, tartaric acid smoothes and evens skin texture, ascorbic acid is a soothing vitamin C-derived acid that brightens skin, and hydroxystearic acid is a safe fatty acid that provides antioxidant support to skin.

HYALURONIC ACID: this acid holds up to 1,000x it’s weight in water to provide ultimate hydration, improving skin elasticity and plumpness. As we age, our production of HA significantly decreases, so it becomes important to supplement it in your skincare routine.

ARGANINE: increases blood flow and oxygenation as well as hydration

RASPBERRY SEED OIL: a nourishing plant-based oil that is thought to help with UVA and UVB protection, protection from free radical damage, and hydration to name a few. It also contains phytoesterols which are thought to be beneficial for skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis, although this product is not intended to treat any specific skincare condition.



Taco Beef & Butternut Rice with Dairy-Free Cilantro Sour Cream


paleo taco beef


Wow I’m finally back with a new recipe after taking a much-needed break from the kitchen after releasing Enthused in December! Well, that’s a half-lie because this is one of the recipes I made for the ebook but decided it would be best for the blog! It’s a take on Taco Beef and Rice Bowls. The “rice” is actually shredded butternut squash, which I have been loving as a dinner addition since way back in 2014 when I posted my popular Lamb with Olive-Butternut Rice!


This dish can be found on Autoimmune Wellness for my monthly guest post. It’s topped with a delicious dairy-free cilantro sour cream and crispy leeks to add more depth of flavor and a variety of textures! If you’re craving a good ol’ bowl of nightshade-free taco meat and veggies, this is the dish for you! You can mix it up and replace the butternut squash with just about any veggie you can shred in your food processor! Celery root, white sweet potato, and rutabagas would be especially tasty here too!


Enjoy this AIP-Friendly, Gluten, Dairy and Nightshade-Free Family-Friendly Dish!


Click here for the recipe!



Getting in Your Own Way, Self-Limiting Beliefs and Fear of Success

Lately, I’ve been inspired to write a little bit more about topics on my mind that have nothing to do with food or healthy living. As I continue to grow my business and reflect on past experiences, I am beginning to notice a trend in myself and others: getting in my own way with self-limiting beliefs that I am too fearful to challenge. Self-limiting beliefs prevent us from growing as people, from experiencing the scary yet thrilling experiences that often lead to the most success, and they keep us in a status quo.


For some of us, we live happily in our comfort zone. We are unlikely to try new foods, we visit the same vacation spots year after year, we’ve been doing the same job at the same company for a decade or more. We’re comfortable. Why would we get off the four-seated plush chaise lounge and plop ourselves on an unpadded rattan deck chair? But guess what happens when we do the thing we don’t want to do, the thing we don’t think we can do? We grow, we develop, we learn, we impact, we fail, we succeed, we are never stuck. We feel happiness, we feel sadness, we feel fear, we feel excitement, we feel alive.


Constantly challenging yourself to get out of your comfort zone expands past your exercise routine, food choices, or television programming. How many people do you know though who have been going to the same gym for years, eating tacos on Tuesday and spaghetti on Thursday week after week, and watching Friends re-runs for the better part of two decades? Okay, I’ll let the last one slide. Too much Chandler Bing does not exist. Ask these people: do you feel ALIVE?


I see these self-limiting beliefs and fears of success all the time in my Beautycounter business: women who join the mission because their heart is telling them this would be a personal growth step and contribute beneficially to their family and communities. But once they take the steps to become a Consultant, it’s crickets. They are too paralyzed by the fear of exiting their comfort zone to grow their business, learn a new skill set, and to reach out to their community to educate on a mission they are actually passionate about. Why does this happen? Self-limiting beliefs and a fear of success – these things exist whether our consciousness wants us to be aware of them or not.


We believe we’re too shy, or we’re not “experts” so why would anyone care what we have to say? We believe we don’t have time, yet we don’t prioritize our schedule to make time. By the way, barring cases of single parents, caregivers of ill family members, or people with highly demanding jobs, we ALL have time. In fact, I caught myself saying on Tuesday I was “too busy to eat breakfast” but if I hadn’t scrolled Instagram for 10 minutes, I would have had at least a smoothie in my belly.


Maybe you want to change careers but you’re TERRIFIED of the financial distress it would cause. Do you know how many business ideas I’ve had that could have erupted into something life-changing that I never pursued because of this fear? Ask yourself this: how many people do you know who have taken a responsible, well thought out risk with a passion project winded up bankrupt? Not many. In fact, one of our country’s most successful female entrepreneurs started out of their apartment making women’s shapewear. Ever heard of Spanx?


Here are some instances in my life where I jumped off the cliff despite my fear of heights:


~ Quitting my job in advertising without having a back-up plan. Can you believe the audacity of leaving a good career to do NOTHING? I knew advertising was never going to be emotionally or spiritually fulfilling for me. Rather than wasting years of my life doing something I didn’t love, I left. I spent the next two months developing a plan for a vegan (I was vegan at the time) snack company. I had a full marketing plan, an investor (my dad of course), a business name, a logo. I had everything I needed to start a successful food company except ONE thing: trust in myself. I’ve always wondered “what could have been”, and I decided I’ll never allow myself to wonder that again.


~ Moving to Chicago without knowing a soul. I moved to Chicago in 2013 against my family’s wishes and because something was pulling me to that city. When I arrived, I realized I had never lived somewhere that felt more like home. Pretty wild coming from a girl who grew up in a Florida beach town of 2,000 people, huh? Unfortunately, my husband didn’t feel the same, and we left after a few years, but not a day goes by I am not grateful for the experiences I had and the people I met while living in that city.


~ Independently finding a clinical rotation in Atlanta, GA. While all my classmates trusted a lottery system to assign them their destiny for the next 6 months, I went completely outside my comfort zone and found within HOURS of the deadline to spare a spinal cord injury hospital in Atlanta who would take me. We moved there with nothing but our clothing, my dog and my Instant Pot and had to RENT dishes and silverware. While in Atlanta, I got to know Sarah Ballantyne who eventually invited me to co-author our successful cookbook with her publisher. The Healing Kitchen was a dream accomplishment for me – I had wanted to write a cookbook by the time I was 30 since I was a kid and that dream came true at age 27!


Asking my now-husband on our first date. We have an 11 year age difference, worked at the same advertising agency, and basically had nothing in common besides our love for boating and beer. Sure I thought he was funny and cute, but I was 21 years old. Why the heck would I even WANT to get involved with someone “so old” (oh, I can’t believe I thought 32 was old!!) 8 years later we have a beautiful 2-year-old daughter, have moved around the country together, and are still boating and enjoy many a beer (well, cider) together. I was so scared he’d say no, or we wouldn’t work out and work would be awkward, but I am so glad I didn’t allow those self-limiting beliefs to keep me quiet that day. Grace (my daughter), YOU’RE WELCOME, KID!


~ Joining Beautycounter as a Consultant. Oh boy, I toiled with this decision for almost a full year and daily for an entire 6 months before I decided to take the leap. It truly was a leap of faith and I battled self-limiting beliefs and fear of failure daily. Who am I to talk about safer skincare and makeup (even though it has been a passion of mine for years)? What if no one cares what I have to say? What if I fail? I decided to NOT go back to work in occupational therapy (for now) because I wanted to give Beautycounter a shot. Can you imagine how scary it is to, once again, abandon your career and do something new that you could very well fail at? Time after time, it is when I decide to do the thing that scares me that leads to the most success in my life. Maybe it’s universe-wired Darwinsim? Those of us willing to challenge self-limiting beliefs and the fear of failure end up being the most successful (and success means MUCH more to me than financial success – you can make $1 doing what you love and should consider yourself successful).


I consider myself a successful person BECAUSE I’ve gone against the societal status quo, against my family, friends and coworkers’ expectations, and have challenged myself to always believe I CAN. I can do anything I want to do – I truly believe that. I can be the CEO of the next Silicon Valley start-up – I don’t want to be, but I truly believe I could if I wanted it bad enough.


Little Alaena, the girl with no fear, would look at me now and be proud as well. She always wanted me to pave my own path, to never feel trapped by others’ expectations or my own beliefs. Nothing feels quite as good as making our Inner Child proud.

She would be enamored at what a dedicated mother I am, impressed at the many times I’ve made a sharp left turn for no good reason other than going straight didn’t feel right. What is your Inner Child, your subconscious, telling you to do? What do you keep quieting to keep yourself comfortable? Ask yourself why you are afraid of both success and failure, and why you continue to sit on the fence when the party looks fascinating on either side.

My Recent Podcast Features & Interviews: Pregnancy, Autoimmune Disease, Intuition, Raising Daughters & More!


Hey friends! I wanted to compile a list of my recent podcast interviews in one place for you. I’ve been talking about a range of subjects from Batch Cooking Tips on the AIP to Raising Unbreakable Daughters to Infertility, Autoimmune Disease & Post-Partum Flares and Pregnancy and Autoimmune Disease


** Please support your fellow female entrepreneurs and subscribe and rate their podcasts! I know each of these ladies put their heart and soul into serving their communities through weekly podcasts – it is no easy feat to complete interviews week after week! ** 


AUTOIMMUNE WELLNESS PODCAST with Mickey Trescott & Angie Alt

SEASON 3 EPISODE 2 “Meal Planning & Batch Cooking with Alaena Haber”

This episode is all about how to implement some kitchen hacks to help you save money on food. We discuss our personal best practices when it comes to getting food on the table affordably, the first of which is meal planning. Some of you have heard us chat about these topics before, but just stick with us, because you may not have looked at the benefits from this angle before.

Then, we chat with Alaena Haber of Grazed and Enthused about her favorite AIP kitchen tools and how she sets herself up for success in an AIP kitchen. Scroll down for the full episode transcript!



EPISODE 1 ” Raising Unbreakable Daughters”

In this first official episode of Unbreakable You, Meg interviews Alaena Haber about the key parenting techniques she is using as she raises her two-year-old daughter, Grace. Alaena has a history of autoimmune disease and overcoming infertility, which she touches on in this episode as she shares in detail about the inner healing she has been required to do in order to get to where she is today in her health journey and as a mother.


MODERN MAMAS PODCAST with Jess Gaertner & Laura Bruner

EPISODE 37 “Autoimmunity, Pregnancy & Self-Care with Alaena Haber”

In this episode, Jess and I discuss my path from autoimmune disease and infertility to a healthy, natural pregnancy, my best tips for post-partum self care and avoiding flares, harnessing your intuition and why we are BFFS (Claire’s heart necklace included). This one was so much fun – do not miss!


THE UNBOUND HEALING PODCAST with Michelle Hoover & Anne Marie Garland

Episode 31 “Fertility and Pregnancy with Alaena Haber”

My good friend Anne & I discuss our conception, pregnancy and my post-partum journey with autoimmune disease and infertility. Anne discusses feelings after her miscarriage and the joy she experienced with her second pregnancy.