Vegan Ganache Stuffed Dates

 

Vegan and Paleo Ganache-Stuffed Medjool Dates are a no-bake healthy treat that comes together in minutes! The dairy-free Ganache can be used to top ice cream, freezer fudge, chocolate cake and more. You won’t believe how rich, creamy and chocolate-y this carob, AIP-friendly ganache really is!

 

Vegan & Paleo Ganache Stuffed Dates

 

 

When I was creating the dessert recipes for The Healing Kitchen, I wanted to ensure the treats would be as nutrient-packed as possible. You’ll find ice cream made from sweet potatoes and coconut milk, Warm Bananas with Date Caramel Sauce, No-Bake Lemon Macaroons, Truffle Fudge Pops and more!

You’ll see on my website and in my cookbooks, I use very minimal amounts of sweetener in my recipes. Often times don’t add any refined, powder or liquid sweeteners at all! This recipe for Dairy-Free Ganache and Hot Fudge is the perfect example!

 

The health benefits of Medjool dates include: 

  1. They are a good source of important vitamins and minerals including potassium, magnesium and copper.

  2. Dates are high in fiber and can help ease constipation – especially when eaten with other high fiber and water-rich fruits and vegetables.

  3. They decrease the active labor time in birthing women and can decrease the likelihood of being induced due to late term pregnancies.

 

I know many pregnant women swear by consuming 3 Medjool dates (or 6 smaller variety dates) a day during their third trimester to decrease the length of active labor as well as promote onset of labor. If you’re wondering how dates could possibly make labor more tolerable and taste so good, there’s a couple reasons:

  1. Dates contain tannins that help facilitate contractions in birthing women, decreasing the average active laboring time compared to women who do not eat dates.

  2. Dates contain oxytocin-binding compounds that make contractions stronger and more effective, decreasing the average active laboring time and helping to naturally induce labor in third-trimester women.

 

Outside of the health benefits of nature’s sweetest treat, this Vegan, Paleo, and AIP-Friendly Hot Fudge and Ganache is just too easy to make.

Here’s what you need to make Vegan Dairy-Free Hot Fudge and Ganache

  • Medjool dates: You can source organic Medjool dates from most grocery stores. They are easy to pit yourself, so there is no need to pay extra for pitted dates.

  • Coconut Cream: this is best sourced from a can of organic coconut cream. Use only the thick creamy contents of the can and reserve any water-y coconut milk for another use.

  • Carob Powder: Carob powder is a nutritious alternative to cacao and desirable for those following an AIP elimination diet. You can certainly use cocoa powder in place of the carob powder. Carob is quite a bit sweeter than cocoa powder, so your fudge will be a little less sweet as well.

  • Coconut Oil: Coconut oil helps thin out the Hot Fudge so that it is pourable. It also helps firm up the Ganache in the refrigerator since it turns solid at cooler temperatures. It’s an excellent gut-healing addition to this real food Paleo fudge and ganache!

 

If you like this easy and healthy Paleo treat, try these other favorites: Avocado Carob Fudge Bars, One Bowl Chocolate Chip Cookie Blondie Bars, and Cinnamon Raisin Protein Bars!

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Paleo Vegan Ganache Stuffed Datesz

Enthused: 80+ AIP, Paleo, Whole30, Low Carb Recipes!

 

It’s here, everyone! My NEW ebook “Enthused: 80+ allergy-friendly recipes you want to eat!” is available for purchase and instant download!

 

I’ve created a collection of OVER 80 BRAND NEW allergy-friendly recipes for you that will never bore. In fact, the recipes in Enthused will jolt you right out of any food snooze you may have been experiencing!

 

From breakfast to sauces and appetizers to main courses and dessert, you’ll find everything you need to live a vibrant & mega-delicious life.

 

 

click to download Enthused!

Enthused contains 192 pages of

UNIQUE & FUN AIP recipes!

HERE’S A LOOK INTO THE RECIPE CHAPTERS

 

SUNSHINE & DINE

Beat any breakfast boredom with a new collection of classic grain-free, dairy-free morning meals including…

Southern Style Biscuits, Vanilla & Raisin Scones, Basil & Vanilla Matcha Latte and my take on the classic Breakfast Sausage & Mash.

 

 

 

ALL THE LITTLE BITS

Here you’ll find all the sauces, dressings and dips you need for food with punch-you-in-the-face flavor.

Don’t miss the Garlic Aioli, Cranberry & Pumpkin Meat Sauce, Tigernut Butter, Nightshade-Free Curry Paste, Real Caesar Dressing or Mango Ginger Dressing… okay don’t miss any of the recipes in this chapter! I even include at least one recipe in the book using these Little Bits.

 

 

 

 

LITTLE PLATES & SIDES

We all need a few go-to recipes to bring to parties or when we’re craving a light meal. In this chapter, you’ll get access to some stunner recipes including…

 Crispy Fig-Stuffed Prosciutto Rolls (perfect for holiday parties), Chardonnay-Glazed Sea Scallops,  Kale Caesar Salad with Sweet Potato Croutons (OMG), Truffle Fries with Garlic Aioli (bar food done right) & the not-to-be-missed “Cheesy” Bacon & Brussels Gratin.

*You can download Enthused to your desktop, laptop or tablet!*

 

 

BIG BOWLS & PLATES

Over 20 new main courses, most a full meal, that will spice up your weeknight rotation. I included tons of ethnic options like…

 Grilled Beef Kofta, Salmon Larb & Sweet Potato Rice, Sticky Orange Beef, Thai Fish Curry Soup, Indian Butter Chicken and Lamb Shawarma & “Rice” Plate.  

There’s also some interesting takes on classics like Preserved Lemon & Basil Meatballs, Teriyaki Turkey Poppers, Chicken Spaghetti Squash Patties & Beef and Squash Stroganoff! Salivating yet?

 

 

 

BETWEEN THE “BREAD”

I have a feeling this will be the most popular chapter! We ALL miss those comfort foods like pizza, fried chicken & waffles, nachos & wraps! I had a TON of fun creating these recipes, including…

Fried Chicken & Waffles with Sweet & Spicy Syrup, Caramelized Onion & “Ricotta” Pizza (+ 3 more pizzas), Grain-Free Runzas, Puerto Rican Pastelon and Pulled Chicken Nachos.

 

 

 

SWEET TOOTH

Okay, maybe THIS will be the most popular chapter. You’re getting 8 brand new AIP-friendly dessert recipes including my twist on holiday favorites like:

Tigernut Butter Sandwich Cookies, Salted Gingerbread Cookies, No-Bake Pumpkin Pie Bars & Maple Butter and Cranberry Bark (that one is to die for – it would be part of my last meal). You’ll also get this stellar Apple Butter Banana Bread recipe as well as Salted Lemon Ice Cream with Blueberry-Basil Jam Swirl. 

 

 

**BONUS CHAPTER: ROCK YOUR DETOX**

Looking for recipes to support your liver, gallbladder & digestion? Maybe you’re doing a liver cleanse program or need an extra boost of detoxification here and there! You’ll get this BONUS chapter of 11 AIP-friendly recipes that contain some of the most potent antioxidant foods you can eat on the autoimmune protocol including…

Turmeric Pumpkin Chicken Soup, Liver Loving Green Juice, Ultimate Detox Smoothie Bowl, Pink Lady & Beet Detox Salad, Detox Salad with Creamy Lemon Dressing Gingered Carrot & Turnip Soup!

 

 


 

PHEW! I wanted to give you a really thorough run-down on Enthused so you know EXACTLY what you’re getting! But for real, are you drooling all over your shirt like I am?

 

Click to download Enthused!

 

– 80+ AIP-FRIENDLY FLAVOR BOMB RECIPES FOR ONLY $12.95

– A BEAUTIFUL PHOTO FOR NEARLY EVERY RECIPE

–  EASY TO READ TYPE FACE & FONT SIZE

– A PRESCRIPTION FOR ENJOYING FOOD AGAIN!

– FOOD YOUR WHOLE FAMILY WILL LOVE!

– RECIPE KEY FOR ONE DISH, LOW CARB, LOW HISTAMINE & 30 MINUTES OR LESS!

 


 

ARE YOU LOVING YOUR ENTHUSED RECIPES!? PLEASE TAG ME IN ANY PHOTOS YOU POST ON SOCIAL MEDIA & USE #ENTHUSEDAIP WHEN SHARING THEM TOO!

 

 

 

 

Gluten-Free Breakfast Pizza

 

This gluten-free and grain-free Breakfast Pizza features a garlic-herb dairy-free cream cheese base with wilted spinach, soft-cooked and fluffy eggs, crispy bacon and melted cheese of choice. It is the PERFECT make ahead gluten-free breakfast and freezes well for meal prep, batch cooking and post-partum breakfasts.

 

 

Gluten free paleo breakfast pizza

 

This recipe was born out of my family’s financial need to stop buying the gluten-free breakfast pizza 3 times a week from the cafe down the street. Addicted. So I wanted to make a Gluten Free and Grain-Free Breakfast Pizza replica that was as easy to prepare as it was to eat.

 

Ingredients in Gluten-Free Paleo Breakfast Pizza

  • Simple Mills Pizza Dough (or your favorite medium-thickness crust pizza dough recipe)

  • Kite Hill Almond Cream Cheese (or your favorite dairy-free or regular cream cheese)

  • Soft scrambled and fluffy eggs  – I like Vital Choice Pastured Organic Eggs

  • Crispy bacon bits  – We buy Butcherbox Bacon which we get delivered every month.

  • Wilted spinach – use organic since spinach is on the Dirty Dozen list

  • Cheese of choice – I like grass-fed swiss or sharp cheddar, but you can get fancy with gouda or parmesan

 

Get $10 off and 2 Free Ribeyes!

 

How to make Gluten-Free Breakfast Pizza 

1. You can use any pizza crust recipe of choice, but I prefer the ease and convenience of the Simple Mills Pizza Dough Mix which you can purchase at many grocery stores in the baking aisle.

2. Pre-bake your crust before adding the toppings. In this recipe, I use a thin layer of dairy-free cream cheese, wilted spinach, soft-cooked eggs, crispy bacon bits and melted cheese.

3. Simply pop the assembled pizza back in the oven to get the cheese melted to hold everything together!

4. Slice into 6 to 12 squares and serve warm.

 

My tips for Simple Mills Pizza Dough

  1. The boxed recipe calls for two tablespoons oil of choice, and I like to use extra virgin olive oil for the flavor.

  2. The boxed recipe calls for baking at 350 degrees for a total of 15 minutes, but you’ll see in the recipe how I adapt the oven temperature and cooking time to my preference of a firmer crust.

  3. You can choose to make two smaller pizzas or one regular size pizza. I prefer to make one big square pizza for this breakfast pizza recipe. Slice it in easy-to-pick up pieces with less of a chance of the egg falling off.

 

Make Ahead Breakfast Pizza Ideas

If you enjoy the below recipe, try these other varieties:

  1. Tomato sauce base with cooked Italian sausage and finely chopped peppers, scrambled eggs, spinach and melted cheese.

  2. Make it dairy-free by topping with Siete Foods Queso and baking as directed below.

  3. Try a potato and broccoli version with cubed roasted potato, roasted broccoli florets, scrambled eggs and parmesan-mozzarella cheese mixture.

 

If you’re looking for other grab and go convenient gluten-free breakfast recipes, try my Gluten-Free Protein Breakfast Cookies and Whole30 Breakfast Meatballs.

 

 

Gluten Free Breakfast Pizza - Make Ahead!

 

 
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Gluten Free Breakfast Pizza

 

Healing Ginger Chicken Soup

 

This Ginger Chicken Soup is packed with nutrients to keep you healthy through cold and flu season. It’s an updated, more flavorful version of classic chicken soup with ginger, garlic, cilantro, apple cider vinegar and lemon. Tender chunks of green plantain add bulk to this amazing butter broth soup!

 

Ginger Chicken Soup

 

Is there anything more comforting than a bowl of chicken and vegetable soup? Whenever I’m sick, sad or sleepy, homemade chicken soup always gives me the warm belly hug I need. What I love about chicken soup is that it doesn’t require an entire day in the kitchen to have an incredible depth of flavor. In fact,  you don’t want to overcook chicken soup for fear you’ll end up with soggy mush.

 

My version of Ginger Chicken Soup comes together in nearly 30 minutes and features a butter chicken broth flavored with ginger, garlic, parsley, cilantro and two acids as well as thick, tender chunks of green plantain. You have to try green plantain in soup to understand how delicious it is! They will be the pieces you scoop up intentionally (and maybe serve yourself a little more than the rest of the family, if you’re anything like me.)

 

What makes this Ginger Chicken Soup healing? 

 + Chicken Broth: Hands down, my favorite store-bought chicken broth is Bonafide Provisions Chicken Broth. You can find it in most grocery store’s freezer aisles. Once defrosted, it’s gelatinous (the hallmark of a GOOD broth) and tastes like it’s been simmering away all day.

+ Ginger is an effective antibacterial and antiviral when fresh that can help your body fight off cold and flu viruses.

+ Garlic can help prevent illness while also shortening the duration of any cold or flu. You can up the garlic benefits by stirring in a clove of raw garlic into the finished soup.

+ Cilantro is soothing to the digestive system when sick, and it also helps with detoxing heavy metals from the body. Outside of the health benefits, it adds a bright flavor to the soup. If you’re in the I Hate Cilantro camp, you can replace it with fresh parsley.

 

How to make quick & easy chicken soup:

+ Start with a flavorful base of aromatics: onion, celery and carrots in olive oil.

+ Flavor the base with subtly spicy and warming ginger, garlic, herbs, salt and pepper.

+ Add the starchy plantains and simmer in rich chicken broth until tender.

+ Stir in the pre-cooked chicken thighs. You can also use shredded rotisserie chicken.

+ Boost the nutrient density and richness of the broth by adding a few tablespoons grass-fed butter.

+ Finish the soup with acidic lemon juice and apple cider vinegar to brighten the flavors.

 

If you like this Ginger Chicken Soup, be sure to check out my Turkey Stuffing Stew and Yellow Chicken Veggie Soup

 

Ginger Chicken Soup

 

 
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Acorn Squash Gnocchi with Garlic Brown Butter

Acorn Squash Gnocchi is an excellent way to use leftover roasted acorn squash in a lower carb version of the classic gnocchi. Cooked in a 3-minute garlic brown butter, it makes an impressive Paleo, grain-free, gluten-free and egg-free side dish.

 

acorn squash gnocchi

 

I roasted up a big batch of acorn squash for my 9-month-old’s meals this week, but we tired of eating plain roasted squash more quickly than I anticipated. I had an entire leftover squash and was about to throw it in a soup when gnocchi popped into my head. I haven’t made gnocchi in years since potatoes are part of the nightshade family, and significant doses of them give me headaches and an increase in autoimmune symptoms.

 

This grain-free, gluten-free and egg-free Acorn Squash Gnocchi are flavorful little pillows bathing in a very quick garlic brown butter sauce. I would pair this side dish with a roasted beef recipe like my Instant Pot Caribbean Shredded Beef.

 

What you need for this easy Acorn Squash Gnocchi

  • Roasted Acorn Squash: Pre-roast a medium acorn squash by slicing in half, scooping out the seeds, brushing with olive oil and laying cut side down on a parchment lined baking sheet. Roast at 400 degrees for 30 minutes or until you can easily pierce the squash with a fork. Remove the flesh from the skin and let cool completely in the refrigerator for several hours before using in this recipe.

  • Gluten-Free Flour: Cassava flour provides the delightfully doughy texture of traditional gnocchi and coconut flour helps bind it together.

  • Unsalted Butter: I like to use Kerrygold butter in all of my cooking. If you can only tolerate ghee, you can use 3 tablespoons of unsalted ghee, but do not expect it to brown or develop a rich flavor since the milk solids have already been removed.

 

How to make Homemade Acorn Squash Gnocchi

1. Mash the pre-roasted and cooled acorn squash with the gluten-free flour and salt.

2. Using clean hands, roll the gnocchi “dough” into short 3/4-inch wide logs and slice into 1-inch pieces.

3. Boil the gnocchi in a pot of lightly salted water for the first step of its cooking process.

4. Lastly, you’ll make a quick garlic brown butter in a stainless steel skillet and fry the gnocchi on each side.

 

How many people does this recipe serve?

This recipe serves two hungry adults as long as you’re serving it alongside a main dish. Any roasted beef or seared steak recipe would go well with this Acorn Squash Gnocchi. And red wine. Definitely some of that too.

 

Can I make Acorn Squash Gnocchi in advance?

You could roll out the dough and slice into the gnocchi in advance. I would wait to cook them until you’re ready to serve!

 

 
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Paleo Chicken & Veggie Pot Pie

This veggie-filled Paleo Chicken Pot Pie has a buttery crust thanks to grass-fed ghee and is incredibly nourishing with savory bone broth, cauliflower “gravy” and pastured chicken.  Comfort food in a pie dish that my whole family gobbled up! It’s free of gluten, grains and nuts as well!

 

 

Paleo chicken pot pie

 

 

We finally got a “cold front” in Florida (when the temperature drops below 70 degrees), and I needed a comforting, belly-warming meal that my husband, 3-year-old AND 8-month-old would all enjoy! We got our monthly Butcherbox subscription full of pastured chicken breast and thighs, and I wanted a more exciting way of putting them to use rather than our usual Instant Pot Shredded Chicken.

 

 

What makes it different than traditional chicken pot pie?

– This Paleo and Grain-Free Chicken Pot Pie is full of veggies and bone broth to make it extra nutrient dense. I made the “gravy” out of steamed cauliflower blended with the broth and a bay leaf for a vitamin C-packed addition to the meal.

 

– The buttery, flaky crust is made with grain-free cassava flour, grass-fed ghee and extra-virgin olive oil which keeps it from being too dense or dry.

 

– I left out the peas since they bother my stomach (and many other people following a Paleo diet don’t handle them well either) as well as onions and garlic to keep my 3-year-old happy. The flavor boost comes from an array of delicious herbs including parsley, marjoram, thyme, rosemary and bay leaf. All pantry staples that make up a comforting winter meal!

 

Can I make any substitutions? 

– I haven’t tried the crust with any other flours, so I can’t make a recommendation there, but you can replace the ghee with another solid fat like lard or tallow to keep it completely dairy free.

– Of course you can add any veggies that you would like such as broccoli, peas, asparagus, onions and garlic.

– If you don’t tolerate eggs, try brushing the crust generously with extra virgin olive oil instead!

 

 

If you love Paleo Chicken Pot Pie, try these recipes too:

Pressure Cooker Pot Roast in 1 Hour

Pan-Fried Chicken, Olives and Shallots with Roasted Roots

Turkey Stuffing Stew

 

 

paleo chicken veggie pot pie

 

 

 
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Non-Toxic Baby & Kids Gift Guide

Looking for eco-friendly, non-toxic gift for babies and children? Here’s a list of 35+ gifts I’ve vetted as an occupational therapist and mom of two!

I don’t have much self control around the holidays when it comes to gifting my children. If I see a toy I know would inspire wonder, creativity and fun, I want to buy it for them! I have to reel myself in though because there’s such a thing as too many toys. Instead I put on my occupational therapist goggles and really give the toy a good objective look.

 

I created a list of 20+ toys that use non-toxic, sustainable materials while providing creative play, gross and fine motor advancement and a whole lot of fun!

 

My Eco-Friendly Baby & Kids Toy Guide had to meet three standards: 

ONE: Are the toys made with responsible, ethically-sourced or natural materials?

TWO: Are the toys open-ended? Can they be explored in multiple ways by a child?

THREE: Will the toys stand the test of time? Both from a child’s interest in them and from a quality standpoint.

 

Materials to look for in baby/kids toys: 

Wood (solid wood is best), Non-Toxic Water-Based Paints, Recycled Materials, Silicone, Phthalate-Free, Low VOC

 

Types of toys I avoid:

Screens (they get enough of those elsewhere!), Light-Up/Talking Toys (sensory overload, very close-ended, don’t allow for imaginative play), Plastic (unless made with recycled materials), toys painted without water-based non-toxic paint (these can be alarmingly high in lead)

 

Enjoy this mix of high-quality but affordable eco-friendly, non-toxic baby and kids gifts anywhere from newborn to 6 months to 3 years and up!

 

non-toxic baby and kids gift guide

 

 

Lily & River Little Climber 6 months to 3 years + 15% OFF THROUGH 11/24!

This gross motor climbing structure is made of beautiful solid wood, fits any decor and can be used by babies 6 months+ to over 3 years of age. The first day we had it in our living room, my 6-month-old (at the time) pulled to stand and started cruising! Now she’s practicing climbing up the rungs while my 3-year-old uses it more for imaginative play. Throw a blanket over it and you get an instant fort. The paint in non-toxic and it was simple to build and arrived quickly from the Etsy shop owner.

 

Lily & River Little Creator Smart Activity Table 15 months+

Birch hardwood, zero VOC non-toxic paint and a wickedly smart design. You receive the activity table (with a Lego mat for building on the tabletop – genius!), two child-size chairs to promote independent play, and it can be drawn on (and erased) with dry erase markers for endless fun. Children need their own safe space to create – this is it – and perfect if you’re short on room at home!

 

Montessori Wooden Sensory Bin Toolkit 15 months +

Montessori-style learning promotes the use of tools made from natural materials like these wooden bowls, scoops, tongs and cups. Fill up a large bin with beans, rice or even sand and let kids explore! We use sensory bins for nearly every child in occupational therapy as it provides a creative atmosphere for kids to explore imaginative play, sensorial introductions, measuring, fine motor and grasp.

 

All Seasons Kids Wooden Dollhouse $80 off now – 3 years+ (small parts)

This is the dollhouse I purchased for my 3-year-old this year as her “big gift”. We’ve been using and loving Hape toys since she was a newborn, and I can’t wait for her to play with this 3-story, unique and detailed dollhouse. Each little piece and the house are made with solid wood and painted with non-toxic water-based paint. Seriously, the details are incredible and this is an awesome price for a nearly fully furnished dollhouse! Dollhouses aren’t just for little girls – boys love to play “make believe” with them too and imaginative play is a healthy way for children to work out real life conflicts.

 

The Play Gym by Lovevery Baby Newborn to 12 months

My sister just got this for her soon-to-be born baby boy, and from a therapy standpoint I am very impressed. FSC Certified Wood, organic cotton materials and TONS of grasping, tracking, reaching and sensory opportunities for your little one! Don’t know what to get a pregnant mama in your life? This is it!

Cuddle & Kind Handcrafted Dolls  Newborn+

My friend gifted us this adorable matching dolls when I had my second daughter earlier this year. Every doll purchased provides 10 meals to a hungry and malnourished child globally (most of their work is done in Africa). Fair trade and handcrafted, these are one of the loveliest and kindest gifts you could give to a child who has it all and a great way to teach them about helping others.

 

Personalized Cotton Kids Apron & Oven Mitts 4 years+

These little cotton matching apron and oven mitts for tiny kitchen helpers are cute, functional and encourage kids to get in the kitchen! One of the best ways we can model to our kids the importance of healthy eating is by getting them involved in the process too!

 

Wooden Musical Eggs 3 months+ to 3 years+

I can’t tell you how many uses we’ve gotten out of these wooden musical eggs! Each egg makes a unique sound when you shake it and has so many uses for 3 months to 3 years+. My youngest practices grasping, shaking and sound exploration while my oldest uses them as a musical instrument while we dance around listening to Pandora in our living room. What a cute stocking stuffer for a family with multiple kids too!

 

Wooden Sound Discovery Musical Blocks 6 months+ to 3 years+

We also love these, if you’re looking for more sound-making manipulatives. HABA makes most of their toys from solid beechwood and non-toxic water based paints so you don’t have to worry about your baby mouthing these cute musical blocks! Younger babies (6 months) will enjoy grasping them and checking out the colors while older babies (12 months+) will be able to manipulate them, pressing buttons, twisting and rubbing together to make music!

 

Mori Organic Cotton Play & Sleep Clothes Newborn+ 60% off now!

This brand has been on my online-ogling list for awhile! The clothing is made of soft organic, basic in style and just about the perfect gift for a new little one in your life. Get up to 60% off during their Black Friday sale now – limited supply!

 

Honeystick Crayons 12 months to 3 years

Non-toxic art supplies are not easy to come by! While Crayola calls their products non-toxic, I try to avoid anything that could possible end up in the mouth of a young child that has questionable contaminants. These Honeystick Crayons have a nice chunky body for easy grasp for toddlers 12 months and up!

AromaDough Gluten & Soy-Free Playdough Christmas Scents

One of the biggest hits under our tree last year – gluten and soy free playdough with some interesting scents for sensory exploration! My only complaint is they dried out after 9 months, but I’ve found that to be the case with all playdoughs outside of the actual Playdough brand (which we avoid because of the wheat flour, preservatives and colorings in it).

 

Montessori Wooden Alphabet Tracing Board 4 years+

Is your kid getting ready for kindergarten next year? Showing an interest in learning how to write? This wooden Montessori-style alphabet tracing board is a great starting place! It’s important to scale a new skill for kids so they can remain confident and inquisitive. Don’t just hand your kids a marker and expect them to draw their name! Their CNS will start to “code” the alphabet in their moldable little brains by tracing along on this inventive and affordable practice board.

 

Wooden Alphabet Blocks 6 months+ ON SALE NOW

Every child needs a solid collection of wooden blocks and these happen to be decked out with the alphabet and pictures of animals for object identification. The website says 18 months+ (for building purposes) but kids as young as 6 months+ if sitting independently can play with these versatile, classic toys.

 

Wooden Play Kitchen 15 months+ 20% off now

Another play staple in our house for over 2 years! Wood, non-toxic water based paint and easy to clean (trust me!) The Hape play kitchen is affordable, fun and makes great storage for all their play kitchen plates, food and utensils.

 

Solid Wood Tea Set 3 years+

Remember your childhood tea parties with plastic, scratched cups? Plan Toys has created this mega cute solid wood tea set with kettle, mugs, tea bags, stirrers, spoons and saucers.

 

Silicone Suction Cup Toys

BPA-free silicone suction cups kept my eldest busy while I made dinner every night. She loved suctioning them to our glass doors or the fridge, decorating them with beads, and rattling them around.

 

Wooden Stackable Animal Train 12 months+

Have you ever seen a cuter wooden animal pull-a-long train? This toy is so functional – stackable, creative-driven, and made from FSC Certified wood. Absolutely adorable – cute that I grabbed a couple for some mamas in my life!

 

Plan Toys Sensory Tumblers 6 months+ 10% off now!

Babies don’t need much – just some colorful, shakeable manipulatives they can mouth, wiggle and throw! These sensory tumblers are made from sustainable rubberwood too!

 

Wooden Rocking Balance Board

If I had to choose ONE gift for a kid 6 years+, this would be it. Endless fun to be had on a wooden rocking balance board. If you as an adult haven’t ever tried one of these, it’s like a safe version of surfing without the sand, sharks and sun! Stuck inside during winter? Let your kid get their energy out with a balance board!

 

Peter Rabbit Touch & Feel Board Book

This is one of our favorite books that both my kids enjoy reading at the same time. The baby likes the sensory aspect while my oldest enjoys the colorful large illustrations. I wouldn’t really call it eco-friendly since it’s a board book but I had to put it on the list! It doesn’t tell the whole tale of Beatrix Potter’s Peter Rabbit but perfect for young readers/explorers.

 

Wooden Garden Wheelbarrow Play Set 3 years+

Any real food mama will flip over this sustainable wooden garden wheelbarrow play set. For every tree turned into a toy, they plant a new rubberwood!

 

Stokke Trip Trap Wooden Highchair to Step Stool 6 months+

One of our most used buys in 3 years – this wooden Swedish style highchair is beautiful, high-quality and transitions to a kitchen helper step stool. Seriously worth the investment as you’ll use it for many, many years to come!

 

Personalized Wool Toddler & Kids Slippers

How sweet are these customizable wool toddler and kids slippers handmade on Etsy? They come in a ton of sizes, and I don’t know about your kid, but mine really loves to see her name stamped on just about anything.

 

Rothy’s Kids Sneakers

I may be the last human on the planet to try out Rothy’s, but I really have nothing but admiration for their business model and material sourcing. Recycled materials give way to some trendy, comfortable and long-lasting shoes according to many of my friends, and now they have sneakers for kids too!

 

Leather & Suede Handmade Moccasins Newborn to 4 years

When my eldest was learning how to walk, we didn’t want to stick her in heavy rubber-soled shoes. She wouldn’t be able to feel the ground beneath her and that sensory input is important for balance. Natural material handmade moccasins are the perfect first shoe for new walkers.

 

Big City Architecture Block Set 3 years+

How much fun is to be had with this architecture-inspired building block set? Answer: infinite amounts. My daughter really got into building castles and towers and cities when she turned 3, but children up to 8 to 10 years old will love this too! Screen-free play – that’s what I’m all about!

Baby’s First Year – A Book of Firsts 0 to 12 months

This is more a book for a new mama but I had to include it. What new mom doesn’t want to revel in their baby’s firsts? Something as big as their first smile to placeholders for photos of their first Father’s July. A baby book in addition to your standard baby book that I wish I had done for my kids!

 

Soft Veggie Garden Set 12 months+ 20% OFF!

Getting your kid the Hape play kitchen above? Throw in these felt vegetables and wooden box so they can shop the farmer’s market before creating you their masterpiece dinner!

 

Green Toys Stackable Cups 6 months+

This is one gift we received that’s been used countless times at the beach, in sandboxes, in the bath, sensory tubs and anywhere in between. Scooping, measuring and stacking may sound pedantic to you but this is an open-ended toy that allows your children’s imagination to run wild.

 

Wooden Shape Sorting Cube 6 months for manipulation, 18 months+ for sorting

One of the only gifts I’m purchasing my 8-month-old this year after seeing how much she enjoyed using a similar one outside the home recently. We’ve always had a positive experience with Melissa & Doug toys. Can’t go wrong with this coordination classic!

 

National Parks of the USA Illustrated Book 6 years+

Have an older child who has the travel itch? Gift them this illustrated National Parks book so they can explore and plan your next family trip! Expand their world and their growth is limitless.

 

Wooden Art Easel 2 years+ $30 OFF FOR BLACK FRIDAY

When my oldest was 2 years old, she received a wooden art easel for Christmas and abruptly squealed. Nothing else mattered except the fun to be had with a blank canvas. I love that this one has a built-in tray for tools and paints.

 

Natural Beeswax Crayons for 3 years+

These thinner crayons are made from beeswax and are great practice for a handwriting-ready grip for kids 3 years+. Around this age, crayon breakage is much less likely! Until then, I like the chunkier Honeysticks or markers.

 

Silicone Teether & Wooden Pacifier Clip Newborn to 12 months

New baby in town? Trust me, we can never received enough soothers for our babies. Loop it around a toy or pacifier for them to grasp and clip it onto their shirt collar. Mamas need a break too!

 

Wooden Cash Register 3 years+

We call these “pilos” in our house – don’t ask me why – I still don’t know! I do know that my 3-year-old has been playing with her “pilo” for 18 months and still hasn’t tired of it. Getting to pretend to be a grown-up is really fun for a kid (again, don’t ask me why, I’d much rather be a kid!)

 

Baby’s First Toy Starter Set 6 months + 20% off now!

What a cute useable set of toys for a baby who’s ready to do some environmental exploration. You get Green Toys famous stacking cups, baby key ring for mouthing and jingling and a cute elephant rolling toy with a handle for easy grasp!

 

 

non-toxic baby and kids gifts

 

You may also want to check out my article The Minimalist’s No BS Baby Registry Guide!

 

Beautycounter’s Holiday Collection 2019 – Top 10 Deals!

Beautycounter’s 2019 Holiday Collection is here… and it’s absolutely gorgeous, gift-able and full of budget-friendly safer beauty products for all ages! I’m taking you through my Top 10 Below (with all the best savings!)

 

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If this is your first time hearing about Beautycounter, they are the personal care product company I partnered with three years ago after learning about their mission, contaminant and heavy metal testing and focus on product performance. It’s one thing to make safer products – it’s another to make safer products that WORK!

 

For me, Beautycounter checks all the boxes. Their products are beautifully packaged – dead ringers for some of my old favorite conventional items like Lancome Juice Tubes and Urban Decay eyeshadow palettes but formulated without harmful or potentially harmful ingredients.

 

As a woman with a history of autoimmune disease, infertility and heavy metal toxicity, it is paramount that what I put on my skin meets my strict criteria for safety. If you’re like me, it feels FREEING to know that anything you use from this company has met the Environmental Working Group’s strictest safety standards.

 

If this is your first holiday with Beautycounter, the collection:

  • consists of best-selling and brand new products and makeup shades at highly discounted prices (by bundling together products – like the 10-shade Mini Lipgloss Set and the Counter+ Favorites)

  • makes your holiday gifting (whether to yourself or others) budget-friendly and environmentally and health conscious

This year’s collection consists of:

  • 19 sets (16 available now!)

  • 24 new makeup shades

  • 6 brand new products

  • 6 new safer scents (no harmful fragrance – ever!)

  • all boxed in beautiful recyclable packaging so you can skip the wrapping paper and save some trees, plz!

  • over half of them are under $50 this year!

 

** Remember: all Beautycounter products have a 60 day refund money back guarantee which is Beautycounter’s way of allowing you to try the products for several weeks before you fully commit! They also have free return shipping in the US which I love! **

 

1. The Jellies (US $39 – 35% off – $60 value – 5 brand new shades)

What is it? OMG! These are going to be the top-seller, and I predict they sell out before the season’s up! Remember Lancome Juicy Tubes? These are your safer swap. High-shine, universally-flattering, hint-of-color glosses in pocket-friendly tubes… and they’re flavored without any creepy ingredients (flavors/colors are Raspberry, Butterscotch, Orange Cream, Peppermint and Sorbet!)

Who’s it for? Um, anyone. Who wouldn’t love these? Have a 3-year-old interested in “lip floss” like me? Rest easy knowing her first lip gloss is tested for allergens and heavy metals. Teens, young women, my mom (I won’t disclose her age) will love these… for me they’re the perfect combo of a gloss, lip balm and sugar-free treat ha Hey – we eat our lipstick and gloss – it doesn’t just evaporate! The flavors are so yummy too and really taste like the “real” thing without any harmful ingredients, sugar or flavorings.

Why’s it safer?These Lip Jellies are tested for gluten, soy and peanut allergens (which can contaminate products that don’t even include those ingredients) and the flavors are made without any harmful synthetic flavorings. I jokingly called these Keto Lip Glosses since they don’t contain sugar (many sweet flavored lip glosses do).

 

 

2. Counter+ Skincare Favorites (US $89  | BEST DEAL 32% off | $130 value) 4 products | NEW! Lotus Glow Cleansing Stick

What is it?Eeeek! This is usually my favorite Beautycounter holiday set because it always contains the best-selling products I’ve been loving for years. This year they included a BRAND NEW product I have a feeling ya’ll will adore: the Lotus Glow Cleansing Stick. This Cleansing Stick allows for cleansing on-the-go (perfect for holiday travel, after work workouts, anytime you need a quick cleanse). You’ll also get 3 other best-sellers, the Overnight Resurfacing Peel (anti-aging, brightening treatment), Charcoal Mask (pore detoxifying, skin-smoothing treatment), and the Brightening Oil (skin evening, dark spot fading face oil).

Who’s it for? Either the current Beautycounter skincare lover who wants a discounted kit of their favorite products + the new Lotus Glow Cleansing Stick (not available separately) OR the new to Beautycounter woman or man who’s looking for a streamlined but super effective age-reversal, brightening and detoxifying skincare routine!

How to use all 4 products together: 

STEP 1: How to Use the Lotus Glow Cleansing Stick: Gently massage stick directly onto dry or damp skin in light, circular motions. Add water to transform into a milk. Rinse well.

STEP 2: How to Use the Charcoal Facial Mask: Apply an even layer to clean skin. Let dry for 10 minutes, then rinse thoroughly with warm water. Use 2-3 times per week.

STEP 3: How to Use the Overnight Resurfacing Peel: Apply 1-2 pumps to clean face and neck 3-4 times per week. May tingle upon application. Allow product to fully absorb (3-5 minutes), follow with moisturizer.

STEP 4: How to Use the No. 1 Brightening Facial Oil: Apply 4-6 drops onto face, alone or under moisturizer.

Why’s it safer? Beautycounter formulates all of their skincare products with any harmful or potentially harmful ingredients (like carcinogens and hormone disruptors), tests their ingredients for contaminants and maintain EWG Verified status (top safety rating from the Environmental Working Group).

 

 

 

3. Bright Eyes Treatment (US $89 – BEST DEAL 32% off – $129 value)

What is it?It’s baaaaack. The Eye Revive Cooling Masks (6 of ’em) from last year are back and paired with my second favorite Countertime product (after the Mineral Essence): the full-size Countertime Ultra Renewal Eye Cream. Holy smokes, that eye cream is what crow’s feet’s dreams are made of (it contains Beautycounter’s own Retinatural Complex to reverse aging)… if that makes any sense at all. It works like MAGIC for brightening up dark circles and decreasing fine lines around the eyes. Pairing it with last year’s popular brightening and de-puffing eye cooling masks was a no-brainer.

Who’s it for?I would recommend this set for the 30+ crowd (and especially any tired mamas… or grandmas). I didn’t have crow’s feet until 3 years ago after the birth of Grace and they came on QUICK. Only thing that helped me reverse them was Beautycounter’s eye cream, and I’ve seen even better results with the new Countertime Eye Cream.

Why’s it safer? Free of harmful Retinol, PEGs, parabens, petroleum, BHT… all the ingredients Beautycounter would never use in their products!

How to use the Countertime Ultra Renewal Eye Cream:Gently dab or massage eye cream on with your ring finger, starting at the inner corner and working outward toward the brow bone. Never pull the skin.

How to use Eye Revive Cooling Masks:Remove protective film from both sides of masks and apply masks to clean skin under each eye. Leave on for 10-15 minutes then discard. Gently pat the remainder of the product into skin. Use once weekly or as often as desired. You can also keep in the fridge for more of a de-puffing effect!

 

 

 

4.Starlight Eyeshadow Palette (US $36 – 28% off – $50 value)

What is it? celestial-inspired, limited-edition 5-shade eyeshadow palette featuring good-on-any-skin tone long-wearing matte, satin and shimmer shades. Constellation is the sparkler topper in the center of the palette that turns up your daytime look into holiday party worthy.

Who’s it for?Beginner to advanced makeup wearers – use the soft pink shades (Lunar and Aurora) as your base and inner corner brightener, the perfect grey-taupe Satellite as a liner or crease shade, the deep navy Eclipse for a bolder look or liner (I did that this weekend with the Precision Liner Brush – gorgeous!!) and the sparkler Constellation on top for a beautiful but natural sheen.

Why it’s safer: Beautycounter tests all of their color cosmetics multiple times throughout production and post-production for 12 of the most harmful heavy metals (like immune and neurotoxic lead and mercury), setting industry-leading standards while always aiming for non-detectable levels.

 

 

 

5. Mini Lip Gloss Vault ($89 for 10 shades ~ less than $9/gloss or gift, if you plan to split up and gift ’em – 30% off)


What is it?
 One of last year’s top holiday kits re-vamped – 9 brand new shades plus a fave from last year (Camellia) in a limited edition Mandarin scent. Beautycounter’s lip glosses are the best I’ve ever used – great shine but non-sticky – and this mix of shades is perfect for any mood. I recommend keeping a few for yourself and breaking up the rest to gift to friends, teachers, sisters, and your alternative healthcare team (I know my community here knows what I mean… we have our crew we need to thank!)

Who’s it for? Like I said above, there is such a gorgeous mix of shades here – some more neutral and some deeper, some shimmers, and cool, warm and neutral tones. This is my TOP VALUE GIFT – you’ll want at least one on hand for a quick hostess gift, teacher gift, etc. I place them in a cute bag with 1 of the Holiday Hand Creams from the yearly trio, and every recipient has always been delighted! Much more useful than a bottle of wine, huh?

Why’s it safer? Heavy metal tested like all of Beautycounter’s cosmetics and uses vitamin E as a preservative instead of harmful BHT.

 

6. Travel Companion Kit (US $35 – 4-piece set including hair!)

What is it? Your holiday travel better beauty set complete with 4 hair & body products: Daily Shampoo and Conditioner (for me they’re clarifying and hydrating at the same time – LOVE this line!), Citrus Mimosa Body Wash, and Citrus Mimosa Body Lotion.

Who’s it for?Who is it not for?” is the question. Having a handy, non-toxic travel toiletry collection makes packing a breeze. I traveled with these last year and also brought them with me for Maya’s birth. This is the first time I’ve seen them include the shampoo/conditioner (which I estimate will last at least 12 applications) in addition to the Citrus Mimosa Body Wash and Body Lotion (2 weeks of use – the body wash suds up really well – you don’t need much).This is also for the traveler who refuses to check a bag (that would be me) because we’re cynical flyers and the airline is sure to lose our bag and only our bag.

Why’s it safer? Free of the usual harmful suspects in hair/bath/body products: sulfates, parabens, phthalates and fragrance/parfum.

 

 

7. Fresh Faced Trio (US $45 – 31% off – $65 value)

What is it? A trio of Lengthening Mascara, Brow Gel (clear) and Sorbet Lip Jelly for a fresh-faced, natural look… and it’s a friggin’ steal at under $50!

Who’s it for? Teens or women who like the minimalist, polished look and a super quick, eye-opening makeup routine.

Why it’s safer: Lip jellies are tested for soy, gluten and peanut allergens, the Mascara is formulated without harmful eye irritants, and the Brow Gel contains ECOCERT plant-derived polymers rather than harmful ethylene oxide (eye and skin irritant).

 

8.Pout Perfecter Lip Care Set($49 for 3 full-size items)

What is it? This affordable dry lip care set is adorable, convenient and useful! Beautycounter’s first age-reversing lip balm in a stick (more sanitary than a pot) is called Better Balm. It’s paired with a gently exfoliating peppermint Lip Scrub made from organic sugar and plant oils as well as a Crystal Lip Gloss – a clear non-sticky, moisturizing gloss.

Who’s it for? Anyone who suffers from dry, scaly lips in the wintertime or likes a little lip TLC at home. Fresh from Sephora (ingredients include BHT and Fragrance yikes!) used to have a lip polish I couldn’t live without in high school, and I totally forgot it existed! Here is your safer replacement!

Why’s it safer? Conventional lip products often contain mineral oils like petroleum, paraffin, acrylic acid and propylene glycol. Anti-aging lip balms often contain Retinol. You won’t find any of that in Beautycounter’s Pout Perfecter Trio!

 

 

9. Glow Getters Trio (US $89 | $112 value | 20% off)

What is it? A seriously money-saving trio of glow-y goodness including the Instant Glow Illuminating Cream from last year’s holiday!! I had wanted them to bring it back after holiday – they never did – and I’ve been hoarding my one bottle for an entire year (saving it for special occasions and nighttime dewy looks).The other two “glow getter” products: the Overnight Resurfacing Peel (everyone’s fave) and the Rose Glow Illuminating Cream Highlighter (a rosy cream highlighter/blush combo that can be used on eyes, lips and cheeks).

Who’s it for? This is a fun one – I think it would be great for any gal you know who loves a dewy, natural look or who has an affinity for BB creams and in-office derm treatments. The Peel is your friend, sister, or coworker’s solution to their expensive in-office treatments without any of the actual scary peeling effects. I would gift this for anyone post-undergraduate years as aging and dullness starts around age 25. The cream highlighter formula won’t settle in creases either which makes it a lovely blusher option for older women too.

Why’s it safer? The Overnight Peel contains plant-derived glycolic and lactic acid to safely reverse signs of aging, dullness and dark spots without causing irritation or peeling. No synthetic polymers or silicone in the Illuminating Cream either!

 

 

10. Counterman Carry-On (US $45 – 4 piece travel collection)


What is it?
 Four travel-size men’s skin and haircare products including one new product – Counterman Purifying Shampoo. Men have naturally oily skin – it’s why they age slower than women – and the Exfoliating Cleanser, Energizing Body Wash and Oil-Free Lotion are designed for their skin. They also contain free radical protecting sequoia stem cell extract (because men want to slow aging down too).

Who’s it for? Well, men… but specifically the man you’ve been trying to convince that using safer doesn’t mean sacrificing on product performance. My husband is price-conscious and still has the belief that safer household cleaning products, personal care products etc don’t “work as well” as the harmful chemical ones. That’s simply not true and why Beautycounter holds such a unique corner of the personal care product industry. Science-backed AND safer. Perfect for my Enneagram 5 husband who needs the hard facts on why letting go of his Suave Men’s body wash is important.

Why’s it safer? Men’s skincare and hair products are notably filled with allllll the harmful chemicals including Fragrance/Parfum (I find even more so than female products), parabens, formaldehyde releasers and neurotoxins like methylisothiazolinone (a mouthful I do not want on or in my body or his!)

My husband is a hard sell… 
If you need some convincing material for the health skeptical dude in your life, I like to educate on how men’s exposure to environmental toxins impacts their fertility (i.e. how fast and intact their sperm are). Here’s just two articles (of many) from PubMed showing a negative impact on sperm health in men exposed to environmental toxins like leadBPA and parabens.

 

Want it all but not in your budget right now?

Consider joining the Band of Beauty rewards program so you can earn: 

 

~ a free $49 Charcoal Mask with your first order of $50+ (USD) or $75+ (CAN)

~ 10% product back on every order (15% CAN) – so you can save on your next order and every order after that!

~ free shipping on orders of $100+ (USD) or $125+ (CAN)  – this saves you at least $7 every time you shop

 

The free Charcoal Mask ($49 value) is one of my favorite products and one I’ve been using for years. I suspect it’s the main reason I haven’t had any major breakouts even throughout pregnancy and breastfeeding. Only free through end of October!

Okay and the remaining 9 kits which are amazing *but I forced myself to choose 10* are…

  • Rosewood Lip Trio: Beautycounter’s most popular lipgloss shade turned into a sheer lipstick, matte long-wearing lipstick and a mini gloss.

  • Eye Sparklers Palette: coming in November!

  • Better Balms Duo – clear and tinted balms coming in November!

  • Transforming Duo – fastest selling kit last year coming in November!

  • Glow & Go Mini Oils (34% off) – trial size of all 3 face oils – Brightening, Plumping and Balancing

  • Special Edition Cleansing Balm – ginormous Lotus Glow Cleansing Balm at a $25 discount – perfect for cleansing, makeup removal and moisturizing – your all in 1 product

  • Hand Cream Trio – 3 purse-friendly hand creams in 3 new scents – Soft Neroli, Petal and Mandarin Violet

  • Body Butter Trio – new whipped texture body butter in 3 new scents – Soft Neroli, Petal and Mandarin Violet

  • Lemongrass Body Scrub & Body Butter – deliciously scented lemongrass sugar scrub paired with a new whipped lemongrass body butter – one of those scents that just makes you HAPPY!

 

Would you like personal help selecting safer products for your skin (and help with makeup color matching?) Just email me at alaena@grazedandenthused.com, and I’ll reply within 48 hours with my recommendations!

 

Pumpkin Chocolate Chunk Protein Cookies (GF, DF)

Looking for a gluten-free, egg-free and dairy-free HEALTHY pumpkin chocolate chunk cookie? These Collagen Quinoa Pumpkin Chocolate Chunk Cookies have just the good stuff… protein, fat, nuts, pumpkin, seeds and an allergy-free mega chocolate chunk!

 

collagen quinoa cookie gluten free

 

 

Give me a one bowl cookie recipe filled with functional, health-promoting foods that taste and look like a cookie and I’m SOLD. After the popularity of my Gluten-Free Protein Breakfast Cookies, I wanted to make a more treat-like fall version with pumpkin, pumpkin pie spice and CHOCOLATE.

 

These cookies are chock full of good stuff like…

 

Pumpkin Puree: adds moisture, nutrients and helps use up that can of opened pumpkin puree! The pumpkin puree replaces oil/butter in traditional cookies.

 

Chia Eggs: help bind the cookie together while adding moisture and chewiness – my favorite egg replace – although you can sub the chia egg for 1 whisked large egg too!

 

Dry Quinoa: these little sprinkles add crunch and an earthy, nutty flavor to the cookies! I used to make the most delicious millet muffins and the dry quinoa here is reminiscent of that recipe for me.

 

Mega Chocolate Chunks: allergy-friendly BIG ASS chocolate chunks from Enjoy Life melt into gooey pools of chocolate in almost every bite in these cookies! These chocolate chunks really take these cookies from tasting health to tasting like a real treat without any garbage ingredients!

 

Sunbutter: I love the flavor of sunbutter and the thickness it provides for this cookie dough. It bakes up into a heart cookie keeping this recipe filling and full of nutrients from real food!

 

Feel free to get a little crazy and add flaked or shredded coconut, replace the pumpkin puree with sweet potato puree, or mix in some dried mulberries, raisins or diced figs. I always want my recipes to be the basis for YOUR own individual take. Make it as written and then adjust to your taste. This is how we learn to cook/bake and become our own personal chef, creating delicious, healthy meals out of whatever is in our pantry and fridge!

 

 
[simple-recipe:8520a]
 

 

gluten free protein cookies

 

 

 

Safer Anti-Aging Solutions (No Botox Here!)

Botox is the most popular in-office treatment for wrinkles, fine lines and sagging skin, but does it come with any health effects? This article discusses whether or not someone with autoimmune disease should receive Botox and offers natural solutions to pesky forehead wrinkles, frown lines and crow’s feet.

 

First, let’s discuss what Botox is…

Before I head into how Botox can potentially affect someone with autoimmune disease, let’s discuss what this toxin is capable of when interacting with the human body. Ingested or inhaled botulinum toxin is a neurotoxic spore that in minuscule amounts can be fatal. Symptoms include slurred speech, difficulty breathing, muscle weakness and lethargy. This is why babies under 1 are advised to not eat honey – their digestive tracts are not mature enough to fight off potentially contaminated food from the botulinum toxin.

 

Botox injections contain a very, very tiny amount of a specific strain of botulinum that paralyzes the muscles of the face to smooth fine lines, wrinkles and crow’s feet. It is even used by 20 and 30-something’s to prevent aging. The results only last 3 to 6 months which means Botox users get between 2 to 4 treatments a year, for decades and decades, if they want to maintain the results. Treatments cost anywhere between $400 to $1000, sometimes more, depending on how many injections you receive.

 

The industry is projected at an annual gross of 2.5 BILLION dollars while 4 to 5 million Americans receive Botox injections per year. You can bet that if 50 million Americans have autoimmune disease (as estimated by the AARDA), there is overlap between Botox users and the AI population, particularly because 80% of those with autoimmune disease are women (and who is most often looking for anti-aging solutions?)

 

What else is it used for besides fine lines, wrinkles & crow’s feet?

Botox is also indicated on and off label for chronic migraines, spastic cerebral palsy, excessive sweating, acne and TMJ disorder. I had a few Instagram followers message me that they have used Botox in the past for migraines. All 3 said they did not find relief from Botox and 2 out of the 3 said Botox gave them terrible, painful, long-lasting autoimmune disease flares. Of course, this is anecdotal, but nonetheless interesting.

 

Botox’ insert warns the following autoimmune populations about serious adverse side effects…

People with autoimmune diseases that affect the neurological system like ALS, MS and Myasthenia Gravis, should be particularly aware of the mechanisms and risks with Botox. The Botox website states that patients with ALS, MG, and Lambert-Eaton Syndrome need to be cautious of the potential for increased risk of serious side effects such as breathing difficulties and difficulty swallowing.

*Please be sure to make your Botox practitioner aware of all existing autoimmune disorders as well as pre-existing autoimmune episodes caused by Guillain-Barre Syndrome.*

 

Let’s look at the existing science on the relationship between Botox and autoimmune disease patients…

Limited longitudinal data or correlative studies exist examining the long-term health outcomes of Botox use on the autoimmune disease population or the general population.

Yet, a single subject study on a woman with Hashimoto’s who received Botox treatments over a decade-long timespan found a possible correlation between injections and a rise in her TSH post-injection.

These researchers examined the structure of the Botox and thyroid auto antibodies, which are the key indicators of the immune system’s attack on the thyroid. They found similarities between the epitopes of Botox and thyroid antobodies, indicating that Botox injections potentially increase the possibility of molecular mimicry – or the immune system mistaking Botox antigens for thyroid antigens.

 

Currently, not enough evidence exists to determine whether or not Botox is safe for patients with autoimmune disease, but just because something has not been proven, does not mean a relationship does not exist. This is where we each need to make our own informed decisions, and that will be different for each individual. 

 

As autoimmune disease patients, we need to make our own informed decisions about allowing known toxins into our bloodstream. Here’s why:

It is widely known that environmental factors account for 67% of  autoimmune disease risk while genetics only account for 1/3.

Autoimmune disease causal factors may include exposure to environmental toxins (including heavy metals, viruses and vaccines), nutritional deficiencies, blood sugar issues, antibiotic use, GMO and pesticide exposure and bacterial infections).

Now, if we know that the majority of autoimmune disease risk & potentially disease progression comes from our environment, then it makes sense to limit our exposure to environmental toxins. I don’t need a randomized, double blind, causative study to tell me that.

 

Thankfully, safer alternatives exist for decreasing signs of aging like fine lines, wrinkles and loss of elasticity, if you do decide that Botox isn’t the right option for you. I have personally tested each of these natural solutions to anti-aging when you want to avoid Botox, fillers or expensive laser procedures.

 

 

NATURE ANTI-AGING SKINCARE SOLUTIONS FOR FINE LINES, WRINKLES, CROW’S FEET AND LOSS OF ELASTICITY

 

 

AT-HOME MICRODERMABRASION FACIAL

 

This at-home gentle microdermabrasion deeply exfoliates and softens skin, reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, and helps with hyper-pigmentation from scarring and sun damage.

The Skin Obsessions Microdermabrasion Crystals make skin smooth as a baby’s while the luxuriously nutrient-dense Cleansing Balm creates a protective barrier for skin from the crystals.

I also use Beautycounter’s Lotus Glow Cleansing Balm as my multi-tasker, plant-based cleanser, makeup remover (even eye makeup!) and overnight moisturizing mask. It is the most lux safer skincare product I have ever owned and smells like a field of roses and geranium.

HOW TO USE:

Combine 1/4 teaspoon Skin Obsessions Microdermabrasion Crystals with a pea-size amount of Beautycounter’s  Cleansing Balm. Wet face with warm water. Massage the exfoliating paste gently into your face and neck for 60 seconds, avoiding eyes and mouth. Rinse away with a warm wet wash cloth. Use SPF protection if going out in sun for 24 hours following.

 

 

 

TWO TYPES OF AT-HOME PEELS: ONE FOR DAILY MAINTENANCE AND ONE FOR WEEKLY USE

 

 

Beautycounter’s Overnight Resurfacing Peel for daily maintenance

This is Beautycounter’s best-selling product! The Overnight Resurfacing Peel is a treat-while-you-sleep serum containing 15 alpha hydroxyl acids that work like a facial in a bottle. They increase cellular turnover, resurfacing the skin to reduce the appearance of fine lines, sun spots, scarring, hyperpigmentation, acne, and dullness. The Peel also works to increase elasticity and collagen production. Apply it to cleansed and toned skin 3-4 nights a week, following with your nightly moisturizing routine. In the morning, gently cleanse skin to remove all the dead skin cells the Peel sloughed off – the Nourishing Cream Exfoliator is excellent for this!

Skin Obsessions’ 85% Lactic Acid Peel  for weekly maintenance

This is for the more advanced at-home DIYer as it resurfaces skin, decreasing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, acne, scarring, hyper-pigmentation and dullness. It can be used 1x a week to 1x a month, depending on skin sensitivity and results goal. Follow directions included in your affordable at-home peel package. Use SPF protection if going out in sun for 24 hours following & avoid prolonged sun exposure during this time as well. Do not use if pregnant. I feel comfortable using 1x a month while breastfeeding, but that’s a decision you need to make for yourself.

 

 

 

MY FAVORITE AGE-REVERSING AND AGE-PREVENTION SKINCARE ROUTINE

Beautycounter is my all-time favorite safer skincare line because of their dedication to safer, contaminant-tested and high-performance skincare products. They are the skincare company for the woman who cares about her skin AND cares about her health and does not want to make sacrifices in either.

 

Their newest skincare line is the Countertime Collection (counter…time… get it?!) and it features their own safer alternative to Retinol called Retinatural! Read this article for why you don’t want to be using Retinol in your safer skincare routine.

This Retinatural Complex is derived from two anti-aging plant powerhouses: Bakuchiol and Swiss Alpine Rose Extract. Take a look at some of the impressive results below! I’ve seen a noticeable improvement in skin clarity and brightness, melasma, dark spots, the fine line across my forehead and crow’s feet. My skin has never been softer, brighter or smoother. I will be eternally grateful for Beautycounter’s safer skincare scientists!

 

Here’s some additional information on Countertime, if you’re looking for a health-conscious age-reversing skincare routine:

 

 

Finally… skin health is more than just what we put on our skin… it’s also what we put on our bodies! I’ve seen a noticeable difference in my whole body health, including my skin health, with the below diet and supplement inclusions!

WHAT YOU CAN DO WITH FOOD: DIETARY INTAKE AND SUPPLEMENTATION OF OMEGA 3 FISH OIL 

Increasing your dietary intake of coldwater fatty fish like wild-caught salmon (my fave!) and small bottom feeders like sardines and mackarel can help restore plumpness and vitality to skin. It is even thought to help with the prevention and reduction of fine lines and wrinkles as well as combat acne with its anti-inflammatory properties.

If you’re getting less than 1 or 2 servings of the above fish in your diet each week, consider taking a high quality fish oil supplement. I personally take Vital Choice Wild Alaskan Sockeye Salmon Oil + Vitamin D3. Bonus: I’ve noticed more stable mood while taking it!