Friday, February 20, 2015

New Beauty Routine

So many things have been happening lately that I honestly haven't had the time to catch everyone up on where I am with my lifestyle change. I am researching and learning many new things so forgive me if this post is all over the place. I will try to keep it as simple as possible.

As you will probably see over the next few posts I am in love with coconut oil. I used it earlier in the week in a recipe that you can find here and I have become hooked. Not only have I been cooking with it more (look for recipes soon) but I have also started using it as a main staple in my beauty regimen. My hair and skin have never looked and felt better.Along with consuming only water and hot tea (occasionally organic lemonade or grape juice) to give my skin and hair moisture, coconut oil has really given me a glow.

How I use Coconut Oil for my hair

1. While I am in the bath (I don't take showers) before I wet my hair I take about a teaspoon of Organic Expeller Pressed Coconut Oil and run it through my hair. It is difficult to get the coconut oil out of the jar as it is in a solid form, but once it gets on your hands and you rub it, the heat from your hands will melt it. I really concentrate on the ends of my hair first. While it sits in my hair, I proceed with washing my face with my normal face wash.

2. I wet my hair and wash with my regular shampoo. I have read different ways to make your own shampoo from coconut oil by adding apple cider vinegar. I have plans to do this, but for now I stick with my go-to shampoo.

3. After I have rinsed my hair thoroughly I will then put another teaspoon or two of coconut oil in my hair as a conditioner and let it sit for about 10 minutes. This step can be done about 1 to 2 times a week when you have the extra time. Also, I am afraid if I do this daily, my hair will become too greasy. Taking a comb or brush, I spend about 3 minutes running it through my hair.

4. Finally, I shampoo once more and allow to towel dry if I have the time. If not, I will blow dry it on a low heat while styling.

I suggest doing this for the first time on a night when you don't have to go anywhere the next morning just in case it looks greasy. This way, you can have a day or two shampooing your hair without using the coconut oil to remove excess oil.

How I use Coconut Oil for my skin.

1. I have replaced my shaving cream for coconut oil. The razor glides smoothly over my skin and leaves my legs feeling and looking silky smooth. It is great for under your arms. Bonus: It won't irritate your skin or leave you with ingrown hairs or bumps.

2. After I bath with my regular soap or body wash, I take a handful while I am still in the tub and apply it to my entire body, including my face. Then I rinse off with water and towel dry by patting the moisture from my skin.

3. Finally, after all is said and done and I have my comfy PJ's on, I apply it to my fine lines and wrinkles and use as a lip balm.

I have really enjoyed how it has made my skin and hair feel. Even my husband has noticed and commented on how silky my hair and legs are.

Here are two images. The first is of my hair, excuse the quality of the picture. The second is one I took this morning before getting out of bed to show how clear my skin looks and how clean and smooth it appears.

Neither of these pictures have a filter. Coconut Oil is AWESOME!!!

Let me know if you try it and how you like it!!!


Monday, February 16, 2015


Oh... My... Coconut!!!

This is the most creamy, delicious, flavorful, yummy, comforting dish I have made since Day 1 of my new clean eating lifestyle. Completely bored of the same old thing and then experimenting with new dishes that while YES, awesome!!!...left my stomach heavy and upset the next day...I am giving this dish mad props. 
I was extremely nervous about making this. These ingredients were not cheap and I have never in my life purchased coconut milk or coconut oil. I prayed for this to work and turn out delicious. It did!!

Savory Chicken and Noodles

I took the recipe here and once again made my own version

3 cooked chicken breasts, shredded ( I boiled mine)
5 yellow squash, peeled, cubed and boil until tender
1/2 c coconut milk
2 tbs, coconut oil, melted
1 tbs. apple cider vinegar
1 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. oregano
1/2 tsp. fresh rosemary
1/2 tsp. lemonaise 
2 servings of gluten free rice/quinoa spaghetti noodles cooked

1. In a bowl stir together coconut milk and all seasonings with a spoon.

2. Once your squash is tender and cooked through, drain and using a potato masher, mash until smooth and creamy and set aside along with cooked, shredded chicken.

3. In a medium saucepan over med-high heat, melt the coconut oil.

4. Once the coconut oil has melted pour in the coconut milk with seasonings. Add the chicken, apple cider vinegar and squash then stir. Once it begins to boil, turn to a simmer.

5. While the mixture is simmering, cook noodles according to the package directions, drain and transfer to pot. Stir together, plate and enjoy!!!

Recipe makes 4 servings.

Please make this!! You won't regret it...


Friday, February 13, 2015

Calm Down

Stop what you are doing right now. At this very moment, stop everything and listen to me. I want you to close your eyes for the next 30 seconds and deeply breathe. Take long, deep breaths to the point you almost ache. Do it now.....


Life can be so extremely overwhelming. There are times when it feels like there are not enough hours in the day. Because of this we honestly miss life. It seriously just passes by. As a child I can recall thinking Christmas, summer vacation, my birthday would never come. Life was lived day to day. I don't recall worrying about what was going to happen tomorrow or focusing on the days behind because my eyes were so eager to see what the current day held for me. Life was bigger as a child and even as a teen. Have you ever walked back into your old Elementary School or High School? Ever gone back to a home you visited when you were younger and realize how small it is now?

Trees were taller, nights were longer, friendships were more sincere. What happened?

I believe that our focus changed. It changed us and how we perceive our day to day life. Every person, every form of pleasure we seek, every thought or idea that we entertain has the ability to create a positive or a negative effect on us. More often than not, we humans tend to focus more on the negative. It is just easier, but why?

Mainly because there can always be a downside to everything that is good. However, there can always be an upside to everything that is bad; though it seems that we spend more of our energy on remembering the bad and forgetting the good.

How many times can you recall your bills being paid on time and without any penalty?
How many times can you recall your finance charges increasing or your water being shut off or a bill collector contacting you?
How many times has your boss or a co-worker, friend, spouse, teacher praised you? What did they say?
Can you recall the negative things they said to you? Is it easier to remember the bad?

Fortunately, yet unfortunately, you are not alone. Our brains are actually wired to remember negative events more than positive ones. However, this doesn't mean that our focus has to remain on the unfortunate experiences thus creating an attitude of doubt or pessimism. We can actually change our focus back to a more relaxed state of mind where the good outweighs the bad.

Here are 3 steps to help you change your focus to a more positive way of thinking and living.

1. Breathe

When we are relaxed we breathe slower than when we are anxious or experiencing negativity. We actually take breath for granted because it is a powerful tool used to calm the mind when the going gets tough, when we feel threatened or when bogged down with worry. Deep breathing slows down your heart rate and brings with it a sense of calm. There are many ways you can practice deep breathing by looking online for tips and techniques. For me, there are two ways I calm my emotions down and put my mind back into a more realistic way of thinking.

A. I close my eyes and breathe in through my nose until I can no longer take in a breath. I hold that for a count of 10 and release it through my mouth to a count of 10.

B. A new technique I recently learned was to breath in through the nose for a count of 4, hold it for a count of 7 and release through the mouth for a count of 8.

2. Gratitude

It really is easiest when life is going great and things are running smoothly to have a grateful mindset. But when things get rough that is when gratitude is most difficult. Being grateful for your bed, home, family, friends, job, transportation, clothing, food, laughter and so much more is one way you can begin to change your focus. Looking at the everyday things we take for granted or just expect to have easy access to because it has always been readily available opens up your mind to see how blessed we all really are. Even those less fortunate tend to have a more grateful attitude than most of us because they have been through or are going through a lot in their life and they really appreciate the blessings they do have.  Because gratitude will give you a sense of perspective that maybe life isn't as bad as it appears, you will become more high spirited when the going gets tough.

3. Forget the Past/Change it from Negative to Positive

Your past does not define your future. Your mistakes, missed opportunities, loved lost, etc...are no longer present. They are behind you for a reason. Too many people I know, including myself at times, dwell on the negative things they have experienced once before and often many moons ago. We wish we would have done this or not have done that. Focusing on the past can greatly hinder our progression into the future. To change your focus in this area why not share your story with someone? Use your negative past experiences to mentor, counsel or encourage someone you know who may be going through the exact same thing this very moment. Turn the bad into something that can be used for good.

While we will all have bad days we can change our approach to receive these negative experiences in a calmer fashion. Practice these three steps and watch the child in you realize that things aren't as big as you remembered.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Ground Chicken Mexican Casserole

I really love to cook. 

Cooking is like therapy for me, it is a way I show love and it is a creative outlet. Sometimes preparing meals after a really long day is just not what I want to do. (I believe we all could agree the feeling is mutual) So lately my home cooked meals have been really blah. Not eating fast food anymore, while better for my health and wallet, is not better on days I am tired. So I will simply cook some Quinoa and throw in veggies. Once or twice a week this is fine. However, multiple nights in a row it becomes really boring.

I couldn't take another round of boring last night so I put my thinking cap on, went to the grocery store and when I got home I proceeded with making a meal I am proud to call my own. (Although it really is many different recipes all in one and has been done before by others) But still…my own.

Ground Chicken Mexican Casserole

1 pound lean ground chicken (no antibiotics, hormones, grass fed, organic)
1 cup Lundberg’s Wild Blend Rice (gluten free-whole grain-vegan-non gmo)
2 cups(or less) + ¼ cup Homemade Enchilada Sauce (recipe below)
1-2 gluten free tortilla shell(s)
¼ cup non-dairy cheese or any cheese of your choice

In a pan cook ground chicken until brown and no longer pink. Meanwhile, cook Wild Blend Rice according to package directions. In an 8x8 casserole dish, spread ¼ cup of enchilada sauce on the bottom and place the tortilla shell on top. Once rice has cooked, transfer the ground chicken into the bowl with the rice and increase the temperature to high heat. Pour the remaining sauce into the same pan and let it boil rapidly for 3-5 minutes being cautious not to burn the rice…stir occasionally.

Turn off the heat and transfer the Chicken and Rice to your casserole dish. Top with an additional tortilla shell if you would like and shredded cheese and place in a 425° pre-heated oven until cheese is melted and sauce is bubbling. Let cool and enjoy.

Homemade Enchilada Sauce

1 tbs. dairy-free butter or regular butter
1 ½ tbs. grapeseed oil
1 ½ tbs. Quinoa flour (or brown rice)
1 tbs. non-GMO cornstarch
1 ½ cups chicken broth (free-range low sodium)
6 ounce can tomato paste
6 ounces water
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. dried ground cumin
¼ tsp. paprika
¼ tsp. salt
(feel free to add 2 tbs. chili powder, 1 tsp. garlic…I just can’t consume either of these)

In a bowl, combine the flour and cornstarch and set aside.

Set the chicken broth beside the saucepan you will be using

In your saucepan, heat the butter and oil together over medium heat. When butter is melted and the oil has a slight boil, whisk the flour/cornstarch mixture slowly into the pan.

Immediately pour the chicken broth into your pan, but slowly and continue to stir. Increase the heat to medium-high.

Consistently whisk the mixture for about 2-4 minutes or until thickened.

Add tomato paste, water, and seasonings and whisk until combined. Turn heat to low and let simmer for about 5 minutes.

All in all this took about an hour to prepare and cook. You can very easily make this process quicker by using a quick cook rice of your choice, two cans of enchilada sauce and even faster with pre-cooked shredded chicken. Just combine it all together and throw it in a casserole dish with your tortilla and cheese.

Just remember, I prefer if you do this in a more organic way ;)


Update: Just had leftovers...better the second time around!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The Scar That Reminds

I have a scar.

It has been there for 17+ years.

This scar was caused by a pain so colossal and overwhelming that I couldn't breathe.

This scar was difficult to handle both physically and mentally and shook me to my very core.

This scar, it reminds me.

I applied lip gloss today and felt it.

I was 18-19 years old. I was in my room with my then boyfriend. We were arguing, not for the first time either. We argued a lot. He grabbed me by my face and bit straight through my lip.

This is my story of survival, of the scar that reminds me. It is the first time I have ever shared this story. Be patient with me as I unravel my soul in front of you.

He was in my Art class my senior year of High School. He was funny, smart and had a lot of friends. He sat beside me and made me laugh. One day he made a mixed tape for me and gave me a letter telling me how beautiful, smart and funny I was... how amazing I was and how he wanted to pursue a relationship with me. I fell in love.

The first slap came out of nowhere. We were in his bedroom with his mother in the kitchen and his father in the living room. We had a small disagreement. Out of nowhere he blindsided me with a slap to the face. I heard a boom within my ears and my body was filled with shock. Immediately he fell on top of me, clinging to my body, convulsing with tears and poured out his sorrow and shame for laying his hands on me. I was confused. I was hurt. I felt his sorrow.

For months it never happened again. I believed that was the only time it would ever happen and that his remorse was genuine. He became a prince. He was a gentleman; opening doors, taking me shopping, listening to my music, reading me poetry, taking me on trips, treating me like I was a queen.

Then it happened again. This time it wasn't a slap, it was a punch to my stomach and a threat that if I told anyone or tried to leave him that my life would be in danger as would my families. From that day on things became more intense. I walked on eggshells so as not to upset him. We had a routine. He would abuse me and then buy me jewelry or write me a letter or make a grand gesture to “prove his love” for me. I felt confused, I felt isolated and I felt trapped. The “man I knew” verses the “man he was becoming” were two different people and I so desperately wanted to have the “man I knew” back. I stayed. I stayed out of fear, love and confusion. My self-worth was slowly diminishing and I felt unlovable enough to stay.

As time progressed so did the intensity of his attacks. Slaps turned into blows. Blows turned into choking. Choking turned into being drug by my hair, which turned to kicks, which turned to knives held to my throat, which turned to blood being drawn, which turned to rape.

I told no one. I couldn't out of shame for myself, fear for my family and “love” for him. I became a shell of a person.

I don’t know how to tell you when an abused woman has had enough. I don’t know where to tell you she finds the strength to leave when any ounce of strength she had prior to the relationship is not only gone, but so deeply gone that even sleeping becomes too hard and requires too much power. I can’t even explain to you how I left.

It started one Saturday afternoon and progressed into Sunday.


In my own home with my family in the kitchen he got so mad at me because I didn’t want to leave and go off with him alone that he grabbed my face with both of his hands and pulled me to him. He leaned in like he was going to kiss me; instead he bit straight through my top lip.


My boyfriend and I were talking with his mother and she was sharing funny stories of his childhood. I felt safe enough in her presence to “laugh at him” and to joke him as well. I knew the repercussions, but for a brief moment, the ability to mock him within a safe environment was so overwhelming that I couldn't stop. Then it was time for me to go home. No sooner were we out the door when he grabbed me by my hair and pulled me across the concrete driveway. With steel toe boots on he began to kick me in the stomach, back and legs. His mother heard my screams and ran outside to get him off of me and I lay there on the ground, broken. She drove me home.

I began to ignore his calls and I tried my best to avoid him on campus. I had enough. Maybe it was the embarrassment of his mother finding out, maybe it was relief that someone finally knew, and maybe it was sheer exhaustion…but I ended it. He continued to try to see me, but I continued to tell him it was over.

However, this wouldn't be the end. It was a Monday morning. I was skipping class and sleeping in. I didn't have the energy to get up. It had been two weeks since we were through. He knocked on our front door and my grandmother let him in. She didn't know, I still had not told my family. I was still asleep. He came into my room and stood over me while I slept. I don’t know how long he was there. Eventually he woke me up. He looked crazier than I had ever seen him. Or maybe now I was seeing him for who he really was for the first time. Maybe this time apart and all I had been through finally opened my eyes.

He sat down, pulled a gun out of his pocket and put it to my head. I was frozen; couldn't move, couldn't speak. I don’t know what he said other than I ruined his life and he was going to end mine. Silent prayers and crying out to God in my mind saved me. He put the gun in his pocket and got up to walk out. That was it. 

Weeks later he approached me outside of my psychology class while we were waiting for our Professor to arrive and handed me a letter with red hearts all over it. In front of God and everybody I ripped it up, threw it in his face and finally stood up for myself. I told his fraternity everything he did and I put as much shame on him as I could. Eventually he would never even have the courage to look at me when we passed. I stood tall and unafraid. To this day if we pass one another he won't even look at me.

I have a scar and it reminds me. It reminds me that I am strong, that I am a survivor, and that I am worthy. It reminds me that I am a powerful woman.


P.S. You can leave. It is hard and it is scary. It is not an easy road and not all women ever make it out. But there is help available and I am here to support and encourage you. I will even help you find a way out.

P.P.S. Thank you for allowing me to share my story with you. While there is a lot left out, the majority of the fear and pain is on this page. One day I will be able to tell my whole and complete story without fear. 

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

When I Need A Treat

Chocolate, yum!
Fruit, yum!
Pecans, yum!

I love love love desserts. I probably have the largest sweet tooth ever, thanks to my mother. Finding yummy treats when you are gluten free, 50% vegan (can't commit 100% right now), against GMO's and want to eat organic as much as possible, having a yummy dessert can be challenging. Especially when you live in a small town where these options are few and far between. Despite these challenges I have found a new dessert that makes me so happy!!

I take "Enjoy Life" Cocoa Loco Baked Chewy Bars - (NON-GMO certified, Gluten free, dairy free, soy free) and add raspberries, black berries and crushed pecans.

I unwrap that chocolate goodness of a bar and heat it in the microwave for about 15 seconds, crumble it and add my berries and pecans.



Quinoa & Bean Burrito

Another delicious success for me along this food journey to health. I am going to keep this post short and just go ahead and share the recipe.

This recipe is gluten free and vegan friendly. Remember, always look for Certified Organic labels & Non-GMO labels.

Quinoa & Bean Burrito

1 serving Bob's Red Mill Quinoa
1 can Vegan Refried Beans
Yellow & Red Grape Tomatoes
Grapeseed Oil
1/4 cup Pine Nuts
1/2 Lemon juiced
1/2 Avocado - cut into cubes
1/4 cup Cilantro
Cumin to taste
Sea Salt & Pepper to taste

Begin cooking Quinoa according to the package directions. This is where I add a little bit of salt, grapeseed oil, pepper and cumin along with 1 tsp. lemon juice for flavor. (Can easily use quick cooking quinoa instead that is already seasoned)

Heat refried beans in a small pot and turn off.

Add 1 tsp. Grapeseed Oil to a small pan that has been heated over medium-high heat. To the pan add the pine nuts, tomatoes and salt. Sautee until tomatoes are tender and pine nuts are toasted.

Transfer tomatoes to a bowl and add avocado, remaining lemon juice and cilantro. Break everything up with a fork.

Lay tortilla shell flat on a plate and spread a layer of refried beans over tortilla. Then add a layer of Quinoa, finally spoon the tomato mixture down the middle. Roll like a burrito and enjoy. Feel free to add cheese (if going vegan, add daiya mozzarella style shreds)

Please note that you can add more tomatoes, cilantro and avocado if you are cooking for 2-4 people. I cook for myself so my quantities are less than for an average size family. I cook my husband a separate meal each night as he is not into this lifestyle at all. While he supports it, he just can't hang, ha!