Food Allergies

My daughter, who is seven, developed a chronic sniffle and cough back in October that defied all remedies.  I tried natural remedies first, then called the pediatrician.  Because of the time of year, he thought maybe seasonal allergies were to blame, so we tried allergy medicine.  No results.  Fast forward through a series of doctor’s appointments and treatments and tests and chronic sinusitis, and here we are, six months later, with a cow’s milk allergy diagnosis.

*hit the floor*  A food allergy?!?!?

I have been feeding this girl milk, yogurt, sour cream, and all kinds of cheesy goodness since she was a toddler.  For six years.  With this diagnosis came a good deal of clarity and a hefty dose of mom guilt.  Ever since she was tiny, my daughter would opt to drink water instead of milk.  She rarely finished a container of yogurt, if she opened it at all.  She also rarely finished a bowl of ice cream.  She never really explained why, just said she didn’t want those things.  Maybe, all this time, her body was telling her that something was wrong.  How did I not see it sooner?

Mom guilt aside, we cut all cow’s milk and milk products from her diet and . . . the sinus infection is gone.  No more sniffle, no more cough.  The best part is, she says she feels amazing.  I am guessing that she didn’t even realize how badly she felt, because she probably had cow’s milk in her food every single day and didn’t have a frame of reference for how good she could be feeling!

We are in phase one of an elimination diet, meaning that we will try to introduce foods back into her diet to see how she tolerates them.  Reading labels is tough.  I make mistakes.  If any other parents have advice, blogs, recipes or ideas I could use, I would be so grateful.

I am thankful that we were able to figure out why my girl was feeling badly (yay science!) but curious about what to expect and where we go from here.

 

 

Hair Story

A long time ago in a blog far away, I told you about cowashing and my little hair experiment.  Here we are, over a year later, and this is how my hair looks . . .

FullSizeRender

I went in a month or so ago to have it trimmed, and my stylist commented that i had almost no split or dry ends, and that my hair was INCREDIBLY healthy.  Clearly, the elimination of shampoo was the right move for me.

Here’s my winter hair routine:

I “wash” my hair once every five days.  When I do so, I get it thoroughly soaking wet at the beginning of my shower, then I coat it with Living Proof Perfect Hair Day conditioner.  **yes, it is expensive, but it seriously rocks and when you only wash your hair every five days you can splurge a little bit.

When I say “coat”, I mean that I use six pumps of conditioner on my scalp alone.  Then, I use another six pumps on the middle section of my hair and my nape.  Another six pumps goes onto my ends.  I use my fingertips to really scrub my head and get the conditioner on every little bit of hair.  Then, I do the rest of my shower duties, and rinse the conditioner off last thing.  When I rinse it, I again scrub like mad, using my fingertips to really work the water into my scalp and get it rinsed.

Next, I wrap my head in an old t-shirt to absorb the extra water for about five minutes (this trick is amazing).  I gently comb out the tangles and apply Living Proof Perfect Hair Day 5-in-1 Treatment, then air dry for about fifteen minutes.  Then, I blow dry, using a ceramic round brush and alligator clips.

My hair has serious volume and shine the first two days.  On the third day, I might need to apply a little hair BB cream to my ends (the picture above is day 3).  On the fourth and fifth day, I can do some great ponytails and braids using some dry shampoo at my roots to get serious volume.

My hair does not smell, nor does it get greasy when I work out.  I think my scalp is regulating itself really well and overall, my hair is far healthier than it has been since I was a child.

Where has Aldi been all my life?

You all know Aldi, right?  That stand alone store with the blue A logo?  We didn’t have Aldi in the small town where I grew up, and the first time I saw one was when I was married and trying to do grown-up life stuff.  I didn’t go to Aldi because I didn’t know Aldi.  I went to Kroger because it was set up the same way as the Kroger back in my hometown, which meant I knew how to find items I needed.

Of course, I got the Aldi advertisement in my Thursday mail every week, but when you have babies, grocery shopping is NOT the time for experimentation.  One week, I saw that Aldi had baby trees for $10 each, so I decided to give it a go.  It was a total failure.  I had a baby and a toddler with me and didn’t know about the cart deal, so I was stuck trying to carry baby trees and manage two tiny people.  Then, because you have to walk through the entire store to get to the checkouts, I walked past 800,000,000 things that my toddler wanted to eat. Plus, they are all stacked on the floor so my toddler could totally see the options and help himself.

So, I was carrying baby trees, managing a baby and a toddler, and also carrying boxes of snacks by the time I got to the checkout.  I didn’t know about Aldi’s payment rules, so after the clerk had run everything up, I didn’t have enough cash and had to take items off my bill, one at a time, until I had enough to pay.  Then, I didn’t have any bags, so I had to try to negotiate all my stuff, and the toddlers, through the parking lot.

When I sat down in the front seat, I was hot and sweaty and tired.  I swore that Aldi was NOT a friend of mothers and that I would NEVER EVER go there again.

Fast forward seven years.  My friend Jen blogs about Aldi regularly.  She shops there multiple times a week.  She sings the praises of Aldi – the MILK!  The MEAT!  The PEOPLE!  The DEALS!  For real, Aldi should be paying her advertising dollars because I bet she has brought in a million dollars of revenue for them.  I have been spying on these posts for a while . . . and then, I heard around the holidays that Aldi was eliminating all artificial dyes from the store-brand foods.  This was huge for me – I am constantly trying to dodge food dyes, which show up in the most curious (and unnecessary) places.  The peace of mind of knowing that everything Aldi-branded in the store would be free of dyes?  So cool!  Then, I did a little internet research, and found out that Aldi and Trader Joe’s are sister companies.  I LOVE Trader Joe’s, so I started thinking maybe I should give Aldi another chance.

However, the holidays are not a time for grocery experimentation.  I was too busy making awesome memories and delicious food and wrapping gifts to venture out of my comfort zone.  But then, Aldi struck again – I read an article that the organic and natural food offerings at Aldi are completely awesome.

This was clearly a sign.  I needed to get my bod to Aldi and check things out, now that my children are in school and I use reusable bags on the regular and I actually have quarters in my car.

What you need to know before you go:  Bring a quarter for your cart.  Bring your own bags, and plan time to bag your own groceries.  Aldi only takes cash or debit cards.  The way Aldi keeps prices low is by not stocking things on shelves – most items in the store are still in a cardboard carton that has been cut open.

The good:  I was able to find almost everything on my shopping list.  The prices on organics, natural food, and produce were beyond belief.  I can’t even process the price on organic milk – SO GREAT.  I remembered my quarter so I could use a cart, which has double baby seats in the front.  Way to go, Aldi, for making space for multiple kids.  I brought cash and my reusable bags, so I was able to checkout with my dignity intact.  The beer and wine selection was super; I just hope it tastes good.

The bad:  The organization of the store is not intuitive to me.  I spent a lot of time wandering, scanning up and down the aisles, trying to figure out where items could be found.  Aisles have random cardboard boxes of stuff in them, which makes navigating your double-wide cart around other people and carts tricky.

Overall impression:  promising, bordering on great.  While I could find almost everything I needed, it was NOT a quick stop.  I wandered a lot, and waited for people to move their carts a lot.  I am not sure Aldi will be place I go for just a few items right now, but maybe as I become more comfortable, that will change.

Your turn – what items do you love to get at Aldi?  Are there types of beer or wine or coffee or something that I should try?

 

 

 

Obsessed: Spaghetti Squash

You’ve seen these guys at the store, right?  I am telling you, spaghetti squash is where it is at – healthy, filling, and super easy to prepare.  I have been making this dish once a week ever since Thanksgiving.  The water content and fiber are exactly what my body needed to get me through the holiday season.  It is ready in a snap.

BAKED SPAGHETTI SQUASH (1 hour), serves 8

Ingredients:

one spaghetti squash

one jar of pasta sauce (or make your own!)

one lb of protein (I like ground beef, ground turkey, or sausage)

frozen spinach

chopped onion

two diced garlic cloves

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 375.  Slice the squash in half lengthwise, and scrape out the loose seeds with a spoon.  Put a centimeter of water into the bottom of an oven-safe pan and place both halves of the squash in, face down.  Cook in the oven for 40-50 minutes.  Check on it every so often – when you poke the rounded backside of the squash with a fork and it is tender, pull it out of the oven.  Use a potholder and a fork to flip the halves out of the pan and rest them on a cutting board to cool.

On the stove, warm olive oil over low and sweat the onion and garlic until fragrant.  Then, add the protein and cook over medium until brown, seasoning with salt and pepper.  Add the frozen spinach and the pasta sauce, and lower the heat to low.

While the sauce comes together, use a spoon to remove the remaining seeds in each squash half.  Then, use a fork to gently pull the flesh of the squash out of the rind – it usually comes out pretty easily – and put into a large bowl.  Use two forks to shred the squash into “noodles”.  The more you shred it, the more it seems like real pasta.  Add the warmed sauce, and stir it up.

This dish is super healthy, filling, and kid friendly.

According to Wikipedia, one cup of spaghetti squash contains:

Spaghetti squash, raw
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy 130 kJ (31 kcal)
6.91 g
Sugars 2.76 g
Dietary fiber 1.5 g
0.57 g
0.64 g
Vitamins
Vitamin A equiv.

(1%)

6 μg

(1%)

64 μg

Thiamine (B1)
(3%)

0.037 mg

Riboflavin (B2)
(2%)

0.018 mg

Niacin (B3)
(6%)

0.95 mg

(7%)

0.36 mg

Vitamin B6
(8%)

0.101 mg

Folate (B9)
(3%)

12 μg

Vitamin C
(3%)

2.1 mg

Vitamin E
(1%)

0.13 mg

Minerals
Calcium
(2%)

23 mg

Iron
(2%)

0.31 mg

Magnesium
(3%)

12 mg

Manganese
(6%)

0.125 mg

Phosphorus
(2%)

12 mg

Potassium
(2%)

108 mg

Zinc
(2%)

 

Natural deodorant

I have been experimenting with natural deodorants for years, ever since I read a few studies about antiperspirants and an increased risk of Alzheimer’s Disease and breast cancer.  (Here’s one report – “may” and “more research needed” is enough for me to find an alternative.  You can web search and find more.)

However, the elimination of aluminum, parabens, and antiperspirant has been a tough one for me.  I work out, HARD.  I don’t always have time to take a shower immediately post-workout.  Sometimes I need to be near people, and I don’t want to smell bad.  I tried Tom’s of Maine, which I heard good things about.  It made me smell nice after my shower, but it couldn’t hold up during exercise.

I made my own natural deodorant for a while – just baking soda and coconut oil.  Easy breezy.  This worked really well, but I couldn’t get the mixture just right.  The baking soda irritated my armpits easily, and then when I would sweat things would really hurt.

I read a blog review recently, and I took their advice.  I am telling you guys, I have found the holy grail of natural deodorants.  Primal Pit Paste.  The name is funny, but the stuff is amazing.  I bought some two months ago, and it WORKS.  The basic ingredients are the same as my home recipe – baking soda and coconut oil.  However, they add essential oils and a few other ingredients to keep it from being irritating.  Also, the smells are fantastic.  I finish my workouts and I do not smell.  I can run a few errands post-PiYo and not feel self-conscious.

I bought the Pit Paste Sticks, because I went the jar route when I made my own deodorant and it was pretty messy.  I like the stick method because I am not getting deodorant all over my hands.  The sticks work great – just hold it under your arm for a few seconds to warm the coconut oil, and the product glides on.  I am a huge fan of the coconut lime currently.  I smell like a margarita.

Plus, sign up for the e-mail list to get 10% off!  I did, and then stocked up.  Life changer, ladies.

 

 

New Year? New workout clothes!

It’s January, guys!  Know what that means?  Awesome workout clothes on super clearance at our favorite stores!  I was just in Athleta, Lululemon, and Lucy and there was so much inventory on clearance – it was heaven!  Here are some of the items I scored:

Athleta Ponte Skinny Pant on sale for $39.  This pant is so good it’s ridiculous – looks like skinny jeans, feels like yoga pants.

Athleta High Rise Bloom Chat Tights for $28.  I love the high rise, as it keeps all my stuff covered and warm.

Athleta Frost Chat Tight for $28.  These are so COOL.

Splendour Bra

Lululemon Splendour Bra for $39 online (but I got  mine for less in store!)  I should note that I got five different tops at my local Lululemon for under $30 each, but I am not seeing those prices online.  It is worth checking the sale rack if you have one in town.

It is January, after all, so how about a few options to cover up with post-workout?

This cashmere cowl neck is 75% off ($85!) at Nordstrom Rack.

I love the slouchy V-neck in this 360 Cashmere sweater, also on sale at Rack.

I love the lean look of this Quinn Cashmere sweater, on sale for $70 at Nordstrom Rack!

Vince cashmere for $150?  YES.

Holiday Gift Guide for Moms

Hey there, husbands and boyfriends and partners.  This one’s for you.  You’re welcome.

I love my husband, but he’s not always great at Christmas gift-giving.  Gifts I have gotten in the past include snow boots and flippers.  Yes, these things are practical and yes, I use them.  However, I spend all year long putting others first and I kind of want to be spoiled a bit on Christmas.

Here’s a list of items I’d be thrilled to find under my tree.

Tiffany Jewelry.  You give us something in a baby blue box and we’ll love you for life.  Anything from the Paloma Picasso collection is amazing, and not totally bank busting.  Hint:  check what color jewelry your lady likes to wear so you can buy something that matches.  My personal favorites are:

Paloma Picasso®:Olive Leaf Band Ring Paloma Picasso®:Knot Ring Paloma Picasso®:Hammered Crossover Cuff   Paloma's Venezia:Luce Pendant   Tiffany Solitaire<br>Diamond Earrings

High-end workout gear.  Yes, I know we work out in these clothes and it can be hard to rationalize the price, but we are worth it.  These high end items make us look good and feel good.  Plus, they make us feel spoiled, and isn’t that the entire point?

Wunder Under Pant III All The Right Places Pant &go Everywhere LS All Sport Support Tank  

Boots.  I know, I said earlier that boots weren’t a great Christmas gift.  Practical boots, not a great gift.  These boots?  AWESOME gift.

Women's Joan of Arctic™ Boot    Women's L.L.Bean Boots, 8" Gore-Tex/ThinsulateWomen's L.L.Bean Boots, 8" Gore-Tex/ThinsulateWomen's L.L.Bean Boots, 8" Gore-Tex/Thinsulate

Anything from the Nordstrom Designer Sale, which is currently 40% off.  Seriously, anything.  My favorites are here.  Just put in your lady’s size and price limitations, and she will be thrilled.

Other good ideas?  These aren’t working for you?  Here are good standbys:

  • leg warmers
  • gift certificate for massage, yoga classes, or manicures
  • a seriously amazing date night
  • tickets to see her favorite band
  • a weekend getaway

Happy holidays everyone!

Foam Roller Shopping

As a follow-up to my foam roller post the other day, I want to do a shopping post!

Here are the foam rollers I considered buying, and why I did (or did not) choose them for my home gym.  First, I think the mantra “different strokes for different folks” is going to apply here.  We all have different bodies and different issues and different pain thresholds.  What works for me is not going to be what works for my husband, momma, dad, or neighbor.  BUT.  I can do some legwork for you and make your googling a little easier, right?

LuxFit Premium High Density Roller – Not going to lie, people.  I bought this because it was the #1 rated foam roller on Amazon and I am a sucker for the ratings.  However, I did put a little more thought into it than just the rating.  First, the price.  Can’t beat the price on Amazon.  Next, there are three sizes available – 12″, 18″ and 36″ lengths.  Not being an experienced foam roller, I went for the middle size.  I am really glad I did.  I am not a big person, and I am pretty sure the 12″ would have been too small for me to maneuver on well.  I like that I can shift from one side of my back to the other easily, without falling off the end of the roller.  Similarly, I think the 36″ would have been too big for me – again though, just based on my frame.

LuxFit Foam Roller (hollow and bumpy style) – this one looks way cooler than the one above, but it is more expensive.  Plus, I was reading about how rolling can be painful at first, and I was nervous that the bumps might make the process even more painful.  If you are an experienced roller looking for some added pressure, this could be for you!

TriggerPoint GRID Foam Roller – This is the #2 seller on Amazon, and it looks really awesome.  However, it was 3x as expensive as the one I bought, and because I wasn’t sure I was going to love foam rolling, it seemed prudent to be budget friendly.  Also, some of the reviews noted that their roller had cracked or broken because the roller isn’t one piece.

AmazonBasics High Density Foam Roller – Guys, this could be my foam roller’s twin.  They look the same and are the same price.  Mostly, I didn’t order it because it was the #3 seller.

Master of Muscle Foam Roller – How cool looking is this guy?  I almost bought this one because of the claims that it is like your own personal massage therapist (Um, YES!!!!) but the 13″ length gave me pause.  This might be a good one to take along to the gym or when traveling, but in the end, wanted a roller that was a big longer.

I hope this helps you shop for a foam roller that meets your needs.  If you have one you love that I haven’t mentioned, please post!