Something had to give.

I was talking to a mom who considers herself crunchy and she said all the time people ask her “this must be your first [child]”?

I’ve heard people say this before. Hell, I’ve probably even said this about people I know who I thought were “extreme” in the past.

The truth of the matter for me, is, I’ve become crunchier with each child (I have three) and as time passes on. Why? Because with each child came a new set of symptoms which I googled, asked questions to my friends who I knew did things in a healthier way, tried to figure out the CAUSE of their symptoms instead. It all started with my daughter who had chronic ear infections for 4 and a half years. Then a little boy who seemed to be allergic to dairy. Then another dairy allergy. A baby who was perfectly normal with no skin issues or illnesses until I started giving him formula at 8 months old.

I didn’t ask the generation above me (no offense to them) but it was clear to me that MY generation was one filled with allergies, early breast cancer, autism, massive amounts of depression and anxiety and quite frankly I felt something had to be common. No coincidence.

As I research more and more I become passionately reliant upon remedies that come from the soil God gave us. What we put into our bodies is killing us. But it can also heal us – if we change what we put into it.

Inflammation is the first sign that something is wrong with your children and you. But what is inflammation? It’s the body’s immune response to something that is wrong. Toxins like chemicals in our processed foods and cleaners, etc. It presents itself in the system through signs like rashes, eczema, headaches, upset stomach, asthma, and even worse like blood circulation and erectile dysfunction – and while some of these can be severe – most of the time all of these symptoms are mild and manageable with convenient over the counter medicines (which also have side effects). But when you combine all of it together – it’s chaos. Your body shouldn’t feel that way. Your little baby and your small children certainly shouldn’t.  STOP ACCEPTING that.

But what do we do? We look to doctors. What do doctors know how to do? Treat symptoms. All we really have to do is change how we take care of ourselves.  Did you know that doctors are not trained in nutrition? I didn’t either until I started researching.

If you have a child with any of those symptoms – I challenge you to change their meal plan to a Whole Foods plant-based diet for two weeks and see what happens. You don’t have anything to lose.  Something has to give.  What we’ve been doing doesn’t work.  Our generation is not “just fine” and the next one will not be either unless we change the cycle.  Ask questions.  Read nutrition blogs.

And most of all, acknowledge conventional ways aren’t THE way.IMG_6863.jpg

6 Items to Spruce Up Your Spice Cabinet

Every month in my thirty-day health accountability groups, we talk about what you should purge from your pantry, your fridge, and your freezer – but one thing that often gets put to the back burner is the SPICE CABINET.  Most people who join  my groups are just beginning commitment to their health – so it is difficult enough for them to purge the pantry, which I feel is the MOST important to audit.

But, for what you must toss from your pantry – you must ADD to your spice cabinet.  For those of us growing up learning to cook with things like seasoning packets and boxed items, the seasoning we needed is already provided, so when you purge those things, you’ve got to figure out how to get the similar flavors so you don’t get bored of what you eat each day.

A HUGE reason that I had begun the process of making my seasonings and dressings from scratch in the first place, is because I live abroad, so I can’t just find Miracle Whip and Hidden Valley Ranch on every street corner.    You can find just about any copycat recipe on Pinterest or Google for your favorite prepackaged seasonings, so over time, I have accumulated a lot of spices in the last year.

These are my six favorite things.

1.  Himalayan Sea Salt – the difference in flavor between this and regular table salt is incredibly noticeable to me.  The regular iodized table salt tastes sort of like bleach or some other chemical type taste in my opinion.  I didn’t used to think that…but now if I’m out of the “pink salt” and have to use the table salt, it tastes TERRIBLE.  Do your research about why to use this, but I promise, it’s worth the splurge.  I use the coarse granules and put it into a salt grinder so that I have more control over how much I salt my post-plated food.  You know how salt likes to come POURING out of a regular shaker…I think this is a good deal on the quantity of sea salt  – and it will last a long time.

2.  RAW Apple Cider Vinegar (with the mother) – you’ll see me talk about this stuff a lot.  I’ve been drinking it most mornings with a drop of honey and squeeze of lemon wedge to help with digestion and gut bacteria.  I also use it when making bone broth.  It helps detoxify your liver, kidneys, and it pulls the good nutrients out of the bone marrow when making broth.  It is not very tasty to drink, but I guarantee you it’s not any worse than a shot of tequila! Eden is a brand that I get here, but I love Bragg’s and it’s really cheap on Amazon.

3.  Steak Seasoning – I am a HUGE fan of garlic.  I would’ve included it here, but I imagine everyone already has garlic of some form in their kitchen.  I used to season steaks with just salt, pepper, and garlic, but YEARS ago, one of my best friends gave us a bottle of this steak seasoning and we have never stopped using it.  It has dried, organic sea salt, black pepper, garlic, allspice, cinnamon, cloves, and ginger.  I would have NEVER thought to put the last three ingredients in a steak seasoning – but it’s incredibly tasty.  Just with anything, the flavor is more intense the longer you let it marinate on the steak, but the amazing thing is it’s still pretty freaking good 5 mins before it goes on the grill.  It’s perfect on any kind of meat and I love it on asparagus! I used to order it on Amazon, but lately I’ve only been able to find it straight from their website.  It’s not the cheapest thing ever, but it lasts us (family of 5) for about six to nine months.  It has way less sodium than other steak rubs you’ll see at the grocery store.

4.  Paprika – Y’all. I used to think that paprika was only something you used on Thanksgiving to sprinkle on deviled eggs for decoration.  It turns out, it’s in almost everything!  It’s in Miracle Whip, Lawry’s Seasoned Salt, and Asian seasonings…it blows my mind how much I use this stuff.  Do me a favor and find low sodium Paprika though!  It is ridiculous how much sodium is hidden in the foods you’re consuming.  Some brands to trust are Mrs. Dash and Flavor God who have a bunch of combos you’re probably used to using.  Also try things like smoked paprika, or sweet paprika – or my favorite – sweet smoked paprika!  It gives a totally different depth of flavor.

5.  Braggs Liquid Aminos – I cannot find this stuff here either, so I have someone bring us some every 6 months or so.  Imagine soy sauce with 1/4 of the sodium!  We cook a lot of Asian-fusion dishes and this stuff makes me feel less guilty about it (that and the Paprika).  This is yummy on roasted and sautéed veggies!

6.  Ghee – I have posted about this in a previous blog but you really want to get you some of this if you like to cook with butter.  We are in the process of limiting – eliminating dairy from our house and although this isn’t able to be deemed “dairy free” it is {mostly} free of the proteins that cause irritation for people with dairy intolerance.  But aside from that, it’s FREAKING DELICIOUS! I use it more in baking than sauteing, but it has a nutty flavor.  It smells like movie theatre popcorn.  You won’t regret getting rid of the Country Crock for this, I promise.

Some of these items are a little pricer that what you’re probably currently using…but a pro tip is purge and replace one item at a time each week and rest assured that the things your using will be staples in your cabinet for a while and, so you won’t have to purchase it frequently.
Try these things out and let me know what you think!

Can we all just agree…

….to bring our kid their own post-game snack?

I’m not even kidding (although this will be a melodramatic post)!  It is difficult enough to navigate our OWN children’s allergies and sugar intake –much less the need to consider an entire team!

It’s difficult enough to face the pressure of what kids are going to think about your snack, and moms that are so into momming that they wrap everything in perfectly decorated baggies with each child’s name….much less finding snacks that are dairy free, gluten free, coconut free, and nut free…and I’m not poking fun – one of my kids has an allergy.

THEN, throw in the fact that if you’re a mom that doesn’t give your kid juice boxes or gatorade or soda and then you have to swipe that shit from their hands faster than you can blink and be forced to be “that” mom right in front of everyone?  Then there’s that awkward moment where you’ve outwardly disapproved the weekly snack mom’s choice and you so desperately want to say, “it’s not you, it’s me”…like I am not judging you for bringing this but if I allow MY child to have this they’re going to be batshitcrazy for four straight hours and I’ve got to go to the grocery store after this game and I need this kid to keep it together!

THEN, there’s the  mom that brings perfectly healthy snacks and then you wonder if she was upset that you previously brought snacks that she didn’t approve of for her child….

It’s too much pressure!

SO – can we just all officially agree that weekly snacks are silly and just bring our OWN kid a snack!? I mean, our kids get hungry 450 times a day at inconvenient times anyway and any seasoned mother has a car FULL of snacks (in the seats) and ziplock bags of SOMETHING in the bottom of their handbag anyway….right?

#boycottsnackschedules

5 HEALTHY SWAPS

Looking back on my transformation with food is just as entertaining to me as my physical transformation.  When I first starting giving a shit about being healthy, I was still CLUELESS and was eating things that I THOUGHT were healthy and now I chuckle.  Swapping bread for tortilla wraps….STILL the same thing, if not even more carbs! {Insert Laugh-Cry Emoji}.  In the EARLIEST days of my “healthy” mindset shift, I thought Cherry Limeades from Sonic were healthy!

So – over time I have learned and will continue to be open-minded about food in the future.

Here are my FIVE HEALTHY SWAPS that are easy to adapt to in the early stages of your clean eating transition.

  1.  Ice Cream for Fruit Sorbet.

During my shark week I crave Ben & Jerry’s New York Super Fudge Chunk ice cream.  It is just as delicious as it sounds! The most simple swap that I have recently made is fruit sorbet.  I also am a massive fan of orange sherbet and strawberry ice cream.  Here’s all you need to make your own at home:  frozen fruit, healthy milk alternative (rice, almond, coconut), raw macadamia nuts, and a food processor.  Macadamia nuts are sort of sweet all on their own, so you don’t even have to add sugar! Pick your favorite fruit (I’ve been a fan of mango and strawberry) and then add enough to soften the frozen fruit and make it creamy…put it in your food processor and BAM!, ice cream!  Ice cream that your kids can have as much as they want!!!  Crazy huh?  We have it weekly now!

2.  Lettuce Wrap Tacos for Corn/Flour Tortillas.

I am from Texas and I love Mexican food.  Taco Tuesday is a real thing in Tejas.  We can’t get enough tacos, like, ever.  A super easy swap is the corn/flour tortilla for those BIG romaine lettuce leaves.  Sometimes you’ve got to double wrap but then you get to still have tacos!  Or if it falls apart, you’ve got yourself a taco salad!  You can still serve your husband and kids with tortillas if you want.  It’s a great way to keep from cooking multiple meals if you’re not quite ready to lay down the law about food in your house.  Baby steps.  Besides, you know you can’t eat just one taco and this way you can eat a crapload of tacos and save your carbs for better things, like, vodka!

3.  Mayonnaise/Miracle Whip and Sour Cream for Greek Yogurt.

Greek yogurt is thick and creamy.  One sort of funny thing that many of my first time customers can’t get over is that they “just can’t” do greek yogurt because it is “nasty” and “has no flavor”.  In the States, my generation was brought up with sweet yogurt (imagine that!) so it is difficult for us to disassociate that yogurt is savory while the rest of the world can’t understand why our yogurt is so sweet! I’ve fallen completely in love with Greek food.  Yeeros, get in my belly! With Greek food, comes this little sauce called Tsaziki.   The first time I had it, I HATED it because I’m not a fan of cucumber and dill.  But THEN, I had the spicy version at my favorite greek chain and my little Texas soul was filled with happiness.  The thing about Greek yogurt is, you can make it taste however you want.  Just get OUT of the SWEET mindset (unless you’re adding fresh fruit, which I love too).  It’s delicious with tuna salad, tacos (see above), wraps, seven layer dips, the possibilities are endless.  Sometimes I mix together greek yogurt and avocado as a sandwich spread.  If you’re a Miracle Whip fan, add garlic powder and paprika.  You’re welcome.

4.  Rice for Quinoa.

It took me a while to jump on this bandwagon.  My children have little Asian people hiding inside of them, so we are HUGE on rice in our house.  We still have it weekly, but I swap mine out for quinoa.  I had to cook it a few times until I figured out how I wanted to eat it.  One day, I made this quinoa sushi from the Fixate cookbook where you swap the sticky rice for quinoa, so I had to add rice vinegar.  GAME CHANGER.  Now I boil up some quinoa to add with my protein (my protein is always meat) and add a dash of rice vinegar and down the hatch!  Delicious!

5.  Butter for Ghee.

I had never even heard of Ghee until I moved abroad.  I’m sure it exists but my uncultured little small town Texas eyeballs had just never heard of it or seen it.  It’s in every grocery store here.  Every convenient store.  Basically it is butter, but except it’s been stripped of all of the “dairy” part.  It cannot really be labeled as ‘dairy free’ but all of the moisture and milk solids like casein and lactose have been removed, so people who have sensitivity to dairy can still have ghee.  Wanna know the best part?  It TASTES BETTER!  It has this rich nutty sort of smell.  It reminds me of the smell of fresh popcorn at the movie theater! It’s a great way to get in your healthy fats with less guilt.  Use it in the place of olive oil, vegetable oil, cooking sprays, butter, margarine, any cooking medium really.  If you can’t find it in your grocery store, check Amazon!

Husbands, you can have meat and potatoes.

As I’m sure most people know, Beachbody programs are incredibly effective, and if you haven’t ever completed a workout program from Beachbody then please, email me and I’ll give you the DL. They give us the option to workout from home on a schedule that is convenient for us.  What you may not be aware of is the benefits of having a Team Beachbody Coach.

Most coaches are sharing their journeys every single day on their favorite social media platforms.  They aren’t doing it just because they love taking selfies – I promise.  It takes most coaches a while to get over the fact that if we do not share our journeys, no one will be inspired by us….but THAT is why share so much.  Like most coaches I know, we don’t just share our workout selfies.  We’re telling what program we’re currently committed to, what Shakeology flavor we’re currently obsessed with, which child we finally got to eat the broccoli, how our husband had no idea that the mashed potatoes were actually cauliflower, how the personal development book we’re currently reading is giving us all the feels, and most importantly- we’re sharing our REAL life.

We go from program to program to program for a number of reasons.  1.  Because we’re on our own physical journey.  2.  So that we know the program and who would (or wouldn’t) benefit from it. 3.  So we don’t get bored of one program.

Say you find a coach that you connect with, and you’re inspired by their journey – but you feel like you could never do BODY BEAST because that sounds terrifying and on a level you can’t relate to…that is OKAY.  Most coaches DO NOT start out that way.  In fact, most coaches haven’t ever had any shitstogive about fitness until one day they popped out some kids or gained the freshman fifteen and the sophomore twenty to even HAVE shitstogive about fitness.  We all start out with small expectations.  Lose 10-20 pounds.  Then it becomes real life. Then we complete another program, then we get stronger, then we get more confident, then we stay committed to the entire lifestyle and the next thing you know, we’re running marathons, completing triathlons, we’re outdoors more often, and our whole outlook on life changes.

So this is how it works.  Someone messages me and tells me they’d love to do what I do but they have no idea how to get started.  Well, that’s – because I didn’t either in the beginning…I start by asking them their goals.  What are you wanting to achieve?  Then we talk about injuries, if there are none I move on to asking them what workouts they HATE? Seriously.  For someone that is JUST NOW shitgiving about exercise its unlikely they’re going to LOVE working out, so let’s first find out what they HATE! Then we talk about food.  The food conversation goes on for a while and I’ll save that for another post….

But the jest of what I’m getting at is – you do not have to figure out all of this crap.  We start small.  We have committed to these lifestyle changes personally and thus we are committed to learning and basically teaching you our overcomings because we have at some point or another been in your shoes.  And once you’re in an online support group – you’re surrounded by women who are JUST LIKE YOU.  Moms.  Working.  Staying at Home. Nursing (babies or patients) around the clock.  Students.  Women with resistant husbands {Husbands you don’t have to give up meat and potatoes, I promise!}.  Women who think they’ll never get their kids to eat healthy.  WE ARE ALL fighting the same battles with SOMEONE else out there….so doing it together makes it AMAZING!

Do you need a nap?

I have always felt the need to share my life experiences with people {and sometimes I like to have open conversation about random things}.  It is a priority of mine to help people and I’ve been a guinea pig for some stuff (as are a lot of us) and I find that it could be therapeutic to share my journey out of the test – I mean, there’s no reason to reinvent the wheel if someone else has some suggestions out of it.  That really is the coolest freaking thing about the internet anyway, right?  I’ve started blogs before and I just got bored of ONE subject, so I’ve decided that my whole entire life experience can just be shared in one stupid place.  I’m not going to do one of those cliche introductory blogs about who I am and where I came from…

I’ve decided to just START sharing what’s on my mind when the urge to babble comes, you will learn about me and why I’m insanely passionate about things like ribeye steaks and how I am genuinely offended if anyone puts steak sauce on one that is cooked in THIS house, how I really don’t like people buying gifts for my kids for their birthdays, and how I am considering starting a petition to just END the after-game snack for children’s sporting events.

With all of the ruck-a-ma-roe going on in American politics, the mood of social media can get pretty negative.  We get so sucked into people’s opinions and one-sided news articles and feel the urge to defend our own opinions.  Which, sometimes can lead to a healthy exchange, but it USUALLY does not.  Negativity and stress BREEDS more negativity. 

Since the beginning of the year, I have been determined to help change even more lives but I’m desperate first and foremost to inspire people to start sharing POSITIVE stories, start thinking more positive, and to resist the temptation to get sucked in to the yucky things. (And if you’re reading this thinking “yeah, right – good luck with that, Amber!” YOU are who I am talking about!!!)

With being a healthy lifestyle coach, I learn things about people’s lives whilst trying to motivate them, they open up…and I am just absolutely shocked about what all is going on with them that I know about but that little to no one in their immediate inner circle of family and friends have any freaking CLUE is going on with them. 

I challenge you to quit working up about stuff that you do not have control over.  Stop.  Look around you.  Are you living life on the surface?  Do you have superficial relationships with your friends and family?  Do you constantly feel like you’re just saving face?  Do your relationships feel fabricated or like WORK?  Are you the one who doesn’t let people in?  Are you loyal?  You can make changes in people’s lives when you have deeper relationships.  You DO have control of that.  Deeper relationships with people you really care about, purge the ones that you don’t.

Maybe you need to purge negativity.  Maybe you need a nap.  Maybe you need Jesus.  I don’t care what it is that you need – but FIGURE IT OUT so that you can become a HAPPIER person and so that you may influence others around you to do the same.  Try making a list of the things that make you happy and the things that stress you out…start with the stress and determine what you can eliminate, then take the time you were spending on that and apply it to your happy list!