Too much, too many.

Like most of us, chances are you could clean out a few closets, drawers and cupboards and purge. The items collected are unique to each person and some are especially troublesome, creating excess at exponential rates. These are a few of my personal overstuffed drawers:

  1. Socks
    Six months of the year I don’t even wear them, yet my drawer is so full of socks that I can barely get it open.
  2. Cookbooks
    I don’t have a ton of time to cook, I like to eat out and due to cooking for food allergies, I make the same thing fairly consistently. However, I have a couple hundred cookbooks, including ones that aren’t allergy friendly.
  3. Scarves
    This started when I was pregnant with my kids. I couldn’t get any satisfaction from my fashion and my size kept changing so I would buy scarves to accessorize. Now I have far too many to possibly wear.
  4. Kitchen Gadgets
    Reference cookbooks above. Cool stuff in the kitchen inspires me, just not enough to cook.  Maybe I’ll just keep my magic pot, magic bullet and mix n chop… since that is all I use anyway.
  5. Cans, Bottles, Tubes
    Anything that can be considered a toiletry item can easily find it’s way to my home. For some reason there are so many bottles of things that I can’t find what i need, when I need it, which results in… you guessed it, more.

    It’s time to purge! Healthy habits, healthy home. What do you need to get rid of?

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Matcha purists, gather round.

About two years ago I tried my first matcha. Followed by a latte. Followed by a smoothie. Followed by a frozen version. I’ve always loved the taste of green tea but matcha was an experience that wowed.

Then I found these. Matcha Now is the easiest way I have ever found to get my daily matcha without the fuss, impurities or calories. If you are a purist, you will want to try MATCHA NOW… now!

Top reasons why?

  1. No muss, no fuss. No shakers, strainers, crap to clean, excess matcha in the mix or waste on the counter. Just twist the cap and shake it. Done.
  2. It’s the real deal. Ingredients: Water and organic ceremonial grade matcha.
  3. It’s made by Buddha Teas. Great reputation, great products.

I’m going to have to put in a word with some of my local markets to start carrying these. As usual, with a new product, they are just getting into the hands of distributors. Check out their instagram page @matcha.now or their website matchanow.com for updates on where to find them near you.

They come 100% pure (just the way I like it) or Lightly sweet (with a hint of stevia). Right now they are available via Amazon Prime for $39.99 for 12 (with free one-day ship for members). Which, if you are used to getting your matcha at the local coffee place, that’s a really competitive price, especially for ceremonial grade (not to mention organic) matcha.

Oooh. Ice, fresh, anytime, anywhere. Matcha. Check it out!

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This stinks!

Anyone who’s tried to go au naturale’ with their deodorant will tell you that the process of finding one that works will leave you smelling fowl.

I recently took a self proclaimed challenge to find the best working natural deoderant. I excluded over a dozen brands that had previously failed and started with 9 hopefuls. Granted, each brand works different on participants due to their chemical makeup, detox level, etc.

My findings, very simply, evaluated three things. Step 1, can I make it through an air conditioned day in the office without gagging from my own stench? If we can’t make it this far, there’s no point in a second date. Step 2, Can I make it through hot yoga? Granted, this is a big test. Considering the fact that I will be outdoors at events during the summer, this is a great way to test the maximum efficiency of a deoderant. Step 3, Can I touch up during the day?

My findings?

In third place, Naturally Fresh deodorant crystal, made of natural mineral salt and aloe vera. It’s a solid stick that you run under the faucet to activate against your skin. If you don’t like the feeling of perspiration, this is the one for you. It’s made by Seychelles organics and can be found at skinwell.com or Fresh Thyme.

In second place, Alvera Aloe and Almond Roll-on deodorant,  made of aloe vera, arnica, calendula, coriander, witch hazel, grapefruit seed extract and tea. It has a wonderful scent and touches up well. However, you must like the smell of Almond and be free from nut allergies. It is made by Texasbestumlimited.com. I found it at Fresh Thyme, however, it has since been discontinued from their store.

My favorite is a new deoderant, Schmidt’s Charcoal+Magnesium mineral enriched deodorant. Really, I’m in love. They had a special offer on their website, so I took a chance. It’s made with arrowroot, coconut oil, shea butter, baking soda, jojoba, charcoal and vitamin E. It smells amazing, activates from the warmth of your body and held up to all three tests. I haven’t located it in stores yet but if you go to schmidtsnaturals.com, they have a 30% off anniversary special right now. Enter the code ANNIVERSARY when checking out. Additional bonus, if you sign up for auto ship (one, two, three or four months available) they will give you free shipping too!

I hope you have found this information helpful.
Wishing you stink free days ahead!

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The sound of nails on a blackboard

I’m angry to the point of tears.

Some people may not consider finger nails, hair and skin to be health and wellness related. I do.

Something I do for myself is maintenance manicures. I like no chip polish to get a little bit more life out of them.

My experience today made me realize I may as well have taken my polish off with a belt sander at home.

As a busy, mom I try to use vendors that are close to the activities my kids are involved in. As a result, i’ve been getting my nails done at a salon next to the taekwondo studio. Never again. 

All nail salons are not created equal. I’m disappointed beyond words that anyone would care so little about the quality of their work. I might as well have thrown that $20 out the window. 

Now to work on the weeks of healing for my paper thin nails and start over again. Fortunately, it wasn’t my hair or internal organs. 

End result, it’s worth the drive for quality.

Where to eat Gluten Free?

I’ve had some newly diagnosed, paranoid people ask me if I quit eating out once I was diagnosed. No, I did not. We travel a ton and have a pretty hectic schedule during the week. I do tend to frequent restaurants I have been to previously and don’t venture out to try the “newest hot spot” very often. At least, until I have done some research and stopped by to ask questions without my kids in tow. While I’m willing to walk out of a restaurant, my kids are not quite as forgiving once they are hungry.

We are very fortunate to have great options in our area. I recently traveled to the back woods of Tennessee, the land of breaded and fried food. That experience left me in tears and very hungry. Not all cities are as accommodating to our seemingly, trend based diet.

Here are some of my regular spots in the Indy area. There are a variety, including quick pick-up and some fancy. There are more restaurants than you think that can accommodate. Many just don’t want to have a gluten free menu from a liability perspective.

  1. Rice Cooker – Zionsville, IN

They make the food from scratch and have a family member who is gluten free. Both are really handy when you are trying to avoid being poisoned. They know what gluten is, how to cook amazing food that is flavorful and gluten free and I’ve had things there that no other restaurant can make like hot n sour soup, general tsao’s and fried rice with molasses.

2. Mitchell’s Fish Market

Amazing flavorful options on an actual gluten free menu. They even have salads that are offered on the gluten free menu that aren’t on the regular menu. And they have bartenders who are knowledgeable about gluten free alcohol.

3. Ted’s Montana Grill

This is more of a salad place or burger without the bun option here. The big win is they do have dedicated gluten free frier, so if you want some fries, it’s the place to go.

4. Kona Grill 

They have recently revamped the menu to include sushi and select dishes that are more creative than steamed veggies and chicken.

5. Chipotle

Grab a bowl and build it how you want it. They even have wrap your own tacos. You pick the ingredients and corn tortillas and make them as you go.

6. PF Chang’s

If you want to have an experience that is much like everyone else, this is the place to visit. And the fact that they are all over the country helps loads too. They offer a fantastic standard gluten free menu with loads of options and even have gluten free soy sauce on hand. (No more carrying it in my purse, bonus!)

7. Jason’s Deli

This place offers an amazing organic salad bar with loads of options. Naturally, you skip the pasta salad, croutons, crackers and obvious gluten containing options. Their staff is very knowledgeable should you have questions about the ingredients. They also offer baked potatoes which you can fill with scrumptious choices and sub gluten free bread on their sandwiches. Just make sure they know you want it all to be gluten free when you order.

Keep in mind, what they offer is a “gluten sensitive” menu. This means they don’t have dedicated space and they do not accept liability for gluten free.

8. McAlister’s Deli

Salads without croutons, baked potatoes, vegan chili, and more. Stay away from anything with an asian dressing as it will contain either soy sauce or terriaki. Both have wheat ingredients. Ask questions and make sure to let them know you need it gluten free.

9. Zoup

This place rocks in my book. So many options. They change up their offerings each day so it’s not stagnant. They clearly label what is gluten free, vegetarian, low fat and dairy free. They do not offer gluten free bread, maybe some day!

10. Hardee’s

Although they are not as prevalent as McD’s, they are the best fast food restaurant on road trips. I recommend downloading their app so you can map out your stops in advance. All of their meat is 100% meat with no fillers. As well, any sandwich can be low carb-wrapped in lettuce and paper so you can actually eat it in the car.

Be sure to order with regular (non-beer) cheese. They offer Budweiser cheese. Yikes!

11. Maggiano’s

Oh, so good and how often can you say that you went out for Italian with Celiac? Ask for their gluten free pasta and they will make a dish to enjoy there and one to take home too. Although they can’t do ravioli or lasagna, they have loads of options that will satisfy.

12. Cooper’s Hawk

They offer gluten free bread at the tables, desserts that are not just berries or creme brulee and creative, flavorful entrees on an extensive gluten free menu that will actually leave you a bit confused as to what to order.

13. Season’s 52

This is a fancy option for a special occasion, they offer flat bread pizzas, salads, an assortment of entrees and desserts. Be certain to specify gluten free when ordering.

14. Fogo de chao

Another fancy option that I highly recommend if you have the appetite! Worth the price for a fancy – no kids – night out. Loads of options on the salad bar, the bread is Brazilian so it naturally doesn’t have gluten, rather tapioca. However, I always ask when I go in case they change the recipe. They can identify the 2-3 options of meat that are not gluten free and all the others are flavorful, satisfying and filling.

15. Scotty’s Brewhouse  (multiple locations)

Who doesn’t like a place where they give you a hand towel as a napkin? That just screams “great burger” (on a gluten free bun, no less). They have a fun gluten free menu with options for the kids too. No dedicated frier so skip the fries (maybe some day) but there are several other options and they are great about subbing to accommodate.

16. Harry & Izzy’s

This is one of the more creative gluten free menus. Chef Dave put some of his culinary flavor in this menu and it shows. They have pizza, burgers with gluten free buns,  dedicated fryer for fries, creative salads, St Elmo’s Shrimp Cocktail and a lot of high end gluten free alcohol options. Check it out!

17. Which wich

This is a great alternative lunch place, as they give the option for any of their sandwiches to become a lettuce wrap or a salad. Their convenient bag based order system ensures that your order will end up exactly as you have requested and you don’t have to create the awkward atmosphere of yelling all of your unique requests in a busy shop.

18. Divvy 

This place is cozy and quaint. Bonus for parents who are leaving their kids at home, no kids are allowed so you won’t have to dine with other peoples kids on your night of reprieve. Or if you don’t have them, you will continue to be well rested and not have to eat with my kids.

Everything on their menu is clearly marked if gluten free or vegan. One menu. One labeling system. No awkward requests for special menus. Love it. Not to mention the locally sourced, creative menu items and fantastic out-of-the-box desserts.

19. Tuscanos Brazilian Grill

Much like Fogo de chao but a lower price point and inviting family dining atmosphere. Nearly everything is gluten free (except the Brazilian bread is not) and the staff is VERY knowledgeable.

20. Chili’s

Sit down at the table and log onto the little computer tablet for access to the allergy reference menu. I go there for the baked potato soup. No dedicated frier for chips, fries or anything else. No gluten free buns. Just go there for unlimited soup and salad. 😉

21. Authentic Mexican Food (by many names)

Most food made with corn (masa) flour. However, be careful. Many seasonings contain wheat and it’s hard to communicate to find out if their brand has it. As well, some enchilada sauce contains wheat. (Locally, I like La Hacienda and Los Toros)

22. Chinese Restaurants (by many names)

They can make any dish with white sauce (i.e. Moo goo gai pan). It’s gluten free. When in doubt just say “white sauce.” Since it’s often hard to communicate gluten, stay away from anything breaded, fried, with brown sauce (soy sauce) and opt for rice noodles, usually mei fun on the menus.

23. Jimmy John’s

Much like Which wich, they will allow you to order any of their sandwiches as wraps. Bonus is the freaky fast delivery and online ordering system.

A lot of places claim to be gluten free but all they do is leave off the bun. Most don’t even have dedicated fryers for french fries. There is a big difference between, “can I eat anything?” and “am I going to enjoy my gluten free meal.”

There are a lot of restaurants that pop up on the apps like “Find me Gluten Free”. Many are on there because they have great marketing departments, not gluten free food. Use caution. Ask questions. Read the reviews, I find these to be super helpful. If you are celiac or allergic, TELL THEM! I always stress the fact that I am not on a fad diet and I get sick if I eat it. This helps them to understand the severity and most servers will be either scared or responsive and get a manager/chef to talk with you.

For more options, check out (and download) the FIND ME GLUTEN FREE app.

Do you have favorites that aren’t listed? Please comment below and share with us.

Can I be Anxiety Free?

Anxiety can sneak in when you are least expecting it and rob you of any ounce of joy. What is it? Where does it come from?

anx·i·e·ty (noun):
  1. a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome.

This should explain why it makes me feel like electric wires are loose and randomly zapping my insides. My emotions are unstable. I can’t think straight. I’m disorganized and find it difficult to stay on task. Suddenly, I can feel as if my life is not as amazing as it really is.

There are certain events and interaction with specific people that bring on anxiety for me. Christmas is one that comes leaping to mind.

Each year, the two weeks leading up to Christmas send me into a flurry of activities. Between finishing work projects before my kids get out of school, planning class parties, moving the elf, buying gifts for everyone, organizing work parties, managing our social calendar; hitting up all of the reindeer sightings, Santa spots, museum exhibits, locating every positive memory inducing once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to take the kids to and wrapping presents… I lose myself.

I become so overwhelmed with all of the things that I “think” I need to do, the things others are counting on me to do, the weight of my children’s childhood memories and the normal day-to-day schedule that I am miserable.

This can manifest itself in others differently. I have a friend that is responsible for a parent, a spouse and a child that all have health disabilities that severely impact their level of anxiety on a daily basis.

Regardless of how it settles upon you, know that all hope is not lost. In fact, I became acutely aware of my event induced anxiety and started taking action. Some of the things that I did were simple but had a noticeable positive impact on me.

  1. Review the activity/situation. Don’t focus on what you can’t do. Focus on what you can do.
  2. Separate what “needs” to be and what is optional.
  3. In most cases, evaluate the amount of responsibility you put on yourself.
  4. Essential oils like lavender, frankincense, calming and de-stress in a diffuser help impact your mood. I often use Women’s balance at work.
  5. Acupuncture. I can’t emphasize this enough. I did it this year and I specifically asked her to focus on my anxiety.
  6. Exercise. Do something you love. If you don’t like interacting with people, do something quiet, or something with smaller classes or attend an office gym and wear headsets. I love hot yoga. No one interacts. It’s all about your personal journey.
  7. Prayer. Counter the physical with the spiritual.
    I have been reading in my devotional and came across this:
    “Anxiety gains a life of it’s own, parasitically infesting your mind. Break free from this bondage by affirming your trust in Me and refreshing yourself in My presence.”-Sarah Young, Jesus Calling
  8. Massage. Increase your serotonin levels. There are very inexpensive places (about $25-$30) to get acupressure “foot” massages that are full body and you can leave your clothes on (if you are weird about that side of massage).
  9. Watch what you eat. Less caffeine. Less refined sugars. Less processed foods. No food dyes, if possible. Give your body a chance to reset and heal.
  10. Probiotics. Gut health seems to connected to our overall health. I am Celiac so I am on a gluten free diet all of the time, but I still can have bad gut health based on what I eat, medicines I take and colds. So, I take a daily probiotic.

I hope you can find some relief with these suggestions. They worked for me and I was able to enjoy my Christmas this year, in the midst of my chaos. I now know it’s possible and I hope others will find joy in their journey as I have.