Monday, February 9, 2015

My Homemade Cleaner Trifecta


If you've followed this blog for a while, you likely know that I derive more satisfaction and joy from homemade cleaning concoction than a person probably should, even though I'm not a clean freak. I think my love of homemade cleaners is found in the principle of them. To be honest, I don't know if it's the frugal or au naturale part of me that enjoys the idea of homemade cleaning solutions more.

The frugalista in me loves that inexpensive household items like vinegar or baking soda can work just as well as, if not better than, the more expensive pre-made cleaning solutions at the store. Homemade cleaners are cheap! I haven't bought an all-purpose cleaner, powdered cleanser, tub and tile spray, glass cleaner, toilet bowl cleanser, or furniture polish in years.

The eco-friendly granola girl in me likes the homemade cleaners because they give me peace of mind. I don't have to worry about my kids coming in contact with toxic sprays and cleansers. No fumes, no skin irritants, no poisons to ingest. I don't have to worry about the effects of my homemade cleaners on their ever-growing and developing bodies and brains. I also love that I don't have to worry about what kinds of chemicals I'm washing down the drain or flushing down the toilet when I use homemade cleaners.

So, today I'm sharing my homemade cleaner trifecta, the three homemade cleaners I use the most at my house over at the Green Phone Booth. They're super simple to make and you probably have all the ingredients at home already. Check them out and be sure to let me know if you have any favorite homemade cleaners. I'm always on the lookout for new recipes!

Friday, January 30, 2015

Lovely Links: "I Survived My Whole30!" Edition

First of all, Happy New Year!

Secondly, I'm on the last day of my Whole30!

(source: instagram.com/whole30)

After indulging this past holiday season (read: cookies for breakfast! Eat all the chocolate!), I decided a Whole30 was in order and started on January 1. For those of you not familiar with the Whole30 program, it's basically a dietary reset. For 30 days, you eliminate grains, dairy, sugar (white sugar, honey, syrup, any added sugar), legumes, and alcohol (that last one was the easiest part for me, Mormon girl that I am, haha!).

What was awesome this time around (this is my second Whole30 -- I did one this past September, in preparation for my family's trip to Hawaii) was that my husband did it, too. Let me tell you, having someone else doing it with you makes it so much easier, even if that other person doesn't think it's all that hard to follow. As I grumbled over zoodles (basically, cutting zucchini into noodles), he was like, "You know, I think I prefer these over pasta!" Grrr.

So, yeah, Day 30 is here. I survived! It was definitely hard at times, but after a couple weeks the sugar cravings subside and you get used to the program. There were definite ups and downs, times when I felt angry and deprived (I found myself sniffing chocolate cupcakes that a neighbor gave us at one point. Seriously.), but more than that, I feel good. It feels good to not have sugar highs and lows. It feels good to eat nothing but whole foods. It makes things taste better. Take fruit, for instance. Once I was off refined and added sugars, eating a strawberry tasted like candy!

Oddly enough, I haven't lost much weight this month like I did in my first Whole30 (I lost 12 pounds in a month that first time!), but I do have more energy, feel less bloated, my skin looks better, and the whites of my eyes are even whiter (and oddly enough, I swear my eyelashes got longer). My husband has noticed a few benefits, too. The main one for him was that his gastrointestinal issues (he doesn't have a gallbladder so it can sometimes cause some GI troubles for him) got dramatically better. It's been cool to do the program with him, because in the past he's not really cared that much about health and nutrition (he let me do all that stuff since I'm in charge of the grocery shopping and meal prep). Now, that's he's done the program, he understands better the value of it all. He was checking the labels on things more even more than I was (I was bummed when he noticed that the Trader Joe's sriracha sauce had sugar in it. Womp womp.).

The biggest pay-off, though, is the satisfaction in knowing that I did it, that I stayed strong and focused.  I definitely have a clearer idea of how I want to eat from now on, too. I'm glad we did it -- it's certainly been a learning experience for my husband and me.

So for this edition of Lovely Links, I thought I'd share what helped me through my Whole30, just in case you ever decide to do one. I highly recommend giving it a try -- these resources will definitely help.

BOOKS

It Starts With Food: Discover the Whole30 and Change Your Life in Unexpected Ways by Dallas & Melissa Hartwig  -- This is a must-read if you're going to do a Whole30. All the science behind it (written in a totally readable, uncomplicated way) and the why and how.  Really, it's a good read, whether you're going to do a Whole30 or not.

Nom Nom Paleo: Food For Humans by Michelle Tam and Henry Fong -- I love this cookbook SO MUCH. It's seriously one of my favorite cookbooks, period. Everything I've made from it has been so delicious. A few favorites that helped me and my husband with our Whole30 (and my previous Whole30): madras chicken salad, chicken nuggets (no breading and they're awesome!), kai jiao (Thai omelet - so tasty!), curried cream of broccoli soup, uova in purgatorio, and bacon-topped deviled eggs (they've become a regular thing my husband makes -- yum). Her recipes for paleo ranch, Louisiana remoulade, and paleo mayo are delicious and so simple to make, too. You should have this cookbook, no matter what kind of diet you follow. It's that good. (Looking forward to making the walnut prawns recipe next week -- couldn't make it during the Whole30 because it has honey in it. Holy moly, the walnut prawns recipe is sooo good.)

Make It Paleo: Over 200 Grain-Free Recipes for Any Occasion by Bill Staley and Hayley Mason -- This is a good resource for easy paleo recipes -- lots of good basics here. I like the recipes for salad dressings and prepping vegetables as side dishes. One great thing about this book when it comes to the Whole30 is that it has lots of breakfast recipes (a good thing for me since breakfast is the hardest for me to give up. I love my pancakes and waffles. And French toast. And oatmeal. And cold cereal.). Side note: it's worth mentioning that the chocolate chip cookie recipe in this book is surprisingly delicious -- and very NOT Whole30.

Well Fed 2: More Paleo Recipes for People Who Love to Eat by Melissa Joulwan -- I kept seeing this book on all sorts of posts about doing a Whole30, so I picked up a copy. This book is a great resource because it complements It Starts with Food really well and almost all the recipes are Whole30 compliant. There are many great ideas on how to keep your menu full of variety by making your own sauces, dressings, condiments, burgers, and sausages. I really liked the Taj Mahal chicken recipe. This book also got me to try plantains (which truly is something for someone who has had a lifelong aversion to bananas. Still do.) -- I totally recommend Trader Joe's plantain chips now.

INSTAGRAM

I love Instagram -- it has pretty much replaced Facebook for me. Instagram has been a great resource during my Whole30, too. Here are a few accounts that I follow:

@Whole30 -- the official Instagram account for the Whole30 program. It's been so helpful to have it give daily inspiration and information, like "on this day, you're probably feeling ____" or  answering frequently asked questions. I also like getting direct info and answers in the comment section from Melissa Hartwig, the creator of the program.

@Whole30Recipes -- Exactly what the name implies, just a lot of Whole30 recipes. It's hit and miss for me -- sometimes the recipes look absolutely delicious, other times not so much. Every week there is a new contributor that posts recipes and it's been a great way to find people to follow.

@nomnompaleo -- Michelle posted posted daily throughout the Whole30, a new recipe for each day. Lots of the recipes were from her cookbook, but there were new ones, too. Plus, she's just funny.

@Amazon_Ashley -- Her Instagram feed is great. Lots of delicious recipes and encouragement. I really love how real she is. Still need to try her sweet potato bun recipe. I bought her ebook when it was on sale -- it's called Clean & Colorful Cooking and it has some really simple recipes in it. I haven't made any yet, but I'm excited to. (Tip: be sure to have the underscore in her name or else you get redirected to a different, much more adult account. Yikes.)

@littlecoconutty -- This is such a beautiful feed (she's a graphic designer, so it makes sense). Recipes and encouragement to be found.

@pretend_its_a_donut -- Just discovered this one this week, looks fun. And I really like her account name.

OTHER HELPFUL LINKS

Dreading Your Whole30? Just start it now (with 9 planning tips) -- Modern Mrs. Darcy
I read this post last year before I did my first Whole30 and it inspired me to take the plunge. PS -- this is one of my favorite blogs, mostly for book-related reasons.

The Round-Up: 30 Days of Whole30 Recipes -- Nom Nom Paleo
Yep, I'm mentioning Nom Nom Paleo again. (I think I may be becoming a NNP fangirl.) But her blog is a really great resource, too.

Spicy Shredded Pork -- The Pioneer Woman
I made this pork shoulder recipe at least twice (maybe three times?) during this month's Whole30. You can find the recipe in her first cookbook, too. I omitted the brown sugar and it was still good. This recipe is great because you can cook up a pork shoulder (I do it in my slow cooker) and then use leftovers in recipes all week -- I particularly like making a salad with it, with a dollop of salsa and guacamole.

Paleo Egg & Chorizo Muffins - Sweet C's Designs
One thing that got tiring for me with the Whole30 is that there is a lot of meal prep, which can be inconvenient if you're in a hurry. These egg muffins (I used loose sausage instead of chorizo) are super-simple to make and you can freeze them. When you want a muffin, you can just reheat it in the microwave or oven.

Pizza Stir Fry Recipe -- Wellness Mama
Friday nights are pizza + movie night at our house, which is a problem when you're doing a Whole30. I will say that this recipe doesn't come close to the deliciousness that is pizza (not that the recipe is bad or anything, but I just really, really, really love pizza), but it definitely helped on Friday nights, even though I still shot more than a few wistful glances at the pizza my boys were eating. Sigh.

The Whole30 Timeline -- Whole30.com
"Day 1: What's the big deal?
Days 2-3: The hangover
Days 4-5: Kill all the things.
Days 6-7: I just want a nap."  This timeline walks you through the ups and downs of the program. I'll be honest, the first Whole30 I did was an emotional roller-coaster for me and I felt those ups and downs hard. This time wasn't so bad, especially since I had my awesome husband along for support. But I still referenced this a lot to keep me focused and to know what to expect -- and I thought it was kind of funny, too.

So, yeah, I made it through my Whole30. It was hard, but not the hardest thing I've ever done. And you know,  I'm going to keep following it pretty closely. I feel that good. That said, tomorrow is my mom's birthday and I'm totally having a (smallish) piece of her birthday cake. What's more, I'm going enjoy that cake and I won't feel an ounce of guilt because I actually feel in control. No more sugar dragon ruling my life. And that is the best result of this Whole30 experience.

Note: Some of the links in the post above are "affiliate links." This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. 
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