Potato-Crusted Quiche

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On #mealprepmondays, I try to always make breakfast for my daughter and I for the week so it makes mornings easier.  This quiche, made with hash browns instead of pie crust, makes for a healthier version that’s still super yummy and filling.

As with ALL my recipes, this takes very little time to prepare and is really easy to make.  There is a lot of room to create in this recipe- using different meats and veggies based on what you like best or what is on sale that week.  My go-to is bacon & spinach but I’m always trying something new.

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons of butter (or coconut oil)
  • 2 cups organic frozen hash browns (I use half a package of the Alexia brand)
    • I’ve also used frozen sweet potato fries for this if you want to avoid white potatoes.
  • 6 large soy-free pastured eggs
  • 1/2 cup vegetables
    • I typically use what is leftover from dinner the night before- asparagus, bell pepper, frozen spinach have all worked great.
  • 1/2 cup cooked breakfast meat
    • I like to mix this up depending on what’s on sale/what I’m feeling. I rotate between bacon (look for organic + sugar-free), ham and breakfast sausage.
    • TIP: If cooking bacon, make less of a mess and use of an already heated oven by oven-baking it instead of frying.
  • 2 tablespoons coconut milk (or heavy whipping cream)
  • 1/2 cup grated raw cheddar cheese
  • Sea salt & pepper

Preparation:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Put the butter in your quiche dish (I use this one, but a standard pie dish would work just fine too) and place in the oven to melt.  TIP: to make it easier to put in/take out of the oven, I put my dish on top of a cookie sheet.
  3. Put frozen hash browns in dish and spread around to evenly distribute and mix in butter.  Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Put dish with hash browns into the oven until slightly browned- typically around 20 minutes.
  5. Whisk the eggs with milk and salt & pepper. Add the veggies and meat and cheese and stir.
  6. When potatoes are brown and crispy, take out of the oven and add the egg mixture.
  7. Put dish back in the oven and cook until the eggs are puffed and set- around 20 minutes.

I’d love to hear your favorite combinations of meat & veggies to put in this!  Enjoy!

 

 

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Zucchini Bread (Gluten/Grain, Dairy & Refined Sugar Free)

Sharing another #mealprepmonday recipe for breakfast!  This recipe makes two loaf pans, so I’ll keep them in the fridge to last the week. Even though this bread is free of grains or refined sugar, my toddler still loves it and I think you will too.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups almond flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice (just cinnamon works too if that’s all you have)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup melted coconut oil (or avocado oil)
  • 3/4 cup honey (or maple syrup)
  • 5 eggs
  • 3 cups shredded zucchini (not packed & no need to peel first) – this is typically 2 medium sized zucchini for me

Preparation:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Combine the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Mix the eggs.
  4. Add the eggs, oil and honey to the bowl and mix with spoon until combined.
  5. Cut the ends off the zucchini and shred using either an electric vegetable shredder, food processor or manually with a large cheese grater.
  6. Add the zucchini and mix until combined.
  7. Pour equally divided between 2 greased loaf pans.
  8. Bake for 40-45 minutes until toothpick comes out clean.

Enjoy!

What the Bible Says About Essential Oils

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I have to admit, when I first heard about essential oils, I thought it was a scam. I was totally put off by the crazy people who were obsessed & making big claims; plus, the fact that network marketing companies were involved certainly didn’t help provide credibility. I started slow, trying a couple oils and seeing results for myself. That lead to lots of research on the safety and efficacy of oils, as well as on the companies that sell them.  That research convinced me, and since then, I’ve totally joined the oil bandwagon.

I’d heard people say essential oils were biblical, but truly thought that was just part of the “cult.”  I knew the wise men brought frankincense & myrrh to Jesus, but was taught in Sunday School that those were more like “perfumes” because people didn’t shower or have deodorant.  And, I had heard of “anointing oil,” but thought it was simply olive oil. There’s a whole lot more in Scripture about essential oils than I ever could have imagined, and it’s quite compelling. I was quite convicted that regularly using essential oils is quite scriptural and something I should be taking advantage of as a gift from God.

The Bible contains over 1,000 references to 33 different species of essential oils. A couple things to keep in mind: many of the references in Scripture aren’t descriptive because the readers at the time didn’t need instructions – they were using oils every day for cooking, health and worship. And while some references will say “oil,” others might say “spices,” which can refer to both dried herbs and oils. Here are a few examples of how oils are reference in Scripture that impacted me most:

Healing

“Their fruit will be for food and their leaves for healing” Ezekiel 47:12

God intended us to use plants for nourishment and healing.  Eating fresh herbs and vegetables is, of course, essential to health. But another avenue of getting these healing properties is through essential oils- called “essential” because they are the essence/the life of the plant.

“The leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations” Revelation 22:2 

Many pharmaceuticals are designed to block receptor sites or give false information to cells in order to trick the body out of its symptoms.  Drugs often mask the problem instead of actually fixing it. God uniquely created essential oils to help heal our bodies, not just mask the symptoms. They work toward restoration and healing rather than causing confusion and chaos in our cells like drugs do. You can apply many different oils at once because rather than inter-reacting and causing problems like medications would, they all work together to bring our body to health.

In 2 Chronicles 16:11-14, King Asa “contracted a disease in his feet” that continued to worsen. Instead of seeking God, he sought the aid of physicians and he ended up dying. This is not at all to say you should not seek treatment from a trained doctor, but the lesson this teaches me is to seek God first when I’m sick rather than putting my full faith on worldly medicines.

In Luke 8:43-48, Luke, a physician himself, tells the story of a woman who bled for 12 years, seeking many different doctors and spending all her money doing so without anything working… how many of us can relate? Then, she encounters Jesus- she touches his robe with full faith and is healed.  God is the ultimate source of healing.

Healing is a holistic spiritual term, not a medical one.  Medicine doesn’t heal us. It doesn’t cure us. It addresses symptoms. Only a holistic approach can truly heal you.

Where do you turn first when you are sick?

“Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord” James 5:14 

We all know how antibiotics are predictable and consistent, so the bacteria can learn to adapt and become resistant. The opposite qualities make essential oils so advantageous when fighting infection… there is so much variability with essential oils, bacteria cannot learn it. That’s why the effectiveness has still not diminished after thousands of years of use. Created by God, essential oils can distinguish between good and bad bacteria like they do in nature and can fight against viruses. Thieves essential oil has been proven in testing to kill 99.96% of airborne bacteria, and cinnamon bark oil has been comparable to penicillin and ampicillin antibiotics.

In Numbers 16:46-50, Aaron stops a plague among Israelites by fumigating (old-school diffusing) the essential oils of frankincense, galbanum, onycha and myrrh.

Myrrh is the most referenced oil in the Bible. It appears in both Genesis and Revelation, and was offered to Christ at his birth and at death. It was commonly used at the time because it enhances all other oils, causing what it’s combined with to last longer. Myrrh supports immune system, soothes skin, elevates mood and relieves stress, oxygenates cells, repels insects and prevents mouth infection. And it’s helpful for newborns for umbilical cord healing, coughs, sore throat, thrush.

“And they (the disciples)… anointed with oil many who were sick and healed them.” Mark 6:13  

There are different words in the Bible to distinguish gradual vs instant healing. The Greek word “iaomai” for healing means miraculous or instantaneous and is found 30 times in the New Testament (Matt 8:13, Luke 8:47, John 12:40 as examples). The other word “therapeuo” is found 40 times (Mark 1:34, Luck 5:15, Acts 5:16 as examples) and means “to serve, to attend to” – healing over time with care. In Mark 6:13 and Revelations 22:2, two verses quoted above, the word “therapeuo” is used; rather than indicating instant miracles, God asks that we care for the sick and ourselves and use the natural medicines he has provided to do so.

One last note that’s changed the way I use oils: in the Biblical application of oils, it was always with prayer. I believe prayer will heal on its own and oils can too, but the combined power is much stronger.

Emotions

Our sense of smell is different than any other… everything we smell passes through the emotional part of our brain first. All other 4 senses go to the rational brain first. Scientifically, we know there is a strong link between smells and recalling emotions. The fragrance of essential oils can literally touch our emotions; emotions that cause pain, illness, malfunctions on all levels – physical, mental, social, emotional, spiritual.

“Ointment and perfume rejoice the heart” Proverbs 27:9

Biblical writers may not have understood the science, but they knew that perfumes, ointments and incense could bring joy and peace, clear the mind, relieve stress, and were essential to prayer and worship. There are many references throughout Scripture of using essential oils to bring joy:

  • Psalm 45:7 – “Therefore God hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above…”
  • Isaiah 61:1, 3 “the oil of joy for mourning”
  • Hebrews 1:9 “the oil of gladness”

Beyond helping with immune function, frankincense, sandalwood, myrrh, cassia and cedarwood, all commonly used in the Bible, can help bring feelings of happiness.

Cedarwood is a great example of an oil with emotional uses. It clears the mind, increasing the ability to think with clarity. This oil has the highest concentration of sesquiterpenes (98%) – a property that helps it go directly to the brain upon inhalation. King Solomon chose cedar as the wood for his home and for the temple – how perfect for making decisions and wise judgments and meditating.

We should not forget what a valuable resource we have to use not only when we are sick, but also when we feel discouraged, stressed, overwhelmed or anxious.

“precious treasure and oil remain in the house of the wise” Proverbs 21:20

Worship

The most common use of essential oils was in worship and service to God – in sacrifices/offerings, in anointing, and in prayer.

There are 61 royal anointings in the Bible, used as a method of blessing, preparation and sanctification. In Leviticus 8:10-12 (also referenced in Psalm 133:2), Aaron was anointed with enough “precious ointment” to run down his beard- this wasn’t olive oil, these were valuable essential oils.  It is poured over Jesus Christ too (Matthew 26:7-12, Mark 14:3, John 12:3-8) – the Greek word “Kristos” means “the anointed one.”

“This shall be a holy anointing oil unto me throughout your generations” Exodus 30:31

In Exodus 30: 22-38, God gives very specific instructions to Moses for how to use essential oils for worship.  The “holy anointing oil” contains 84% essential oils of Myrrh, Cassia, Cinnamon, Calamus and 16% olive oil.  Then God gives a recipe for incenses, which was burned in temples by Jews and early Christians and still to this day in orthodox churches.

The Lord was insistent that the holy anointing oil and incense was holy, for Him alone and not to be used as a commercial perfume. These verses indicate the importance of how oils, created to bring spiritual awareness, should be used in our worship and prayer to God.

“as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” Ephesians 5:2

If you’d like to study more, I would highly recommend the book Healing Oils of the Bible – it helped me understand so much on this topic and is the source, besides the Bible, for much of the information in this post.

Monat: Natural Product Review

Over the past few years, I’ve transitioned to using non-toxic products for health and home.  Some of the changes were quick and easy, but others have been hard- like hair and make up products. I’ve struggled to find a reasonable replacement, in cost or effectiveness.

effortless-styleToday, I want to share that I’ve finally found a natural hair care line that I can say, with confidence, works well AND is safe.  The product is MONAT (wondering how to pronounce? it stands for modern nature)!

I was initially wary because it is a multi-level marketing organization and I wasn’t interested in distributing anything. Plus, the price was high and it’s not grocery-store convenient. But dealing with terrible postpartum hair, I was desperate to try something that worked as well as everyone raved.  My expectations were low.

First, what I love about this product is the ingredients.  It’s made with essential oils (the products smell incredible!) and antioxidants to support hair health.  And it has none of the super harmful chemicals in almost everything else on the market – there’s NO:

  • Parabens – preservative in nearly all cosmetics that mimics estrogen, therefore disrupting hormone function; studies show it causes cancer
  • Sulfates – foaming agent that dries out your hair and irritates your scalp
  • Cyclic Silicones – makes the product spreadable, but causes lots of build up which is especially bad for curly hair like mine
  • DEA/MEA – a cutting agent you’ll find in most bath products to help mix oil-soluble with water-soluble ingredients; it increases risk for kidney and liver cancer because they are especially tough chemicals for our bodies to break down
  • Polyethylene Glycol (PEG) – helps with product penetration; this ingredient may irritate sensitive skin, but the worse risk is how it helps other toxic chemicals in a product get into your system
  • Phthalates – a dissolving agent and fragrance carrier; disrupts estrogen and testosterone levels linking to infertility, effects unborn babies and young children most due to inability to metabolize through digestive system (source)
  • Phenoxyethanol – a common cosmetic preservative; the FDA has admitted it depresses central nervous system and European studies show it is a skin irritant and potential effects on fertility (source)
  • Petrolatum / Mineral Oil – our bodies cannot metabolize so levels continue to build over use, especially bad because it is linked to estrogen dominance and potential carcinogen (source)
  • Triclosan – antimicrobial that causes gut inflammation
  • Formaldehyde Releasers – common preservative and antimicrobial is known to inhibit the immune system and studies show it is a carcinogen (source)

Now that the SAFETY of this product is clear, let me share my experience with the EFFECTIVENESS…

Monat has several different systems depending on your hair type- a distributor could help you identify the best one for you.  I was wanting to tackle a couple problem areas for myself… through all the products I’ve tried, my hair has always ended up oily, frizzy and easily tangled. A bonus would be for my air-dried hair to look better and be easier to achieve.  For reference- my hair is fine but there’s lots of it, is uncolored and is long and naturally wavy.

Based on this, I chose the Effortless Style/Soothing system. Shampooing with this product is a bit different- you have to put a little bit on first and let it sit- there will be no lather. Rinse and repeat and the second time it lathers a bunch. Let that sit and rinse and your hair will feel cleaner than ever!  Conditioning is normal, except you need to let it sit for 5 minutes.

air-dry-newI used the product for a few weeks and was totally disappointed / felt I had completely wasted my money.  My hair was only slightly less oily, but it was tangled worse than ever and still didn’t air-dry well.  The system comes with a blow-out cream, which I never used because I only blow dry my hair once a month. When I told my distributor about this issue, she switched it for the Air Dry Cream.

The new cream was a GAME CHANGER. Suddenly, my hair was healthy, didn’t tangle and air-dried fantastic. I use just a tiny bit (even on my long hair) after towel-drying and brushing and end up with nearly frizz-free (I do live in humid Texas after all) wavy hair.  While I do still have to use some dry shampoo to go a day between washes, the oiliness is much better than it used to be and continues to improve.

As for the cost, I agree it is super expensive, but I do believe it is worth it.  I became a “VIP” to get that discounted pricing with no obligation.  Also, it helps that it lasts- I bought my first bottles of shampoo/conditioner in mid-March and here I am just halfway through my second bottles nearly 6 months later.

I’m not a distributor of this product, but if you are interested in purchasing, I would be happy to connect you with the friend I buy from!

 

Thrive Market: Favorite Toddler Snacks

If you know me, you know I LOVE Thrive Market. I’ve been a member for a few years now and the savings are real.  I am passionate about buying all organic groceries for my family and I’ve shared lots of tips about how to do so on a budget; Thrive Market is one of the ways I do it.  See some of my favorite deals here.

I shared some of my favorite toddler snacks on Instagram a while ago and many of you were interested in more, so I thought I would share what I buy specifically at Thrive Market because it is cheaper than at the grocery store:

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Applesauce PouchPear Pea Spinach Pouch

 

 

 

 

Simple Mills: Cheddar Almond Flour Crackers – a healthy alternative to goldfish

Siete: Lime Grain-Free Tortilla Chips – she loves to dip these in guacamole; besides being grain-free, I love that these are fried in avocado oil instead of canola oil (read why you should avoid canola/vegetable oil here)

GoGo Squeez: Applesauce Pouches – perfect for the diaper bag

nurturme: Organic Power Blends Pear + Pea + Spinach Pouches – for the days when she doesn’t eat her veggies or needs some digestive help

The New Primal: Turkey Sticks – for a protein boost

Larabar: Apple Pie Bars – I love that it’s a simple mix of fruits and nuts sweetened only by dates. All the flavors are great (especially these, carrot cake, blueberry muffin & cashew cookie).

Gimme: Organic Roasted Seaweed – my toddler calls these “chips” and they are a salty snack that’s a great source of vitamins and minerals

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Interested in trying Thrive Market? Get 25% off your first order by using this link to shop!

Salmon Salad

On Mondays, I meal prep. If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll see my #mealprepmonday stories where I share what I make for breakfast and lunch throughout the week.  This salmon salad is my go-to for lunches because it’s simple to prepare, inexpensive, healthy, filling and easy to package individually to grab each morning.

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Tuna salad was one of my favorite lunches my mom made for us growing up.  I know that not everyone finds it appetizing, but it’s a comfort food for me.  I make the same recipe now, but use canned salmon instead of tuna. Why? 1- I think it tastes better… it is not as dry as tuna and is less fishy. 2- it’s healthier. Tuna can have very high mercury content, so I try to avoid it now. Plus, salmon is truly one of the most nutritious things you can eat- it is full of omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, magnesium, and calcium. It’s also full of protein, helping to keep me from craving snacks throughout the day.

This recipe should only take 15 minutes to prepare and makes enough for 3 servings.

Ingredients:

  • 2 6-oz cans of wild-caught salmon
  • 2 soy-free pastured organic eggs
  • 2 tablespoons mayo made with avocado oil (Primal Kitchen is my favorite brand)
  • 1 tablespoon organic sweet relish
  • dash of salt & pepper

Preparation:

  1. Hard boil the eggs.
  2. Drain the salmon and put in a bowl with mayo, relish and salt & pepper.
  3. Once eggs are boiled, peel and then use an egg slicer to dice.
  4. Add eggs to the bowl of other ingredients and mix.  Add more mayo/relish to taste, depending on dryness of salmon.

Serve on top of salad greens or on your favorite sandwich bread or crackers.

P.S. I’m able to buy most of these ingredients at Thrive Market – check out their selection of discounted healthy groceries here.  Read this blog post to see other items I purchase on their site to keep my all-organic grocery spending low.

Legendairy Milk: Natural Product Review

With World Breastfeeding Week this week, I wanted to follow up on my breastfeeding journey to share about a product that made it possible for me to nurse my daughter for over a year.

There are so many reasons that women can struggle with low milk supply, whether it be due to hormone issues or issues with the baby’s latch.  The amount you pump is NOT a good indicator of whether you have a low supply, so I would recommend working with a lactation consultant to determine if it is truly low supply or something else.  Ultimately, after I did everything I could (lots of water, frequent nursing, high fat + protein diet, etc) to increase my supply while working with an LC, it was clear I did not produce enough.

There were two things that helped tremendously to boost my supply and make it possible for me to nurse without supplementing.

First – pumping at 4 am. Thanks to hormones, our bodies typically produce the most milk between midnight and 4 am.  It is probably why newborns wake up a thousand times during those hours. It was literally the WORST, especially when my baby started sleeping through those hours, but it worked. I got up to pump every night at 4 am for 8 months. At 4 am I could pump like 6-10 oz!! If I waited til 5 or 6am, it would only be 3oz.  If you are struggling to get enough milk for bottles during the day, I would absolutely (find a great show on Netflix and) try this.

Second – I eventually needed some extra help and tried supplements.  I tried the classic Fenugreek tea first with little difference until I learned that fenugreek can also hurt supply in some and have other side effects, so I decided to steer clear. I then tried Moringa, which helped for a few weeks, but then abruptly stopped. Finally, I found a local company- Legendairy Milk– that made organic lactation supplements. A friend let me try some she had leftover and I started to see a boost in supply, so I ordered it myself and continued to use until I weaned.

Legendairy MilkThey use a variety of ingredients like shatavari, moringa, milk thistle, goat’s rue, fennel, black seed, anise and alfalfa. You can read more about the historical use of these herbs and science behind them here.

Legendairy Milk makes several different lactation blends, each with a different mix of ingredients.  Herbs work differently for different people and they don’t always agree with everyone (for example, a couple of them lower blood sugar), so you can read the descriptions and see what may be best for you. Overwhelmed by the options, I decided to try the Bestseller’s Bundle and was thankful I did.

For the rest of the months that I nursed, I switched between Pump Princess, Liquid Gold and Milkapalooza. As I got to the end of each bottle, it would become less effective; then when I switched, it would work again. All that to say- don’t get discouraged if it works great at first then starts to decline; try another blend and go back to it in a few months.

I used the recommended dosage- 2 pills, 3 times a day- and that worked well for me. I didn’t experience any side effects and there was no bad taste in my mouth from the pills. They were easy on the stomach too!

Thank you, Legendairy Milk (P.S. This post is not sponsored.), for helping maintain my milk supply and allow me to continue breastfeeding. I am so very grateful.