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Want to make bath time both fun and safe? Try LatherMitts! Hold your baby tight and wash him with one product.

Make Bath Time Fun And Safe With LatherMitts! {Plus A Giveaway}

Want to make bath time fun and safe? Hold your baby tight with LatherMitts!

Want to make bath time both fun and safe? Try LatherMitts! Hold your baby tight and wash him with one product.

I have been compensated for my time commitment to review this product, but I have not been paid to post a positive review. All opinions are my own.

I remember the first time I gave my oldest a real bath. It was exciting. It was an event.

Of course both mom and dad both had to be there. We got the little tub all set with some warm water. The towel was neatly laid out. A brand new wash cloth was ready and waiting. Clean clothes and diaper? Check.

Then we put her in. Whoa! Wait, you mean she might wiggle around while she’s all wet? Nobody ever told me how slippery a wet baby is!

Don’t worry, she didn’t wiggle out of my hands. No surprise dunks that day.

Of course with time you get better at it. And at some point they are big enough to sit up in the tub and the occasional dunk is pretty funny.

Want to make bath time both fun and safe? Try LatherMitts! Hold your baby tight and wash him with one product.

A Better Way.

But wouldn’t it be nice to be able to keep a safe hold on your child and get them clean without fumbling around with a tiny wash cloth?

A creative mom Sarah Stapp invented LatherMitts to do just that!

LatherMitts fit snugly on mom or dad’s hands so you can hold your little one tight. No slippery hands! What’s even better is that the gloves are the wash cloth! No searching for a cloth in the bubbles.

Want to make bath time both fun and safe? Try LatherMitts! Hold your baby tight and wash him with one product.

LatherMitts make bath time so easy!

They don’t just work for infants, though. I use them with my toddler and even my five year old. It’s so fun.

The only trouble we had is that my son said it tickled when I was washing his belly. I might have done that partly on purpose…

Want to make bath time both fun and safe? Try LatherMitts! Hold your baby tight and wash him with one product.

If you know me, you know I want quality when it comes to taking care of my kids. I especially  have to be careful with a son that has latex allergies. LatherMitts pass my test! Here are some of the features:

Safety: The gentle neoprene grip that lines LatherMitts’ thumb and forefinger ensures that squirmy, slippery kids are secure and safe in your hands. Neoprene, commonly used in wetsuits, is hypoallergenic, non-slip and is naturally resistant to oil, mildew and mold.

Quality: The rest of the glove is made of white organic cotton, perfect for a baby’s sensitive skin.

Dexterity: The glove design of LatherMitts allows you full use of both hands and all ten fingers, making it easy to get into hard-to-reach places like behind ears and under chins.

Want to make bath time both fun and safe? Try LatherMitts! Hold your baby tight and wash him with one product.

Value: LatherMitts can be rewashed and reused again and again the same way you would use a washcloth. Bonus: since LatherMitts require no special care, you can throw them in with your towels.

Options: LatherMitts come in sizes small to extra large, so mom, dad or any caregiver can cover bathtime duties.

Want to make bath time both fun and safe? Try LatherMitts! Hold your baby tight and wash him with one product.

Perfect For Everyone.

LatherMitts make a great gift for someone that is expecting or that just had a baby. They are unique and practical.

And yes, they do work for dads too. My husband even uses them.

My toddler thinks they are great toys as well.

Do you want to try LatherMitts? Sarah is so generously offering a pair to THREE of my readers!!

No more slippery baby! Hold your little one tight and get him clean with LatherMitts.

Want to make bath time both fun and safe? Try LatherMitts! Hold your baby tight and wash him with one product.
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In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. It will not change the cost of any products or services for you.

Crunchy Balm Review and Giveaway | Just Take A Bite

Crunchy Balm Review and Giveaway

Don’t let the dry winter weather take its toll on delicate or sensitive skin. Crunchy balm is safe, natural and effective for the whole family.

Crunchy Balm Review and Giveaway | Just Take A Bite

When seeking natural health and beauty products most people instantly jump to coconut oil. Sure, it’s good stuff.

Coconut = dry skin.

But did you know that coconut can actually dry your skin more? My oldest really struggles all winter with dry skin on her hands that gets so bad she has little cuts all over and it’s so painful.

We used to put tons of coconut oil on…and it just got worse. Eventually I started just taking our lard and tallow from the fridge to put on her hands. MUCH better. So we stopped using coconut oil for skin care.

Crunchy Balm Review and Giveaway | Just Take A Bite

Though she didn’t appreciate smelling like lard!

Now I also have to be very selective with skin care products with a child allergic to coconut. So if we don’t want to use coconut or smell like a barnyard what do we do?

We use Crunchy Balm!

I really think I could bathe in this stuff. It is made from grass-fed tallow and quality essential oils. Unlike most balms it is super soft and creamy and not greasy at all. It’s like whipped butter.

Crunchy Balm Review and Giveaway | Just Take A Bite

Crunchy Balm does NOT contain:

  • petroleum based ingredients
  • artificial colors, ingredients or fragrances
  • chemicals
  • GMO’s

It is full of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. Exactly what your skin needs. Plus there is definitely no barnyard smell to Crunchy Balm. It has a mild floral smell.

I love to use it on my toddler after a bath. She gets dry skin on her feet and has all around sensitive skin. Crunchy Balm clears it all up. And since she likes to copy everything her siblings do she MUST have some on her hands to rub in by herself. And I can feel perfectly comfortable with that. What a blessing.

When my oldest is having issues with her hands we reach right for the Crunchy Balm. Just a small amount is all she needs. It’s instant relief. In her own words, “It’s magical.”

We even used it for windburn recently after the kids played outside for a long time in the cold and snow.

Crunchy Balm Review and Giveaway | Just Take A Bite

I really only have two “complaints” about Crunchy Balm.

  1. I want a bigger container so we don’t run out. That is how much I love it. With all of our skin issues we go through it quickly, even though a little really does go a long way. In all honesty I bet this container will last us several months. It just depends how much little hands take out of the jar when they use it.
  2. I found that when using the scented version on my face it irritated my eyes and made them red. I have VERY sensitive eyes. Just a little bit of eye liner or eye shadow (even a natural kind) can make my eye swell. So if you have sensitive eyes use caution putting the scented Crunchy Balm on your face or touching your face if it’s on your hands.

    I did get to try the scent free version. I LOVE using it on my face!!! No sensitivity at all.

There’s more.

Emilie, the creator of Crunchy Balm, also makes other quality products like lip balm. Or you can try Crunchy Balm in a few different scents!

Are you ready to try some Crunchy Balm for yourself? One lucky reader gets a free container! Enter below for a chance to win.

Don’t forget to head over to Crunchy Balm to check it out for  yourself. Then show her some love by visiting and liking her facebook page.

I just might have to go order more to stock up. This stuff really is “the balm.”

After you try it come back and let me know what you think. I have a feeling you’re going to love it!

Crunchy Balm Review and Giveaway | Just Take A Bite

 

In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. It will not change the cost of any products or services for you.

How To Turn A Pork Roast Into Ham | Just Take A Bite

How To Turn A Pork Roast Into Ham

Are you looking for a way to serve ham without worrying about nitrates, nitrites and fillers? Make your own! You can easily turn a pork roast into ham in your crockpot.

How To Turn A Pork Roast Into Ham | Just Take A Bite

I love ham. I mean love it.

No, not my ham!

You can imagine my sadness when my youngest had a reaction the last time I ate ham…which was months ago now.

Pork is not the problem.

How To Turn A Pork Roast Into Ham | Just Take A Bite

The problem is whatever is used for smoking/curing. Even something simple like beet sugar will cause a reaction.

So I haven’t had ham in a long time.

My solution.

Until I decided to make my own! You can turn a pork roast into ham right in your crockpot (this is my favorite one).

No fancy tools. No strange ingredients.

Really all you need is pork, salt and a sweetener.

I used a rolled pork roast. But any cut will work.

As easy as 1, 2, 3.

Cut some slits in the pork, put it in the crockpot and add the salt and sugar. Turn the crockpot on and you’re pretty much done.

How To Turn A Pork Roast Into Ham | Just Take A Bite

Your holiday ham really can be that simple. And you don’t have to worry about nitrates or nitrites or whether or not celery powder is better or worse.

To turn a pork roast into ham the important step is using lots of quality unrefined sea salt. Then adjust the sweetness to your liking.

If you want your ham really smokey you can also add a little liquid smoke (be sure to find one without coloring added).

As I write this I’m thinking about how tasty our homemade ham was. I might have eaten all of the leftovers myself. Though now I wish some had made it to the freezer so I could enjoy it again.

I guess that means I just need to make another!

Are you thinking about making a Christmas ham?

Save time and money by making it yourself this year! Just put it in the crockpot in the morning and spend your time focusing on delicious side dishes and desserts.

No crockpot? Or you’ve already filled it with something else? You can make ham in the oven too.

How To Turn A Pork Roast Into Ham | Just Take A Bite

Homemade Ham
Turn a pork roast into a delicious ham with a few simple ingredients and a crockpot.
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Ingredients
  1. 1 pork roast (cut and size of choice)
  2. 2 - 4 tsp. unrefined sea salt (adjust based on size of roast)
  3. 2 Tbsp. - 1/2 cup any combination of sweeteners (honey, maple syrup, organic cane sugar, organic brown cane sugar, molasses; adjust to taste)
Instructions
  1. Using a sharp knife cut slits in the pork roast all over.
  2. Place the pork in the crockpot.
  3. Add salt and flip the roast to make sure there is salt on all sides.
  4. Add the sweetener (start with a smaller amount and add more later if you want it sweeter).
  5. Cover and cook on HIGH for 4 hours, then turn to LOW for 5+ hours.
  6. Flip the roast 2 or 3 times during cooking to make sure all sides get coated with flavoring. You can also baste the roast with the juice in the crockpot, trying to get it into the slits in the meat.
  7. An hour before serving cut the roast into large chunks and coat with the juice in the crockpot.
Notes
  1. You can use a single sweetener like honey or cane sugar. Using a combination of liquid and dry sweeteners gives a good balance of flavor and creates a good "sauce."
  2. To make ham in the oven follow the same directions, baking the pork in a covered dish at 375*F for 2 hours, then turning the heat down to 325*F for 2 hours.
Just Take A Bite http://justtakeabite.com/
This post is linked to Savoring Saturdays.

In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. It will not change the cost of any products or services for you.

In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. It will not change the cost of any products or services for you.

Peaches and Cream Overnight Oats | Homemade Dutch Apple Pie

Peaches and Cream Overnight Oats

Peaches and cream overnight oats make a satisfying breakfast. Prepared in advance, they are a grab ‘n’ go breakfast everyone will love. Use fresh peaches in the summer and frozen or canned peaches in the winter.

Peaches and Cream Overnight Oats | Homemade Dutch Apple Pie

I try my best to do breakfast preparation in advance. In the morning I want everything ready to go.

When my husband is getting ready for work…breakfast is ready.

When one kid wakes up early and is instantly begging for food…breakfast is ready.

When the baby needs to nurse and everyone else is hungry…breakfast is ready.

Since we don’t eat store-bought cereal I need other quick and easy breakfasts that are ready for the family even if I’m busy.

Peaches and cream overnight oats are the perfect solution.

Peaches and Cream Overnight Oats | Homemade Dutch Apple Pie

Simple, simple, simple.

It only takes about five minutes to prepare overnight oats. I line up jars for however many servings I’m going to make. Then just add the ingredients to each jar and mix.

Peaches and cream overnight oats only contain five ingredients. All of them except for the peaches are pantry and refrigerator staples. So you can whip up a batch just about any time.

Give them a boost.

In addition the five base ingredients you can add collagen for protein and egg yolk for vitamins. This will make peaches and cream overnight oats a very balanced breakfast. That includes three components:

  1. Proteinyogurt, collagen, egg yolk
  2. Carbohydrates – oats, peaches, maple syrup
  3. Fat – whole milk yogurt or coconut yogurt

One other thing I love is that the overnight soaking makes the oats much better for you!

Peaches and Cream Overnight Oats | Homemade Dutch Apple Pie

Get ready to host.

These overnight oats are great for the whole family on a school day morning. But that’s not all.

Peaches and cream overnight oats are fancy enough for hosting overnight guests or a brunch. Mix up a bunch of small jars of the oats and leave the peaches on top. They look so elegant. Plus you can just pull them out of the fridge in the morning and have time to visit with your guests. No cooking necessary.

Change it up.

If you aren’t a fan of peaches in your yogurt or you just don’t have any on hand you can swap another fruit. Stone fruits like plums, apricots and nectarines work very well.

Or you can use berries and cherries. They can be fresh or go right from the freezer to the oat mixture. By morning they will be thawed and ready to go!

No matter what flavor you choose overnight oats are a perfect prep ahead breakfast.  You can make them for a busy weekday morning or even make a batch while you enjoy some end of summer travel.  All of the ingredients are available wherever you go.

On the go.

Peaches and cream overnight oats are also great for school lunches and snacks.  Just mix it up the night before.  Put a lid on and pack it in the lunch box.  It is ready to go when your child is ready to eat.

By using gluten free oats this breakfast is not only delicious but also gluten, egg, nut, corn, soy and rice free. If you use coconut yogurt it is also dairy free. There is a version for just about everyone!

In need of an easy breakfast?  Peaches and cream overnight oats are the way to go!

Peaches and Cream Overnight Oats | Homemade Dutch Apple Pie

Peaches and Cream Overnight Oats
Serves 2
Peaches and cream overnight oats make a satisfying breakfast. Prepared in advance with fresh peaches, they are a grab 'n' go breakfast everyone will love.
Write a review
Print
Ingredients
  1. 1 cup old fashioned oats (be sure to get gluten free oats if you are gluten free)
  2. 1 cup plain whole milk yogurt or coconut yogurt
  3. 4 Tbsp. maple syrup (adjust to your liking)
  4. 1/4 tsp. unrefined sea salt
  5. 1 large peach, peeled and cut up (over oats)
  6. optional - 2 tsp. collagen, 1 egg yolk
Instructions
  1. Divide the oats, yogurt, maple syrup and salt (and collagen and egg yolk if desired) between two small jars or dishes. Mix well.
  2. Cut up the peaches over the jars so the juice drips into the jars.
  3. Cover and refrigerate 7-24 hours.
  4. Stir in peaches when ready to eat.
Just Take A Bite http://justtakeabite.com/

In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog.

In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. It will not change the cost of any products or services for you.

Ice Cream Flavored Yogurt Gummies | Homemade Dutch Apple Pie

Ice Cream Flavored Yogurt Gummies: Super Healthy Kids Post

These fruit and yogurt gummies come in five ice cream flavors and make a perfect snack or cake decoration without any artificial ingredients.

Ice Cream Flavored  Yogurt Gummies | Homemade Dutch Apple Pie

A birthday is a time for celebration, fun and a few treats.  Cake and ice cream is a classic birthday dessert that encompasses all of these.

But making a fun, colorful cake often involves lots of food coloring.  

Food dyes should not be a part of any child’s diet.

They can cause hyperactivity and symptoms of ADD.  Not to mention they are chemicals the human body is not meant to consume and can impair the immune system.  This also puts a big strain on the liver.

That does not sound like much of a birthday treat in my opinion.

So what is the solution for making a healthy cake that is still colorful and fun?  Yogurt gummies!

Ice Cream Flavored  Yogurt Gummies | Homemade Dutch Apple Pie

It only takes about ten minutes to get these yogurt gummies from the blender to the refrigerator.  They are so quick and easy you can make all five flavors in one day.  Since the yogurt gummies last two weeks in the refrigerator you can prepare them in advance (one less thing to do at the last minute!).

Yogurt gummies also provide a lot of nutrition.

The whole milk yogurt has healthy fat and protein, while the grass-fed gelatin contains protein and helps aid digestion.  The gummies are low in sugar too.  What’s not to love?!

Dye free, colorful, flavorful, nutritious…are you anxious to make a batch of ice cream flavored yogurt gummies?  Head over to Super Healthy Kids where I share how it’s done.

Ice Cream Flavored  Yogurt Gummies | Homemade Dutch Apple Pie

In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog.

In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. It will not change the cost of any products or services for you.

ecocentric mom june mom box review | Homemade Dutch Apple Pie

ecocentric mom: June Mom Box Review

We may have just celebrated Father’s Day, but it is always a good time to celebrate moms!  A mom box from ecocentric mom is the perfect way to do just that.ecocentric mom june mom box review | Homemade Dutch Apple Pie

**I am working with ecocentric mom to blog about this mom box. I have been compensated for my time commitment to review this product. However, my opinions are entirely my own and I have not been paid to publish positive comments.**

Today I’m back to tell you about another fun ecocentric mom box I received.  This one is for moms, and it’s packed with products you can feel good about.

Here is how it works.  Ecocentric mom does the hard work for you – finding great products that are natural and healthy.  You get a box full of fun stuff to try at a fraction of the cost.  It can be a one time event, or you can get a new box every other month.

This month I had an extra challenge doing my review.  With my little one’s recent coconut allergy diagnosis I’ve had to stop using any products with coconut…which includes most natural health and beauty products.

But no need to worry.  I passed along some of the products I couldn’t use to my family.  So you’ll still get to hear a first hand report!

Here are the products in this month’s ecocentric mom box.ecocentric mom june mom box review | Homemade Dutch Apple Pie

Lillian Eve Nail Polish

Lillian Eve is a mompreneur founded nail polish company committed to living a colorful life. Our nail polishes are vegan, cruelty-free, and toxin-free. Sweet Dreams and Bliss are two of our most popular polishes from our new spring collection, Just Breathe.”

I think I’ve painted my nails once in the last fifteen years…no joke.  I had my nails painted for my wedding (13 years ago!) and probably not since then.  It’s just not something I like to do since I’m always in the kitchen working with my hands.  I don’t want anything toxic in our food!  Plus I’ve got little ones that I feed with my hands.

But I do paint my toe nails every so often.  I LOVE this color for toe nails (sweet dreams).  It is perfect for someone like me that likes just a hint of color.  And being on my toes I shouldn’t have to worry about any ingredients possibly impacting my sensitive little one.ecocentric mom june mom box review | Homemade Dutch Apple Pie

My oldest and I tried this nail polish.  I had high hopes, but there were a few things I wasn’t crazy about.

  • The nail polish was really runny and started dripping off our nails.  I had to be extra careful to only get a small amount on the brush.  Our nails ended up looking a bit sloppy.
  • The smell of the polish was very strong/chemical like.  Even my son instantly declared, “That stinks!”  I could smell it for quite a while after painting my nails…and it was on my feet.
  • The list of ingredients is quite lengthy, and I’m not sure what a lot of it is.  Their definition of toxin-free may be different than mine.

That being said they do have a ton of fun colors!  And I’m sure it is safer than what you’d buy at the local drugstore.

Product Pricing: $12 for 0.5 fl oz or 15 ml – No expiration.ecocentric mom june mom box review | Homemade Dutch Apple Pie

Simply 7 Snacks

“Nature is beautiful and it tastes great! Why mess with perfection? We believe you can balance healthiness with taste to be deliciously wholesome. Simply 7 ensures that every ingredient is not only natural but is SIMPLE. Their 7 core standards are: 0 Grams Trans Fat and No Cholesterol, Gluten-free, All Natural Recipes, No artificial colors or flavors, No Preservatives, Simple Ingredients and Simply Delicious.”

We eat pretty much no packaged food.  The only exception I make is having chips once in a while.  I usually buy olive oil potato chips or sweet potato chips.

So I was pretty excited to have some new chips to try.  This months ecocentric mom box contained two varieties – hummus chips and quinoa chips.  Both tasted great!  I ate the bag of quinoa chips myself…this is a box for mom after all.

My son couldn’t try either variety because they both contain corn (which he is allergic to).  My older daughter and my husband sampled the hummus chips (they have dairy, so I couldn’t try them).  So it was hit and miss in terms of allergens.  But in terms of flavor we loved them.

I love pretty much anything salty and crunchy.  The quinoa chips fit the bill perfectly.  An added bonus was that the hummus chips were not spicy.  That’s a make or break point for my oldest with oral sensory issues.

I would love to try their lentil chips.  My son could even eat those.  I may have to do some shopping!

If you are looking for a fun snack once in a while Simply 7 Snacks are good options.  This was my favorite product in the box!

Product Pricing: Hummus Sea Salt 1oz – $1.00, Quinoa Sea Salt 0.8 oz, $1.00

Goddess Garden

“We created Goddess Garden because our family loves the great outdoors. Unlike traditional chemical sunscreens,  Goddess Garden is safe, effective, biodegradable, and free from harmful chemicals.”

I think Goddess Garden is a really great product with quality ingredients for the times when you need sunscreen.  We don’t use sunscreen just for playing outside.  We like to soak up our daily vitamin D!  But if we go to the beach or know we’ll be out all day then I put it on my kiddos.  We haven’t had a day like that yet this summer.  So no sunscreen so far!  I will be trying this on the big kids when we head out on vacation soon.  It does have coconut, so my little one and I won’t be trying it.

Product Pricing: $14.99-$17.99 for 3.4 oz bottle

Bella Organics

“Vanilla Mint Deodorant Creme: Beauty products are often full of toxic ingredients, especially the conventional deodorants. Bella Organics Vanilla Mint Deodorant Crème is a perfect alternative to a health conscious mom. We offer an organic, aluminum-free deodorant that actually works!”

This is another product I did not get to try because it contains coconut oil.  But it smells AMAZING.  It smells like a minty dessert.  I’d much rather smell like that than sweat!  Vanilla mint deodorant creme is a bit different from other natural deodorants that I’ve tried because it is creamy.  I think that would be very soothing to sensitive underarm skin.  It also contains natural ingredients that work with your body.  Any deodorant without chemicals or aluminum gets two thumbs up from me.  I’m anxious to look into their other products.

Product Pricing: 0.25 ounces for $3.99ecocentric mom june mom box review | Homemade Dutch Apple Pie

Meliora K Laundry Powder

Meliora K‘s Laundry Powder is free of fragrances, dyes, and brighteners. We list every ingredient clearly on the label. Works great in standard and HE washers. Our vision is a clean, happy, and healthy home that doesn’t rely on secret formulas and mysterious chemicals.”

I think I’m starting to sound like a broken record here.  This laundry detergent from Meliora K is another product with coconut oil.  So I let my mom try it.

After using the laundry powder my mom did a good smell check – no fragrance at all!!  That is a very important point for me.  I don’t want my clothes smelling like perfume.

She said the clothes and towels she washed were very clean.  There weren’t many suds in the washer, but that is the way it should be when you aren’t adding foaming agents to your soap.

The only concern my mom had was that it didn’t seem to dissolve well in cold water.  But I think that is the case with most natural powder detergents.  You have to dissolve them in warm or hot water first and then switch to cold.

All in all a great product that cleans well, has no fragrance and no chemicals.  I wish I could use it!!

Product Pricing: $9.99 for 20 load (40 HE loads) canister, $15.99 for 64 load (128 HE loads) load canister.

Ecocentric Soap

“Treat yourself to a luxurious soap made with all natural ingredients and formulated to soothe, hydrate, exfoliate and nourish your beautiful skin to feel amazing.”

My sister-in-law tried the ecocentric soap.  Here is what she had to say:

It really cleanses very well.  It took my water resistant eye make up off right away. It did not just smear the make up across my face like some cleansers have done in the past. It actually took it right off. I was really excited about that, but then the sensitive skin under and around my eyes started to burn a little shortly after I finished washing my face. This morning they are still quite sensitive and a little burning, also slightly swollen under my eyes. So I will not be using the soap on my face again, sadly. I don’t have sensitive skin, so this reaction actually really surprises me.

I also used to the soap in the shower. It lathers well and really does cleanse very well. I really enjoy the scent. I tried it on my legs to shave them, to see how it compares to the other coconut oil based bar soap that I buy. It lathers well, so it worked very well to use for shaving my legs. However, my skin was very tight after I was dried off from my shower. I definitely would not be able to go without lotion using this soap.

I would buy the soap again because it really does cleanse well. The ingredients are mostly good. I do wonder about the quality of essential oils they use in the soap. And I love the scent. However, I would use caution on any sensitive areas.”

Product Pricing: $6

This ecocentric mom box contained some really amazing, natural products.

I was sad I couldn’t try some of them.  But that’s life with a coconut allergy.

Now I’m craving more Simply 7 chips!  I may have to place an order very soon.

Do you like what you what you see?  Are you interested in getting a box of great products to try for yourself?  Sign up at Ecocentric Mom and see what fun, natural products arrive at your door.

In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog.

In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. It will not change the cost of any products or services for you.

Blueberry or Cherry Yogurt

No need to buy flavored yogurt.  Make your own!  Blueberry or cherry yogurt are a cinch with just a few simple ingredients and none of the bad stuff.Blueberry Or Cherry Yogurt - Homemade Dutch Apple Pie

Yogurt is one of my favorite foods!  But if you gave me a container of store-bought flavored yogurt I probably wouldn’t touch it.

Most yogurt contains artificial flavor and color in addition to fillers and chemical sweeteners.  Regardless of the health status of most yogurts, I think they are just way too sweet.  Anybody else?

My family’s palates have definitely changed when it comes to how sweet our food is.  So I’ve been making yogurt at home for years.  Sometimes I make it from our raw milk.  When we don’t have enough milk to spare I just buy plain, whole milk yogurt and add our own flavor.

When flavoring your own yogurt the possibilities are endless!  I come up with all sorts of creations, depending on what we have in the house.  It’s fun to have variety.

I like to make cookies ‘n’ cream yogurt when we have homemade cocoa puffs, oreos® or brownies on hand.  I’ve even been known to make caramel apple, strawberry swirl, cherry pie and a few other crazy flavors.

But two of our favorites (and two of the easiest) are blueberry and cherry.  Just a few simple ingredients and you have the best yogurt you’ve ever tasted.  No overpowering sweetness.  No artificial flavor.  Just pure, simple ingredients.

With blueberries and cherries in season this yogurt makes the perfect breakfast or snack any time of day.  When the fresh fruit isn’t in season any more you can still enjoy delicious yogurt using frozen fruit.

If the flavor and health benefits aren’t enough, making your own flavored yogurt from large containers of plain yogurt really saves money.  A single serving yogurt is about $1.00.  You can buy a tub of plain yogurt for about $2.00 and make six servings out of it.  That is a huge savings.

I like to take five minutes in the evening to prepare individual yogurts.  Then breakfast is ready when we get up in the morning.  You can even take it on the go.

If you like fruit on the bottom yogurt you’ll love my versions of blueberry and cherry yogurt.  Stir in some homemade granola for a complete breakfast treat.  What is your favorite yogurt flavor?

Blueberry Or Cherry Yogurt - Homemade Dutch Apple Pie 2

This post is linked to From The Archives Friday.

Blueberry or Cherry Yogurt
Serves 1
A quick and flavorful variation of yogurt without any fillers.
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Print
Ingredients
  1. 1 cup whole milk yogurt or coconut milk yogurt
  2. 2 Tbsp. pure blueberry juice or cherry juice
  3. 1 Tbsp. maple syrup
  4. 1/4 cup fresh or frozen blueberries or cherries
Instructions
  1. Combine the yogurt, juice, syrup and fruit.
  2. Serve immediately or store in the refrigerator until ready to eat.
Notes
  1. If using frozen fruit it is best to let the yogurt sit for at least one hour to let the fruit thaw.
Just Take A Bite http://justtakeabite.com/

In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. It will not change the cost of any products for you.

In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. It will not change the cost of any products or services for you.

Homemade Fruit Snacks

Impress your kids and avoid strange ingredients by making homemade fruit snacks! Just a few simple and nourishing ingredients create a fun snack.

Homemade Fruit Snacks | Just Take a Bite

I’ve been making fruit snacks/gummies from scratch for my kids for quite some time now.  There are plenty of recipes if you search.  They are all a little different.  But I never posted the way I make them.

Recently I’ve had multiple friends ask me how I make them.  So here is my version of homemade fruit snacks.

Most people are amazed at how simple it is.  But beyond that, it’s amazing how healthy they are!  Especially compared to anything you can buy at the store.

We used to buy organic fruit snacks once in a while as a special treat.  But not anymore.  Even the organic variety uses “natural flavor.”  My daughter is very sensitive to that.  And almost all of them use rice syrup.  My son is allergic to rice.

As usual homemade is best!  These fruit snacks are filled with nourishing gelatin, which is great for gut healing (be sure to get quality gelatin).  They are also very safe for almost any allergy.  I love that I can even make a variety of flavors for my little guy that is allergic to multiple fruits (have you ever tried finding something fruit flavored at the store that does not contain banana, grape or pear?  Impossible).

My kids will easily eat a whole batch in a week if I let them.  So I often have to make a new batch almost weekly!  I try to make different flavors like blueberry lemon, lemon lime, lemonade and cherry.  I love having very healthy snacks on hand that my kids truly love.  And they don’t have to feel like they are missing out.

Do your kids like fruit snacks?  Try replacing the store-bought version with a homemade version.   You can make them in any shape and flavor.  Let your kids choose which ones.  They’ll think it’s great!  And you can know they are eating something that is healthy and healing.

This post is linked to Allergy Free Wednesday.

Homemade Fruit Snacks | Just Take a Bite

Homemade Fruit Snacks
A fun, fruity snack that is full of nourishing gelatin and free of allergens and artificial ingredients.
Write a review
Print
Ingredients
  1. 1 cup pure juice (i.e. blueberry, cherry, lemon, lime)
  2. 3/4 cups sweetener (cane sugar, coconut sugar, honey, maple syrup)
  3. 3 -6 Tbsp. grass-fed gelatin
  4. 1/4 tsp. sea salt (optional)
Instructions
  1. Combine the juice, salt and sweetener in a small saucepan. Heat slightly and mix until the sugar/honey dissolves.
  2. Taste the juice and add more sweetener if necessary.
  3. Allow the juice to cool for 10 - 30 minutes.
  4. Add the gelatin to the juice while gently whisking.
  5. Let sit for one minute.
  6. Heat the juice/gelatin mixture over low heat, whisking gently until the gelatin completely dissolves.
  7. Pour the mixture into molds or a glass pan.
  8. Refrigerate until solid (about 20 minutes).
  9. Remove fruit snacks from molds or cut into squares/desired shape from a pan.
  10. Store in a container in the refrigerator.
Notes
  1. Do not use juice from concentrate/juice that you would drink plain. Use pure juice.
  2. You may need extra sweetener for some flavors like lemon and lime.
  3. You can use one type of juice or a combination - blueberry lemon, cherry lime, lemon lime, etc.
  4. Using less gelatin will make a softer gummy and they will need more time to set. More gelatin will make it firmer.
Just Take A Bite http://justtakeabite.com/


In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog.

In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. It will not change the cost of any products or services for you.

Health Update 2013 Part 2 – What I Learned

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Every time I think about writing what I learned in 2013 my mind goes in a million directions.  I learned so much.  I learned it all the hard way – through first hand experience.

I know I’m not alone.  I know I’m not the only one struggling with these problems.  So I want to share my journey with others in the hopes that someone else doesn’t have to go through the struggles like I did.

So here is my attempt at sharing some of these lessons.  I hope to go into more detail on some of the topics in separate posts later.  For now, here is some of what I learned in 2013 (and over the last ten years).

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1. Eat enough food.

I fell into this trap for many years.  And I see it in so many well-meaning sites and books.  Time and time again it is suggested that women should eat 1200 – 1500 calories a day to loose weight and be healthy.  This is far too little to sustain your health.

Unless you are on complete bedrest and can barely move your body most women should eat a minimum of 2,000 calories a day.  You should consume even more than that if you are active and exercise.  If you starve your body it will not function well.  If you feed your body you’ll feel great.  Combining enough quality food with moderate exercise is a great way to maintain your health in the long term.

2. Eat what works for your body.

Don’t follow a prescribed diet (GAPS, Paleo, low carb, etc.) just because someone else says it’s great.

This is another lesson I had to learn the (very) hard way.  I’ve been on every diet you can think of to try to feel good.  For me it was never about losing weight.  I just wanted to feel good and heal my body.  So I tried the IBS diet, low fat, high fiber, dairy free, egg free, wheat free, red meat free, grain free, GAPS, low carb,…I’ve tried them all.

Where did that get me?  Feeling worse than when I started.  Over the last 10 years I have learned to eat what works for my body.  And that is what makes me feel good.

Just because your friend tried eating paleo and feels great doesn’t mean it’s the perfect diet for you.  Just because someone says grains are evil doesn’t mean they don’t work for you.

I have read over and over about how things like potatoes, bananas and root vegetables are “safe” starches and much better for you than grains.  I am living proof that this is not true for everyone.  If I eat potatoes and bananas I will be in so much pain.  But I MUST eat gluten free grains daily to feel good.

All this boils down to – don’t restrict your diet just because someone else says it’s good.  Eat a variety of real food that makes you feel good and gives you the energy you need.  Don’t cut foods (real food) out of your diet if they aren’t causing you problems.  You won’t find your “perfect” diet in any book.  You have to figure out what works for you.

3. Real food is great!  But sometimes it can be beneficial to stray away from it.

I know this sounds contradictory to what my site is all about.  But it’s true.  I still firmly believe in fueling your body with healthy, homemade real food…most of the time.

But depending on the state of your health, there are times when you can benefit from some less than ideal foods.  For someone that has been on a strict diet (like paleo or GAPS) and is underfed and unhealthy, processed foods can be a great jumpstart to getting back to full health.  Processed foods are easy to digest (yes, frozen pizza is often easier to digest than a big plate of vegetables).  It is also easy to quickly increase your calorie intake with processed foods.

I am not recommending this as a permanent solution to health by any means.  But it can be beneficial if you are recovering from undereating or a condition called orthorexia.  Once your body is not starving anymore you can go back to eating real, quality food.  You just have to be sure to eat plenty of it.

Having bad morning sickness was a good way to break me of my orthorexia.  I do love to fuel my body properly with quality food.  But sometimes I can be too strict about it…and it fuels my OCD and anxiety.  I had to just learn to eat whatever I could manage for the last couple months.  I am really looking forward to getting back to eating mostly healthy food.  My body is ready for it.  But it was nice to have a break and just eat whatever I wanted.  It was a great way to change my mindset and figure out how to find balance.

4. Don’t drink too much water.

One of the best things I did for my health in 2013 was to stop drinking so much water.  There really is no science behind the 8 glasses a day rule.  And if you really think about it, it doesn’t make sense to force yourself to drink water.  If your body needs fluids it will let you know.

Drinking too much water is a great way to slow down your metabolism, lower your body temperature and feel cold all the time.  It will also flush the vitamins and minerals out of your body.

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5. Get plenty of sleep.

This sounds like common sense.  But there are probably very few people that actually get enough sleep.  For a healthy individual seven hours of uninterrupted sleep is the minimum needed.  Most people need at last eight.  And for someone that has been sleep-deprived for a while nine or ten hours is ideal.

Quality sleep with no problems falling or staying asleep is a sign of good health.  While you sleep is also the time when your body repairs itself.  So if you’re trying to heal and you’re not getting enough sleep you’re setting yourself up for failure.

I went for years and years getting very poor sleep.  I had too much to get done in a day to spend my time sleeping.  But at some point I just had no energy and could barely function.  It has been great over the last couple months to get nine or ten hours of sleep a day (night time + a nap).  My body really needed it.  Hopefully soon I can stop taking a nap every day and just stick with my eight hours a night and have it be sufficient.

Even if every other part of your lifestyle is ideal, if you’re not getting enough sleep you won’t feel your best.

6. Exercise is great…if you are eating and sleeping enough.  

If you are not eating or sleeping enough, it can be beneficial to take a break from exercise.  When you do exercise it’s good to do a variety of things like weight lifting, yoga and walking.  You don’t have to push yourself to extremes to be healthy and fit.  Too much aerobic exercise may be harmful.

I used to run every single day.  And do nothing else.  Now I still enjoy running.  But I don’t do it every day.  Actually I haven’t done any running in a long time because my body was not healthy enough.  When I was healing I stuck to short walks and bikes.  I also did gentle yoga.  I got new weights for Christmas…but haven’t been able to use them.  Maybe by next Christmas I’ll be able to start lifting weights 🙂

Move your body doing what you enjoy.  Make sure to do a variety of things to work all parts of your body.  And combine it with enough food and enough sleep.  That is the way to stay healthy.

7. Basal body temperature can tell you a lot about your health.

Basal body temperature is your temperature when you first wake up in the morning.  Another great thing I did for my health in 2013 was to check my temperature every single morning and keep a spreadsheet of it.

Your bbt can tell you if your metabolism is working well or not.  For women it can also tell you when you ovulate/how your hormones are functioning.  So it is a good indicator of health (since metabolism is a key factor in health).  It is also great for understanding fertility and either getting pregnant or preventing pregnancy.

A healthy individual with a well-functioning metabolism should have a bbt of at least 97.8 F in the morning.  Higher is even better.  You can also check your temperature throughout the day to get an idea of how your food and activity level impacts your body temperature.  It will help you see what keeps you warm (boosting metabolism) or makes you cold (suppressing metabolism).  Then you can adjust your lifestyle accordingly.

For women, bbt is lower (but still usually around the 97.8 range for a healthy individual) in the first half of your cycle when estrogen is dominant and progesterone is low.  When you ovulate there is often a temperature drop for one day.  Then after ovulation progesterone increases, raising your temperature.

It will take a few months of charting your temperature to get an idea of how your body works and to see if there are any patterns.  For example, as I was healing and charting my bbt there wasn’t really a pattern that I noticed at first.  My cycles were not regular.  But after a while I noticed that if my bbt dropped into the 96’s (or below) even for one day my body was way off and was struggling to get my hormone levels up.   And it would be at least two weeks before ovulation.  A bbt below 97 meant a restart for me.  If my bbt stayed in the 97’s for two weeks I knew ovulation was coming.  And after ovulation my bbt was always at least in the 98’s and sometimes 99’s.  Once my bbt started dropping that meant the start of a new cycle.

Charting my bbt was the easiest change I made the whole year.  But it told me more about my health than just about anything else I did.

8. Focus on health, not looks.  

I think I’ve been saying this for years.  So it’s not completely new.  But deep down I don’t think I fully believed it.  I did shift my mindset to focus on health a long time ago.  But I didn’t ever drop the focus on looks and size.  I still wanted to be thin.

In 2013 my control over my size was taken away.  With my thyroid totally out of whack my weight kept going up and up.  There was nothing I could do about it.  For the first time I truly had to focus 100% on my health.

Did I always like how I looked?  No.  Did I want to loose some weight?  Yes.  But that was completely secondary.  My health was front and center.  And it always will be now, no matter what size I am.

When I look to the future I think about how I want to impact my children.  I would much rather teach them to take care of themselves and be healthy.  I don’t want to teach them to be obsessed with looks and size.  So I am done with that.

Don’t try to be a certain size or weight.  Treat your body well.  And give your body what it needs to be healthy.  You’ll be so much happier.  Love yourself and take care of yourself.

9. Change is a very gradual process.

Change does not happen over night.  No matter what the next fad diet or workout video tells you.  If you want to make changes that are sustainable long term it will be a very gradual process.

Do you want to loose weight?  That’s fine.  But know that it will take a while.  Do you want to eat healthier?  That’s a wonderful thing to do.  But don’t go crazy trying to do everything at once.

Small, consistent steps each day will get you where you want to be.  Don’t get upset because two weeks into making changes you haven’t noticed any big improvements.  Give it time.

Healing takes time.  Weight gain or loss takes time.  A healthy diet takes time.  Don’t rush it and set yourself up for failure.  I’ve been working on getting healthy for about 15 years now.  And I’m finally getting there.  One step at a time.

10. Your thyroid can have a big impact on your health.

I was diagnosed as hypothyroid in 2006.  I was put on a synthetic thyroid hormone and had my TSH checked about once a year.  I really knew nothing about thyroid.  I figured the doctor knew what he was doing.  I didn’t have any hypothyroid symptoms that I knew of.  So I didn’t bother to learn about it.  I didn’t think it was that big of a deal.

Seven years later I finally had to learn more about it.  I wish I would have researched it sooner.  I didn’t realize just how much your thyroid could impact your health.  I think there are about 200 symptoms that can be attributed to thyroid dysfunction.

Last year I learned so much about the thyroid.  I learned what blood work you need to get done and how to interpret the results.  Just because your levels are in the “normal” range does not mean you are on the right dose of medication.  You have to look at the symptoms more than the numbers.

I learned about the different kinds of medications, how to take them and how to get correct dosage.

I learned how other hormones can impact your thyroid and vice versa.

I learned that iron levels and adrenal problems can mimic thyroid problems.  And they need to be addressed first.

I can’t say that I have my thyroid problem 100% figured out yet.  It is the last piece of the puzzle that I’m still working on.  And I will be writing more on this topic in the future.  I will be getting my thyroid hormones levels rechecked in a week and go from there to see if adjustments need to be made.

11. Manage stress.

Stress can be as bad for your health as lack of sleep, a poor diet and lack of exercise.  Stress can suppress your metabolism.  It can alter your hormones.  It can come in many forms too.

Find a way to manage your stress to stay healthy.  Take time to do things you enjoy – reading, writing, visiting with friends.  It’s also important to find techniques to relax such as walking, yoga or reading the Bible.  Figure out what works for you and make it a priority.

12. Adrenal health is very important.

Your adrenal glands play a huge role in your health.  If you are not getting enough sleep, aren’t eating enough, are exercising too much or are too stressed, your adrenal glands have to work overtime to compensate.

This works for a while.  That is what they are for.  They raise your cortisol levels to compensate.  But if you do it for too long you stress the adrenals and eventually it leads to adrenal fatigue.  Then your cortisol bottoms out and it takes a lot of work to get it back up.

If you think you are suffering from adrenal problems it’s great to do a 24-hour saliva test to check your cortisol levels.  I had it done early last year.  I’m thankful that my levels were just slightly raised.  Which means I was doing ok, but starting to make them work a little too hard.  By altering my sleep, diet and exercise I was able to get my cortisol levels back to normal.

13. Birth control is not for everyone…and probably not good for most women.

This is another less I had to learn the very hard way.  But it wasn’t until years after I stopped birth control that I realized how much it had harmed me.

A few months before I got married I started birth control.  That’s what you do, right?  I knew nothing about what it was or what it actually does to your body.  But had I not made that one decision I probably never would have struggled with infertility for so many years.

When I was in college I got my health under control.  Things weren’t perfect, but I was eating enough, sleeping enough and exercising regularly.  I had found a good balance.  And for the first time in my life I had regular cycles every single month.  This lasted a few years…until I started birth control.

Once on birth control things started to change.  The changes were gradual.  And I never attributed them to the birth control.  But now that I have done a lot of research I can see the big picture.  I started to gain weight.  Five pounds or so.  Nothing major.  My anxiety started to get worse.  My OCD started to get worse.  Eventually I started having panic attacks.  My gut got so messed up that I started restrictive diets to try to help.  My weight went way down from restriction.  I was a big mess.  I even had to switch to a new form of birth control because I was starting to puke every month from the hormones.  In case you haven’t noticed by now my body is extremely sensitive to any hormone fluctuations.

After stopping birth control three years later it was too late.  My hormones were non-existent.  I was underweight.  I was hypothyroid.  My OCD was so out of control that I could barely function.  My anxiety was so bad.  I had to start seeing a psychologist.  My digestive system was so messed up that I had to have major colon surgery.  Eventually we started fertility treatments.

I think almost all of this could have been avoided had I not taken birth control.  It messed up both my mind and my body.

I know not everyone reacts the same way to hormones.  And I’m sure there are cases where it can be helpful.  But please do your research before considering any type of birth control.  I know that it is something I will never take again.  It has taken me many years to get my life back.  I’m not going down that road ever again.

14. Be your own advocate.

One big lesson I have learned over the last ten years is that you have to stand up for yourself.  Don’t let doctors brush you off or tell you you’re fine when you know you’re not.  If something doesn’t feel right, find a doctor that will help.

I had GI problems for years.  I finally was brave enough to talk to my doctor about it.  He referred me to a gastroenterologist.  Great.  I thought I’d finally get the help I needed.  He asked a few questions, felt my stomach and told me I was healthy and fine.  Eventually I got him to run a few tests.  But he still said I was fine.  I knew I was not.  I had to research and research and finally diagnose myself.  Even then when I told the nurse at my doctor’s office what I thought was the problem she said “you don’t have that.  You’re too young” without missing a beat…over the phone…without asking me a single question.  I’m so thankful I was persistent and didn’t just say ok.  I finally got referred to a colon surgeon who confirmed my diagnosis and immediately scheduled surgery.

This has happened time and time again to me.  I go to a doctor, even specialists, trying to get help.  And they tell me I’m fine.  Even though I know I’m not.  I have had to figure out all of my problems on my own…and just use doctors to get medications and treatments.

15. PCOS is a confusing topic.

When I had my first appointment with an endocrinologist he asked some questions and made an assumption about my health.  He assumed I had PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome).  He ran some tests and did an ultrasound.  His conclusion?  I had what he called polyfollicular ovaries.

Great.  What does that mean?  I never really did find out from him or anyone.  I tried to research it for years.  Nobody else used that term.  I have come to some of my own conclusions (as usual).  But it’s still confusing.

Many women with PCOS are overweight or have trouble maintaining their weight.  Many women with PCOS have irregular cycles and heavy, painful periods.  Many women with PCOS struggle with facial hair.  Did that sound like me?  Not really.  I just had no periods.

The common solutions for PCOS are losing weight, eating low carb and taking Metformin to help with insulin resistance.  Did I need any of that.  No.  In fact, eating low carb made my situation worse.

Where did that leave me?  Basically my body would try to grow some follicles/eggs each month.  But my hormone levels weren’t high enough to mature the eggs.  So instead of having one dominant follicle that released an egg (ovulation) I’d have lots of small follicles that did nothing but sit there.  Which on ultrasound looks like little cysts.  They are really just lots of follicles…polyfollicular.

Even when doing IVF I would have tons of follicles start growing.  But very few actually matured enough for the egg to be good (hence our seven rounds of IVF and two good eggs out of almost forty that were retrieved and fertilized).  That is also why I would have a condition called hyperstimulation every time.  There were too many follicles.

I still don’t have a full answer about what this means.  One endo said it’s from bad communication between the brain and the ovaries.  Could I technically be classified as having PCOS?  I don’t know.  I don’t really have the symptoms.  My condition is helped by being a healthy weight and taking care of myself.  Finding balance with sleep, exercise and food.  I also think it is related to my thyroid problem.

All this to say that if you have been diagnosed with PCOS please do your research to figure out where you fit into the criteria and what treatment is best for you.

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15 weeks

16. Let God have control.

I’ve known my whole life that ultimately God is in control.  But I also know I can make choices.  For most of my life I’ve tried to be in control.  I ask God for things I want.  I ask for things to go my way.  If things are good I say it’s God’s plan.  But when things aren’t going so well it’s hard to believe it’s still true.

I have such a strong desire to be in control that I could not let go on my own.  In 2013 God took the control out of my hands.  And it was wonderful.  It doesn’t mean that my life was great.  Actually it was very hard.  But it gave me such freedom to not have to hold every little detail of my life in perfect balance.  It was terrifying and wonderful at the same time.

It is so good to know and have proof that God really does have things in his control.  He knows what I need.  His plans may be different than mine.  His timing may be different than mine.  But I don’t have to worry about it.

On my own, trying to keep control, I probably would not have had any more children.  I would not have made the necessary changes on my own.  But with God in control we are expecting baby #3.  And the door is open for more.  That is something we can decide as a couple down the road.  But just to know the door is open, even if we decide not to have more kids, is amazing.

17. OCD does not have to control my life.

It’s no secret that I’ve struggled with pretty severe obsessive compulsive disorder for many years now.  I was finally diagnosed/finally realized that I had it about five years ago.  And I’ve been working on treating it ever since.

It has been a long and difficult journey.  No matter how much I told myself my compulsions were silly and illogical I couldn’t stop.  I went through a lot of exposure therapy and have made progress over the years.

Over the last seven months once again God has allowed me to change.  When He takes the control, my OCD does not have to control me.

Especially during the first trimester of this pregnancy I had to just let everything go.  I just had to do what I could to get through each day.  If that meant laying on the couch most of the day, then that’s what I did.  If that meant eating less than ideal food, then that’s what I did.  If that meant my digestion was so messed up that I was in pain, I didn’t let it bother me or make me anxious.  I just kept on going.

I’m so happy to be able to continue this process of eliminating my OCD.  My fear does not have to take control.  I can give it to God.  And I’m never going back to where I was.

It’s hard to think back to when I was first married.  It’s hard to think about all the time I wasted being consumed by my thoughts and compulsions.  I am very blessed to have such a loving husband that never judged or got upset with me.  He helped me through it.  And with each child I’ve let more of it go.  I’m a type A person.  So I will never be 100% cured from OCD.  It’s part of my nature.  But it will no longer control my life.  It will only be an asset and be used for good things.  It is what fuels the drive and determination I’ve always had.  But if it hinders my relationships or my life it has to go.

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Final Thoughts

It feels so good to share all of this information in hopes of helping even one other person.  But even more than that it feels good to write it out and be done with the things that have burdened me for so many years.  I know how to be healthy and happy.  I’m ready to move on to 2014 now.

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post I’ll be digging deeper into some of these topics later.  For now if you’d like to do some research on your own, here are some great resources I’ve come across.

The Nourished Metabolism (20% off 6/10/16 – 6/30/16 with coupon code SUMMER20)

Eat for Heat

Diet Recovery 2

The Nourished Metabolism (20% off 6/10/16 – 6/30/16 with coupon code SUMMER20)

Go Kaleo

Your Eatopia

Stop The Thyroid Madness

Natural Fertility and Wellness

What have you learned over the years about your health and how to really live?

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Health Update 2013 Part 1 – What Happened

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The health changes I experienced in 2013 were beyond my wildest dreams.  Looking back I am truly amazed at all that has happened.  That being said it was a very painful and challenging process.  And one of the hardest parts was that it was out of my control.  God knew what I needed.  Even if it took heartache to get there.

There is so much to share.  I’m not even sure how to capture it all.  So I’ll go through the year one month at a time.  This is my story of a year of healing.  There was no magic secret.  No one thing I did to cause change.  But I did learn a lot.  Today I’ll share how the year went.  And soon I’ll be sharing everything I learned in the process.

January 2013

I started 2013 quite unhealthy.  I was nursing a 20-month old (quite draining on an already undernourished body…with no break from fertility treatments to pregnancy to almost 2 years of nursing).  I was sleeping about 5-6 hours a night, always interrupted.  My diet was quite restricted.  Although I was gradually trying to add foods back into my diet after almost a year trying GAPS, I was still scared to eat.  I exercised daily, more than I should for the state of my health.  And it was always cardio.  I was stressed both physically and mentally.  I knew I was not healthy.  I knew I wanted change.  But I didn’t want to give up control.

I decided to see a new doctor.  She ran tons of tests.  The results?  I had lots of food intolerances, candida, high cortisol, low mineral levels and heavy metals.  She had a laundry list of foods to avoid, supplements to take, etc.  If I wasn’t stressed enough before, now I was more anxious than ever.  But I took the supplements and adjusted my diet once again to see if it would help.  I started a rotational diet to try to eliminate some food intolerances.  It was not easy.

But I kept going.  I wanted to be healthy.  In the back of my mind I knew I wanted to prepare my body for another round of IVF and hopefully another pregnancy.  It was the thing that kept me going.

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February 2013

In February I made a big change that would have a huge impact on my health for the rest of the year.  I had been diagnosed as hypothyroid in 2006 and had been on Synthroid ever since.  After research I took it upon myself to get my doctor to prescribe me Armour Thyroid instead, a natural form of thyroid hormones.  I was very hopeful that it would be a good fit.  I started at a very low dose since I was on a low dose of Synthroid.

I also stopped nursing.  I wanted to give my body 3 months of break before starting fertility treatments again.  It had been 6 1/2 years since I had given my body a break from fertility treatments, pregnancy or nursing.  And I wondered why my body was undernourished.  Sheesh.

March 2013

In March I gained a few pounds.  It was my body’s response to not nursing anymore.  I also had bloodwork done to check my thyroid and my reproductive hormones.  I was curious where I was at.  My thyroid levels came back pretty normal.  My free T3 was actually a little high.  I now know that is a sign of adrenal problems.  But my doctor said they looked fine.  So I figured that was taken care of and the switch to Armour was a success.  And I didn’t give it another thought.

Unfortunately my hormone levels were not so normal.  Both my estrogen and progesterone levels were basically the same as that of a 10 year old girl.  Non-existent.  Not good when you’re wanting to get pregnant.  But I knew we were doing another round of IVF regardless (which doesn’t require my body to do anything on its own).  So it was one more thing to think about down the road.

April 2013

In April life was fairly normal.  I was still sticking to my rotational diet.  I was trying to make gradual health changes like getting more sleep.

We also had our consult with the fertility doctor and got our schedule and medications.

May 2013

May is when life started to get crazy.  And the journey that I never dreamed I’d be on began.  I started my progesterone pills to induce a period and start the IVF process.

A few days after starting we received a letter from our fertility specialist.  He was ill and had to retire immediately.  And that was that.  What now??  We were hopeful about things to come.  We were just getting started.  And now what?

Thankfully we have two endocrinologists here.  So we had to immediately get in to see a brand new doctor.  He was able to squeeze us in to his schedule so we didn’t have to stop and wait.  But he knew nothing about our history/our story.  And it added a lot of stress for me.

The following week I started my estrogen pills to prepare my uterus for the IVF transfer.  Little did I know that the simple act of taking a pill would be the start of both my heartache and my healing.  I had done this before many times.  Take estrogen, then progesterone, then do the transfer and wait.  But this time it was different.

Within days of starting the estrogen pills I started to gain weight.  I had done enough research to know a little about estrogen dominance.  So I figured it was just a temporary thing while I was on the high dose of estrogen for a few days.  And my weight did go back down a few pounds after decreasing the estrogen and starting progesterone.  So I figured that was it.

A few months later I went back and read the information that comes with the estrogen pills.  It specifically says your thyroid medication dose may have to be adjusted when taking them.  But my doctor never even asked about my thyroid.  And I was on the new medication…and would later find out I was not on the correct dose.  All of that combined was the perfect combination for what was to come.

June 2013

On June 1 we transferred our 3 remaining embryos that had survived the thaw.  That was it.  Our last chance.  Over the next two weeks I waited and rested.  I felt awful.  But I had been down this road before.  I knew that the hormones I was on made me feel like I was pregnant.  So symptoms didn’t mean much.

On June 11 I had my first pregnancy test.  It was positive.  We were overjoyed and relieved.  Our final chance had worked.  Our family would be complete.  And we would be done with fertility treatments forever.

On June 24 we had our first ultrasound.  It was too early to see a heartbeat, so there wasn’t much to see.

On June 28 I had pain and spotting.  I had another ultrasound that was inconclusive.  Another hcg check showed that my levels were barely rising.

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July 2013

On July 1 I had my final ultrasound where the doctor confirmed that it was a blighted ovum and not a viable pregnancy.  I stopped the hormones and waited for the miscarriage.  I expected it to take a week or two for things to complete.  And then I’d work on healing.

What I didn’t expect was that the bleeding continued into early August.  Over a month.  It was pure torture to be reminded day after day after day of what would not be.

In addition I continued to gain weight.  At a check up to make sure things were ok I asked the doctor about the uncontrollable weight gain.  His response was that I was probably eating more or exercising less than I realized.  Not much of an answer.  More like a brush off.

What the doctor should have told me was that my thyroid was messed up.  But he just dismissed me with no answer.  It took me almost 5 months researching and experimenting on my own to figure it out.

One very positive and critical step I made during July was that I started tracking my daily basal body temperature.  Little did I know that one simple thing like checking my temperature each morning would be key to assessing my health and becoming pregnant.  I knew body temperature related to health.  But I didn’t know about its relation to hormonal cycles.

August 2013

In early August the miscarriage finally ended.  In hind sight I know that the extended bleeding was due to my messed up estrogen, progesterone and thyroid levels.  Again, I had to figure that out on my own.

I had a lot of bloodwork done to check for any autoimmune issues or genetic reasons for miscarriage.  It all came back normal.  I also had my estrogen levels checked.  It was now up to 42.  It was in the normal range.

Part way through the month I had more spotting due to my fluctuating hormones.

My weight was also still going up.  By the end of August I decided to stop weighing myself.  I couldn’t handle watching it go up day after day.  And I was hitting a low emotionally.  I wasn’t pregnant.  And now I had no energy and had gained over twenty pounds.  I also had severe swelling in my legs and constant pain when I stood for more than a few minutes.

At the time I figured the swelling, water retention and weight gain was my body’s response to years of disordered eating.  So I just waited.  I figured it would work itself out in a month or two.

September 2013

By September I had one goal – getting healthy.  I thought it was possible to heal my body and get my reproductive system working again.  I was studying anything I could find about balancing hormones.  I was still checking my basal body temperature every morning to monitor how things were going.  And to my amazement the first week of September I ovulated on my own for the first time in ten years!  I felt a new sense of hope.

Although this was so exciting I was still very swollen and in pain.  My weight continued to increase.  And I was very worn out.

October 2013

In October I started seeing a chiropractor for the first time.  I have had scoliosis since I was a teenager, but never did anything about it.  I thought it might help balance my body to deal with that.  So I started to go to the chiro twice a week.

I was charting my temperatures and trying to predict when I might ovulate again.  This was almost impossible to do since nothing was regular about my body.  But about 4 weeks after I had last ovulated I thought I might have ovulated again.  So I had my hormone levels checked.

I was very disappointed to hear that my estrogen was 47 (about the same as before) and my progesterone was 0.6…still non-existent.  In other words, I didn’t ovulate.  And my hormones were still very low.

So I kept researching and kept checking my temperature.  Two weeks after I had thought I ovulated…I was pleasantly surprised to see that I had ovulated again.  It wasn’t just a one time fluke. My body was really trying to work.  Although not on schedule yet.

Again I had my hormone levels checked.  To my great joy I got much better results.  My estrogen was 121.  And my progesterone was now 15.4!  In the normal range for after ovulation.  My body was actually making hormones!!

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November 2013

By November I was getting excited that I was on the right track.  I had ovulated twice.  My cycles were a little longer than normal, but not too bad.

On the down side my weight was still quite high.  I still had a bloated abdomen, swollen legs and pain every day.  I was still tired.  I knew that something still was not right.  I had experimented with my diet.  But that didn’t seem to make a difference.  I wasn’t eating any more than I used to.  I was still exercising daily.  But nothing changed.

I read and researched and read and researched.  Finally.  God gave me the answer I had been looking for.  It was my thyroid.  I don’t even remember what I read or what made me think of it.  But I figured out that I was on the wrong dose of Armour Thyroid.

I called my doctor and she said it was ok to increase my dose.  I started increasing it immediately and hoped I’d notice a difference.

With all of my research I also realized that I had been taking the medication incorrectly the whole time.  So I started making sure I was taking it properly – chewing instead of just swallowing the pills, at least 4 hours apart from any vitamins and splitting my dose into two parts so I would have some in my system all day.

I also figured out that millet is one of the strongest goitrogenic foods…which are horrible for people with thyroid problems.  The gluten free bread I had been eating daily had millet as the first ingredient.  So I stopped eating it.  All of these changes combined started my body on the right track to finally feeling better.

On the other hand I was discouraged that I had gone over a month and not ovulated again.  My cycles were getting longer instead of shorter.  I started to worry that things were getting worse instead of better with my reproductive system.  But I kept charting my temperatures and tried to predict when I might ovulate.

The last week of November I thought ovulation was coming.  My body temperature was good.  All the signs were there.  So for the first time in our 10 years of marriage my husband and I decided to actively try to conceive.

We knew it was not likely to happen.  Especially since we have both male and female factor.  But we figured it wouldn’t hurt to try.  So we gave it a go for the week before I thought I would ovulate.

December 2013

On December 1 I did ovulate.  I was just excited to actually ovulate again.  And was happy that we would be able to try to conceive over the next few months with an actual chance of it working, although very slim chance.  We knew that even if my body was working we still had the male factor that was a big unknown.

I also talked to my doctor and increased my Armour dose again since I still wasn’t seeing major signs of improvement.

Life was super busy.  So I was going, going.  By December 12 I was excited that I had not started my period yet.  That meant I did not have a short luteal phase.  One more step in the right direction to getting my body healthy.  My cycles were not regular, but when I did ovulate at least things seemed normal.

Around December 13 I expected a new cycle to start.  But the day came and went with nothing.  December 14 I was sure things would start any time.  But the day came and went with nothing.  I decided to give it one more day.  I had ovulated on December 1.  So surely by the 15th things would start.  But the day came and went with nothing.

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December 16 I woke up with a still very high body temperature (actually my highest ever for post-ovulation – 99.75!).  And I got to do something I never thought I would do.  I took a home pregnancy test.  And it was instantly positive.  I was in complete shock…and so was my husband.  Could this really be happening?!?  I don’t even remember how long it took me to stop shaking.  The rest of that day was kind of a blur.

I called my OB that day to get a blood test to confirm.  To my complete amazement my hcg level came back at 611 (higher than the normal range for 4 weeks pregnant).  I was also shocked to hear that my progesterone level was 25.4…on the high end of the range for the first trimester of pregnancy.

Not only did we conceive on the first try.  But my hormone levels were more than adequate to sustain a pregnancy.  No pills, no shots, no procedures, no nothing.  I didn’t have to supplement progesterone.  My body was doing it all on its own.  This is what “normal” pregnancy is like?  It didn’t feel real since I wasn’t going to doctors and giving myself daily shots.

Two days later I had another hcg check to make sure the levels were rising.  This time it was 1352.  Perfect.  Everything looked good.  But I’ve been down this road before.  I know there is a lot that can happen early on.

I hoped and prayed and did my best to trust that this was God’s plan.  This was God’s little miracle for us.  And I knew that He was taking care of this baby.  And that God would get all the glory.

Yes, I went through a LOT this year.  Yes, I had to go through a lot of struggle.  Yes, I had to keep pushing myself day after day.  Yes, there were a lot of small steps I  made that added up to big change.

But none of it was really my doing.  It was not in my control.  It was only by the grace of God that this little miracle was created.

On December 31 I had my second ultrasound.  And I saw the most amazing sight.  A tiny little baby with a tiny little heartbeat.  What a way to end my 2013.

I have been waiting years to write a post like this.  I had always hoped I could share a story of real food, real healing, real hope and real faith.  And now it has finally come.  2013 was my year of trials, perseverance and miracles.  God is good.

Be sure to come back soon and see what all of this has taught me about health and healing.  I’ll be sharing what I learned in 2013.

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” Ephesians 3:20-21

In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. It will not change the cost of any products or services for you.