Category Archives: Clean Living Tips

Adventures in Making Tallow Moisturizer

This is a blog about my adventure making tallow moisturizer (the best moisturizer I’ve ever used). Tallow is rendered beef fat, which is a little scary, so it took something serious for me to even try it. You can buy similar moisturizer already done for you for ~$30, or you can make your own. Feeling frugal and looking at it as a potential learning opportunity, I went for the diy option. Oh boy, it was an adventure…but an oh-so-worth-it one. Here’s what happened…

Why I ventured down the tallow road in the first place…

I hear your skin freaks out when you’re pregnant. For the most part, (and I’m totally bragging here) my skin was amazing. Better than it’s ever been….ever. No zits. I’m 32 and still get zits so this was a welcome 9-month reprieve. You’d brag too.

Then baby came out and the magic wore off. Pretty soon I developed dry patches on my cheeks. No big deal, I thought. I just have to change my moisturizer. So, I bought stuff with names called “deep repair” which had no effect. I even tried oil that comes from sharks. Knowing that our skin is a reflection of our internal health, I made sure I was hydrated and getting healthy oils….BUT NOTHING WAS WORKING!

In fact, the patches were getting worse and spreading and I was getting desperate. I was literally growing a force field on my face. I reached out to my smarter-than-me holistic FB friends and one gal recommended coconut oil (of which I’d heard a lot) and an alternative I’d never heard of, tallow.

Ok, duh. Why didn’t I think to turn to natural products instead of expensive BS deep repair creams? That’s what I’m all about after all. I’m blaming my baby brain. That night I started slathering coconut oil on my face because I honestly I had no idea what tallow even was.

Um, well my face didn’t like that too much. Not only did my force field get bigger but I developed a red bumpy rash all over my neck. Good lord, I was really good looking at that point. A quick google search confirmed that coconut oil can actually be drying on the face. Great. Not to diss coconut oil. My body loves it as a moisturizer. Not sure what happened there.

Ok, no more messing around, I decided…It was time to pull out the big guns. That night I started using the Oil Cleansing Method that we wrote about a few months ago. I really love it. Vanessa was so right about that … but even that wasn’t enough. It was time to try tallow. But now I’m a total OCM convert. Try it, you’ll love it.

How to Make Tallow Moisturizer…

Tallow, as I learned, is rendered cow fat so you can see why it took me a while to get to this point, right? I got a big chunk of cow fat from a farmer. It was good timing because the hubby and I were picking up our hog that same day so I just happened to ask if they had tallow and they did – I even got it for free.

This is how pretty it is…


I couldn’t believe I was going to put this on my face either. Another google search revealed how darn good it is for our skin. Basically, your skin recognizes it because it’s so close to our biology and absorbs it – plus it’s full of great vitamins that the skin loves. Google it, you’ll see.

Next step is to cut it into chunks and put it in your food processor like so…


When you’re done processing, it looks like this. I guess if you don’t have one, you can just chop small. It’s easier if it’s cold.


Then you put it in your crockpot on low and wait for it to melt.

Note: All of the articles on tallow making talk about being extra careful not to burn it so I was scared to mess it up. I didn’t do anything extra careful and mine didn’t burn. I stirred it some and worried about it. That should work for you too.


It melts pretty quick but I let it go a few hours. Next, I let the mixture cool down a little and strained it through cheesecloth into a bowl. Throw away the chunkies.


Then I added some dried herbs like lavender and calendula both of which have soothing properties for the skin and put it all in a big jar. I should have just started with the jar instead of messing with the bowl. Live and learn. The herbs are easily found at a natural herb store.



I thought I would have longer to let the herbs infuse but the fat solidified on me with the herbs still inside. I wanted them to diffuse longer so I heated it back up. This is where I hit a major bump in the road. I don’t recommend this approach.

I filled the crockpot with water. Placed my solid jar of fat inside, and set it to low. I checked on it a little while later and it was all melted…yay. BUT there was some oil floating in the water. Must have boiled over, I told myself.

Not so. I carefully removed the jar and to my great dismay only the top half of the broken jar came out. Oil in water mystery – solved. Darnit! I was left with a big crockpot full of water, oil, herbs, and broken glass. Now I’m thinking to myself that I’m a real genius and how much I freaking hate tallow.  What was I thinking trying to make moisturizer out of fat anyway???

I cooled off and decided that there had to be a way to finish this project after all the time I’d spent on it. Now my crockpot looked like this….a giant herby fat cookie floating in a bath. Image

I dislodged it. Poured out the water. Threw away the glass and remelted the herby fat cookie. I restrained the herbs out – let it cool a little and sighed with relief. By george, I think I’ve got it!

Next I grabbed an old empty moisturizer tub and filled it up 1/4 of the way with olive oil. This helps keep the consistency workable. Otherwise it would be too hard to use. I also added Citrus Bliss™ doTerra essential oil and OMG it is amazing stuff. For all that work, and learning the hard way, it was worth it. Look how pretty now…


Two days is all it took for the force field on my face to go away. And that was after weeks of trying other things. I swear my skin looks younger and I can hardly see my fine lines. I LOVE this stuff. I still have more fat sitting in the fridge and it’s going to make several more containers.

I might just start a tallow rendering business….ha ha, got ya.

In the end, I think it’s worth it to make your own but only if you learn from my mishaps. It’s better than spending $30 for someone else to do it, in my opinion. I’ll have enough to make moisturizer to last me a couple years now I bet. Think about how much that saves you in moisturizers that don’t really work. No brainer.

Try it out and enjoy your soft beautiful skin. Then let me know what you think.


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How Green Smoothies Saved My Life


By: Dr. Jessica McCord, Guest Blogger

It’s been almost 2 years since I made my first green smoothie, and you can bet that I celebrate that anniversary!  I would never have thought that such a simple thing could change my health, my eating habits, my awareness (of what goes in my body), and my overall mood and well-being.

I used to drag myself out of bed, rush around the house with no time to spare, except for grabbing  the all-important large mug of coffee full of creamer and sugar.  No breakfast, perhaps a sugary snack sometime in the morning, followed by my afternoon ritual of Coca-Cola or a super-sweet White Mocha from Starbucks.  I needed my caffeine, I didn’t have time for breakfast, and I rarely ate lunch. When I did, it was usually something processed and microwaved with very little nutritional value.

I came home each day feeling tired, battled frequent headaches, caught every little cold that crossed my path, had terrible constipation and bloating (you ladies know what I’m talking about) and didn’t sleep very well.  I ate out most evenings, had little motivation to work out, and felt lethargic a vast majority of the time.

One day, Lisa (owner of this blog and one of my oldest and dearest friends) pointed out a few questionable ingredients in my sacred coffee creamer. We talked about alternatives and sweeteners.  She knew I needed to take baby steps away from my caffeine overload so she gave me advice she knew I could handle at the time.

It didn’t take long for me to start questioning other parts of my diet such as the amount of sugar in my routine, the lack of good healthy foods, and my continued exhaustion.  Changing my coffee creamer and sweetener was a good first baby step, but I knew I needed to do more.

Lisa talked me through my first green smoothie, and although I’ve made little tweaks here and there, it’s remained mostly the same over these past few years. I found a way to get a healthier version of my caffeine in there that even has anti-carcinogenic properties (green tea powder, or Matcha).

I know I’m a nerd for getting excited to wake up in the morning to make my smoothies, BUT they have changed my life.  First, it’s amazing that I am excited to get up in the mornings (ask my husband, he has often incurred my morning wrath). I now wake up 2 hours before I have to be anywhere so I have time to make my smoothie and enjoy it while I relax and do some reading to begin my day.

Not to mention, I now visit my bathroom like clockwork…every morning. Every morning!  That’s right, no more regular constipation and bloating! I leave the house with a happy tummy, a good head-start on my fruits and veggies for the day, and a desire to keep my daily habits in line with my awesome beginning to the day.

I never drank water before I began my smoothie regimen.  Now I drink it all the time. Somehow downing a Coke and a latte every afternoon lost its luster knowing how great I feel without them!  My body loves me for listening to it.

It’s so empowering knowing where my food comes from, reading labels, and taking on healthy habits. My morning smoothies are the way I begin my day with health and it truly carries through the rest of my day.

I rarely get headaches or colds, my stomach is regulated, I have way more energy, and I sleep great. Eventually, I started running and doing yoga because I feel motivated to compliment my healthy eating habits with some exercise. My skin is glowing and I feel wonderful… all from a little smoothie. What an easy and satisfying way to get on the path to better health!

I encourage everyone to try it out, so here’s my recipe below.  Try out different fruits and combinations to suit your style. That’s the great thing about smoothies – you can personalize them to your own needs and tastes.

Jess’s Green Smoothie

All ingredients are organic…it’s worth it!

Place the following in your blender:

  • Handful of spinach (or your favorite greens)
  • Handful of baby carrots
  • 1 scoop of Amazing Grass GreenFoods (I use chocolate or the berry blend, but you can choose your favorite flavor)
  • 1 cup or so of SoDelicious Original Coconut Milk (I’ve tried the unflavored, that’s good too)
  • I scoop of Natural Factors Whey Protein (unflavored) Helps keep you full until lunch!
  • A tablespoon of honey (I do this because I buy local honey and it helps with my allergies)
  • I teaspoon of green tea power (Matcha)
  • About a cup of frozen mixed berries

Then blend and enjoy! Cheers to your health.

ImageJessica McCord, PhD.

Jessica just recently graduated (with honors) from UNM with her Doctorate in Special Education. When she’s not drinking green smoothies, she spends her time trying to figure out how to save the world one student at a time. You might also find her riding bikes with her police officer hubby, playing with her two adorable dogs Bella and Indigo, and sometimes you’ll find her rollerblading along the Rio Grande with me.


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Declutter Your Life


Does this sound familiar? You walk into your house after an exhausting day, look around at the mess called your living room, and seriously consider walking back out the door. If you’re like me, it’s impossible to relax when my environment is cluttered with junk. Home is supposed to be our refuge – our safe haven from the frantic, loud, lightning-paced track most of us call life.

Clutter and disarray can certainly lead to some serious stress and anxiety for you and your family. It can even make you feel like your life is spinning out of control. So the question is: How do we go about decluttering our lives?

Start small and tackle one room at a time…. 

Begin in your bathroom. Start by choosing to clean one surface at a time. This will help prevent you from getting discouraged early on. I like to start with one cabinet or shelf. If I get discouraged I come back another day to tackle another one. Don’t forget to throw away or donate all the products you’re not using including all that old nail polish.

Donate, recycle, sell, or toss…

Just get rid of it. Your junk is taking up your precious mental energy. How about having a garage sale to earn a little extra cash while freeing up space? Ask your friends to help. Contemplate using sites like Ebay, Craigslist, and Facebook to sell unwanted items. Consignment shops are a great place to conveniently sell furniture and housewares for a small fee. Here are several areas where junk tends to accumulate.

Old Electronics: Recycle old appliances and electronics that are littering your garage and laundry room. You can check with your local government for pickup or drop off locations.

Books: Got stacks of romance novels leftover from the college days choking your bookshelves? Consider donating them to your local library or sell them online.

Unworn Clothes: If you haven’t worn it in the last few months (years?), you’re not likely going to know it’s missing. Say goodbye to that decade old bridesmaid dress and that frayed Snoopy t-shirt and say hello to tax deductions!

•Unused Kitchen Items: You can make some serious dough off the appliances you never use in your kitchen. Take those items (that are likely still in the box) and sell them. Don’t forget to declutter the spice rack and utensil drawer. While you’re at it, clean out the pantry and donate what you don’t use to a local food bank.

•Kid’s Stuff: I have never amassed so much crap as I did when I had a baby. Not only is your time more limited but now you have to organize a whole other person’s stuff too. There are many opportunities to sell/donate the items that baby outgrows. Try to stay organized along the way so it doesn’t seem like such a daunting project. I like to buy the XL ziplocks and throw in similar size clothing and toys that baby outgrows.

•Paperwork: I seriously dread our files. I know we’re harboring at least a ton of paper that we don’t need or ever look at but we’re afraid to throw it out. If you don’t need it for taxes, chances are you won’t need it – especially because everything is available online these days. Go ahead – go grab a trash bag and call the shredding company.

Try following these tips to keep your environment decluttered:

1.) Give away one item every day

2.) For every new item you purchase, donate or throw one out

These simple rules can be extremely helpful in keeping ahead of the clutter. Remember: stuff holds us captive! If you’re scared, try to remember that you’ll always have the memory in your heart and now you’ll have all that free space and peace of mind.

Declutter your mind and your senses…

Our society is overstimulated by noise and technology. Reduce the time you spend watching television and listening to the radio. The news can be so depressing!  Limit time on social media. Discovering that your second cousins’ dog had puppies is not as scintillating as you think. Don’t forget to take care of you! Meditate, start journaling, exercise, and have an adventure in nature!

Declutter your time…

Cancel part of your busy day and keep it that way. Schedule in the things that make your heart sing and make you lose all track of time because you’re having so much fun. Consider hiring someone to clean your home, do your laundry, or clean up your yard so you can spend your free time with the ones you love. It’s worth every penny.

“Three rules of work: Out of clutter find simplicity; From discord find harmony; In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.” ~ Albert Einstein


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DIY Dishwasher Powder That Works

dishwasher soap

By: April Pease, guest blogger

I have a family of 7 (on one income mind you). I am a very frugal mom: I clip coupons, only buy items on sale, we don’t eat out, we make our own lattes at home, and we don’t have many extras. I also always stock up on things like laundry soap, extra paper towels, cleaning supplies, and of course dishwasher powder.

Over the years, I have tried different brands of dishwasher powder because the cheaper brands would leave a residue on my dishes and dishwasher – on top of getting nothing clean! So, I only used brand name, but over the last year, I started tasting the soap. Eww!

I read that if you add LEMINSHINE to the load it helps. I also read you have to use name brand rinse aid.  I felt like the expense to wash my dishes was getting out of hand. We live in a small town and are not close to the big box stores where these products are cheaper. Why should I have to buy 3 products to improve the one product I plan on using? This is crazy!

One night, I realized in a panic that I was out of dishwasher powder and my brand wasn’t on sale. Crap! That’s when I remember I pinned a DIY recipe for dishwasher powder a few months ago and decide to give it a try… pretty sure that it’s never going to actually work.

Basic recipe:

  • 1 cup borax ($5)
  • 1 cup washing soda (NOT baking soda) ($4)
  • ¼ citric acid ($4)

I happened to have all the ingredients on hand but you can find them at your local grocery store. I mixed it all together really well for about a minute and then added some doTERRA Purify™ essential oil – about 6 drops (optional). I filled my dishwasher cup with it. I stopped using rinse aid over 6 months ago and use ONLY vinegar in the rinse compartment – so that went in too. To my surprise, it was AMAZING. Clean dishes, clean dishwasher, and NO chemical smell!

This has changed my daily life because I wash 3 loads of dishes a day. Not only am I saving gobs of money, but I also feel smart because I know fewer toxins are getting into my family. Try it, you won’t be disappointed. And let us know how it works for you by leaving a comment below.

Screen Shot 2014-01-15 at 10.48.33 AMApril is a frugal mama of four living in White Rock, NM with her husband Robert. She’s one of those, I-don’t-know-how-she-does-it Mamas. Not only is she the queen at saving money, she’s also an all-star crafter. She’s always coming up with great diy stuff. This is a woman to watch and I’m grateful she shared her dishwasher soap with us. Happy washing.



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How to Get Off the Holiday Sugar Train

You did it! You survived the holiday season. Well almost, New Years is still around the corner. We don’t have to wait until then to start talking about pulling the reins back in and getting off the sugar train. The solution doesn’t have to be complicated, hard, or require a special diet.

Your favorite holiday drug …


If you’ve ever been to one of my presentations you probably know that I’m a professed recovering sugar addict. The kind of thing you don’t like to admit as a “Health Coach.” Sugar is addictive. If you don’t believe me, consider this….a substance is classified as addictive if:

  • Eating a small amount creates a desire for more (who eats one cookie?)
  • Suddenly quitting causes withdrawal symptoms such as headache, mood swings, cravings, and fatigue (sound familiar?).
  • Loss of control (the “standing in the freezer sneaking ice cream bites” syndrome)
  • Continued use despite adverse consequences (when you can actually see your butt expanding but you don’t care)
  • Relapse rate is 97% (the “what’s one bite?” syndrome)
  • Progressive and terminal (the more you eat, the more you want and the more you eat, the worse it is for your health)

In the past few weeks if you indulged in some sweetness, did you find yourself craving more (probably at the same time of day)? I did. And did you give in? I did.  And have you found yourself sneaking a few small treats every day swearing to yourself that come New Years, you’ll stop or start exercising or something along those lines? I did. Don’t beat yourself up. You’re up against an addictive and delicious foe.

So what to do now…? 

Am I asking you to give up sweets? Absolutely not! I’ve done that and it’s a road that doesn’t lead you to a healthier place. It actually leads to a crazy place where you feel starved no matter how much you put in your belly. A healthy life is a balanced one – so expecting yourself to forever abstain from something your body naturally craves doesn’t seem very plausible.

My point is that it is really easy to get addicted to sugar and start an unhealthy habit vs. indulging in a well-deserved once-in-a-while treat. Follow these tips and I guarantee you can get off the sugar train. I do it every time I feel myself slipping and you can too.

Get off the sugar train…

1. Go cold turkey – I’m serious. The longer you keep eating it the longer it takes to break the craving cycle. Get it out of your body and the cravings will stop. It takes 3 days for me. That’s it.

You’ll want to cut out all refined sugar. I would also suggest taking out fruit juices for a while if you drink those a lot. You can also choose to cut out refined white flour products as well because they act as simple sugars in the body.

2. Make a plan

  • Clear the temptation out of your house as best you can. Out-of-sight out-of-mind works too. All of my husband’s stuff gets banished to “the drawer”.
  • Buy alternatives that make you excited about food and will help quell the yelling sweet tooth.  Plan out your week. What are you going to eat for meals and snacks? Are there any events you need to navigate? If you don’t plan – you won’t make it. Take 30 minutes and get your butt to the store.

Here are some naturally sweet ideas:

    • Roasted root veggies with coconut oil and cinnamon
    • Fruit salad
    • Fruit smoothie (with real fruit)
    • Sliced apples with nut butter
    • Dried fruits/nuts (GORP)
    • Mix raw honey into unsweetened Greek yogurt
    • Sweet herb teas
    • Celery and nut butter and raisins
    • Fresh or dried figs with a hazelnut
    • Baked sweet potato
    • Stevia (a natural alternative to artificial sweetener and the only one I recommend)

3. Eat a solid delicious breakfast – you hear this one all the time…because it’s TRUE! Starting off with something that’s going to keep you satiated and well-nourished goes a long way to set you up to be immune against pesky cravings. Here’s a list of awesome breakfast ideas.

4. Walk it off – just a small walk can do wonders for your mood and it beats cravings. Half the time we’re just bored when we open the refrigerator door. Get out there and get your endorphins going. You’ll be a different human when you get back. If a walk isn’t your thing – just move somehow.

Walk Motivators: Go with someone to spend time together, call a friend you haven’t talked to in a while on the way, take the dog, take time for you and leave everything else at home, or listen to an audio book.

5. Ditch the caffeine habit – don’t unsubscribe yet just hear me out. I know to some of you this sounds completely impossible. I promise, I understand the fear that strikes your heart at the idea of a morning without coffee. Here’s the truth about caffeine. It may help you temporarily but it sets you up for a crash later that leaves you more tired and craving quick energy like simple sugars.

Try it and if you don’t have more energy and less cravings … go back. I’ve had many clients thank me for getting them off the habit.

6. Drink more water – the bonus here is that your skin will look amazing instantly if you can master this.This is how much you need…

•200 lbs = 12.5 cups = 4.5 water bottles (22oz)
•180 lbs = 11.25 cups = 4 water bottles
•160 lbs = 10 cups = 3.6 water bottles
•140 lbs = 8.75 cups = 3.1 water bottles
•120 lbs = 7.5 cups = 2.7 water bottles
•100 lbs =  6.25 cups = 2.3 water bottles

Why it really does matter…

Excess sugar consumption is tied to almost every disease including many types of cancer. It’s also tied to things like premature aging, wrinkles, weight gain.  So basically, too much sugar makes you sick, old, fat, and wrinkled before your time. Awesome. All very good reasons to get it under control.

How much is too much? …

You might be thinking that this is all great for people who abuse sugar but that’s certainly not you, am I right? You only sweeten your coffee so what’s the big deal. The American Heart Association recommends no more than 6 tsp for women and 9 tsp for men. The average adult consumes approximately 22 tsp while the average child consumes 32tsp per day because it’s nicely hidden in so many of our fav foods. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Do you eat food from a box?
  • Do you eat out?
  • Do you eat white bread or flour products (pretzels, cookies, crackers, waffles)?
  • Do you drink sodas or sweetened drinks of any kind (tea, redbull, soda, gatorade)?
  • Do you love sweet dairy…(yogurts, ice cream)?
  • Are you a Starbucks junkie?
  • Do you order fries to eat the ketchup?
  • Do you eat cereal or any kind of pastry for breakfast?
  • Do you read labels to see what your food is made of?

If you answered yes to these questions and no to the last one – I can promise you’re getting more added sugar than you suspect you are. You’re not alone. We do sugar in a BIG way in this country. Check out this article for some stats that you won’t even believe. 

The bottom line…

You can break your sugar habit. As you learn to eat without so much sugar you’ll stop craving it and start to notice how it impacts your energy and general well-being – so it’s easy to keep it up. 80% of the time I do my best to eat well and 20% of the time I say eff it and eat what makes me happy. Luckily a lot of the time, the healthy stuff is what makes me happy because I feel the best and you will too. You can do it. And if you can’t, I can help. Talk to me.


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Does your bed have the ickies?


Ahhhhh, your bed…

Thoughts of soft sheets and fluffy pillows provide us with a feeling of comfort and relaxation. People (me included) assume that their beds are a hygenic refuge because they wash their sheets once a month. We spend our days walking around and coming in contact with all kinds of suspicious-looking muck and not everyone is inclined to take a shower before bed. The result: our beds are the least hygenic thing we come across day in and day out. Which poses a very important question…What exactly is sleeping in our beds with us each night?

You dirty dog, you…

Consider this: One third of dog owners allow their dogs to sleep in bed with them. “Fido is well kept. I gave him a bath last month.” or  “A dog’s mouth is cleaner than its owners.” I’m afraid these are antiquated statements that just aren’t true. We can’t blame ourselves. Cute and cuddly, we believe our animal friends to be the perfect sleeping companion. But ponder this:  Dogs and cats step in poop, dirt, name it..they step in it. Yuck! Not to mention the serious licking that goes along with the settling down on your pillow for the night. Hot summer nights equal tons of animal dander and shedded fur which can cause sinusitis and allergies galore. Parasites and bacteria have been known to nestle into the sheets after a day on your pet’s back. So while we all love a little cuddle time with our pets, we should probably keep them off the bed. I know, say it ain’t so.

Yeah, you too…

We’re no cleaner than our dirty pets. We excrete half a pound of moisture a night. We shed skin scales, sweat up a storm, and cough and sneeze into our pillows nightly. Let’s not forget the grime on our bodies from the day. Believe it or not, feces and urine is frequently a visitor as well. 1 in 10 women and men under the age of 25 wash their sheets only 6 times a year! Ewwww! Just our own filth can cause respiratory illness, fatigue, sinusitis, irritated eyes, and asthma. Not fun!

Ok, now that I’ve totally grossed you out and and probably scared you to death, let me tell you the easy fix….

  • Wash your sheets and comforter at least once a week in hot water between 120-140 F, and dry on high.
  • Vacuum your mattress at least once a month.
  • Don’t forget the pillows. Experts say up to 10% of the weight of an unwashed pillow can be made up of dead skin and mites (sick!). Fungi and dust mites vacation in dirty pillows as well. You can clean your pillows every two weeks by washing them or taking them to the dry cleaners. Every three to four years it’s probably time to purchase a new pillow (Yes! I finally have a good excuse for this).
  • Finally, we can’t avoid discussing the mattress. Something we give very little thought to, and yet a major reason why our beds can become toxic and wreak havoc on our health. The majority of mattresses are manufactured with polyurethane foam which has been known to leak volatile organic compounds. This chemical is absorbed through the skin and causes respiratory illness and heart problems. Organic cotton mattresses are a cleaner, greener solution to avoiding these troubling ailments. Be sure to flip your mattresses regularly and frequently clean all stains and air dry in the sun.

Our beds should always be a clean, stress-free escape from the outside world. While sleeping, our bodies get the most repair work done. We boost our immune system, keep fatigue away, and revitalize our mental energy. Just a few changes can greatly increase your chances for a better night’s sleep so you can rest easy.


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Easy Ways to Avoid Eating BPA for Dinner

BPA bottles

The federal Food and Drug Administration barred Bisphenol A (BPA) in baby bottles and children’s cups in June 2012 but it is still prevalent in food packaging and in our bodies. In fact, BPA is found in detectable levels in 93% of Americans over the age of six according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In this article we’ll cover what it is, where to find it, and easy ways to avoid it.

So, what the heck is BPA?…

It was first synthesized in 1891 and has become a key building block of plastics from polycarbonate to polyester. In the U.S. alone, more than 2.3 billion pounds is manufactured annually.

How it gets in your body…

That number makes a lot of sense when you factor in that it’s found in common products most of us have in our homes like hard plastic water bottles, food containers, canned food and soda/beer cans. The BPA leaches from the plastic containers and linings of canned goods into the food inside and then we ingest it.

In 2011, researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health determined that volunteers who ate a single serving of canned soup a day for five days had ten times the amount of BPA in their bodies compared to when they ate fresh soup daily.

Higher temperatures such as those achieved by microwaving, using the dishwasher, or leaving plastic water bottles in a hot car can increase the rate of leaching by as much as 55%.

Why it’s dangerous…

You’ve probably noticed an increase in products labeled “BPA free” in recent years as more and more people become aware of the dangers. BPA is a known hormone disruptor, even in small amounts, due to its estrogen mimicking effects in the body.

BPA exposure has been linked to:

• Obesity

• Low sperm count

• Infertility

• Diabetes

• Heart disease

• Changes in brain development

• Predisposition to breast and prostrate cancer

Is “BPA free” a safe alternative?

Good question. When scientists conducted lab tests on more than 20 top-brand baby bottles along with more than 450 plastic food and beverage-packages, virtually all leached chemicals that acted like the hormone estrogen, even though many were free of BPA.  Minimizing your plastic exposure is really the best bet and it’s not as hard or expensive as it sounds.

How to decrease your exposure…

Canned-Food Ideas:

  • Avoid canned foods when possible by substituting non-canned variations from the frozen/bulk section or in tetra-pak containers (the cardboard box)
  • Look for canned food with BPA-free liners. There are several brands that have committed to BPA free liners such as: EcoFish, VitalChoice, Wild Planet, Eden Organic (beans only)
  • Buy beverages like sodas or beer in glass
  • Buy your tomatoes in glass jars or a tetra-pak (acidity increases BPA leaching)

Food Storage Ideas:

  • Swap out your plastic food storage containers for glass ones and avoid food contact with plastic lids – you can get a starter set for just over $20
  • Drink tap water or buy a reusable stainless steel/glass water bottle as opposed to plastic bottled water
  • Avoid microwaving and dishwashing plastic containers
  • Swap out plastic baby bottles/cups for glass or stainless varieties – common brands are Pura Stainless, Lifefactory, and EvenFlo but there are many more if you do a search.

Other ways to reduce exposure:

  • Switch your plastic coffee-maker for a French press or ceramic drip
  • Use real metal utensils instead of plastic – including those you cook with like spatulas and big spoons
  • Avoid food packaging with recycle codes 3 or 7
  • Say no to receipts when possible (many are coated with BPA)
  • Instead of looking for BPA free, simply avoid plastics when you can help it (especially anything that touches your food)

The bottom line…

While it may not be possible to eliminate BPA from your life entirely, decreasing the amount that comes into contact with your food will decrease BPA in your body and family in a big way. BPA will exit your system pretty quickly (in hours or days). The trick is to quit letting it back in. You got this!

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Filed under Clean Living Tips, Cut the Crap Series - 10 Fast and Easy Ways to Clean Up Your Lifestyle, Healthy Eating!