Paleo Blueberry Lemon Poppyseed Muffins

I have been perfecting this recipe ALL summer and finally created the perfect blueberry muffin! These muffins are light, fluffy, and moist all at the same time; not to mention absolutely exploding with delicious blueberry lemon flavor! Trust me this is THE Paleo blueberry muffin recipe, you won’t even realize you are eating a Paleo muffin!

Paleo Blueberry Lemon Poppyseed Muffins
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Ingredients:

  • 2 cups super fine almond flour
  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 1/2 cup tapioca flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/4 melted coconut oil, cooled
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup fresh (not frozen) blueberries
  • 1/2 cup dried blueberries
  • 2 tbsp lemon zest
  • 2 tbsp poppyseeds
  • Optional: top with coconut sugar and honey roasted sliced almond

Recipe:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a muffin tin with liners or spray with coconut oil.
  2. In a medium bowl combine all dry ingredients – whisk together 2 cups almond flour, 1/2 cup coconut flour, 1/2 cup tapioca flour, 1 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp baking soda, and 1/2 tsp sea salt.
  3. In a large bowl combine all wet ingredients – mix together 3 beaten eggs, 1/2 cup honey, 1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk, 1/4 cup cooled melted coconut oil, 1/3 cup lemon juice, and 2 tsp vanilla extract.
  4. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and stir until just combined.
  5. Fold in 1 cup fresh blueberries, 1/2 cup dried blueberries, 2 tbsp lemon zest, and 2 tbsp poppyseeds.
  6. Scoop about 1/4 cup of batter into each muffin liner, filling each one to the top.
  7. Optional, but highly recommended: sprinkle coconut sugar and honey roasted almonds on top. This will create a brulee effect on top of your muffins due to the sugar and will give the tops a little crunch.
  8. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Tops should be a light golden brown.
  9. Remove from oven and allow to cool in muffin tins for at least 10 additional minutes to fully set. Enjoy alone or with lemon curd – my personal favorite for an extra lemony punch of flavor!

**Note on using dried blueberries: I originally used these because I didn’t have enough fresh blueberries, however, I honestly think this is key in creating the perfect blueberry muffin. It gives the muffins the blueberry flavor, without all of the extra moisture that you get from fresh blueberries. Mixing the two together gives the perfect balance to create a fluffy texture.

**Recipe makes 12 muffins

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Gluten-Free Italian Turkey Meatballs

Gluten-Free Italian Turkey Meatballs
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Ingredients:

  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 1 yellow onion, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp red wine
  • 3 tbsp avocado oil
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3 tbsp almond flour
  • 1/4 cup Italian parsley, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • Optional: Serve with roasted spaghetti squash, marinara, and mozzarella cheese

Recipe:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees while you prepare the meatballs.
  2. Turn stove to medium heat and drizzle 1 tbsp avocado oil into cast iron pan.
  3. Once oil is hot, add in diced onion and saute for 3 minutes.
  4. Add in minced garlic and saute for an additional minute until fragrant.
  5. Pour in 2 tbsp red wine and sprinkle a pinch of sea salt and black pepper. Saute for 3-5 more minutes until liquid has evaporated and onions are softened. Remove from stove and set aside to cool.
  6. In a large bowl, combine ground turkey, beaten egg, 3 tbsp almond flour, 1/4 cup finely chopped parsley, 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, cooled onion mixture (if you put this in hot, you will end up with scrambled eggs), 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes, 2 tsp Italian seasoning, 1 tsp sea salt, and 1/2 tsp black pepper. Mix with hands until just combined – do not overwork meat or it will become tough.
  7. Scoop 2 heaping tbsp of meatball mixture into hands and roll into a ball. Repeat until you have used all of the meatball mixture.
  8. Place meatballs onto a parchment lined baking sheet 2 inches apart and bake for 25 minutes or until cooked through. Remove meatballs from oven.
  9. Heat 2 tbsp avocado oil over medium-high heat in a cast iron pan. Sear meatballs for 1-2 minutes on each side until golden brown. **They should already be cooked through at this point, so this is just for color.
  10. Place meatballs in marinara sauce on a low simmer until ready to serve. Serving suggestion – over roasted spaghetti squash with marinara and mozzarella cheese.
Serving Suggestion: Meatballs in marinara over roasted spaghetti squash topped with mozzarella cheese

**Recipe makes 12 meatballs or 4 servings

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My Journey to Clean Living – Phase Two

Continue to follow my journey to clean living as I replace more of my not-so-clean beauty, skin care, hair care, and cleaning products.

I honestly had two preconceived notions before starting this journey – one, I was going to have to sacrifice health for performance and two, this was going to be extremely expensive “but worth it.” Luckily I was wrong on both counts.

Why Am I Doing This?

If you missed my why, be sure to check out my previous post My Journey to Clean Living – Phase One. Long story short, I began thinking about the discrepancy of what I was putting in my body vs. what I was putting on my body. I started figuring that if I care so much about what goes inside of my body, then I should probably also start caring more about what goes on the largest organ of my body – my skin.

How Did I Select Cleaner Products?

I chose items based on their scores on the Environmental Working Group – EWG. This company gives products a score based on their ingredients – looking at how those ingredients affect your body and the environment. Everything has a rating for its level of concern for causing: cancer, asthma and respiratory issues, skin allergies and irritation, developmental and reproductive toxicity, and negative environmental effects. I tried to choose all products that are EWG certified first or with a 1 or 2, or an A or B rating. I have found that this is a very helpful website for you to check current products you are using or products that you are interested in. If something is not in the database, you can also add the ingredients and it will give you a rating for the product. There is one database for cleaners and another database for skin care and makeup products.

https://www.ewg.org/guides/cleaners/

https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/

What Did I Try and What Did I Think?

In my previous post, I chose a brand and product for facial care, body wash, hair care, laundry detergent, stain remover, dishwasher detergent, rinse aid, toothpaste, deodorant, and feminine care products. All but one of these picks have remained the same and I am still loving and using all of these products. To read more about those top picks, click here. In my last post, I laid out my plan of how I was going to introduce different products in three phases, however, due to quarantine I had to make a few changes based off of availability of products. I also moved a few products up to phase two, because I decided they were more important to me to have as clean products than they originally were.

Sunscreen – Beautycounter Countersun Sun Protection:

So I used to be a die hard Australian Gold girl and typically ranged from putting SPF 4-SPF 15 on because all I cared about was a good tan. However, in recent years, I have decided that I should probably be using closer to SPF 30 consistently to prevent aging and skin cancer. This was also an area I didn’t want to spend money on, because I felt like I went through sunscreen so quickly and it seemed like a waste. However, this year I decided to educate myself a little more on sunscreen and unfortunately, I was faced with some hard facts that I could not ignore. I will go into more detail in another post on the harmful effects chemical sunscreen can have on your body, but for now, just know it is not good. I can’t help but wonder if we are actually doing more harm than good by using these types of sunscreen.

After much research, I decided it would be best if I made the official switch to mineral sunscreen. I have used mineral sunscreen on my face for the past 4 years, but not consistently on my body because everything I tried seemed to leave a white cast on my skin and I was not a fan. I finally decided to try Beautycounter’s Countersun Mineral Sunscreen Lotion, Tinted Mineral Sunscreen Spray, and Daily Sheer Defense for Face after reading several recommendations on various sites. I LOVE THEM ALL! Beautycounter’s sunscreen goes on very easily and smooth unlike other mineral sunscreens. It also is sheer once you rub it in and does not leave a white residue like most zinc oxide based sunscreens do. In addition to this, it is water-resistant and sweat-resistant. As an additional bonus, the tinted sunscreen in medium/dark provides beautiful tinted coverage that smoothes out any flaws and gives an instant glow! I HIGHLY recommend Beautycounter’s Countersun line – it is by far the best mineral sunscreen I have ever used. It comes in lotion (2 sizes), stick, spray (2 sizes), face, and tinted spray.

Foundation – Beautycounter Twin Skin Featherweight Foundation:

I have tried several clean foundations and to be quite honest, they were awful and didn’t work at all. Prior to Beautycounter, I was using bareMinerals powder foundation. I liked that foundation, but powders don’t work for my skin year-round, and though it is rated better than other products, I still wanted something cleaner. At first I tried Beautycounter’s Tint Skin foundation and honestly, it was only okay. It is fine for a day at home or when I am running errands, but it only provides light coverage and definitely does not last all day. Thanks to Corona and our ‘new normal’ of mask-wearing, I learned very quickly that it comes off when something rubs against it or you begin sweating. I still have some left, so I am wearing that around the house for quick coverage and am using it more like a tinted moisturizer than a foundation. Two weeks after purchasing Tint Skin, Beautycounter came out with Twin Skin. I waited to purchase this foundation due my prior experience, but the reviews started rolling in and everyone was loving it! Unlike their previous foundation, this one has buildable coverage and lasts all day! Even more amazing is that it combines the benefits of skin care and foundation into one with hyralaunic acid to hydrate your skin. AND it comes in 18 different shades so every person can be covered no matter their skin color! I have been using Twin Skin foundation in medium 310 for about two weeks now and I am in love. It goes on smoothly and flawlessly, keeps my skin hydrated all day, and doesn’t settle into fine lines. I was also able to build my coverage to medium/full coverage and it lasted all day, even through mask-wearing and workouts!

Wearing only Skin Twin Medium 340, tiny bit of Brilliant Brow Gel in light, and mascara in black
Still covered at the end of the day, even after sweating through my workout!

Concealer – Beautycounter Touch Up Concealer Pen:

I was using bareMinerals concealer prior to trying Beautycounter and I will say I did love that product, however, I was still searching for cleaner products and bareMinerals is not quite up to the standard I want. I purchased Beautycounter’s Touch Up Concealer Pen in light. I really like this concealer for a clean alternative to other products. I love that I feel good about putting it on my skin and that it provides lasting coverage. This concealer pen also comes in 6 shades so it can match a variety of skin tones! If you are looking for a concealer to cover up blemishes, highlight areas, or cover dark circles/brighten your eye area, this concealer pen is great. While I love this concealer, the applicator is a brush, which makes covering large areas challenging. If you are looking to cover larger areas like your entire cheek (which is what I used to do), then the applicator is going to make this a little difficult. If you are only covering the under eye area or blemishes (which is all I need now, thanks Beautycounter), this brush works totally fine. When I first started using this product, my skin was still a mess and I was having a hard time getting the coverage I felt I needed, however, now that my skin is 85% better than it was, I am only needing to use it for its intended purpose and it is working great! So I would suggest evaluating what kind of coverage you are looking for – if you want coverage for smaller areas, I definitely recommend Beautycounter’s Touch Up Concealer Pen. If you need coverage for a larger area, I do like bareMinerals Complete Coverage Concealer. Please note: bareMinerals still has a few concerns listed on the EWG and is definitely not best, but it is significantly better than Tarte’s Shape Tape concealer that many people use.

Brow Gel – Beautycounter Brilliant Brow Gel:

I purchased Beautycounter’s Brilliant Brow Gel and am absolutely loving it! It is so easy to apply, lasts all day, and is actually the right shade for my brows! As a blonde, it is REALLY hard to find the correct shade for your brows – many are too light, too red, or too dark. This one really hits the mark and gives me the exact color I need. This brow gel comes in 5 shades ranging from clear to soft black (I use light), which is great because it meets the needs of everyone! I really love how quick and easy it is to apply this gel. I also love that it doesn’t feel thick and heavy like other brow products can. The pores under my brows always used to get clogged and my skin would get itchy from heavy brow products, however, since swithing to this brow gel I have had no issues! I recently used a waterproof (not-so-good for you) brow pencil when I went to the lake and my pores got really clogged after just one use, but as soon as I switched back to the gel it cleared right up, which tells me that my skin is loving the switch. This is a great product for everyday color and controlling those stray hairs!

Shave Cream and Razor – Billie Shave Cream and Razor Kit:

Billie, like Beautycounter, is another EWG approved brand. They do not have a lot of products, but the ones they do have are great. I purchased a shave cream and a $9 razor starter kit from Billie and love them both! The shave cream has aloe, shea butter, olive oil, and sage in it to hydrate your skin and give you a smooth shave. While I still occasionally have issues with razor burn, as I have very sensitive skin, it is MUCH less than it was before. The razor itself is great, very similar to Venus with 5 sharp blades, but is a million times more affordable. You even get a little magnetic holder for the shower that is super cute and convenient. They also do auto-ship on razors, so you don’t have to think about reordering and it is only $9 for 4 additional razor blades! This is a great brand for all of your shaving needs. They also have a clean dry shampoo that looks awesome and I plan on trying it in my next phase.

Body Lotion – Beautycounter Countermatch Adaptive Body Lotion:

So like the sunscreen, this was another product I was planning on holding off on. However, my arms and legs started breaking out and I thought perhaps it is not just my body wash affecting my skin, but maybe my skin is too dry and that is causing it to breakout. Spoiler alert: my face was breaking out because my skin was too dry and began overproducing oil. Since the Countermatch line worked so well on my face, I decided to give the Countermatch body lotion a try even though I am not a body lotion type of girl. Honestly, I want to like body lotion, but I strongly dislike putting it on – always such an ordeal – you are greasy and everything feels sticky afterwards, just yuck. However, this lotion isn’t like that at all! It is a really lightweight lotion and it completely dries within one minute! I love that I can slather this on quickly and then get dressed immediately without worrying about things sticking to my body. You also only need about half of the lotion you would use with other products and it leaves my skin so incredibly soft and supple all day! This is the first lotion ever that I have actually WANTED to put on every day. I definitely recommend this body lotion for incredible hydration without feeling heavy or sticky.

Update: Body Wash – Beautycounter Charcoal Cleansing Bar:

In my last post, my choice was Puracy’s body wash in citrus mint. While I still like that and my boyfriend uses it and enjoys it, unfortunately, I was still having some breakouts as mentioned above and recently they became more frequent (probably due to my diet). Because I was not loving my skin, I decided to give something else a shot. I am currently trying Beautycounter’s Charcoal Cleansing Bar. It seems to be helping, as I definitely see a difference from before I was using it. My arms and legs still have some clogged pores, but they are not breaking out like they were in the weeks prior. People love it for helping control acne on both face and body and many people swear by it. This charcoal bar leaves your skin feeling detoxified and squeaky clean after using it. I am only two weeks into using this product, so it is hard to say the long-term effectiveness even though I do currently like it best from what I have tried. Though I like the cleansing bar, I personally enjoy using a body wash more than a bar of soap. I am going to try the Counterman Charcoal Body Wash because it has similar ingredients, but in body wash form or the Citrus Mimosa Body Wash, which I have also heard great things about. I will give an update in phase three about which body wash I like best.

What is next?

I didn’t get to try all of the new clean products I wanted to thanks to Corona creating a shortage in the cleaning products I wanted to try. So, while I did actually end up replacing my cleaning products with cleaner products because I ran out – we’re still talking Food Lion and Harris Teeter “cleaner” products, NOT ones I would actually go as far as to recommend. Also, I am not even sure if I remember half of what I bought since everything was purchased in such a necessity mode. That being said, now that things are restocked and semi-normal again, I will be purchasing those products once we run out of what we currently have.

I am also about to make a large Beautycounter purchase and replace the remaining makeup products that I have. I was waiting until I ran out, but then quarantine happened and makeup has not really been used in this household much since then. I have also recently had this fear that every chemical-filled product I put on my skin is going to mess up the improvements I have already made. Might be silly, but maybe not – to me it is not worth chancing messing up my progress. So that being said, I am going to be tossing my old items and purchasing eyeliner, mascara, a nude eye shadow palate, brow pencil, highlighter, bronzer, and lipstick. So my next update will include the rest of my makeup products and reviews on those.

Bottom Line:

Replacing your products doesn’t have to happen overnight – every little bit helps you take a step towards a cleaner future. The differences I have noticed since beginning this journey have been huge and I have already learned so much along the way. Unfortunately, there are not many regulations in the US about the products we use on our body and more companies are geared towards marketing to clean, rather than actually being cleaner. Be very wary of the word natural or even worse, naturally-derived, because it doesn’t mean much. Your product can say that and still be full of chemicals and ingredients that are harmful to your body. Instead look for clean products that are EWG certified and companies that are transparent on their ingredients and if you are not sure, do some research yourself! The EWG is a great resource to help you determine which ingredients in your products could be harmful to you, especially when you are just getting started. I am very happy with almost all of the cleaner products I have tried so far on this journey. I continue to be amazed with how much more effective these products have been and how long these products last. I am so much happier with my skin and I feel even better knowing I am using products that are safe for me and my family. Look for my next update on phase three of my journey to cleaner living!

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BEST EVER Soft and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

I know, I know, there are a million chocolate chip recipes out there that are supposedly the best, however, I have searched long and wide for the best recipe and FINALLY tested one I loved and then of course, made further improvements to it. These have been tested by friends, parents, and grandparents who all agreed that they were in fact, THAT AMAZING!

The BEST EVER Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp cornstarch
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp Himalayan sea salt
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup grass-fed unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 8 oz semi-sweet chocolate bar, coarsely chopped into chunks
  • Himalayan sea salt for tops of cookies
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Recipe:

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together 1 1/2 cups flour, 2 tsp cornstarch, 1 tsp baking soda, and 1/2 tsp sea salt. Set aside.
  2. In a stand mixer, combine 1/2 cup softened butter, 1/2 cup brown sugar, and 1/3 cup white sugar together. Beat on medium-high speed for about 2 minutes, making sure to scrape down the side as you go. Beat until the mixture is light and fluffy.
  3. Next, add one room temperature egg and 2 tsp vanilla extract to the stand mixer and mix on medium speed until just combined.
  4. Pouring a small amount at a time, mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and blend on low speed until just combined.
  5. Finally, fold in the chocolate chunks using a spatula.
  6. Take about 1 1/2 tbsp dough and roll into balls. Place on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil in the fridge. **I prefer baking these on aluminum foil because it creates a nonstick surface, but yields a crispier bottom while still remaining fluffy on top. However, you can also use parchment paper or a silicone mat and will still get similar results.
  7. Once they are chilled (this will take about 20-30 minutes), you can bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes. You want the edges to be a light, golden brown and the centers to be puffy. If you like a crispier cookie, you can bake for an additional 2 minutes, but I would not go longer than that.
  8. Remove from the oven and add a pinch of Himalayan sea salt to the tops. Trust me, this is what takes these cookies to the next level!
  9. Allow them to cool for at least 5 minutes on the baking sheet and then place on a brown paper bag to cool completely (Just cut the bag to lay flat). Again, I know it sounds weird, but this makes them stay softer for longer!

**Recipe makes about 12 cookies

**These cookies will last in an air-tight container for about 5 days or you can freeze them up to 3 months. I personally like to freeze them after step 6 and then bake them right from the freezer for about 14 minutes at 350 degrees for fresh-baked cookies. However, you can also freeze them after they have been baked and then just defrost and serve!

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Smoky Shrimp and Stone Ground White Cheddar Grits

This southern classic dish is made with whole foods that will nourish both your body and soul.

Smoky Shrimp and Stone Ground White Cheddar Grits

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Ingredients:

White Cheddar Grits:

  • 1 cup stone ground grits (do not use instant grits)
  • 2 1/4 cups low sodium organic chicken broth
  • 2 1/4 cups organic grass fed milk
  • 2 cups organic grass fed white cheddar, shredded
  • 2 tbsp unsalted grass fed butter or ghee
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper

Smoky Shrimp and Bacon:

  • 1 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1/2 lb (about 6 pieces) applewood smoked Paleo bacon
  • 1 red pepper, minced
  • 3 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup green onions, sliced
  • 1/2 cup caramelized onions
  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tbsp unsalted grass fed butter or ghee
  • 1 cup low sodium organic chicken broth

Recipe:

Caramelized Onions:

  1. Make caramelized onions in advance – they need to either be made 1-2 hours before beginning cooking or they can be made a couple days in advance. I used leftovers from a french dip sandwich I made earlier in the week.
  2. To make caramelized onions only for this recipe – thinly slice 1 large onion. Melt 2 tbsp unsalted grass fed butter in cast iron pan on medium-high heat. Once butter is foaming and melted, add thinly sliced onions into cast iron pan. Cook on medium-high heat for 5-8 minutes, until softened. Turn heat to low and add a pinch of sea salt. Stir every 5-10 minutes ensuring that the onions are not sticking to the pan. If your onions start to stick, add 1 tbsp water. Cook low and slow for 1-2 hours depending on how long you have/how caramelized you want them to be. Set aside until ready to begin cooking. **I would suggest tripling this recipe and using the extra for another recipe since caramelized onions are easy to make, but are time consuming. They are a delicious addition to so many recipes!

Stone Ground White Cheddar Grits:

  1. In a medium saucepan over medium-high, pour in 2 1/4 cup chicken broth and 2 1/4 cup milk and allow liquid to come to boil.
  2. Turn heat to low and whisk in 1 cup grits, 1 tsp sea salt, and 1 tsp black pepper.
  3. Cover and cook for 20-25 minutes on low, stirring occasionally.
  4. Once fully cooked, remove from heat and stir in 2 tbsp unsalted butter/ghee and 2 cups white cheddar cheese. Set to the side.

Smoky Shrimp and Bacon:

  1. Place bacon on an aluminum foil lined baking sheet and insert in oven. Turn oven to 400 degrees (do not preheat oven) and baked for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and place bacon on paper towels to absorb excess oil.
  2. Pour 1 tbsp bacon grease into cast iron pan over medium-high heat. Add in minced red pepper and saute for about 5 minutes until softened. Push red peppers to side of pan off of the heat.
  3. Add in 1 tbsp bacon grease into center of pan (less if your pan is already well greased).
  4. Toss shrimp in 1/2 tbsp smoked paprika, 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper, 1/2 tsp sea salt, and 1/2 tsp black pepper.
  5. Add shrimp into cast iron pan and sear for 3 minutes over medium-high heat. (Cook in two batches, if your pan is not big enough. Do not overcrowd pan.)
  6. Flip shrimp over and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes until cooked through (pink not translucent). Remove from heat and cook additional batch if needed. Set aside.
  7. Dice cooked bacon and add to pan. Stir in caramelized onions and combine bacon, onions, and red peppers to center of the pan. Add in minced garlic and saute for 1-2 minutes until fragrant. Pour in 1 cup chicken broth to deglaze pan. Add in 2 tbsp butter, 1/2 tbsp smoked paprika, and 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper. Bring broth to a boil and reduce to low heat and simmer for about 10 minutes until reduced.
  8. Add shrimp back into pan and 1/2 cup green onions. Stir together and cook for an additional minute to combine flavors. Salt and pepper to taste.
  9. Ladle white cheddar grits into a bowl and top with smoky shrimp and bacon. Serve and enjoy immediately!

**While shrimp and grits are best eaten immediately, they can be enjoyed as leftovers the next day as well. Store shrimp mixture and grits separately. To reheat – pour grits into a saucepan and add in a couple splashes of chicken broth or milk. Stir and add in additional liquid as it heats until desired consistency is achieved. Reheat shrimp oven medium heat in a saute pan. Heat until just warm, so you do not overcook shrimp.

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Cold Sesame Protein Noodle Bowl with Shrimp

This healthy alternative to takeout can be thrown together in under 30 minutes and makes for a great easy dinner or a delicious lunch! These noodle bowls are packed with veggies and protein, so you can feel great knowing you are giving your body the things it loves!

Cold Protein Sesame Noodle Bowl with Shrimp

Ingredients:

  • 1 box protein whole wheat spaghetti or chickpea protein spaghetti
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 1 cup shredded red cabbage
  • 1 cup finely julienned red bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup sliced green onion, plus additional for topping
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro, plus additional for topping
  • 1/4 cup chopped peanuts or almonds, plus additional for topping
  • 2 tbsp sesame seeds, plus additional for topping
  • 1 lb medium-large shrimp
  • 2 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 2 tbsp tamari
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

Sesame-Tamari Dressing:

  • 3 tbsp tamari
  • 3 tbsp maple syrup
  • 3 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 1 1/2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 1/2 tbsp grated fresh ginger
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced

Recipe:

  1. Cook pasta according to directions on the box. Once cooked, drain pasta and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process. Set aside.
  2. Heat 2 tbsp olive oil over medium heat in a nonstick skillet. Add in shrimp, spreading out in the pan (cooking in separate batches if you don’t have enough space). Allow to cook for 3 minutes on one side until shrimp begins to turn pink. Flip shrimp over to the uncooked side. Add in 2 tbsp tamari and 2 tbsp lime juice. Cook for an additional 2-3 minutes until pink and no longer translucent. Remove from heat and set aside.
  3. Whisk together all ingredients for the sesame-tamari dressing – 3 tbsp tamari, maple syrup, and lime juice. Along with 1 1/2 tbsp sesame oil and fresh grated ginger, and 2 minced garlic cloves. Whisk together until fully emulsified.
  4. In a large mixing bowl, combine pasta, shrimp, red peppers, carrots, green onions, cilantro, peanuts/almonds, sesame seeds, and sesame-tamari dressing. Mix until everything is incorporated. Refrigerate for at least 20-30 minutes.
  5. Garnish with additional green onion, cilantro, peanuts/almonds, and sesame seeds. Enjoy!
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My Journey to Clean Living – Phase One

Join me on my journey to clean living as I replace my not-so-clean beauty, skin care, hair care, and cleaning products.

I honestly had two preconceived notions before starting this journey – one, I was going to have to sacrifice health for performance and two, this was going to be extremely expensive “but worth it.” Luckily I was wrong on both counts.

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.

Why Am I Doing This?

Over the years I have become increasingly health conscious. At a young age I was exposed to organic foods, alternative medicine, and the future harm certain additives can have on our health. What I once thought was a crazy way to live eventually became my norm, as I found success in these things both personally and in the world around me. Fast forward many years- at this point I try to eat mostly organic, local, and grass-fed when I can, I abstain from most food additives when possible, and eat primarily a Paleo diet, focused on eating whole, unprocessed foods. While all of that is wonderful for the inside of my body, this year I felt convicted to take control of my health on the outside. Though I am eating clean and using some clean products – for the most part the things I am using on my body and in our house aren’t so great.

The areas I plan to clean up are my beauty, skin care, hair care, and household cleaning products. Since this is no easy task, as it requires replacing 20+ items in our house, I decided to break this mission apart into phases. Below are the three phases I have broken my journey towards a cleaner household into. After two months, I have successfully completed phase one and you can read more about my thoughts on that below.

My Plan – Three Phases to Clean Living:

Phase One:

  • All Facial Care Products – Face Wash, Toner, Serum, Face Lotion, Night Cream, Face Mask, and Makeup Remover Wipes
  • Makeup – BB Cream only
  • Body wash
  • Shampoo and Conditioner
  • Laundry Detergent
  • Spot Cleaner (For clothes and pet stains)
  • Dishwasher Detergent
  • Rinse Aid for Dishwasher
  • **Already replaced, but important to note: Toothpaste
  • **Already replaced, but important to note: Feminine Products
  • **In a continuous hunt to find a good replacement: Deodorant

Phase Two:

  • Makeup – Foundation
  • Makeup – Concealer
  • Makeup – Brow Gel
  • Makeup – Mascara
  • Shaving Cream
  • Dish Soap
  • Hand Soap
  • All-Purpose Cleaner
  • Other Household Cleaners: Glass Cleaner, Floor Cleaner, and Toilet Bowl Cleaner

Phase Three:

  • Body moisturizer (I am very inconsistent with using lotion, but if you use this daily, I would replace it first due to it covering most of your body)
  • Tanning Oil and Sunscreen
  • Eye Makeup Remover
  • Dry Shampoo
  • My Boyfriend’s Products – Hairspray/Hair Balm, Beard Oil, etc.
  • Makeup – Bronzer
  • Makeup – Highlighter
  • Makeup – Eyeliner
  • Makeup – Eye shadow
  • Makeup – Lipstick
  • Air Fresheners

I know, this seems like a really large and expensive feat. However, I am completing the steps primarily when I run out of an item and would be repurchasing it anyways. Just remember, switching ANYTHING you have to a cleaner product is progress. You absolutely do not need to waste your money throwing everything out and purchasing all clean items at once.

I recommend choosing the items you replace in two ways:

  1. Buy cleaner versions of items you are low on and need to replace soon anyways
  2. Buy cleaner versions of products you use daily/on the largest portions of your body

How Did I Choose What to Replace?

I chose to replace my facial care items first, because I knew this was going to be my biggest investment and honestly, I was ok with that. I think most people (women especially) spend a lot of time as they get older focusing on facial care products. I had already spent a lot of money over the years investing in Retinols, anti-aging, and acne products that didn’t work well, so this was an area I was already used to spending in. I figured why not give cleaner products a chance to work, since mainstream products (high-end included) were not working for me. Lucky for me, that investment paid off and I have found the first line of products that actually works. Turns out my skin is very appreciative of the fact that I got rid of the unnecessary chemicals and fragrances. I am so happy with the difference I have seen!

Next, I chose to replace my body wash and hair care products because my skin was constantly breaking out and I already was on a desperate hunt to find something to fix it. Similarly to why I chose facial care products first, I had tried so many mainstream products with no success, so I wanted to finally give something truly cleaner a try. I also chose these items because they affect my entire body and are items I use almost daily. Again, while not perfect – I have seen a definite improvement in my skin since switching to these cleaner products and my hair is pretty fabulous too.

Finally, I chose to replace laundry detergent, dishwasher detergent, spot cleaner, and rinse aid because those items affect our skin health and internal health since we use clothes and dishes every single day. We were also running out of both of these products anyways, so it was a perfect time to replace them. I can’t really speak for the changes I’ve seen with these since they are going to be mostly internal, however, I can say these products work BETTER than their non-natural alternatives and that was my biggest concern for those products.

How Did I Select Cleaner Products?

I chose items based on their scores on the Environmental Working Group – EWG. This company gives products a score based on their ingredients – looking at how those ingredients affect your body and the environment. Everything has a rating for its level of concern for causing: cancer, asthma and respiratory issues, skin allergies and irritation, developmental and reproductive toxicity, and negative environmental effects. I tried to choose all products that are EWG certified first or with a 1 or 2, or an A or B rating. I have found that this is a very helpful website for you to check current products you are using or products that you are interested in. If something is not in the database, you can also add the ingredients and it will give you a rating for the product. There is one database for cleaners and another database for skin care and makeup products.

https://www.ewg.org/guides/cleaners/

https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/

What Did I Try and What Did I Think?

Facial Care – Beautycounter:

Beautycounter – Oh my gosh is it amazing! The hype is real people! My skin is so much better than it’s ever been in the last 15 years. So many skin issues that I have had for half of my life have disappeared or lessened greatly in only TWO MONTHS!! I can’t speak of these products highly enough! Everything I’ve tried so far from this company has been amazing! I am currently using the Countermatch collection, along with the cleansing balm, overnight resurfacing peel, charcoal mask, and brightening oil. I also am using Dew Skin as my BB cream replacement and am really enjoying it. Do you need to buy all of this all at once? Absolutely not, I just felt that if I was going to go for it and see if it truly worked that I was going to GO. FOR. IT. You could easily just purchase a Beautycounter face wash and moisturizer since most people use that daily or for an amazing addition to your current regimen, I would recommend the overnight resurfacing peel and the charcoal face mask. (If you are interested, you can read my more in-depth reviews on the peel and face mask)

Body Wash and Hair Care – Puracy:

I decided to try Puracy for my body wash and hair care replacement because I honestly don’t spend much money currently in either of these areas, so I thought I would start with the lower price point and work my way up. So far, I am really liking these products! After using the shampoo and conditioner, my hair feels extremely clean, light, and soft and it looks great. I also had a dermatitis issue on my scalp for roughly 6 years that has gone away since using this product! I honestly was not expecting that to happen since I have tried all sorts of products and formulas made specifically for those issues and they never worked, so it is incredible to see something that is cleaner clear my stubborn skin issue up! The only negative I will say is my hair is slightly harder to brush right out of the shower. To combat this, I just wait for it to dry (or you could blow dry) and then it brushes out fine. I am guessing this is due to there not being additional additives in it, which I will take as a good thing. I have also noticed my hair stays cleaner much longer and does not get greasy like it did before so I can actually go closer to 4 days without washing it now, as opposed to the 2 days I previously could go. Overall, I am really enjoying using this cleaner alternative to shampoo and conditioner and I definitely plan to continue to use it!

I really like Puracy’s body wash as well; my skin is clearer than it was, the body wash lathers great with a little going a long way, and it smells very good as well. I still have some breakouts, but they are definitely less frequent than they were before. I do know citrus oil can occasionally still be an issue for people with extremely sensitive skin so I will probably try other products in this category just to see, but I am definitely a fan of the Puracy body wash! Also as an added bonus, my boyfriend and I can use the same products, which saves money – previously we had our own body washes and hair care which was way more expensive. If you want to try the body wash, shampoo, conditioner, and lotion (this is the lotion I will be trying first) – Amazon is selling all four as a kit for $39.99 right now, which is a great deal!

Cleaning Products:

Laundry Detergent and Stain Remover – Puracy

I decided to use the Puracy brand again for this and I have been really happy with it so far. A little goes a long way for the detergent which is nice; it takes only two pumps to do laundry VS an entire cup full, so I think this detergent will last us a long time. There is no scent, which doesn’t really bother me, but if I could find something with a natural scent, I would be open to trying it. I also may try a drop of an essential oil in the Puracy detergent, since it works really well and I am liking it a lot. Overall, both the laundry detergent and stain remover work great and have done an excellent job getting our clothes clean without all the extra junk. The stain remover actually works better than Shout, which truly shocked me. The only downside is, I found out afterwards that though Puracy as a brand has very good ratings on EWG (as does their laundry detergent), the stain remover did not have as good of ratings as I hoped. I will probably search for a product with a higher rating (as I am trying to stick to mostly A rated products), but I do highly recommend this as a product that is better for you than Shout (which has an F rating) and still works amazingly well.

Dishwasher Detergent and Rinse Aid – Seventh Generation Powerful Clean 0% Powder and White Vinegar

I decided to use the Seventh Generation Powerful Clean 0% Powder. We don’t use the packs in our dishwasher because we’ve heard they aren’t great for your dishwasher (though I probably would have bought these if I could have) and the gel had a C rating instead of an A, so I opted for the powder instead. Though less convenient, you also get a lot more product with powder than with packs for a much cheaper price. I used this powder as the detergent along with regular white vinegar as the rinse agent. I did a little test with these products and left a lot of food caked on before putting the dishes in the dishwasher. I was shocked when I saw that literally everything came off! Out of all my dishes, only one baking pan was left with a tiny bit of brownie in the corners (which came out very easily with a brush), and everything else was SPOTLESS! I also did a little comparison between our regular Cascade soap and Finish Jet Dry rinse aid and the Seventh Generation powder and vinegar rinse aid. It was unbelievable the difference we saw! Our mainstream washed items had water spots all over them and frankly looked awful and our cleaner alternative washed items had zero spots on them. I left two knives out for my boyfriend to see the difference and he thought I polished the one knife because it was so clean! I highly recommend this dishwasher detergent in combination with regular white vinegar. I am very pleased with how well it cleaned, our dishes have never looked better! If you like the dishwasher packs, I would recommend these – they have an A rating on EWG and should work the same as the powder.

The top is Seventh Generation Detergent with Vinegar, the bottom is Cascade with Jet Dry

Toothpaste – Uncle Harry’s Tooth Powder:

Though I did not technically replace this during phase one, it must be mentioned. I have used Uncle Harry’s for about 8 years at this point and will never go back! Back in 2012, I found out that I had receding gum lines and was losing a lot of enamel on my teeth that I was told would never come back. (FYI – The dentist and periodontist told me that this was most likely due to hormonal birth control, despite the doctors who prescribed me having never mentioned this as a side effect. It was in their pamphlet on gum disease and everything. Truly shocking.) Anyways, I had to get scaling done for a deep clean and was on the verge of needing surgery to replace part of my gum line. I was desperate at that point to do anything I could to reverse this or help it in anyway. I ended up stumbling across Uncle Harry’s on Amazon and it had amazing reviews with incredible pictures – I was sold! Let me tell you – IT ACTUALLY WORKED! I no longer have gum disease and my gums have remained healthy during the last 8 years. It also helped rebuild enamel onto my teeth in areas that were both extremely sensitive and translucent. I so regret not taking before and after pictures, but I have truly seen an incredible difference from this toothpaste. My teeth are also much whiter from this toothpaste and I haven’t used whitening strips since high school. I have used both their clay toothpaste and recently, their tooth powder, personally I like the tooth powder better, it works just as well, without the very aggressive taste. Warning: this will not taste or feel like normal toothpaste, it was an adjustment and honestly I tried to switch to other cleaner brands like Native instead multiple times in the last 8 years because I didn’t love the taste. However, not a single brand I tried worked as well. Everytime I switched away from Uncle Harry’s I began having sensitivity issues again and my teeth would become discolored and translucent. I HIGHLY recommend this brand to anyone, but especially those with any kind of dental issues – it is truly life changing. I am in love.

Deodorant:

So far the best natural deodorant I have found is Native and the cucumber mint is the scent that works best for me. I have also tried Tom’s, Jason’s, Schmidt’s, and mainstream brands without aluminum like Dove and Secret (as well as other brands I am sure I have forgotten). Sadly, none of them worked for me. Schmidt’s worked the best at keeping me dry, but made me break out, so I had to stop using it. Native works best without me breaking out, but is still not quite what I am looking for. A lot of people love Native, so that is currently the best I can suggest; however, I cannot currently recommend it as my favorite deodorant because I will not recommend something I don’t love. I plan on trying Primally Pure next and will report back. Any other suggestions are highly appreciated. 🙂

Feminine Products:

I have used and liked Seventh Generation Free and Clear, Rael, Honest Brand, and Cora. Primarily you just want to look for something that is made only from organic cotton, free of chemicals (especially those that are hormone disruptors), perfumes, dyes, and bleach. Plant-based/biodegradable applicators are a plus. Most brands are beginning to wake up and have started creating cleaner versions of their products, like Tampax for example sells a free and clear version. I do recommend the brands listed above, but don’t think you really can go wrong here as long as you are avoiding chemicals, fragrances, and bleach.

Bottom Line:

I honestly had two preconceived notions before starting this journey – one, I was going to have to sacrifice health for performance and two, this was going to be extremely expensive “but worth it.”

Luckily, I actually found the opposite to be true on both ends. The products I have tried from Beautycounter and Puracy both have actually worked better for me than other skin care and hair care products I have tried in the past. The amount of skin issues that have cleared up for me in only one-two months alone is so worth this switch! The cleaning products I’ve tried so far also work better than their chemical-filled alternatives.

I have also found that this isn’t nearly as expensive as I thought for two reasons – one, most of the products actually cost almost the same amount as what I was using before and two, these products have less fillers in them so they actually last way longer. I have had my Beautycounter line for two months now and am only 1/4-1/3 of the way through each product, which means that they will most likely last me 6-8 months. That is much longer than any other product has ever lasted me. Same for the body wash and hair care products – both my boyfriend and I have used them for two months now and they still have about 1/2 left in each bottle. I am also convinced our laundry detergent might last us forever – it does 96 loads a bottle because you only use 2 pumps of this stuff! We have used maybe 1/16 of the bottle in two months.

Overall, I am truly shocked by the difference these small changes have made in my life already. Having severe skin issues cleared up in two months from switching to cleaner products is amazing and also slightly terrifying. This journey has left me to wonder why other companies add so many fillers into their products. I am beginning to believe that many of the issues I was having were actually caused by the ingredients in products I was using. The worst part is – I thought most of them were clean because they said natural on them – oh did I fall for a trap. These past two months have left me so excited and FIRED UP to make all of these cleaner changes in my life! If I can see a physical difference after two months, I can only imagine the difference it is making on the inside and that is SO exciting! Look for my next update on phase two of my journey to cleaner living!

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Lightened-Up Philly Cheesesteak Stuffed Peppers

This simple recipe provides easy adjustments that can be made based on your dietary restrictions. I made these peppers low-carb, Keto, and light on the dairy. You can easily make them completely dairy-free and Paleo with the substitutions listed below.

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Ingredients:

  • 2 large green peppers, seeds/stem removed and halved
  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
  • 4 oz mushrooms, chopped
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lb thinly sliced beef (you can purchase it this way in the store)
  • 5 slices provolone cheese (or dairy-free cheese slices)
  • 1 tbsp tapioca flour (or regular flour) *Do not use Arrowroot flour, it will not thicken
  • 1 tbsp unsalted grass-fed butter (or ghee)
  • 1 cup almond-coconut milk, warmed (or milk of choice)
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast (or shredded mild cheddar cheese)
  • 1 1/4 tsp sea salt (divided into beef, mushroom/onions, and cheese sauce)
  • 1 1/4 tsp black pepper (divided into beef, mushroom/onions, and cheese sauce)
  • 1/2 tsp ground mustard powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • Dash cayenne pepper

Recipe:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Brush green pepper halves with 1 tbsp olive oil.
  2. Bake peppers for 20-30 minutes until tender, but still hold their form (begin checking for doneness after 20 minutes). **Peppers should be cooked fully through
  3. Meanwhile, season beef with 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp black pepper. Set seasoned beef aside while you make the cheese sauce.
  4. Turn stove to medium heat and melt 1 tbsp of unsalted butter in a saucepan. Whisk in 1 tbsp of tapioca flour, making a roux. Add in 1 cup warmed almond-coconut milk, whisking constantly to avoid lumps. Allow sauce to thicken for 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Whisk in 1/4 cup nutritional yeast or cheddar cheese, onion powder, garlic powder, mustard powder, cayenne pepper, and 1 slice provolone cheese. Allow cheese to melt and spices to fully incorporate for an additional 2 minutes. Set sauce aside.
  5. Turn heat up to medium-high and heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a cast iron or saute pan. Once oil is hot, add in mushrooms and onions. Saute until they are softened and browned, then season with 1/4 tsp salt and pepper. Remove mushrooms and onions from pan and place in a bowl.
  6. Place seasoned beef into the cast iron pan and cook until meat is browned and fully cooked through.
  7. Add mushrooms and onions back in with the beef, pour in the cheese sauce, and stir until everything is fully incorporated.
  8. Evenly distribute the beef mixture into the four pepper halves and top each stuffed pepper with one slice of provolone cheese.
  9. Place under the broiler for 3-5 minutes until cheese is bubbly and slightly browned.
  10. Remove from oven and serve immediately. Enjoy!

**Recipe makes four servings

Top 3 Favorite Skin Care Product – The BEST Mask

Beautycounter’s Balancing Charcoal Mask

If you are looking for a clean, AMAZING mask (because who doesn’t love a good mask) to add to your skin care routine that will make a big difference in your skin – look no further!

Take my skin care questionnaire for other recommendations on what products are best for your skin type and needs!

Skin Care Questionnaire

Who doesn’t love a good mask? Am I right?! I have probably tried at least a hundred different versions and brands of masks in search of the “perfect face mask.” This obsession with masks started at a young age, making homemade DIY masks to help a variety of “skin issues” I thought I had. Since then, I’ve switched to trying the myriad of mainstream masks that surround us in beauty retailers and drug stores everywhere – all making a different promise to make our skin better. With clay, exfoliating, sheet, and peel masks – how on earth are we supposed to know what type of mask works best? Beyond that there are masks for every minor skin goal you could have- like hydrate, clarify, and firm, just to name a few – what if I have ALL of those skin goals?! Personally, I have tried more masks and spent more money on this form of self care than I care to admit and yet I have never really found one that I LOVED…until now.

What makes this mask different?

Aside from the fact that this is a Beautycounter product, which means there are not compromising ingredients and chemicals in this mask unlike most other mainstream face masks. (Feel free to cross-check your current mask with  Beautycounter’s Never List and see if it contains any of these harmful ingredients.) This mask is also Beautycounter’s one and only mask – focusing on helping balance your skin as a whole and improving a variety of skin issues not just one problem. This charcoal mask contains nutrient-rich kaolin clay and activated charcoal to purify and balance your skin while absorbing excess oil and drawing out impurities. It also contains salicylic and lactic acids which aid in a gentle exfoliation, giving skin a smooth, polished look with a minimized appearance of pores.

Fast Results:

Here are some of the changes I have noticed in my skin since adding this into my regimen:

  • My pores are much smaller and less noticeable
  • My skin feels and looks cleaner
  • My pores are detoxified and less congested
  • My skin is no longer bumpy and is much smoother than before
  • My skin is less oily (which is visible when doing the mask)
  • My skin is clearer and does not break out like it used to
  • My rosacea has lessened greatly. While I have some redness still, it is MUCH less noticeable than it was before.
  • My overall skin tone is more even and I am not as splotchy.

My Experience:

One month ago I decided to take my first step into cleaner beauty and skin care products. I had seen a lot of my friends and wellness bloggers I follow talk about Beautycounter products they use every day (90% of which just use it and are not consultants). It sparked my curiosity, so I decided to do more research about Beautycounter VS. the products I was using. Long story short, I found out my “natural” products were not in fact natural at all. Apparently you only need one naturally-derived ingredient like a fragrance per say to make a product qualify under that distinction. Who knew?!

The first switch I made was to Beautycounter skin care products specifically for my face. I switched to the CounterMatch collection regimen and added a few other products into my routine (more on that later). Upon switching to cleaner skin care products, I have already noticed a drastic change in my skin. While I am loving my whole regimen, the Charcoal Face Mask has really stood out as a top three favorite product for me.

When I used this mask for the first time, I noticed how many large, oily pores I had on my face – it was slightly terrifying. I was honestly shocked by how many pores showed through this mask; I had visible pores on my chin, forehead, and ALL over my nose (see pictures below). This was the first mask I felt like you could really see it working and that was one of the top qualities that set this mask apart for me. Seeing the oil literally being sucked out of my pores gives me the same gross satisfaction that I get from good old Biore Pore Strips. Aside from the shock factor this mask gives, I also appreciated that it went on smoothly, dried nicely, was not too thick, and was easy to take off. It also did not cause any irritation or redness, but it did leave my face feeling extremely fresh and clean.

The next morning, I could already see a difference in the size of my pores and the breakouts I was having at the time. It does a great job absorbing excess oil and preventing new breakouts from happening. Since then I use the charcoal mask two times a week, in addition to anytime I feel a breakout might be coming on. Every time it does an excellent job at stopping that breakout dead in its tracks and keeps my skin looking its best. I have not broken out once since using this product (and just one month ago was on medication for hormonal breakouts!)

I highly recommend this mask to anyone struggling with oily skin, breakouts, uneven skin tone, large pores, or rough skin. This mask is also perfect for anyone who just wants to indulge in a little self care with a cleaner beauty product. Unlike many skin care companies, Beautycounter has created only one mask that helps with a myriad of skin concerns. So you don’t have to do 10 different masks to achieve your skin goals, this one mask will do a great job balancing your skin and working to help most of your skin problems all at once. This is why this mask has quickly become a top three favorite skin care product of mine.

If you already love your skin care routine or you want to ease your way into cleaner beauty, the charcoal mask is a great product to add into your existing skin care routine and is one that you will see quick results from. Upgrade your self care routine today with Beautycounter’s Charcoal Face Mask.

Peep the pictures below to see this amazing mask in action.

You can literally SEE it working, not to mention the huge change in my oily pores from just one month of use.

First Use (Top Left), One Month of Use (Bottom Left and Right)
Top left is what my pores looked like my first use and the bottom left and right side are what they look like now with the mask

What People Say About It:

“I only needed a little product even using it on my face, neck, and décolletage area, which is wonderful because it seems like it will last a while. The mask hardened in a nice way that was tighter, but not too thick. I could see the pores on my chin and nose, which I felt like was a great thing because it seemed to be absorbing the oil right out of my pores. My face felt nice and clean once I finished and after just one use I felt like the pores on my nose and chin were smaller. This mask also did not irritate my skin at all and that is an issue I often have with other masks. I am really loving this mask already and am excited about this addition to my skin care routine!”

~ Patti, Beautycounter customer

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The Facts:

After Two Weeks of Use: 

  • 97% said mask refined and smoothed skin
  • 94% said mask absorbed excess oil
  • 87% said mask detoxified pores and purified skin
  • 84% said mask made skin look clearer and more even-toned 

*Based on a 31-subject consumer perception study, using product twice a week for two weeks. 

How to Purify Your Complexion Using the Mask:

Step One: Apply to skin in a thin, even layer covering your face, neck, and décolletage or just the areas of concern, like your T-Zone

Step Two: Give the mask ten to fifteen minutes to work its magic (Honestly, I keep this on for 30 minutes to an hour sometimes when indulging in some serious self care)

Step Three: Rinse and remove with a warm, damp washcloth. Follow with a gentle cleanser (I love this one) to remove any remaining mask.

Step Four: Pat skin dry and follow with a moisturizer (I love this one) or your regular skin care routine (if doing the mask in the morning or before bed).

A Few Tips:

  • Most people benefit from using this mask two times a week, however you can use it more or less depending on your skin goals (less for clear skin and more for breakout prone skin).
  • If you use Beautycounter’s Overnight Resurfacing Peel (read my review here), skip it on the nights you use this face mask.
  • Struggle with blackheads? This mask does an amazing job opening up your pores and drawing the gunk to the surface so I love finishing this mask with a Biore Pore Strip to remove all of that. Is it necessary? No, absolutely not. This mask works great without it and if you don’t have blackheads you don’t need this step at all. However, for people like myself, who struggle with blackheads, this combo is EVERYTHING!
  • Unlike some other masks, this one doesn’t cause irritation or redness, which means you can do it right before an event without having to worry.
  • If you do this mask during the day, just follow with a cleanser and moisturizer.
  • Sometimes I like to follow with a facial oil instead of a moisturizer since my pores are open and ready to absorb product.
  • If you do this mask at night or in the morning, do this as a step before your regular skin care regimen.

The Bottom Line:

Of the myriad of masks I have tried, this one is by far the best one I have ever used. The best part is unlike most other masks it does not contain compromising chemicals and ingredients, but still gives you amazing results. Beautycounter’s Charcoal Mask is a MUST HAVE in my skincare routine and is a product that I use weekly. It is also an easy addition to an existing skin care routine and is perfect if you are looking to add something to your current routine that is cleaner, but will still provide you with quick results. You can buy the mask here.

If you don’t yet have a skin care routine you love, complete this quick questionnaire and I will help you find the products that are best for your skin type and needs!

Skin Care Questionnaire

Have a question? Feel free to email me at partnersincooking@gmail.com

If you’ve tried Beautycounter’s Charcoal Mask, I’d love to hear what you think!

Want more about cleaner skin care products, healthy recipes, and wellness tips?

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Paleo Biscuits and Gravy

When you are eating these Paleo biscuits and gravy, you will wonder why you haven’t been making this lighter version the whole time. It is the perfect way to fulfill your craving for this southern brunch classic. I promise you will not miss the dairy or flour in this recipe!

Ingredients:

Paleo Biscuits:

  • 2 1/2 cups fine, blanched almond flour
  • 1 cup tapioca flour
  • 1/4 cup almond/coconut milk
  • 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tbsp coconut sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 5 tbsp cold unsalted, grass-fed butter (or ghee)

Paleo Sausage Gravy:

  • 16 oz Organic ground breakfast sausage (I used ground turkey sausage and recommend using that or chicken sausage!)
  • 3 tbsp unsalted grass-fed butter (or ghee)
  • 3 tbsp tapioca flour
  • 1 tbsp almond flour
  • 3 cup almond/coconut milk, warmed (heat in microwave for 30 seconds)
  • 1/2 tsp ground sage
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt (adjust to taste)
  • 2 tsp black pepper (adjust to taste)

Recipe:

Paleo Biscuits:

  1. Set oven to 400 degrees and butter a 9-10 inch pie pan.
  2. Combine all wet ingredients – almond/coconut milk, apple cider vinegar, and eggs.
  3. Whisk all dry ingredients- almond flour, tapioca flour, sea salt, baking powder, and coconut sugar.
  4. Cut butter into flour mixture with pastry cutter, forks, or fingers until you have achieved a crumbly, sand-like texture.
  5. Pour wet ingredients into dry. Using hands, mix until just fully incorporated.
  6. Form 9 loose balls and place into oiled pan with 8 biscuits around the outside and one on the inside. Press down slightly on the tops of each biscuit.
  7. Place in oven for 22 minutes. Remove from oven once tops are golden.

Paleo Sausage Gravy:

  1. Turn stove to medium-high heat. Once pan is hot, add in sausage and cook until sausage is browned and fully cooked through.
  2. Remove browned sausage from pan with a slotted spoon and place into a bowl with a paper towel to absorb the excess oil.
  3. There should be about one tbsp of sausage drippings left in pan (remove excess, if there is more). Turn heat to medium. Add in 3 tbsp butter/ghee and allow to melt.
  4. Whisk in almond flour and tapioca flour to create a roux with the butter. Whisk for one minute to allow flour taste to cook off.
  5. Pour in 3 cups of warmed almond/coconut milk, whisking constantly so it does not get lumpy. (Make sure milk is warm or roux will turn into lumps)
  6. Whisk in sage, salt, onion powder, red pepper flakes, and black pepper.
  7. Allow to simmer for 5-10 minutes until gravy has thickened. **If you like the gravy thicker – simply mix 1 tbsp almond/coconut milk and 1 tbsp tapioca flour to make a slurry and add a little at a time until you’ve achieved your desired consistency. If you like thinner gravy – simply add more almond/coconut milk to thin it out.
  8. Adjust gravy to taste. We like ours more peppery, so we used about 3 tsp black pepper. Salt may also need to be increased based on how salty your sausage is.
  9. Split open a biscuit or two 🙂 and pour gravy over top. Enjoy this lightened up version of an indulgent brunch!

**Recipe makes four servings

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