Tag: healthy

5 FRUGAL Tips for Self-Care

Let’s take a second to think about our daily list of to-dos. For a good percentage of us, there is family, work, household (includes the cooking, cleaning, and upkeep), friends…and in some cases like mine, school. So what is the one thing we have forgotten? Ourselves.

It isn’t uncommon to put everything and everyone over ourselves thinking that when our cup runneth over with helping others, that is all we need. But that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Plus with technology consuming the majority of our lives from the television to our cell phones, it is so easy to lose track of time and end up in a downward spiral of YouTube videos or Amazon shopping. Dare I say that some of us even feel guilty, or are made to think that putting ourselves first is selfish.

There have been many times that I have ‘crashed’ or ‘burned out’ because of the fact that I have given over 100% of myself to everything else in my life. Eventually, my body, my spirit, my mind -they all shut down because you can only run on adrenaline for so long before you putter out -just like a car without a full tank of gasoline. And yet I repeatedly find myself starting the vicious cycle after I recuperate – seemingly never learning my lesson!

However, I am the first to admit that if I am not taking care of myself first, then everything else will topple over like a bad tower of Jenga blocks. So I have started to incorporate some self-care techniques to help myself be a better me – all at no cost which makes it an easier pill to swallow if you will. While these may not be appropriate for everyone, they have been working for me and those around me – I have even received feedback that people have noticed a change in me!

1 – Incorporate sleep. Simple enough, right? Well, do you know how many hours your body needs to feel optimal? I personally need between 8-9 hours of sleep -any less and I am a shell of myself; any more and I actually am sluggish. So I have my phone set with a reminder on when I need to be asleep by, give myself a 30-minute buffer to take care of my nighttime routine, and am in bed. This took a long time to get used to the routine, especially when I am submerged in a great Netflix movie, doing homework, or spending time with friends/family. But I know that without my proper sleep, I am not myself so I force myself to make sleep my number one self-care tactic.

2 – Exercise daily. Sounds insane, right? We are always complaining that there aren’t enough hours in the day but if you think about the fact that there are 1,440 minutes in a day, making 30 for exercise doesn’t seem so bad. Now I am not saying you have to go to the gym every day or become a triathlon athlete, but if we can make it a point to do some form of exercise every day, you are helping promote a better self. Exercise is proven to have long term benefits with reducing heart disease, reducing weight, and so much more. But think about reducing stress – 30 minutes of brisk walking to clear your head after a long day or 30 minutes of low impact yoga before your day starts to start off on the right foot… This will also help your body catch up to your mind and help establish proper sleep at the day’s end – just don’t start to exercise less than 2 hours before bed!

3 – Learn that saying “no” is healthy. So often we are told that “no” is essentially a bad word. We should always say “yes” and welcome the responsibilities. But think about the last time you said “no” to someone or something…did the world stop? Saying “no” sometimes can be self-empowering because you are taking control of your self, your actions, your choices. And this gives you the opportunity to reassess what you are saying “yes” to before making the promise for one…more…thing. Saying “no” could also help prevent burnout because you are not adding yet another event, assignment, or chore to your plate.

4- Schedule “me” time. Just like you schedule a meeting, schedule time dedicated to just you. So you can paint, knit, read, sew, meditate, or whatever you want during that time but it is your dedicated time. Start with just 15 minutes and adjust as necessary. This is the time that is exempt from anything else but you. I have personally made some time at the start of my day, waking up earlier so I can get my time to do whatever I need to – check my emails, respond to text messages, read, exercise, meditate or try to map out the winning lottery numbers (a girl can dream). I then dedicate 15 minutes at the end of the day to recap, plan, and reflect.

5- Use positive language. So what does that mean? Well, let me ask you a simple question – how do you describe yourself when something didn’t go as planned? Do you say: “I am so stupid”? Or how about when you need to describe yourself physically? Do you say: “I am overweight.” or “My hair is messy” or “I feel frumpy”? This is all negative language and it feeds into a cycle of unhealthy behavior. Changing the negative adjective for something more positive can lift you up and alter perception. So “I am so stupid” becomes “I am going to ask for help” or “I can try this again”. You can do this with others too – instead of saying “I’m sorry for being late” try saying “Thank you for waiting for me”; this cuts the negativity and acknowledges positive actions!

Sure there are plenty more steps that we can take to start to take better care of ourselves, but this is not a marathon -it’s a journey. So every step towards better self-care, improved mental health, improved physical health…that is what matters! And sometimes finding a frugal way to make those improvements are even better!

So inquiring minds want to know… What do you do for self-care? Do you have any other techniques to share? How do you make time for yourself?

HomeChef Update

So back on August 20th, I wrote about a way that I am trying to cut back on excessive spending when it comes to my groceries, reducing waste with unused food, and reallocating time that was previously spent running from store to store. Well, 2 weeks in and going on to week 3, I wanted to share an update! Also, I want to add that this is not sponsored.

When I posted about HomeChef in my New Take on Groceries post, I wasn’t sure what to expect – honestly. I grew up with a mom that worked fulltime but also cooked every week. She taught me to love cooking and that the kitchen is all about organized chaos. She taught me that a little of this and a pinch of that were real measurements for ingredients. She taught me that the kitchen is the heart of the home. And with all of those lessons, I learned about cultural foods, how to basically cook for an army (I am having a really hard time cooking for just 2), and how cooking can bring people together. So when I decided to take a leap into these pre-planned meals, I thought I was shaming my up-bringing. I was not going out and buying my groceries, one cucumber at a time. I was not examining my produce or selecting that portioned ground beef (you know, the one that was priced $6.98 and not $7.02). I was not coming up with my own concoctions. I was not experimenting or playing with food. I honestly felt slightly ashamed.

But I knew I had to do something to help my husband and I cut down on cost, cut down on overindulgence, and reallocate time that has become so precious and so limited (working fulltime, going to school fulltime, and managing some personal side projects really take a toll). So I told myself that this is an experiment so the scientist in me could rationalize the change and took the plunge.

As I mentioned, my first order was curtesy of a promotion code and subsequent orders would cost a bit more but still be less than what we normally would spend on just the groceries themselves. I did a breakdown in my earlier post (you can find it here). So to date, these are the expenses we have incurred for any and all groceries:

HomeChef – $57.50 (week 01) + $89.50 (week 02) + $99.50 (week 03)
Local Farmer’s Market: $30 (week 01) + $32 (week 02) + $0 (week 03)
Local grocery: $30 (week 01) + $20 (week 02) + $28 (week 03)
Costco: $0 (week 01) + $0 (week 02) + $55 (week 03)
Subtotal: $117.50 (week 01) + $141.50 (week 02) + $182.50 (week 03)
GRAND TOTAL: $441.50

Now, I have to admit that some of the local grocery shopping was for our pups who eat home-cooked food which we mix with their kibble, but for the sake of the cost analysis, we will include it. Additionally, there were some expenses that were for work functions, but I cannot find that recent and it was partially reimbursed so we will exclude that. I also excluded non-food items like hand soap, detergents or aluminum foil (Costco for the win though). Also, I had cooked a storm before we started this so we had a LOT of food in the freezer so, for those 2 days when we didn’t have a HomeChef meal, we still had food without having to go out to eat or scramble for last-minute ingredients.

So if we look at what I had predicted for expenses for a month, we will go over $500 in groceries BUT we have had less waste, less time spent shopping (hence my weekend of homework), less gas running from store to store, and less stress during the week. In fact, I opened my fridge this morning and realized it was basically empty – and by empty, I mean full of milk, eggs, and those other staples but not full of food in every Pyrex we own.

Yes, we still have to make some additional improvements but overall, this is still a savings for us. On a given month, we could easily surpass $600 in groceries alone.


Now, let’s talk about the food itself.

I am still feeling guilty about not having my mother’s recipes sprawled about the counter or making up my own concoctions, but I have to say that some of these meals are going to become part of our regular meal rotation when this little experiment is over!

The food is really quite good and I am still able to play with the recipe a little bit – mostly because we cut out a lot of salt (some of these have 50% of your daily intake!). My husband and I also still cook together, most days. And on those days we aren’t cooking together, the recipes are simple enough that one can cook and the other can do homework or personal tasks and he doesn’t yell at me that “a little of that” doesn’t mean anything! Most importantly, we eat together, at the dinner table, and have 1 serving – and we aren’t hungry!

I am currently editing my first unboxing video of the HomeChef delivery, which comes every Tuesday for us and is well packed! So stay tuned as I hope to have that up this weekend.

And just to leave you with an idea on the meals we have had…

So inquiring minds want to know… How important is home cooking in your household? Do you eat out often? If so, how often? How do you manage your budget with groceries?

Recipe: Avocado Pasta Sauce

In keeping up with the theme of getting and staying healthy, I have been trying out new dishes in the kitchen. Some of the recipes are old favorites and some are new! For me, the kitchen and cooking are stress relievers so I always like to try something new.

So I was craving some pasta (and yes I use organic pasta with gluten regularly) but I did not want anything heavy as my sauce or tomato-y. I needed to be creative with limited ingredients and time -I was not about to start cooking a full gourmet dinner at 7-something at night.

The result?

I made a quick homemade avocado sauce that was light but very flavorful! It can be served cold like a pasta salad but I did serve it warm last night!

Ingredients:

1 Large Haas Avocado
1/4-1/2 Cup Greek Yogurt
2 Tbsp Parmesan Cheese
1/4 Cup Fresh Lemon Juice
1/3 Cup Olive Oil
3 Cloves Garlic (minced)
1.5 Tbsp Onion Powder
Fresh Black Pepper to taste

Mash and mix everything together (you can put it in the food processor for a creamier sauce). Top and serve!

Both my husband and I cleaned up the bowl! It was great especially on a warm/hot night for something light.
It was high in good cholesterol, easy to digest, flavorful, and with low/no salt.

Inquiring minds want to know… Have you tried a new recipe for an old favorite? Are you an avocado lover or is it not your cup of tea??

Health: Protein Powder Supplements

In order to maintain a healthy weight and still allow my body enough nutrients, I have been turning to protein powders to fill some of my dietary gaps. Many of you know that I have opted to having a healthy, homemade smoothie every weekday that usually supplements my breakfast and lunch. So how do I get one little smoothie to actually fill me up that much that I’m not order GrubHub every day? Protein.

Now by protein I don’t necessarily mean straight out fish or eggs or meat or diary but rather a supplement powder that can be added to the cocktail of fruits and vegetables. I am sure you have seen a wide variety of protein powders on the shelves of your local grocery store, but are they all created equal? Simply put, no.

So I want to break down the different types of protein powders available which are the foundation of the supplement, regardless of whatever name is on the label. Some supplements are good for vegans while others are meant to help you gain muscle mass. So which is which? Keep reading!

1) Whey Protein – this is originally derived from milk and is the leading type of protein that is used in supplemental shakes. It is often sold in a powder form and is believed to enhance the immune system. It is also the least expensive type of protein powder and is often enhanced to have better taste by the introduction of flavorings like chocolate or coffee or vanilla. Whey protein also comes in two varieties:

  • a) Whey Concentrate
  • b) Whey Isolate

Yep, so you get twice as confused when you head over to your nutrition store or order online. The main difference between the two? Whey concentrate, like the name states, is concentrated so it is less expensive and has a lower dose of lactose. On the other hand, Whey Isolate has almost no fat and typically has little to no lactose.

2) Casein or Milk Protein – Yep, so this is not to be confused with whey protein which is also a milk derivative (whey and casein actually make up whole milk on a 20:80 ratio). Casein, unlike whey, is slowly absorbed by the body releasing amino acids more steadily. This form of protein has been noted by researchers to be the better option for those that are active while whey is more aligned with stimulating protein synthesis during periods of rest.

3) Egg White Protein – So the name gives it away, but this protein is the old time go-to for protein supplement. Though the taste is gross in comparison to the flavor-enhanced whey and casein proteins, egg white protein has the same low levels of fat and carbs. So perhaps this is an option if you must stay away from dairy.

4) Plant Protein – Instead of listing out each one, this cumulative “plant protein” concept includes protein from plants like soy, rice, or pea. Vegetarian or Vegan? This is the option that is selected most by people that cannot have dairy or are staying away from animal products. They provide the same amino acids, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants as their competitors. However, these also provide their plant-benefits so for example, soy protein also has isoflavones which provides added antioxidants and has heart benefits. Typically these are more expensive than their milk counterparts but are easily found at any store.

5) Beef Protein – Saved for last as it is most commonly used by bodybuilders, as is beef in general. Beef protein, as the name suggests, is derived from beef but is also sorted down to remove high levels of fat and cholesterol while also introducing a flavoring like chocolate or vanilla. In addition to the protein benefit, this protein also offers creatine (which is an organic acid that provides energy to the cells of the body, specifically muscle).

So that’s the list but what does it mean and do you need added protein in your diet? Since most of us are not athletes or body building, please keep in mind that I am speaking to and for average consumers. That means that the following are reasons why the average person is suggested to consume that protein concoction:

  1. You’re not done growing – You are a teenager whose body needs protein as fuel for your muscles to continue to grow.
  2. You’re not done growing – You are an adult that is looking to grow more muscle mass.
  3. You’re not done growing – You have decided that running on the treadmill is not enough and you want to participate in a marathon or started HIIT workouts. Amped up workouts, or workouts that are beyond one’s normal regimen, would require additional fuel in the form of protein.
  4. You’re done growing but you got hurt – Protein feeds your muscles and helps them heal so if you’re in recovery, protein helps the healing process. This is also why it is often recommended to have protein after a workout.
  5. You’re vegan – Nothing wrong with this lifestyle, but there are certain minerals and vitamins that are not readily obtainable if you gave up all meat and animal products, so you need to supplement your diet.

So back to the original question… Do you need protein? Yes. Do you need protein to lose weight? Not really. Do you need to shell out big bucks or jump on various company bandwagons to get protein? Nope. Will I continue to consume my daily protein shake which consists of a variety of the ones listed above? Yep!

Again, protein is for your muscles and even lean muscle needs fuel, but if you are looking to tone or drop a few pounds, you could probably get away with just introducing some more fish or nuts to your diet. Now, if you are trying to increase muscle mass or have changed up your routine altogether, then yes, please invest in the right protein supplement for you.


Shaw, G. (n.d.). Protein Powder: What You Should Know. Retrieved January 11, 2016, from http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-and-supplements/lifestyle-guide-11/protein-powder

Taylor, M. G. (n.d.). Choosing a Protein Powder - Nutrition Express Articles. Retrieved January 11, 2016, from http://www.nutritionexpress.com:9080/article+index/authors/mark+g+taylor+ms/showarticle.aspx?articleid=896

Volek, J. S. (n.d.). Whey vs Casein: Which one best maintains muscle mass? Retrieved January 11, 2016, from http://www.nutritionexpress.com:9080/article+index/authors/jeff+s+volek+phd+rd/showarticle.aspx?articleid=1082

Healthy Home

So one of the steps I have looked at for my health journey is looking at the products I use in my home. Is that air freshener really good for me? Is there a better alternative to clean my furniture? Could there be a better way to organize my pantry items? How can I feel safer in my home and protect my family? I live in an apartment – how could I make improvements to save money every month?

Below are some items and techniques that I added to my home the past few months, have tested, and could not live without! Some were investments, some were quick fixes, but overall they all took my place from an apartment to my home.

Disclaimer: Some of the links below are affiliate links. While this does not impact your experience or cost with the product, if you purchase through my link, I do receive a small percentage. This allows me to continue bringing you original content and testing out new products. Photos are stock from the retailer’s website – they are not mine.

The first place I wanted to look for a healthier alternative is in the laundry. We all know this is one of the areas we neglect – mostly because we never quite seem to get around to the folding part. But after finding out just how bad those dryer sheets are for the skin, and how they actually repel water (which is the opposite of what you want your towels to do), I made the switch to these wool dryer balls. I bought the six-pack for cost effectiveness but also to give me options. I say options because I get to use my essential oils and customize my laundry scent. For example, lavender for my sheets and tangerine for my towels! They remove static and help reduce drying time because they are wool. They are reusable so one order from a year ago is still going!

This one is a double benefit because it is environmentally friendly and a cost saver! I bought these toilet tank bags in 2018 when I wanted to find a good way to start saving water (we have to pay for water every month) because I know that every flush is an exorbitant amount of water wasted. You’re literally flushing money down the toilet. I bought these tank bags, filled them with water, and placed them in the tank. That day, the amount of water expelled was significant which has reduced our water bill every month. And the best part is that they are holding up great even in the hard water. They are filled with water so they are reusable and conveniently clip to the side of the tank – never obstructing anything inside!

Though new to the house, this is something that I am not quite sure how I lived without! This is the Mealthy CrispLid for pressure cookers (like my instant pot). This is essentially an air fryer but without the need of buying an additional gadget. This allows us to enjoy our not so healthy foods in a much healthier way. We have already made “fried” chicken, french fries, tater tots, and a few other items! If you have an Instant Pot, or a pressure cooker of any kind, I highly recommend getting this!

I have these in BOTH of my crisper drawers and I am so glad I took the plunge to test these out. These are OXO Good Grips GreenSaver Standing Crisper Drawer Insert (2 Pack) and they are amazing little gadgets! So what are these? They are pyramid shaped containers that house enhanced carbon filters which absorb ethylene gas to keep produce fresh longer. And they really work! They will not keep the cucumber crisp for weeks but definitely a lot longer than without. In fact, I was able to get my lettuce to last 4 days longer having this than without them. And they are reusable so I have the filters auto-delivered every couple of months so I can keep my produce longer!

Back to that laundry conversation from earlier… If you ever do laundry at home and don’t want to throw that expensive sweater in the dryer or those jeans because if they shrink one more fraction of an inch, it’ll be WWIII when you try to put them on again…then you need this foldable laundry drying rack by Amazon Basics. It keeps my clothes from getting damaged in the dryer, reducing drying time, and folds up for easy storage!

I have two of these air purifiers by aer -one in each bedroom. They are compact, relatively noiseless and powerful. I even have the filters on auto-ship from Target because of the amount of dust and airborne particles. They have three speeds with the lowest being almost impossible to hear. The filters are easily replaceable and there is a date setting at the top to remind you when you changed and when you need to change the filters. These are great for small rooms, like a bedroom or office.

This compact steamer has been a staple in my home since late 2018 and is used often! I was honestly hesitant to get this because it is plastic but I needed to find an alternative for my husbands’ dress shirts as ironing was not cutting it. I also needed something to help me refresh garments that weren’t quite laundry mat material but not quite fresh either. So I took the plunge and bought this steamer for $25 and am so glad I did! This heats up quickly (within a minute) and the aluminum interior keeps the water hot the entire time you’re using it; the plastic exterior is easy to hold and doesn’t get hot. It even comes with a carrying case so you can take it with you when you travel because you know all those clothes are getting wrinkled in that suitcase!

Each of these products have helped us directly, or indirectly, start making our home a healthier place to live. I really am grateful that I had the opportunity to integrate these pieces into my home and have already purchased some of these several times over for gifts!

Inquiring minds want to know if you have found any household items that you simply cannot live without and how has it helped you? Comment down below!

Hair Health: Hair Loss

I bet you looked at that title and were like…”Uh…those two things don’t go together. She must not have had enough caffeine today.”

While you are most definitely right on the caffeine front (is there ever really enough), today’s topic is about how I have found myself losing my thick, curly hair and what steps I am taking now to try and reverse this! In the past few weeks, due to a few reasons – stress and hormones mostly, my hair has been thinning and shedding in clumps. I am still doing my weekly masques, nightly scalp massages, taking my daily vitamins, exercising and eating well but I have recently found myself in a highly stressful situation and have decided to stop taking birth control pills –double whammy.

So what am I talking about when I say hair loss? I’m talking about excessive shedding and thinning of my hair. Below is a photo outlining what I’m referring to where you can see how much I lost in one wash day and how thin my hairline looks. Yes, I have curly hair so I can hide it well but that doesn’t mean it isn’t happening.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

About two months ago, I noticed my hair was shedding a little more than normal. I attributed that to the heat and stress, but it was normal for my hair to go in phases – in fact a visit to the dermatologist a year ago even cemented that. However, the past month, my hair has been shedding with no end in sight. I dread wash day because of how much will fall out in the shower -at times in clumps. I don’t slick my hair back because it shows just how thin my hair has become. I hesitated every time I had to remove my hair tie because of the clumps that came with it. It may not look too bad in the photos above, but I want to prevent any further damage and try to regain a piece of me. I have never been in this situation before, even when I personally experienced high stress, so I wanted to act fast.

Now I know you already know that stress can cause hair loss. I know you know that an improper diet can cause hair loss. I know you know that medications and surgeries and trauma can cause hair loss. I know you know that hormones can also cause hair loss – hello male pattern baldness. But did you know that you are supposed to lose 100 or so strands of hair a day? And did you know that because curly hair does not wash daily, some of those strands can get knotted into the rest of the hair making wash day look even worse? That is because our hair goes through phases of growth with the shedding phase being known as telophase. Unfortunately that was way more than normal for me which brings me to today.

So after crying for a bit (because I didn’t want to admit that something was wrong), it was time for some research to resolve this issue. I scoured the internet and journals. I started taking prenatal vitamins. I tried to force myself to sleep earlier. I slowed my roll of exercising and did just yoga. And all to no avail. So I decided to start taking Nutrafol.

What is Nutrafol? Nutrafol is a company started by 3 people who were also experiencing hair loss/thinning and could not get the mass marketed solutions to work effectively. They collaborated with physicians and scientists to find a natural alternative to cure this issue plaguing so many people. The results are oral supplements that work with your body to balance hormones gone-awry, reduce over production of cortisol, balance glucose response, or other issues that may be affecting your hair growth.

One of the biggest reasons I took the plunge with Nutrafol is that local dermatologists actually promote this product in addition to their in-house services. Moreover, Nutrafol is transparent with their ingredients – in fact almost all the information from the “Core” supplement (this is the main supplement divvied up by gender) is up on their website for public view! Lastly, the plan you get may be very different than mine because your regimen varies per person! When you first start out with Nutrafol, you take a GrowthPlan assessment and answer a few questions on your environment, your diet, your stress levels, even things you wouldn’t normally think about like if you get hangry if you don’t eat or when you have more energy during the day. 

Yeah, so what I am trying to get at is that starting 2 days ago (Saturday, August 24th), I started taking 4 pills a day with a meal to help my hair grow again! I also am taking 2 of the stress adaptogen every morning but opted to not take the liver support (both of which are a part of my personalized growth plan) due to the high levels of milk thistle and possible interactions with endometriosis. I am scheduled to speak with one of their on-staff physicians in the coming weeks to see about an alternative for the livers support booster.

I will then be checking in every month as each bottle is a 30-day supply to show you the effects that Nutrafol is having with me – or if there is no effect at all! Make sure you follow me on Instagram (@ms_bella_daniela) to get updates as they happen with my hair journey!!

Inquiring minds want to know… Have you tried Nutrafol? Have you tried other growth plans? Comment down below!

A New Take on Groceries

When talking about our home budgeting needs, the one area that always gives us some pause is the “groceries” line item. We have been saving money when it comes to our no spend weeks and our pantry challenges (which is using only what you have in the house for food) which we usually combined! In fact, this past weekend is the first in a month where our fridge is back at capacity!

We are eating healthy, cooking more, and enjoying the time together without interruptions. And yet we are still spending more than we really need to for a household of 2 (humans and 2 pooches).

So we are going to try a little something new and I am bringing you along for the journey! We are taking a new look on groceries and trying HomeChef!

So what is HomeChef? It is a meal delivery service that allows you to customize your meals on your dietary needs (say vegetarian, gluten free, and so on) BUT you are actually the chef. So that means that all the ingredients, including the “dash of pepper” or “sprinkle of salt” is included, along with the main ingredients and the recipe guide. Then you cook the meal. So, if you’re like me and you don’t use much salt in your meals, you can customize your dinner. The best part is that they provide the ingredients per the number of people and the recipe -nothing more. So there is less waste and no science experiments growing in the back of the fridge (c’mon…I know I’m not alone on this one).

Now you are reading this and thinking, didn’t you just say you are being frugal and not spending money? How does that align with ordering meals delivered to your door every week? Well thanks for asking!

We were lucky enough to get a promotion for our first box (slated to arrive Tuesday the 27th and I’ll bring you along for the ride) which only came out to $57.50 for 5 days worth of meals for 2 people. Now I’m not a mathematician by trade but… $57.50 divided by 5 days means that we are eating dinner for $11.50. And if you divide that by 2 … $5.75 per person, per meal, Monday through Friday. Honestly, I’ve spent more at Starbucks on one coffee that I finish in 5 minutes (don’t challenge me on that…I’m a coffee addict and proud).

But lets say we did not get a promotion to try out. The normal box of meals that we are trying is for 5 days and 2 people which equates to an average of $99 (some prices vary depending on the recipes you choose – like scallops would cost more than chicken). That still is only $19.80 per day or $9.90 per person.

That all means that in a month, we will be spending under $400 for varying meals on the most hectic nights of the week!

Now if we just supplement that with fresh, in season, produce from our farmer’s markets like fruit and some vegetables for our smoothies and weekend meals, then we can stay under $500 a month. And that means a monthly savings of over $100 for us! What?! I told you we like to eat! Plus we need to look at the bottom line which includes time spent looking at flyers, comparing prices, and actually going to the stores. And speaking of going to the stores, lets not forget gas!

So now you’re asking me what type of food are we looking at because you know I love to cook and won’t eat just anything… Since I won’t receive my first box till next week, I can only share what my menu is slated to be in no particular order:

Meal 1: Steak with Sauce Robert and spinach scalloped potatoes
Meal 2: Salmon with Dill Crema and green beans amandine
Meal 3: Jalapeño Popper Burgers with chipotle mayo and fries
Meal 4: Umami Miso-Mushroom-Cream Gemelli Pasta with Parmesan & green onions
Meal 5: Chipotle Refried Lentil Flautas with queso fresco & sour cream

I am very interested to see how these are packaged because with the 100+ degree weather we have been having, I don’t want my food to spoil before we get to cook it and eat it!

So tune in this upcoming Tuesday (8/27) as we uncover the world of meal deliveries you have to cook yourself! You may even want to follow me on IG where I’ll do some reviews live!

Preventative Health – Chiropractic Services & Massage Therapy

While taking care of yourself is pivotal on a health journey, sometimes turning to others for help is just as important. This post is regarding the chiropractic services I have been receiving the past few months (since late June), coupled with massage therapy, and my progress thus far.

Let me start by prefacing that chiropractic care is indeed scary. You really need to take the time to find a reputable chiropractor that you can trust. You are literally putting your life in their hands and if you don’t believe me, think about the last time you hurt your neck when you slept on a bad pillow… Now think about a person taking your neck and twisting it (in layman’s terms of course) – one wrong move could lead to serious medical conditions like paralysis. Do your research. Ask around. Go for a consultation and trust your instinct. If you aren’t 100% comfortable, find another provider.

Okay – warning provided. Now let me set the stage for why I sought a chiropractor out in the first place.

Since April/May, I had been having horrendous nights and a constant pain on the left side of my neck to the point that I did not have a full range when turning my head. I was getting more frequent headaches and developed this uncomfortable crick in my neck. Driving was starting to become unsafe because there were days I couldn’t turn my head fully. So after trying heat, ice, SalonPas, IcyHot, and who knows what else, I decided to seek professional care.

I did some research and found a chiropractor that was in-network with my insurance, local, and had amazing hours. In fact, he is operating at a wellness facility so there were multiple services available including massage therapy, cryogenics, and other items. I was also able to schedule a consultation with him on a Saturday which included dedicated time to discuss my issues, x-rays, and a preliminary workup. I left the appointment feeling confident and comfortable.

I go to this facility and I have to say that ALL of the staff is amazing! Thank you for all you do!

When I went back to discuss the outcome of my x-rays and exam, I had some serious though not detrimental issues. The curvature of my neck was non-existent and I was completely straight (thank you ballet classes). My left shoulder was higher than my right. My spine pulled slightly to the right starting that “S” curve. The only good thing was that my hips were straight – guess my hips don’t lie after all. This resulted in a plan of 2 visits per week with a massage and adjustment each visit for 12 weeks.

Fast forward to mid-August and I am nearing the completion of my first round of adjustments and massages (yes, covered by insurance). I feel 80% better with my normal range of motion and significantly less stiffness. The massages work congruently with the adjustments because it helps relieve the tension and fluid build-up which allows the adjustment to be more effective and prevents me from going right back to that awkward position (like a constant state of shrugging). We will be reviewing my curvature once we finish all 12 weeks with another x-ray and plan the long-term care.

So do I recommend chiropractic care? Yes. There may be a lot of hype around preventative care right now with a lot of doctors getting into “prevention” and “public health” over prescriptions and surgery. While I do not believe every claim that chiropractic care has been recently noted to treat/cure, I do believe that it is an improvement on the quality of life. I personally can speak to my reduction of pain, reduced frequency of headaches, better sleep, and better posture. Will I continue to seek care? Yes. This is health journey is not a sprint – I don’t expect to be 100% overnight. Is it for everyone? No, I don’t believe that it is but I think that you should at least get a consultation every so often to prevent long term issue that could arise – especially if you are desk bound!

So tell me – have you ever sought out a chiropractor? When was the last time you had your spine examined? Would you like me to document a visit? Comment below!

Healthy Lifestyle – Traveling Tips & Tricks

It is that time of the year that we are all loading up our cars, packing our suitcases, boarding planes (or trains)… No matter what your mode of transportation, summer is the time of year that traveling amps up! And as someone that has traveled a lot for work (and personal), there have been a few tips and tricks that I have learned along the way to help keep me healthy! Plus most of these can be purchased ahead of time for those holiday trips that are just around the corner!

Disclaimer: Some of these items do have an affiliate link but does not impact your experience or the price. They solely allow me to continue to bring you new reviews and new topics!

I am not a “germ-a-phobe” BUT there are a lot of very nasty surfaces that you come in contact with constantly when traveling. And some of these surfaces are the last place you would think would be ridden with germs, but in fact are worse than toilet seats in a public rest area! For example, the serving tray on the plane is seldom cleaned and I have seen people use it for everything from a food tray to a changing table for their baby to a foot rest… Or if you’re in a hotel, that remote is worse than the bottom of your shoes! So the one thing I ALWAYS pack with me and keep readily available are these wipes that I repeat purchase. I wipe down these surfaces to make sure I don’t pick up any unnecessary germs!

When you’re on a plane, especially a night flight, there is nothing better than getting in a few Zzz’s. But admit it -those U-shaped pillows are basically pointless because you are already crammed in a seat that is not meant for the average human being, you sure won’t be able to lean your head back comfortably! That is why I splurged on this Trtl Pillow that allows me to sleep in a more realistic position for me while keeping my head from whacking the person next to me. There is an updated model coming that allows you to even customize your neck length for an even more comfortable position.

Trying to sleep with that amazing pillow but the lights in the plane bothering you? I bought this pack of eye masks to help block out the light without compressing my eyes or nose. They fold up easily and can be packed away when not in use. They are not tight and can be adjusted as they secure with Velcro. I even use these at home on some nights!

If you’re flying, even if it is a short flight, the air in the plane is brutal for your skin, hair, nails, but most importantly, your eyes! Many people overlook the eyes when flying but the cabin pressure that is drying out your skin is also drying out your eyes. I use these preservative free eye drops every time I fly so my eyes are refreshed, not blood shot! Also, if you wear contact lenses, opt for glasses on your flight – the dryness can damage your contacts just as much as your eyes!

I have made it a rule to NEVER drink and fly -and that includes carbonated beverages as well as adult drinks. When you’re flying, the air pressure changes the molecular compound of these carbonated drinks so they expand MORE and will cause gas and discomfort for the consumer. And alcohol is a dehydrator on land so up in the air it is amplified! So instead I pack my water bottle and fill it up when I get passed TSA. Sometimes I can even get Starbucks, or a like company, to fill it up if the airport does not have a bottle machine. Because this is plastic and clear, I never have a hard time with TSA and it doesn’t break…even when I try to cram my bag under the seat in front of me!

Dry eyes, covered. Hydration, covered. Now what about your skin??? There are a few items I use to keep my skin hydrated and clean on long trips, including road trips! Starting with hands (and arms, elbows…), this is the cream I always have in my purse! It is travel-appropriate (3oz) so it does not cause any problems with TSA. This moisturizer also is pH balanced so it does not OVER moisturize (when your hands feel greasy) and can be layered if needed.

For my face, I know some people use sheet masks (especially international flights), but I cannot get passed the Halloween look and my skin is very sensitive so I do not want to do anything to over aggravate it, which many sheet masks do. So instead I use a combo serum and cream that I will apply after wiping down my face (I use these wipes to make sure I have a clean face). Both sink into my skin nicely and is easy to apply. It isn’t overly oily nor does it have much of a scent, so you aren’t bothering your neighbor!

Like to fly by the window with the shade up? While this is deemed the best seat to prevent contracting airborne germs, most of the time people forget that just because you are behind a window, that does not mean you are immune to those sun rays! Think about the fact that you are essentially in a sardine can, up about 30,000 feet in the air, above the white clouds (think about how snow reflects sun and you can easily sunburn in winter)… You need to wear sunscreen – especially on your face!! I use this mineral sunscreen after applying my moisturizer and it is so lightweight that it doesn’t aggravate my skin! It also is compact and doesn’t dust everywhere so again, no disruptions to your neighbor!

Your hair is also wiped of its moisture when flying, so of course I have a remedy for that! While I use these hair ties that prevent creasing or damaging my curl pattern, they work very well in keeping my hair up (in a pineapple) and away from the frizz-causing headrest. I also apply a few drops of this Moroccan Oil to tame the flyaways and add moisture. It is easy to apply and is light-weight. While it does have a light scent, it dissipates quickly as well so your neighbor shouldn’t be too bothered.

Do you have any tried and true tips or products you use when traveling? Share them with me below! Have you ever tried any of the items above or used any of those tips?? Comment below!!

Smoothie Recipe – Chai Tea Latte

Instead of downing a third (*or more*) cup of coffee this morning, I opted to make a smoothie with a little variation and a hint of caffeine! This one takes a little prep work, but the final result was a big hit! I can only imagine how much better this would be with fall temperatures outside instead of 90s…

Now bare in mind that the recipe below equated to about 4-12oz servings so you will want to customize this for your own serving size.

Ingredients:
6 bags of chai tea (I used Tazo tea bags)
4 Tbsp of chia seeds
1 whole cinnamon stick (I broke it in half)
8 cups of water
1 banana
2 scoops SuperGreens
2 scoops Combat Protein Powder
2 Tbsp Maca Powder
1 scoop collagen powder
2 Tbsp flax powder
8 oz almond milk (I use Silk Unsweetened Original)
Ice

The night before – I used my handy-dandy Instant Pot to cook my chai tea base by filling my 6qt with 8 cups of cold water, 1 cinnamon stick, and 6 bags of chai tea. I “cooked” it for 6 minutes and let it naturally release. Once the pin dropped, I scooped out the tea bags and cinnamon sticks and added 4 tbsp of chia seeds, covered the pot and stuck it in the fridge.
The morning of – Mix the rest of the ingredients, along with the now cold chai tea and ENJOY!