Finding Your Why

Well, I did it! I gave my first official public speech Saturday at a small conference attended by about ~45 like-minded people.

The topic? Finding your why in your Young Living business. However, this speech could really be adapted to any business and/or just finding your overall purpose in life and accomplishing any goals you may have.

So here it is! Please comment! I would love to hear your thoughts!

Yup, you guessed it! I’m an Aggie, which means I am officially part of two “cults” as my friends and family so lovingly like to remind me. This means I walk through life with two big stamps on my forehead, one says “Fighting Texas Aggie Class of 2008” WHOOP! and the other Says “I’m silently assessing your oil needs because I am a Young Living diamond rising. I just hit executive. I would like to think that there is a third sign that reads, wife and mother to two beautiful children under 3, but I don’t think that sign is on my forehead….more often than not, it’s on my shirt…in the form of spit up and organic fruit juice….Like most women, and if we are honest, most people, my identities often come with a long list of insecurities. Insecurities that I used to let proceed me and ultimately define my choices.
Until very recently, I was a yes woman in every aspect of my life because I thought that if I said yes to every opportunity that came my way, eventually I would find my calling, and along the way I would make a lot of people happy….including myself. Well, in reality, all of my misguided yeses just got me tired, overwhelmed, overworked, and nowhere closer to my dreams. I was spinning my wheels and checking off a lot of boxes, but my big boxes, my God-given purpose boxes, were lost in a sea of endless tasks. They seemed unattainable. I kept telling myself that I would make time for them…someday. And then, I got a call from my father who was just about to turn 50. He had been diagnosed with stage 4 colorectal cancer. That hit me like a ton of bricks, and that is when I realized that my someday was not guaranteed. None of us know the number of our days. So, our someday needs to be today!
God gave us a better way, he designed incredible intricate bodies that have the ability to self heal and communicate with us when we make choices that impede that ability. He gave us plants with properties that support that healing process in every way possible. Then God created Gary Young and gave him the tools and the vision to create a company that would one day become the world leader in essential oils. So, we must ask ourselves…what does Gary Young have that allows him to do something so much bigger than himself? He is human just like you and I and he has the same amount of hours in a day that we do. What gives him and any other successful person, the keys to unlock the seemingly impossible? It’s actually very simple, they know their purpose, the reason God created them…their WHY. They took the time to connect and ask the right questions to determine what it is that drives them to the point of accomplishment. To keep driving past the naysayers and their insecurities to fulfill their destiny. Everyone has a destiny it’s just a matter of whether they are making the right choices in their everyday lives to reach it. Our decisions determine our destination. It’s time to decide to reach our ultimate destination…leading fulfilled, unstressed lives and helping others to do the same.
Rah Rah! Yes!! This all sounds wonderful!!….in theory….but how do YOU connect? How in the world do YOU sift out your actual purpose from your to do list? How do you hear God through the noise of everyday demands? The answer, at least as I see it, is to find a few moments every day to be still. Be still and review your greater purpose. Each task you take on is a yes and each task you miss is a no. Are you saying yes to the things that matter? Or are you inadvertently saying no by filling your time with things that do not ultimately fulfill your purpose? Be careful of your yeses. I realize for some of you, most likely our strong blues, taking time to write out a schedule and prioritizing everything with check boxes may be a strong NO. For you yellows, you feel you HAVE to say yes or people will not like you, you MUST give! But trust me on this one, your destiny is worth the time it takes to plan in order to reach your wildest dreams and help others fulfill theirs. I know they make really fun colorful planners and there is definitely an app for that! And yellows, a stressed out and rushed yes is not making anyone like you, not even yourself.
Mark Twain said – The two most important days of your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.
For me, the first day was June 12, 1983 (Yes friends, I just shared my age for those of you who are good at quick math.) and the second was December 1, 2016 the day I had decided would be the first day of the rest of my well planned out, purpose-driven life. That day, I had carved out time to sit down, write out my schedule, and point the proverbial mirror back at myself and start taking full responsibility for the decisions I was making daily, hourly even. I decided to start being intentional about every single decision I made. I set a plan in place for even the smallest of things in my life. I could now see that I had time to start checking those big boxes. I could start today!
I wrote down every obligation I could think of and weighed out whether it needed to be in the yes column because it was a box I needed to check to further my purpose, or whether I needed to unapologetically put it in the no column because it was just dream-steeling filler. I envisioned the ultimate impact and consequence that taking on or omitting each task would bring. The more I planned the more the stress started to melt away because I no longer had to wonder how in the world I would check all of the boxes. There they were, all checked! It was beautiful!
Now, I will not sit here and pretend that there will not be surprises or distractions that may threaten to derail this beautiful plan, but armed with my new plan, those distractions will not add up and turn into purpose-stealing material. I will improvise, and then move forward as planned. For a moment I felt amazing! I had figured out this thing called life. Seriously? All of this time, my purpose had been hiding in an unfilled planner?…and then I looked up from my planner and thought out loud, here I go again, checking boxes, but what is it all for? What is my purpose and how do I know for sure?
I started praying long and hard and reading my bible looking for that neon sign I just knew God would send. Well, there was no neon sign, but there were several people in my life who were starting to come to me curious about my oils. By this time, you could not walk into any room of my house without seeing at least one bottle of oil and/or a product bearing the Young Living name and every time anyone mentioned any issue from cleaning, to headaches, to their dog being scared of the rain, I would say “there is an oil for that!” It was just after one of these conversations that I realized….my whole life, all I have ever wanted to do was help people and make them feel better. Better than this world tells them they can feel. One of the number one stressors on most people is money. So much so that it is one of the leading causes of divorce. So for me, when I opened my Young Living premium starter kit, what I had really opened was a vehicle to drive my purpose, sharing life-altering oils and a life-giving business opportunity that can open SO many doors and help close some scary ones.
Okay so now you are on board, and you just added a cute planner to your Amazon cart or downloaded an app, but what in the world do you fill it with? How do YOU know for sure what YOUR purpose is?
It’s really very simple. In order to be successful in ANYTHING you JUST need THREE things:
– Your why or what motivates you
– To truly BELIEVE in what you are doing/where you are going
– A proven system by which to get results in a reasonable amount of time without exhausting your resources or your schedule
Stay with me and take this journey of three questions:
ONE… Close your eyes – think for a moment that you have just been given 6 months to live and you have unlimited money, no responsibilities and those 6 months can be spent any way you like….what would you do? What impacts would you make? What legacy would you want to leave?
TWO… Imagine one day there was a huge storm and it destroyed everything you own and all of the people in your life…you are left with nothing…then God speaks to you and tells you because you have been faithful and survived, you can have three people, things or attainable goals. What are the first three that come to mind? These are the only three things you will have for the rest of your life. What can you not live without?
THREE… Now take those goals from the first question and the three things from the second (your passions) and think of the opposite of them or think of someone destroying those things. Does it make you mad? Mad enough to fight? How long and hard would you fight to keep those things? Forever?
Congratulations!!…you just found your why!
Now that you have your why, write it down, review it daily! Put it on your fridge, tape it to your Ningxia bottle. Anywhere you will see it at least once per day! Use that planner. Intentionally prioritize your time by the hour and even by the minute.
Remember, the ONLY thing that keeps you from your dreams is the distractions you let creep in and steal your future, one small uncalculated yes at a time. Don’t say yes when you should say no. Say wise calculated yeses all day every day. Be a diamond rising.

Essential to Life – Why I’m choosing essential oils

If you have followed me on my health and wellness journey at all, you know that I have come a long way from LIVING out of a box when it comes to food to making the switch to whole, organic (whenever possible) REAL foods. That was a huge change for me who (Like most everyone I know) grew up on what I would now call convenience foods and KFC!

So I made this huge leap to take the whole30 challenge, learn to cook and educate myself on what foods actually nourished my body, but there was still something missing. I was feeling better, but not great. I had more energy, but not enough. I was still battling allergies, debilitating headaches and fatigue regularly and well, just not feeling optimal….let me just stop right there and say that I have learned that it is NOT normal to feel off, sick or lethargic. You should not need caffeine to wake up and get through the day.

Let me stop right there and say that I do not claim that I have it all figured out. HECK NO! But, am I taking time and investing in myself and my family by doing research and finding healthier options that work best for us. I figure if I am going to spend all of this time and effort I may as well share it with anyone else on the same journey who will listen! Sharing is caring friends….so here we are!

Okay so…why did I choose to start using essential oils and specifically Young Living Essential Oils? Well, I needed a better option than chasing symptoms and being self medicated on the daily. I decided to stop medicating and start educating myself on how my body worked and how I could use natural methods to support my body systems. Did you know your body has many intertwined systems and when they are fully supported and balanced, you feel amazing?!?!?! That may seem like a no-brainer to some, but for me this one realization made ALL of the difference. Did you also know that God created plants, herbs and flowers with all we need to support that balance? Mind blown!!!

Seem overwhelming? What if I told you it actually isn’t because if it were, I would not be sitting here writing this! It’s all about the baby steps!!

My first step was to actually listen to my friend who had been telling me for, oh I don’t know, about a year that I needed to try pure essential oils and detox my home of all of the chemical mess that was messing with my body systems from the mainstream products such as laundry detergent, fabric softener, household cleaners, dish soap, shampoo conditioner, hand soap, makeup etc. I realize that doing all of this seems like a lot and does not correlate with the aforementioned baby steps, but this is all very doable if you are willing to make changes whenever you run out of the items you are currently using. Before you know it, your whole house is mostly toxin free and you are seeing the benefits in every aspect of your life!

Here is how I got started:

To use a cliché, I was sick and tired of being sick and tired, so I gave in and took my first baby step and asked my husband for a Young Living starter kit for Christmas. I figured if he decided to buy it, I would try it and then IF IT WORKED I would have access to 24% off of everything else the company offered to aide in my wellness journey. {W?) ho doesn’t like a permanent coupon?) Well guess what? He did and I’m here to tell you, it hands down was the best purchase we have made period. I’m not here to sell you anything friends, I’m here to tell you that the oils in that starter kit and this company have changed my life in SO many ways from day one!

I started out with lavender in the diffuser at night and got better rest. I put RC on my chest and diluted it on my daughter and learned to support the respritory system that way and saw major benefits, I used stress away because…. #momlife… and I started drinking tons of water because I loved the way my water tasted with Lemon Vitality oil in it. Before I knew it, I was “on a mission” to replace as many chemicals in my home as I could with safe, really honestly natural products infused with essential oils instead of system-disrupting chemicals. I started replacing things one by one as our budget allowed and noticing huge differences in my skin health, sleep patterns, energy & stress levels, overall mood etc!

It all seemed magical, but it wasn’t magic! It was balance! My body and those of my families were finally able to start healing themselves since they were no longer being poisoned on the daily by the chemical yuck cocktail I had previously served up.

I am not here to debate which essential oil company is best. I am here to tell you to do your research and find what works for you. Have you tried oils that have warning labels on the bottle not to ingest or use topically? If so, consider this…if all that is in it is the life blood of the plant from pure/ peppermint, or lavender for example, then why can’t you put them on your skin or ingest them?? I don’t know about you but I learned in elementary school that many plants including peppermint, lemon and lavender to name a few are edible.

Consider one more thing:

Do you know if the company that makes the oil you use owns their own farms and ensures that there are no chemicals used in the growing process period? Do they weed their crops by hand and test over and over again in-house and by third parties to ensure purity before the safety of their customers? (Click here for more info on Young Living purity promise) If not, consider this one last point…

If you choose to buy organic food, why? You don’t want the yuck that comes from pesticides and other chemicals on your food right? Well, I hear you! But that is just one apple or a bowl of salad right?

Slide #5

It takes 75 lemon rinds to make one 15ml bottle of lemon essential oil, 1 pound of peppermint to make a 15 ml bottle of peppermint essential oil and 27 square feet of lavender to produce a 15 ml bottle of lavender essential oil. They are super concentrated which is why you only need a drop or two for each application. Now imagine if all of that plant material had pesticides and chemicals in it and then when the oil was bottled they added fillers and additives. Now do you want to put that on your skin?? Or better yet, would you put it on your child’s skin??

I  know my answer!!

Stay tuned for more baby steps to start kicking chemicals to the curb, feel better and stop chasing symptoms!

Want to know more? Comment here or contact me at

17 Whole 30 Pantry Staple Items and Where to Find Them

My husband and I completed the Whole 30 challenge a little over two months ago now and I must say that it was one of the hardest but most worth it challenges I have ever completed far and away exceeding my half marathon. I learned a GREAT deal about nutrition, became a much better cook (according to my husband and family) and bonus, I lost 15 lbs in one month and felt amazing!

One of the biggest challenges at first was grocery shopping because it’s completely different than the way I used to shop. First of all, meal planning quickly became a way of life and it didn’t take long to realize that going to the grocery store without a list was NOT a good idea. The first few trips can be frustrating enough without having to get home and realize you have forgotten a key ingredient to a recipe.

Tip: Most of my frustration stemmed from trying to find pre-made items that were complaint which involved a ton of reading ingredients. I quickly learned that if we wanted condiments or sauces of any kind, it was just best to make them from scratch. This can take some time and turn a ‘quick’ meal into a chore, so my advice is to meal plan one week ahead of time and pre-make sauces all at once at the beginning of the week and store them in the fridge. This way all you have to do is cook your protein and veggies which typically doesn’t take long.

I am sure you have heard that in order to fill your cart with the healthiest food you need to shop on the perimeter of the store. Well this is exactly what you do on whole 30! The only time I went into the interior of the store was for spices and canned coconut milk. This is now how I routinely shop. I have finally said goodbye to the cereal isle all together which is quite a drastic change for me and I’m still working on weaning off of the ice cream isle, although I have made the switch to organic. (That said, I eat much less ice cream post whole 30 than I did prior. I’ll call that a success in and of itself.)

The following items are were and still are staples that I purchased almost every time I went to the store while on the whole 30 challenge.

Avocados – these are tricky because they don’t last long, but a trick I learned is that if you only need half, leave the pit in the other half and seal it tightly in the smallest air tight container it will fit in. It will typically last a day or two like that.


Bananas – these are great for breakfast and on the go snacks, although whole 30 encourages you to snack minimally. Also I noticed that after a few weeks, I could really taste the difference between organic and non-organic. (Sun butter goes great as an alternative to peanut butter and bananas. Scroll down to see what I mean.)


Grass-fed butter (Made into ghee) – I used to think that margarine was the healthy alternative to butter and as it turns out, this couldn’t be further from the truth. While you cannot have butter on whole 30, you will most likely use your fair share of Ghee. (clarified butter) A money-saving tip that is in the book and they really do mean it, just make your own clarified butter! It only takes a few minutes and it will save you a ton vs. buying ghee at the store at around $10 per container. Butter

Where to find it: I buy Kerrygold brand grass-fed butter at Costco because they offer the best price I have been able to find, but I have also seen it available at my local Kroger in the specialty cheese section (odd place I know) and Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s have it with other dairy products.

Cauliflower – This is my new best friend! It can be made into a rice substitute, a potato substitute and in some cases (on a paleo diet, not on whole 30) a bread substitute. Who knew? But it’s really pretty fabulous. Although like most fresh fruit and veggies, it’s shelf life is not very long in my experience. So again, a meal plan really helps save time and money on spoiled ingredients and wasted time shopping for them.


Cherry Tomatoes – These have become a favorite breakfast item in our house. These little gems lightly seared with kale and pasture-raised eggs, salt, pepper and a pinch of garlic and some compliant bacon and a side of fruit = whole 30 breakfast heaven! Before whole 30 I was not a fan of tomatoes, but on whole 30 I learned to like them because I could actually taste them for what they were, not hindered by a pallet altered by artificially sweetened processed foods. Also, eating these small things didn’t seem so bad compared to biting into a larger tomato.

Cherry Tomatoes

Coconut Aminos – Umm what? If you’re anything like me, I had no idea this soy sauce substitute existed, but it does and it is a much healthier substitute that does not sacrifice flavor. From what I have read, soy is not good for men and apparently not good for me either, as I found out my first time eating at a Japanese restaurant post whole 30! (Not a good idea, I was sick for two days!) That was a low point because Asian food used to be my favorite, but now I just make my own!

Where to find it: Whole Foods or the natural food section of your local HEB or grocery store.

Coconut Aminos

Coconut Milk – I learned coconut milk in a can is much better than the stuff that comes in a carton. The carton variety is generally loaded with additives including sugar and carrageenan which are both no nos on Whole 30. This is the brand that I buy, this and the generic store brand are priced similarly.

Where to find it: In the Asian foods section of your local grocer.

Coconut Milk Front Coconut Milk Back

Coconut oil – Have you ever paid attention to the ingredients in cooking spray? Me either until my first whole 30 pantry check, but there are some crazy, unexpected and decidedly unhealthy ingredients in most of those cans. No thanks! I now use ghee or coconut oil where I used to use cooking spray. It’s not quite as convenient, but it’s much better for you.

Coconut Oil

Blueberries – I used to steer clear of these little super foods, but then I discovered that I love blistered blueberries! (Pan seared until they burst.) Now I use them as a salad dressing or as a topping to whole 30 porridge in the morning. frozen last longer. Always buy these organic when possible as they are included in the “dirty dozen.

driscoll-blueberries1 frozen bluberries

Olive Oil – This is another one I cook with a lot. Great flavor and health benefits. Here are some factors to help you choose a good quality oil.


Organic Kale – This became one of my favorite items to include in my breakfast bowl. This is another item that you should buy organic whenever possible. This site gives a good explanation of why. Organic Kale

Pasture-Raised Eggs – Before whole 30 I thought free range eggs were the best you could get. Wrong! Pasture-Raised eggs are the way to go! Yes they are quite a bit more expensive than the eggs you most likely buy at the moment, but they are far and away the superior product and even the most expensive eggs are most likely your most cost effective protein choice on Whole 30 and in general. Believe me, once you get used to eating these eggs, you will be able to taste the difference and you will thank me!

Where to find: Whole foods and the natural food section of your local grocer. (Kroger and Whole foods both carry Vital Farms brand shown here.)  Or better yet, find a local farmer with pasture-raised chickens and show them some love!

Pasture-Raised Eggs

Organic Spinach – Another one of those that you should buy organic whenever possible. I alternate this and kale in my breakfast bowl and one of the easiest meals to throw together on whole 30 is a salad, so keep plenty of greens around in case you get tired of cooking, throw leftover protein and veggies on top of a bed of greens and blister some blueberries for dressing and viola! A tasty, no fuss meal that will keep you on track and full for a while.


Sunflower Butter – Miss peanut butter? Meet your new addiction. (Okay sorry probably not the best choice of words considering whole 30 is meant to break food addictions.) But in all seriousness, I don’t think I’ll ever eat peanut butter again! This has the same texture as peanut butter unlike the more popular almond butter and is just as tasty even with no sugar. You just can’t beat that with a stick!

Sun Butter No Sugar Added

Sweet Potatoes – Because, well they’re amazing! And they are used in many whole 30 recipes including BBQ sauce. What?…..yup! And it’s pretty great if you ask me! Not to mention that they harbor tons of health benefits.


Vanilla Powder – This item is pricey ($13 + per .oz), but worth it in my opinion! It can be used in place of vanilla extract (1/4 tsp of powder = 1 tsp of extract) which unlocks a wide range of recipes which otherwise would have been rendered off limits on whole 30. It’s also great in coffee for those of you missing your flavored coffee.

Where to find it: Be careful when looking for this item as most vanilla powders contain hidden sugars. This brand is just ground vanilla beans and one small jar will go a long way because you only need a tiny bit at a time. I found it here on Amazon.

Vanilla Powder

Last but not least!…

Rotisserie Chicken – I know this is not exactly a ‘pantry staple’ but I thought it was worth mentioning that you really should pay attention to the ingredients in your local grocer’s hot and ready rotisserie chickens. If you’re like me, I always thought this was an easy healthy meal to grab when I didn’t feel like cooking, but many of them are injected with some questionable ingredients to prolong their shelf life, add to the taste or whatever other excuse they like to use. Be sure to look for chickens that are just chicken or chicken and water or spices. Or better yet, buy them raw and cook your own. Typically the most cost effective way to buy organic chicken is to buy the whole bird.

Whole Chicken

Paleo/Whole 30 Version of Papa’s Famous Sausage “Mac and Cheese”

My husband is one of five children and, needless to say, this meant that the grocery budget needed to be stretched as much as possible. That said modest means are sometimes the mother of all invention right? His father was challenged to come up with a meal that could feed 7 people and that his family would all enjoy for $10 or less. That he did! He came up with his now “famous” sausage mac and cheese which included shell noodles, diced tomatoes, tons of cheese, Italian sausage….oh and more cheese! To this day, his family will devour a pot of it in about 5 minutes flat.

Fast forward about 25 years. My husband and I just completed our first Whole 30 challenge successfully and have committed to an at least mostly paleo diet save special occasions. (By the way, after having just come off of a weekend of “special occasion” eating I think I may redefine my “special occasion” exception list a bit further as my body is still trying to recover from my off plan binge. I will now happily attend the festivities and cheers with my sparkling water and enjoy a nice salad and maybe a bowl of fruit instead of mixed drinks and cake.) Because of the festivities, my father-in-law was in town and challenged me to come up with a paleo version of his famous dish. This was quite a tall order as the origional dish has 25 years of tradition on its side. I know, I know you are dying to know how this story ends! Well my friends, lets just say this, I’m blogging the recipe because it went over well in my house, but I would love to hear your opinion if you choose to make it known!

Kitchen Gadgets Needed 

  • Food Processor or a good blender
Sauce and Cauliflower Ingredients (Recipe for cauliflower and sauce borrowed from My Natural Family)
  • 1 ½ heads Cauliflower
  • 2 T. Grass-fed Butter or Ghee for Whole 30
  • ½ t. Salt
  • ¼ C. Water
  • 2 T. Grass-fed Butter of Ghee for Whole 30
  • 1 small Yellow Squash(Summer squash), cut into small cubes
  • 1 small Carrot, peeled and diced
  • ½ Small Sweet Onion, diced
  • ½ t. Garlic Powder
  • ¾ t. Ground Mustard
  • 1 t. Salt
  • 1 can Coconut Milk
  • 1 Egg Yolk
  • I can Organic Diced Tomatoes

Sausage Ingredients (Sausage recipe is a slightly modified version of the one in the Whole 30 recipe book.}

  • 2 t. Cooking Fat
  • 1/2 C. Minced White Onion
  • 1 lb Ground Pork
  • 1/2 t. Dried Sage
  • 1/2 t. Salt
  • 1/4 t. Black Pepper
  • 1/4 t. Garlic Powder
  • Pepper, to taste
  1. Heat 1 T. of the cooking fat in a heavy skillet over medium heat. When the fat is hot, add the onions and cook , stirring until softened, about 2 minutes. Combine sauteed onions, ground meat, sage, salt, pepper and garlic powder in a large mixing bowl and blend with your hands.
  2. Heat the remaining 1 T. of fat in the same skillet over medium heat and swirl to coat the bottom of the pan. When the fat is hot, add the sausage and saute until cooked through.
  3. Set aside, cover and keep warm until ready to combine with cauliflower and cheese sauce.
  1. Cut the stalks and leaves off of the cauliflower and break it into small pieces. Add the cauliflower to a large sauté pan as well as the 2 T. butter, ½ t. salt, and water. Place on medium/high heat and cover with a lid. Let the cauliflower steam inside the pan for about 5 minutes, until mostly tender. Check the water levels every few minutes to make sure that it doesn’t all evaporate. When almost tender, remove the lid and let the cauliflower sauté for a minute or two, or until lightly caramelized in spots. Turn heat off, cover, and keep warm until ready to toss with the cheese sauce.
  1. Heat the 2 T. butter in a saucepan over medium/high heat. Add the squash, carrot, onion, garlic powder, mustard, and salt to the melted butter.
  2. Sauté for 5 minutes, or until onion is translucent. Add the can of coconut milk to the saucepan and bring to a simmer. Allow to simmer for about 10 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender and the coconut milk has reduced by ⅔ and is thick.
  3. Pour the vegetables and coconut milk into a blender or food processor and puree until very, very smooth. Immediately add an egg yolk to the puree and blend well. The hot puree will cook the egg which will thicken the sauce and give it a rich texture.
  4. Check seasonings and add more salt or pepper to taste.
  5. Pour over the hot cauliflower and toss to coat.


  1. Turn the oven on broil low.
  2. Grease a casserole dish with coconut oil.
  3. Pour cauliflower with cheese sauce in the dish fully covering the bottom of the pan.
  4. Pour sausage crumbles evenly over the cauliflower.
  5. Drain the can of tomatoes and pour drained tomatoes over the entire dish.
  6. Sprinkle precooked bacon over entire dish.
  7. Broil until the cheese sauce starts to brown slightly on top. About 3 -5 minutes. Watch closely as times vary greatly depending on the oven.
  8. Remove from the oven and serve immediately.

Did you make this dish? Please let me know what you think in the comments.

Facts you need to know about DHA and ARA in infant formula

As a first time Mom I did tons of research on the best formula to feed my baby after I decided it was the best thing for our family as a whole to stop breastfeeding. You can read more about my search for formula here. There seem to be a lot of different views on whether or not to feed formula with added DHA and ARA and a lot of controversy surrounding how the additives in infant formula are derived.

First and foremost, if you do choose to feed formula with DHA and ARA added, it is well worth your time to do your research on how your formula of choice manufactures their additives. Many formulas use a questionable process to create their additives which may be toxic. Read more here. The following is a direct quote from The Cornucopia Institute “The DHA in infant formula and organic milk comes from docosahexaenoic single cell oil (DHASCO). These oils are extracted with the toxic chemical hexane from laboratory-grown algae.”

Fortunately there is one formula in the United States that has a nontoxic and organic way to extract DHA and ARA additives and that is Baby’s Only Organic made by Nature’s One.  They use a process involving egg yolks that no other brand uses.

Now for the facts which I had to dig for several months to find. This is not just a quick google search. This is the best and most up-to-date information I could find on the subject.

What is DHA and ARA?

DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) is an omega-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acid (LCPUFA).  ARA (arachidonic acid) is an omega-6 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acid (LCPUFA).  Both are non-essential fatty acids because the human body has the capability of making them from other available fats already consumed.  DHA is made from linolenic fatty acid and ARA is made from linoleic fatty acid.  Linolenic and linoleic fatty acids are essential fatty acids meaning that the body cannot make them and they must be provided through the foods we eat.  All infant formulas contain these essential fatty acids. 

This is why I believe that it is not necessary to purchase formula with additives from potentially toxic hexane or even from the safer Nature’s One egg extraction method unless specifically directed to do so by the child’s healthcare provider.

Where is DHA found in nature?

Food sources of DHA include cold water fish and their oils, egg yolks, and organ meats such as liver.  ARA is found mostly in animal products, such as eggs, meat and some fish such as tilapia and catfish.

Obviously newborns do not consume these foods, but in my opinion, it may be beneficial especially for breastfeeding mothers to take these foods into consideration as a part of their regular healthy diet.

What the the Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Nutrition has to say about DHA and ARA:

The highly respected American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Nutrition has no official position on supplementation of term or preterm infant formulas with DHA and ARA.  In fact, they state the following:

“Finally, considering the marked variability among infants of apparent conversion of ALA to DHA and LA to ARA, it is conceivable that some infants will benefit from supplementation, whereas others will not. Such a scenario certainly would explain the marked variability in outcomes documented by virtually every study. It is also likely that any beneficial effects of LCPUFA supplementation will be subtle and possibly not detected with available methodology.”*

*American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Nutrition.  Fats and Fatty Acids.  In: Kleinman RE, Greer FR, eds.  Pediatric Nutrition.  7th ed.  Elk Grove Village, IL.: American Academy of Pediatrics; 2014; 426.

Reason some may still consider feeding formula with DHA and ARA additives:

Many parents and healthcare professionals may want to have an “insurance policy” regarding DHA and ARA since they may have questions regarding the amount of conversion of the essential fatty acids into the non-essential fatty acids so they either use a formula containing DHA and ARA or may use a DHA supplement.  This is something to discuss with a child’s healthcare provider.

So there you have it folks, the hard facts about DHA and ARA. Now it is up to you to decide whether the additives are worth the investment. For me and my family, I say no.  As stated above, all infant formulas contain fatty acids that are converted to DHA and ARA in the body, therefore I don’t see the need to take a risk with potentially harmful additives even though my formula of choice uses the only organic and nontoxic extraction method. Unless one day I am specifically instructed by my pediatrician to feed my child formula including these additives, (at which point I would only use Nature’s One Baby’s Only Formula) I will put that extra money toward a college fund as I feel it will go to much better use.

Do you agree? Do you feed a formula with added DHA and ARA and plan to continue after reading these facts? Why or why not?

8 Things I wish I had known when I was pregnant

Congratulations! You’re going to be a mommy! In all the excitement it’s very easy to get caught up in all the pink or blue and delve deep into your What to Expect book, but there are a few things almost no one will tell you that I really wish I had known…so here goes…

Morning sickness is not just in the morning 

If you are one of the many who suffer from morning sickness I’m praying for you because it’s really no fun at all but according to the several nurses I have in my family (including my mother-in-law who home-birthed  5 children of her own and was a labor and delivery nurse for years) it is actually a B6 deficiency which can contribute to ‘morning sickness.’ Therefore if you are one of the lucky ones who may be reading this before they are actually pregnant, be sure to start taking B6 supplements now. Otherwise there are wonderful little things called Preggy Pops that actually helped me and several of my friends. Also it seems to help to eat several small meals per day with plenty of protein. For more tips click here for my post specific to this subject.

Your prenatal vitamins can make you nauseous 

Luckily there is a quick fix to this. Store them in the freezer! I’m not sure why this works but I have several mommy friends that swear by it. Just put a reminder in your phone to remember to take them!

Sometimes you get quick shooting pains across your stomach that are completely normal

As early as 3 months along I would have sudden shooting pains across my stomach periodically and was worried that it was a bad sign and according to my OBGYN and aforementioned nurse friends, it was just my muscles stretching to make room for the baby and when you are farther along it can just be the baby kicking or wiggling into an uncomfortable spot for a moment. (Of course I am not a medical professional so if you have doubts, always ask your doctor or medical provider.)

Your significant other thinks you are more beautiful now than you have ever been, even on days you just feel huge

I heard it from my sweet husband and I have heard it time and time again from friends, there is nothing sexier to a man than the woman carrying his child. This is good to keep filed away for those days about 9 months along when you are feeling like a house and your feet are swelling ‘the size of tree trunks’ as my doctor likes to affectionately call it. Thanks Doc!

 ‘Pregnancy brain’ is a very real thing! 

Even if you were one of those people like I was that almost didn’t need a calendar because you seemed to always remember when and where you needed to be at all times, you too can be effected. I’m not sure what it is about that little person growing inside of you that steals your memory, but trust me, it will happen! Let’s just say that by month 9.5 I had sticky notes everywhere and often found myself ending up in rooms of the house and not knowing what I went in there looking for. Sigh…which brings me to my next point…

You are actually pregnant for 10 months not 9

Yup! If you think about it and do a little elementary math, the average full-term pregnancy lasts for 40 weeks and 40 divided by 4 is…….10! 10 months! It was explained to me that it’s known as 9 months because technically on the last day of the 10th month you have the baby… in theory… So don’t get too excited when you’re creeping toward the end of that 8th month!

Drink lots and lots of water

Staying hydrated can help to fend off Braxton Hicks contractions and can help reduce swelling.

‘Nesting’ is a thing! 

At some point, most likely late in your third trimester, you may feel a very strong urge to clutter and clean EVERYTHING! First of all this is totally natural, but you may want to warn your husband and/or any other housemates you may have that this will happen because you will most likely be asking for help! I ended up selling a lot of household items and furniture that I felt were cluttering up our house to make room for the baby’s things and honestly, I’m so glad I did! I ended up making a little cash and decluttering our home. I will admit though that steam cleaning everything and washing all of the linens in the house, including curtains, may or may not have been a tad overboard. A few things that came in handy during this phase were the local Facebook garage sale sites, I became a regular on them and still am! They are awesome for thrifty families! Homemade natural cleaning supplies made from mostly vinegar, baking soda and essential oils. My Facebook site and twitter feed have lots recipes and I will be sure to make that a future post. But natural cleaning supplies will come in handy while you are pregnant and long after to keep you and your children from harsh chemicals and not to mention you can save a ton of money!

Is there anything I missed? What are some things you wish you had known? Do you have any clever solutions or tips and tricks you wish you had known? Please leave them in the comments.

Whole 30 and Paleo Teriyaki Chicken Fried Cauliflower

Today marks day 13 for my husband and I on the Whole 30 challenge and so far so good! No slips! I won’t say it’s been easy, but with some serious commitment and will power, it is possible to give up all traces of grain, dairy, sugar, legumes, soy and alcohol for 30 + days. The ‘+’ is because there are at least 10 reintroduction days.

Other than food cravings the hardest thing has been redefining our date nights and get togethers with friends and family that have always revolved around food and drinks. According to the whole 30 book you can eat out, but you pretty much have to be okay with being ‘that person’ that asks a ton of questions and makes a ton of substitutions to their meal. Having been a server, it’s very hard for me to do that. But I digress, I’ll be writing another post about date nights on Whole 30.

I love Asian food and have really missed fried rice, so I was thrilled when I found the cauliflower ‘rice’ recipe in the Whole 30 Book and then found a paleo teriyaki sauce recipe which I modified slightly to make it whole 30 compliant. It came out so well that I have literally eaten it for lunch for the past three days!

Note and recipe credit: This is my first time writing a recipe, so if I leave anything out or anything is confusing please feel free to let me know in the comments. Also I have used the whole 30 cauliflower rice recipe from the book as a base and modified the teriyaki sauce recipe I found here. I wish I were a chef and could make recipes up on my own, but unfortunately not. This is just a modification to other recipes I found and merged to make a whole 30 compliant version of my favorite dish.

Kitchen Gadgets Needed

Food Processor – Unless you are a super whiz at chopping, this is a must for this                                     recipe. Once you buy one, you will never know how you lived                                         without it!

Meat Thermometer


Teriyaki Sauce

1/2 cup coconut aminos
2 medjool dates
1/4 cup juice from fresh oranges
2 tbs rice vinegar
1 tbs fresh grated ginger
1-2 garlic cloves, pressed or minced
1 tbs sesame oil
Pinch of red pepper flakes (I chose to omit this because I did not want to add heat                                                     to the sauce.)
Optional: Add 1 tsp arrowroot flour to make the sauce thicker

Sauce Instructions

Combine all ingredients into a food processor and puree until smooth. Transfer puree to a saucepan over medium heat. When the mixture begins to boil, stir for another 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

Cauliflower ‘Rice’
1 large head cauliflower, cut into florets
3 tablespoons ghee or clarified butter
1/2 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped
1/2 cup chicken broth (For whole 30, be sure your broth is compliant)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons coconut aminos (a soy sauce substitute)
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 minced green onions
2 large eggs
2 – 3 large chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces

‘Rice’ Instructions (From the Whole 30 Book)

To ‘rice’ the cauliflower, place half of the florets in a food processor and pulse into a rice-like consistency. (The book says 15 – 20 pulses, but at least with my food processor it only took  3 – 4.) Don’t over-crowd the cauliflower in the food processor, and don’t over-pulse or the florets will get mushy. Repeat to rice the remaining florets.

In a large skillet, melt the ghee (or clarified butter) over medium heat and swirl to coat the bottom of the pan. When the ghee is hot, add the onion, green onion and carrot and cook stirring until the onion is translucent, 2 – 3 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook until garlic is aromatic, about 1 minute.

Add the riced cauliflower to the skillet and mix thoroughly with the rest of the vegetables. Add the chicken broth, cover the pan with a lid, and steam until you’ve arrived at a rice-like consistency, 10 – 12 minutes. (The cauliflower should be tender, but not mushy or wet.)

Meanwhile, prepare the teriyaki sauce as listed below and set aside. Heat sesame oil in a skillet over medium – high heat. When oil is hot, pan fry chicken until mostly cooked through. Pour half of the teriyaki sauce over chicken until the temperature reaches 160 degrees. (Chicken is fully cooked at 165, but will continue to cook after being taken off of the heat.

Mix in coconut aminos, sesame oil, salt and pepper. Push rice to one side of the pan and crack and scramble eggs on the other side until the eggs are cooked through. Mix scrambled eggs into the cauliflower mixture. Mix in cooked chicken and the other half of the teriyaki sauce.

Serve immediately. (This dish keeps well in the refrigerator for a few days, so make extra for a quick meal later in the week.

Shortcut – I used a precooked rotisserie chicken to cut down on prep and cooking time. (If you purchase a precooked chicken from a store, check the ingredients if you are on the whole 30 diet to be sure it is compliant.)