Organic Eater’s Top 12 in 2012, and Product GIVEAWAYS!

Since so many of you have liked, commented, and asked questions about the awesome products I used in my first year of blogging, I thought you would enjoy a recap and “Top 12  List of Things to Buy” before we close out this fabulous year. It’s a list of my “can’t live without” store-bought items. January 2013 will include lots of new starts, changes, and steps towards better health for many of you, and these products can help you take those steps: some of them baby steps, some of them full-out hard core giant steps! There will be something for everyone wanting to incorporate healthier purchases in 2013. AND HERE’S THE BEST PART: we’re giving away some of these products this giveaway is over now, but the information on all the products is below to help you get started in the New Year!!  Yes!  Zevia,  Falafel Chips  and  Healthforce Nutritionals are generously helping you start off 2013 in the right direction! There will be 4 Grand Prize Packages that include products from all 3 companies, plus 8 more prizes of individual products, totaling 12 prizes in all (12 prizes in 2012, get it?!) WooHoo!!! The details will be included in the bottom of the post. And now for Organic Eater’s Top 12 in 2012: Things to Buy….

Top12-1

Starting Top left, in no particular order, because it was hard enough just narrowing this list down to 12! There is no way I could put them in order of importance or value to me!!! They are all invaluable!

ACURE facial products: I found this organic line at Earth Fare (natural grocery store) and flipped when I realized the price point! Affordable and Organic. Heck Yeah! Then I tried some of them and, although I know the scent has nothing to do with the efficacy, they smell like heaven to me, and they work! My husband stole my olive oil facial cleanser (pictured) and recently confiscated my (almond scented) shampoo, so they can be used by both sexes, for the most part.  I (we!) have thoroughly enjoyed every product I’ve tried so far. The price is right, no toxic or questionable ingredients,  and the scents make me smile. My skin is loving them, and I actually look forward to the “chore” of cleaning my face every night so I can smell the products:) They’re easy to find: Google them and purchase on-line at many retailers, or at any of the national natural foods groceries. Easy to find.

ZEVIA “saved me” when I was trying to get off soda just a couple of years ago. Read that blog post to hear the full story of how much I appreciate this product and how much it helped me! Sugar and artificial sweetener free, it makes the transition off regular soda sooooo much easier!!! These days I usually drink water or tea, but when I want that yummy fizzy, I can grab a can without guilt and enjoy. And it’s fun to have a soda to offer guests too, since there is no sugar-soda or “diet soda” in this house! This is the perfect product for you if you’re trying to cut out/down on regular or artificially sweetened soft drinks in the new year! I gave some to my dad at Christmas, who is trying to cut out sugar for specific health issues this year. I gave some to my organic CSA farmer, who has plenty of healthy meats and veggies, but I thought they might like a little treat after a long day gathering vegetables. I actually gave this to several friends and family this year, who I wanted to encourage with healthier options!

FALAFEL CHIPS were a new discovery for me this year, and boy have we enjoyed them! Wow! The switch to healthier eating for this little organic-eating family has proven to be challenging in one area in particular: the chip. We are HUGE chip fans, especially with our Mexican food, and home-made chips have not been successful for me! Thankfully Flamous Brands created these Falafel Chips (spicy, regular, and Zatar flavor) that are not only organic, but high ORAC score! ORAC measures the amount of anti-oxidants in food, and these chips score a 6500! Gluten free, organic, nonGMO, here’s the list of NOs: no wheat, dairy, lactose, trans fat, msg, cholesterol, hydrogenated oil, preservatives, artificial colors, artificial flavors, or nuts! They are absolutely delicious plain, but of course great with humus or salsa or guacamole, and they’re a product no one would EVER believe was a healthier version! This is another product I gave out at Christmas because I wanted to give healthier options to those I love!

HEALTHFORCE NUTRITIONALS is an extensive line of real food “supplements”. Vitamin C is  pictured here because I love what it is doing for my skin, but their protein and maca and greens are fantastic, and I am planning to do a full post in January to tell you a lot more about them! Exceptional quality, and effective. Their own label describes them as “hard core”, and I think that’s a perfect description! You don’t take these products for kicks and giggles. They are serious about nutrition and health, and I’m looking forward to telling you much more about them, since we use them constantly. There is an Instagram Post about the Vitamin C if you’re interested  in reading about that little jewel for your skin! I shared these products with friends and family this Christmas and of course they were thrilled!

VERMONT SOAP ORGANICS is my absolute favorite soap now! They have completely won me and my family over! The Lemongrass Zen is THE best smelling lemongrass scented soap we have ever found! Lemongrass is our family favorite, and this one smells divine, and makes the kitchen sink area smell so good. Another reason we LOVE this soap is because of the way it feels. I  know that sounds weird, and it’s very difficult to explain in this post, but when you try it you will immediately feel the difference I’m talking about! I had a few comments on an IG post about this soap, where others felt the exact same way! I have been requested to order one for every sink in the house:) The Liquid Sunshine soap can be used for a multitude of cleaning purposes. I clean a LOT of coconut oil covered frying pans, and this soap handles it with no problem. Anything that makes my cleaning life easier is greatly appreciated, and these soaps go in my  life-changer category I love them so much:) Beyond the fantastic products that the entire family can use, the company itself is exemplary and they believe in organics! I met the founders/owners of the company at Expo East this year, and was inspired by their enthusiasm for the organic industry. You can find them at VermontSoaps.com, and they have soaps for people, pets, dishes, exercise mats, produce, and just about anything! If you have allergies or sensitivities to soaps, you definitely need to check them out! Made in the USA, which is highly appreciated by this Organic Eater!

AMAZING GRASS completely lives up to its name with every product. Wheat grass is a GREEN and is not a grain, so eating Amazing Grass products helps you get servings of greens in a tasty way! Their organic wheat grass is grown in Kansas, where it can develop deep roots all winter long for maximum nutrition levels. The Kidz products have the antioxidant equivalent of 3 servings of fruits and veggies in one scoop! My kids eat this daily, either as a drink, or in applesauce, or plain yogurt. I have posted several times on Instagram about the health benefits and awesomeness of this product line. I can’t say enough good things. Everything you know about the goodness of organic greens is in these products, so I whole heartedly endorse these, especially for those who don’t eat enough leafy green vegetables on a daily basis. The ORAC product in the picture above  scored a 15,000 ORAC value (measures antioxidant levels). It’s my superfood of choice, and it taste good, so it’s easy to get anyone in the family to take it! I used it to boost my husband back to health when the flu hit him hard before Christmas! Only out for 2 days! I have been reading/studying wheat grass for several months, so if you have any questions about AG products, please feel free to leave a question in the comments and I’ll be happy to help!

Top12-2CLOISTER HONEY is my favorite Charlotte local honey. The whipped cinnamon is my favorite treat (“treat” since my body doesn’t process sugars of any kind very well) and I like to use it in place of icing on a muffin! They are now in the Charlotte Whole Foods store, but you can also order on line. I know there are benefits to eating local, but this is so good, even if you’re not local, you should try it!!! There are many flavors to choose from, even a chocolate one! The people who make it are just as sweet as their product line!

OUTTA THE PARK BBQ SAUCE is a mostly-organic-ingredients sauce that is a winner in this Organic Eater’s house! We put it on most anything, and use it in place of ketchup sometimes. Put it in the crock pot with a chicken breast for ready-made dinner when you get home. Love it. You can also find this in Whole Foods (east coast at least) and you can order on line. They have an “original” and a spicy version that is vegan! Absolutely delicious and clean ingredients! Congrats to OTP for another Scovie award for 2013!! Here is a post I wrote earlier this year for more info.

INBAR is my favorite bar this year because it’s low sugar, made especially for the diabetic, without artificial sweeteners. But everyone should try these because they’re so tasty! See my Expo East post for more info on where to find them. They are new, so you might have to look a little harder to find them, but they’re worth it!

COCONUT OIL AND GRASSFED BUTTER are my two favorite healthy fats! Now, before you balk at these fats being healthy, see this post or this page and keep an open mind to the possibility that they have been demonized for the last 30 years, but the truth is finally coming out! I love them both, use them liberally, and have no regrets as my joints are feeling great, my hormones and skin are improving, and generally increasing my health overall. Note: I also use ghee, but I never use regular butter, as it is hormone filled and genetically modified, I only grassfed or organic butter. At the very least, make sure it’s hormone free (“rbgh free” or “rbst free” will be on the label somewhere).  If there is an organic coconut oil company who would like to be the official coconut oil for Organic Eater, please contact me asap!

MOUTHWATCHERS toothbrush is my favorite toothbrush, and was just featured on the blog recently, so click on that red highlight for much more information about this fabo little brush! There are links to toothpaste and dental floss there too. Buy them (only $5!) at www.mouthwatchers.com

FLAX SEASONING was another jewel I found at Expo East this fall, and we all love this jar of tasty organic goodness. My son requested that his boiled eggs only have Flax Seasoning on them from now on. I use it on chicken and salmon, and veggies too. Adds lots of great flavor, and it encourages my kids to eat more veggies. They also have a sweet version that we love, but the sugar content keeps me from using it every day. Great on oatmeal or toast. LOVE this stuff!! Try this link to purchase or find a store.

So these are 12 of my favorite products, because they have made healthier-choices easier for me and my family this year. And sometimes, it just needs to be “easy” to get us to try it! I hope they will help you make better choices as well! It was hard to get this list down to 12. I have MANY favorite things, so if there is something you’re curious about finding/trying, leave a comment and I’ll try to help you.

As 2012 comes to a close, I want to say “thank you” to each one who follows this blog. I am so honored you are here, and I hope you found some encouragement towards good health here this year! From the written comments, likes, emails, and comments made personally, I am excited to say that blogging is an effective way to minister to people. The negative results of this “fake food”, high-sugar and grain-eating world are a burden to me because I see how they’re hurting people who have no idea, how they are affecting the health of too many and keeping people from living out their calling in life. When you let me know about your steps towards health, it encourages me so much! My goal is to educate and encourage here, so you can live out your purpose in this life and do/be all you’ve been called to. What you feed your mind, your body, and your spirit make a HUGE difference in life. It’s a constant balance of all three, and I know it’s a challenge! I’m right here with you! It’s a challenge for me too, and I’m on this journey just like everyone else! If there is something specific you want more information on in the new year, let me know by leaving a comment.  I pray all the best for you in 2013!

AND NOW FOR THE GIVEAWAY DETAILS: the contest is ONLY on Instagram this time, not on the blog. Download Instagram then follow Organic Eater there. The pictures above will be posted on my Instagram feed (after 1pm today), with details written underneath the pictures, on how EASY it is to enter this giveaway.  See you there!

Thank you again for following Organic Eater this year! and Healthy New Year!!!

Encouraging Health,

Organic Eater

Real Food That’s Real Easy: Sweet Potato Cakes

Sweet Potato Latkes

Sweet Potato Latkes

This picture was posted on Instagram today, and I wanted to share the recipe with you guys since it’s so stinkin easy! Real food info: Sweet potatoes are a great source of fiber, B6, and Vit A. Here’s the basics: peel and grate a sweet potato, add an egg and a Tablespoon or 2 of coconut flour (another great fiber source) and salt to taste. Make patties, then fry in ghee, butter, coconut oil, or stable oil of choice, on med high heat, and flip to cook both sides of course, until golden brown. Google sweet potato latkes recipes to see if you can use regular flour or almond meal if you would rather use those. I would think they should work fine. This is #realfood that is #realeasy! If you want to find it on Instagram, you can follow OrganicEater there, or look for the hashtag I just created called #realfoodrecipes, and look for the picture of my sweet potato cakes above. Comment here or on Instagram and let me know if you like them.

Encouraging Health,

Organic Eater

Thanks to  homemademommy.net where I originally found this recipe.

5 Things I’m doing to De-stress the Holidays (and they’re working!)

“I do everything for Christmas around here!!!!!!!” Ever announced that to your family while you’re putting up the tree and wrapping the gifts, with “I Wish You a Merry Christmas” playing in the background, of course?!   I am embarrassed to admit that I have, but after talking to some dear friends whom I consider to be good parents/spouses, I am not alone in this holiday stress. It’s taken me 45 years to get this “down”, so I would like to share this with you, and hopefully some of my younger readers will benefit from this wisdom earlier than I did! And if you’re “old” like me, well, there’s a few weeks left of THIS season, and next year you can start anew. Here are 5 things I am intentionally doing to make a difference in the stress levels of myself and my family this year. I may not need to do them every year, but this is where I’m starting, and we’ll see how it progresses next year. Stress definitely affects health, so it’s important to do what you can to de-stress where possible.

1. NO TREE I know that sounds too harsh for some of you, but it was a “must go” for me. Every year I was decorating our tree with little help from the kids and none from the hubs. It just didn’t matter to them as much as it did to me. But every year I was stressing out over all of it instead of enjoying it. You see, my Home Ec degree concentrated in Interior Design, and  I work part-time for a designer here in Charlotte. I am a designer at heart. I can’t just hang balls on a tree. It’s got to be done at a “professional level” or not at all. So this year I opted for “not at all”, and it’s made me very happy. It will make me much happier come January when I’m not the one taking it all down and putting it back into the attic. I still decorated the house, but at a limited level (some of you would never think it was “limited”, but it was FOR ME). And I let the kids do their own rooms. WIN for me, and I’m loving it. May keep this one around. Oh, and we do have a little ceramic tree in the dining room, so there is a “tree” in the house:)

2. LIMITED EXERCISE I know there are some people who need to de-stress with exercise and they love it, like this crazy woman does! I cannot relate to that feeling in any way. Having  exercise as part of my to-do list stresses me out, and makes me feel like the other important stuff isn’t getting done. Now, I normally do it anyway because I have disciplined myself to do what’s best for my health, even though most days I really don’t want to do it. Sorry Lindsay, I know you cannot understand that! So, my de-stress for Christmas is that I am cutting my exercise down to 3 times per week, and if they’re all walk/runs on the treadmill, while I watch a Netflix doc about healthy food, that’s ok. With some kettle-bell swings in there too! I think I can discipline myself to get right back into 5xweek with weights and HIITs after the holidays. I may take this into January though, because January is another very stressful month for me.  Ok, that’s my last one, really. You see, all my family birthdays are in December and January. ALL of them. 7 close family birthdays in January alone. 9 months before January must have been some great times for this family!;) You can expect a few out-to-eat pics that month if you’re following on Instagram or Twitter:)

3. NO PARTY HERE Just decided I wasn’t going to throw a Christmas Party here this year.  I know they’re fun and I’ll miss seeing everyone, but this is another one that definitely de-stressed my holidays. I even had extra time to do a blog post today about it! In all honesty, my husband’s job had many additional responsibilities this year, so to be fair, this was also a choice for both of us, and may change next year. We had to get through this first year of new responsibilities at work to make sure we could get through his busy season and keep our sanity. Additionally, we now have a very social “teen” who is going to parties this Christmas, so we are making adjustments for the whole family!

4. SHOP ON LINE Do I need to explain the glory of internet shopping to anyone here?!! Seriously, this one is never going back. Click and have it shipped to my front door. Enough said. De-stressed.

5. COUNT MY BLESSINGS Trying to be much more intentional, writing down if I need to, all the many blessings in my life. I tag many of my Instagram posts with #blessed and #thankful because I am, and if I read it and say it, it reminds me to be more so! After my husband went to Uganda, Africa for the first time earlier this year, our family is often reminded of how GOOD we have it here, just living here with infrastructure and an able-bodied democracy (even though it has its faults for sure). And then to have all of our needs met, and even more than that, to have extra, to be able to give, to never worry about where water or food is coming from. We are soooo blessed beyond measure. God has blessed me with more than I can count. It definitely helps and blesses me to constantly remind myself of how blessed I am, and I believe “good and positive thoughts” contribute to my health and wellbeing! Prayer, quiet time, meditation and all the spiritual disciplines are incorporated into this one. Trying to keep “Jesus is the reason for the season” at the forefront of our family this year.

My last two de-stressors have actually been happening over the last several years, but it has definitely helped. We don’t exchange gifts with extended family members except for 2. Trying to buy for all the siblings and their children just got crizazy and we have eliminated that stress for everyone! Best decision we ever made. We get together and have a wonderful time, but only the grandparents (who have a lot more discretionary income) buy gifts for all the grandchildren. That has been a process, and takes mutual family agreement for it to work, but it has worked for us. Thank God. The other one I started a few years ago, when I quit sending out the Family update and Christmas card picture to 200 people. It was a huge expense of time and money, and hey, everyone was on Facebook by then anyway! So, thank you Facebook, for letting me post my Christmas “card” for everyone, and if they want to know what we’re up to, they can just click on my feed. ha!

So, those are my  De-stressors. So far, they’re working very well and I’m happy I have incorporated each one! They may not work for you, but they’ve worked beautifully for me and my family’s needs.  I’d love to know what yours are!!

Encouraging Health at the Holidays,

Organic Eater

Clean Eats = Clean Teeth (and my favorite oral products)

Surprisingly, cutting down (way down) on sugar and grains in my diet, as well as eating real & nutritious whole foods,  has made a HUGE difference in how clean my teeth and mouth feel! My teeth don’t get those little “teeth sweaters” you start to get around 6 months after your last cleaning, and I have barely ANY plaque buildup. It has been a drastic and unexpected benefit of my #lowcrapdiet lifestyle, and just one more reason I’ll never go back to eating the old way again! I LOVE my clean teeth!! Because of dental insurance changes, I have not been to my dentist for over a year, and I promise my teeth still feel like they were just cleaned. No joke. It’s crazy! Another part of this “clean feeling” is because I found the greatest toothbrush a few months ago at Expo East. We bought 2 at the expo, for hubs and son, then the company contacted me and sent me 2 more to try. Before mine arrived, I asked my 8 year old son what he thought about his new toothbrush he had been using since we got back from the Expo. I promise you this was his honest-to-God reply: “it feels like when you get your teeth cleaned at the dentist”. I was shocked, and anxious for mine to get here! And when it did, I had the exact same reaction, and so did my 14 year old daughter. We all flipped over our toothbrushes!:) Hubs liked his too, he just didn’t think it was quite as “amazing” as the other 3 did. So, 3 out of 4 for amazing is pretty good, eh?! It’s not electric, or anything fancy. I can’t explain the science behind it, but I know it works. And I appreciate the silver infused bristles, because we were already using silver for antimicrobial benefits around our house.  I am really excited to share this great find with you, and I think everyone should try it!

toothbrush

You can find these at www.mouthwatchers.net and they’re only $4.99! They’re also on Amazon and in some Whole Foods and other retailers (website has locations). On that website, there are video testimonials from lots of other people who feel the same way we do about this amazing little brush!

And another favorite, is this Spry dental floss. I may do a post later, but for now just know it cleans between teeth like nothing else. I can’t explain why or how, I just know I love it!  We have also been using this toothpaste, so if anyone wants a review of this very unusual stuff, comment below and I’ll reply.

In my many hours of researching healthy and natural approaches to taking care of my family, I have come across some pretty shocking information. Did you know cavities can be reversed?! And did you know coconut oil can be used to detox your mouth? Crazy, I know, but keep an open mind and read for yourself! Here is a link to an unusual method for cleaning your teeth and detoxing your mouth, called “oil pulling”.  There is also much more information on natural oral care, and the dangers of fluoride, so go check it out. Now for that cavity thing, we are currently working on re-mineralizing my son’s tooth that has a cavity in it. So far, I can see white coming back around the brown spot, but I think it’s too soon to “call it” just yet. I am going to add oil pulling to his oral health routine and I will let you know if we get rid of the cavity. Here is a link at Wellness Mama all about healing cavities and making home-made tooth powder, if you want to know more before I post my own story. I have been amazed at all I have learned about healing teeth, and how nutrition plays a humongous role in keeping cavities away in the first place. I don’t remember a dentist (I’ve only had 2 my whole life) ever telling me how important food was in keeping my teeth healthy and nourished. Has your dentist ever told you? And has anyone tried oil pulling or any other “natural” oral health care practices? I’d love to hear what you may be doing in your family!

Here’s one more link to a (somewhat controversial) book that many are using to heal teeth naturally.

Encouraging Oral Health,

Organic Eater

How To Store Fruits and Vegetables to Keep them From Spoiling

I just found this helpful (and printable) resource, that I think can help all of you Organic Eaters! How To Store Fruits and Vegetables to Keep them From Spoiling | My Thirty Spot.