Blessings and lessons.

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Everyone says the second pregnancy can be totally different than your first. Mine has been an emotional roller coaster of a ride! My first pregnancy with Sofia was so physically extreme with morning sickness around the clock until 31+ weeks.

Of course, I imagined the gender would be different since my morning sickness went away as I entered into the second trimester. We were so happy and surprised to hear we are having another girl! This baby is chill and relaxed most of the time, but definitely kicks up a storm (soccer player??)!

I know I am very blessed. I work on staying in a gratitude vibration — simply being grateful for experiences as they unfold, trusting in them, and being thankful for the lessons. My journey with yoga and spirituality has given me a strong foundation to walk on.

This baby saved me. Without her, I would not have tested abnormal for my thyroid levels. I have hypothyroidism due to Hashimoto’s (an autoimmune disease that attacks the thyroid). This is genetic. Luckily, I have been able to keep the symptoms down by leading an anti inflammatory lifestyle (as witnessed by this blog!)…however, this can cause many issues if left untreated. I was sent to an endocrinologist to test further and be treated. Unfortunately, he found a “nodule” or mass on my thyroid and I was sent for a biopsy.

A pathologist used an ultrasound to guide a needle into the nodule and extract cells to look closer at under a microscope. We were hoping to be in the 90% of cases where these are benign, however, mine ended up being malignant. I was diagnosed with Papillary Thyroid Cancer.

This is, luckily, a slow growing and mostly isolated cancer. Fortunately, after another ultrasound assessing lymph nodes in my neck, the cancer has not spread. This means that I can wait till after I have baby girl #2 and then schedule a surgery for a full thyroidectomy.

There is a lot of darkness surrounding the word “Cancer.” It’s never an easy or non-scary diagnosis no matter the kind. My goal is to take away the stigma and discuss the disease for what it is. Dis-Ease in my body. The word healthy is derived from HEAL – THY(thyself). Cancer, unfortunately, is a multi billion (or trillion?) dollar industry. Follow the paper trail and you will see it’s an entwined web of big pharma and corporations — yuck. I do believe there are good companies and people out there fighting for the greater good, so I don’t want to discount their efforts at all. I just like to bring awareness to an issue that means a lot to me.

I wanted to start blogging about this because as I researched there is little to nothing on women in pregnancy battling disease and it’s an isolating place to be. I want to take the fear away of talking about health and illness especially during a time you are trying to be the most fertile womb and safest space for your little one.

I plan to discuss ways I am healing myself holistically — things I have control over in the here and now.

If you have been through a similar experience or know someone who has had PTC I would love to connect. I am still in the process of researching and always wanting to learn more.

If you have taken the time to read this, thank you! It means a lot to me and I hope you know that a scary diagnosis does not mean the end at all or that you are left helpless to care for yourself. My main lesson has been to listen to my body and to slow down. Let go of the things that do not serve me and try to stay in a relaxed state — where my body stays in the parasympathetic nervous system and allows healing to occur.

Relax and be stress free.

Deep gratitude to the people I know who have talked openly about their health and ways they have been battling their own diseases. I am inspired each and everyday with the warriors that walk amongst us. Many people are dealing with things that we could never imagine, I’m reminded of the saying, “never judge someone until you walk a day in their shoes.” I respect and look up to you all fighting your silent battles and want you to know I am here to talk to if you ever need a friendly ear to listen.

In health and happiness,

Jessica xoxo

Photo Credit: Altamira Film Co – Cory Hammons

DIY Green Glass & Surface Cleaner (non toxic, easy!)

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Hi guys! How was everyone’s weekend? Last week my Dad surprised me and Sofia by walking in through the front door with Kiril. My jaw dropped! We had a great couple of days hanging with him- we even tasted out the new vegan burger that tastes like a regular meat burger… “Beyond Meat Burger.” It has beet juice to resemble the “juiciness” of a meaty burger– It was a little too realistic for me but I did enjoy it! Highly recommend!!

I love, love, love EASY DIY stuff that adds value to the everyday life. Who doesn’t? I am not one to try something that has tons of steps or requires a bunch of materials, etc. I have been wanting to start making my own cleaning products despite using mostly “green” products simply because it’s healthy and affordable for my family. Also, when I run out of glass and granite cleaner, I like to have a back up option other than run to the store.

So after some research online, I combined a few ideas together and came up with this lemon glass cleaner. Let me know what you guys think…as always working with any form of “chemicals” it’s important to be extra cautious. Never mix bleach and ammonia together, or even put them next to each other because the fumes are dangerous (I’m sure you already knew that though!)

DIY Green Glass and Surface Cleaner:

What you need:

  • White Vinegar (1/2 cup)
  • Lemon Juice (3 Tbsp.)
  • Isopropyl Alcohol (1/2 cup)
  • Filtered water/Brita Water! (2 cups)
  • Non-toxic Dish Soap (2 Tbsp)

Mix all together in a glass mixing bowl or jar, pour into container. Spray and use just like you would a normal glass cleaner.

***TIP: For cleaning windows, you can use just 1/2 cup of filtered water and 1/2 cup of vinegar with NEWSPAPER instead of your traditional cloth. It makes the windows SHINE BRIGHT LIKE DIAMONDS.

 

Here’s to a healthy and happy you– have a great week, guys! ~Jess

 

The Return of “Dry brushing”

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Have you ever heard of “dry brushing?” It is an ancient technique poking its head into modern times because it is SO freaking good for your body. I can’t believe I just started, but it is never too late… you too can dry brush!

So what the heck is dry brushing, anyways? Well, it’s exactly what it sounds like. Brushing your skin with a dry brush which has more benefits than you can imagine. Typically, you dry brush before you get into the shower. At first it feels tingly and maybe tickles a little bit, but soon you get used to it and it becomes another part of your routine.

Interested in learning more about the benefits? Here are a few:

BENEFITS

  • Exfoliation: You will notice the first time you dry brush that the loose and dead skin cells on top of your body are easily removed and softer more supple skin appears below. This is really good for our skin and can even help reduce cellulite! Who doesn’t love soft skin especially in the dry winter???
  • Lymphatic Support: The lymphatic system (think of your lymph nodes) is a HUGE part of our beautiful defense army called our Immune System. Many lymph vessels are located right below our skin and dry brushing claims to help stimulate the normal  lymph flow and detoxify naturally!
  • Increased Blood Flow = More Energy: Don’t dry brush before you go to sleep because you will notice a pump up of energy. Due to the circulation it helps create, a pool of energy is released! Skip that coffee and dry brush 😉
  • Cleans the skin: Dry brushing cleans the pores by clearing oil and residue that accumulate there. While I think exfoliating the face is great, I don’t dry brush my face. I stick to my body 🙂

 

Helpful Dry Brushing Tips:

  1. Select a NATURAL bristle brush with a long handle so you can even get that part in the middle of your back (guess where I got mine, haha – TJ Maxx)
  2. Start at your feet and work your way up slowly to you heart. Your entire body should take anywhere between 2 and 5 minutes to dry brush.
  3. I prefer to do little circles and work my way up my body but you can figure out what works right for you!
  4. Don’t brush too hard! A soft and even pressure of the brush will work the best! My skin will be a little pink, but nothing red or hurting after brushing.
  5. This is great to do before a shower, which will help get rid of the other dead skin cells the brushing helped remove.
  6. Follow up with organic unrefined coconut oil massage of your body or choose a natural and healthy lotion. Questions about which to buy? Message me or leave a comment below!!!

 

Here’s to dry brushing, health, happiness and gratitude. Namaste!

Jess

Homeopathy – Does it work? (Here’s some tips to get over your cold!)

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My post “Sick? My 3 steps to feeling better” gained positive attention online so I decided to follow up with some more homeopathic remedies that have helped me the very moment I feel I could be getting sick. These have either a) reduced my duration of colds (mine used to drag on for days/weeks, now last 1-2 days!) or b) prevented the cold from actually coming (woohoo) [Bonus: I have not gone to the doctor for a common cold/sinus/sniffles/virus in over 2 years!]

Many joke about the quality of OTC Homeopathic medicine- is it the placebo effect? In my opinion, I choose not to use antibiotics unless I REALLY REALLY REALLY have to. I’d prefer the placebo effect to antibiotics any day– especially if it works. Further, I believe homeopathic medicine actually does work. Historically, my immune system was never that powerful…I would get sick constantly, lose my voice, take antibiotics, wait it out, etc…

Everything changed when I started reducing toxins from my body and treating myself at home, homeopathically. I use the netipot, apple cider vinegar, pink salt, honey, cinnamon, raw garlic (natural antibiotic) and the products listed below. I also try extra hard to stay away from Sugar!

Homeopathic Medicines I like:

  1. UMCKA Soothing Hot Drink Mix is my GO-TO. There really is something about fighting a “cold” with heat! Take hot baths, drink lots of hot organic tea, and then drink this about 2-3 times a day until you feel better. I purchase this from Wholefoods but I am sure you can find online. They also have a liquid dropper medicine (doesn’t taste great, just an FYI!) that works well but I prefer this hot drink.
    •  I found them online at Amazon, here.
  2. OXYBUMP: I found this at Target a while ago and knew I had to try it. This in combo with the netipot, clears out my airways and lets me breathe again. It’s awesome!
    • You can purchase it at WALMART! wow who knew? click here.
  3. Essential Oils: You all know I love EO’s but… I tend to be overly careful with them. They are extremely potent and in ancient times used for mostly medicinal purposes. I diffuse Eucalyptus when I am sick because it helps clear my lungs, throat and nose of any gross stuff blocking the airways. You can also buy FRESH eucalyptus and tie it to your shower head when you take a hot, steamy shower- it will clear out your airways so quickly and naturally (WIN WIN!)
    • There are SO many places you can get essential oils, but be careful – find a company you trust and you know puts what they say in their oils. Many companies dilute or mix without your knowledge or even put harmful additives in them. GROSS. I buy mine from PurespiritPotions and YoungLiving(they sell through distributors, so if you don’t know someone I can put you in contact with several of my friends who are YL distributors! I don’t sell it) and occasionally Wholefoods.
  4. Vitamins: I don’t talk too much about vitamins or brands but I personally take Juiceplus vitamins which are micronutrients from fruits and vegetables dehydrated so you can get several of them in a couple of capsules. If I feel sick I double up on them, add Vitamin C and double on Vitamin D!

I hope you find value in this!

Here’s to a healthy and happy (non-sniffly!) you! xoxo

Thanksgiving Butternut Squash and Spinach Stuffed Shells w/ Sage Browned Butter (gluten free!)

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Ok if you have any vegetarian guests to your Thanksgiving this year, you HAVE to make this dish. I made it for our Friendsgiving a few weekends ago and it is now one of my favorite recipes. These are not as sweet as traditional butternut squash ravioli, they are salty and savory and the SAGE BROWNED BUTTER IS THE BOMB.

I made these with gluten free brown rice shells however, you can easily make it with regular shells if you ❤ gluten. Let me know what you guys think!

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 container of butternut squash, precut (to reduce time, but you can always buy and cut yourself) **COSTCO sells the perfect size and it’s ORGANIC!!!**
  • 1 Box of Pasta Shells (gluten free if you’d like)
  • 2 Cups of Ricotta Cheese
  • 1 Egg
  • 1/3 Cup Grated Parmesan
  • 1 big handful of spinach, chop after measuring with your hand
  • 1 Lemon (zest plus juice)
  • Pink Salt/Pepper
  • 10 FRESH Sage leaves
  • 1 Stick of Butter (original recipe calls for that, however, I chose 1/2 stick plus 1/2 cup olive oil)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • Olive Oil

Directions:

  1. Begin by preheating oven to 425 degrees F. Toss the cubed butternut squash with 1-2 TBSP of olive oil, pink salt and pepper and roast in oven for 15-20 min (should be soft and able to mash with a fork when done)–As soon as the squash is ready, take a handheld blender and make sure it is whipped up nice and evenly- place in fridge to cool to room temperature.
  2. Reduce oven to 400 degrees
  3. Boil Water for Pasta Shells and cook according to the box directions
  4. In a bowl, combine ricotta, parmesan, room temperature squash, garlic, spinach, egg, salt, pepper, and the fresh lemon zest from 1 lemon. MIX WELL!
  5. Spray a 9×13 inch pan (I used glass!) with coconut oil non stick spray
  6. When the pasta shells are finished cooking, run cool water over them and begin to fill them with the butternut squash and cheese mixture – you might not use all the shells depending on how much mix you use– I opted to make a quick fix with remaining cheese and spinach and made a few w/o the squash!
  7. Place stuffed shells in oven for 18-20 minutes, until hot all the way through
  8. While shells are baking, take a small sauce pan and place the stick of butter OR 1/2 stick plus olive oil mixture depending on your preference. Add the sage leaves, juice of one lemon and season with salt and pepper.
  9. Heat over medium low heat for about 10-12 minutes making sure to frequently stir the mixture. The mixture should be a darker color when it is finished and the leaves should be crispy.
  10. After the shells are finished cooking, pour butter mixture over top and serve with crispy sage leaves!

Enjoy!

 

Here’s to a healthy and happy you, xo

Ancient Ayurvedic Practice: The Neti Pot

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Have you heard of the Neti Pot before? It’s one of the more popular Ayurvedic practices in the Western World…you can even find them sold at Wal-Mart (I know, shocking!). It may be thousands of years old, but it is one of the best at-home remedies to cure or prevent a cold!

Now that Fall is here in full swing, I can’t help but hear people with the sniffles. Our bodies are AMAZING-There is an ENTIRE universe inside of us that operates on its own. Creating new cells, fighting off bad bacteria, making sure our heart beats, and our lungs breathe oxygen and convert it to carbon dioxide, etc. Our nasal passages are one of the first defenses combating illness, allergens, irritants, and even pollution! There are little hairs in there that trap the bad stuff and try to get rid of it via mucus production.

The Neti Pot is a nasal saline irrigation therapy. Neti pots can be made of plastic, ceramic, glass and other materials–My opinion on the bacteria alone is to stay away from plastic. (Although you may remember my views on plastic in this old blog post here.) My neti pot is ceramic and I love being able to put it in the dishwasher for a deep clean.

During the fall/winter time or when it’s your allergy season I would incorporate the Neti pot into your morning routine every single day. I know it’s tough to incorporate yet another thing into your morning regimen especially when it’s cold and your bed is beckoning you to stay for a few more hours, but this will truly help prevent illness and clear out the sinuses for the rest of the day. If I am feeling under the weather I will incorporate the routine morning and night.

Neti Pot Benefits*:

  • Reduces snoring!!!-every gf should gift this for Christmas!
  • Cleared nostrils resulting in improved breathing
  • Reducing dryness in your nose
  • Helping with sinus headaches
  • Improved sense of taste and smell
  • Allergy relief
  • Allowing deeper breathing
  • Prevention cold/illness
  • Reduces the need for over the counter medications or going to see your doctor

*Benefits are from SpiritScience’s article, seen here.

The most important part of using the neti pot is using distilled water–I boil mine extra and then let it cool down to just warm before using in the netipot.

Let me know if you guys have any questions!

Here’s to a healthy and happy you, xo

Maui Helicopter Adventure

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I am having major Maui withdrawal today!! I wanted to share the AirMaui helicopter experience with you. It was by far the most incredible adventure we have done together. If you haven’t been in a helicopter before – Don’t be scared! I was surprised with how smooth the ride was. When you are ascending it feels almost like going up in an elevator. We were required to watch a mini safety video and to wear life jackets (pictured above). Our pilot, Richie, was awesome! He provided so much knowledge of the land as we flew above it — from pointing out Maui’s waterfalls which are home to one of the tallest waterfalls in the world, to learning about the Hawaiian heritage and history…we can see now why Maui is consistently rated a top island in the world.

I know this blog is mostly based on health — it’s important to do things that invigorate and excite you. Traveling and experiencing new things definitely fuels my spirit. Hope you guys enjoy the photos and let me know if you end up taking a helicopter ride sometime! I am deeply, deeply grateful for this experience and being able to share it with Kiril.

 

Here’s to a healthy and happy you, xo!

Avocado, Tomato and Cheese w/ Balsamic Drizzle Sandwich (gluten free, quick and easy)

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Happy Monday! Did you guys see that moon last night? It was HUUUUUGE! We came back from a “Friendsgiving” weekend spent in a Cabin in the mountains and were too tired to cook a meal from scratch so we opted to make sandwiches. Kiril adds smoked turkey or chicken to this sandwich but mine is Vegetarian (obvi.) This is so so so good. The KEY is to use FRESH and Organic Ingredients and to SEASON w/ salt and pepper. It pairs really well with a warm vegetable soup or some sweet potato chips (recipes to come).

Hope you guys enjoy…I have something yummy in the oven right now that I can’t wait to share with you guys soon xoxox

What you will need:

  • 2 Slices of Gluten Free Bread (or bread of your choice)
  • 1-2 Slices of Organic Cheddar Cheese
  • 1/2 Avocado
  • 3 Slices of Organic Tomato
  • Organic Mayo
  • Balsamic Drizzle (one without any added sugar!)
  • Pink salt and pepper

Simple ingredients, but tasty sandwich!

Directions:

  1. Toast the bread
  2. Place cheese on bread
  3. Spread Mayo
  4. Add Avocado, tomato
  5. Drizzle balsamic reduction
  6. Season with Salt and Pepper
  7. Eat up!

 

Here’s to a healthy and happy you xo

Caramelized Sweet Potato & Quinoa Salad (vegan, gluten-free, healthy!)

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Always my little helper!

Salad can be fun! I used to think restaurant salads were so much better than salads you made at home. While I was right on a certain level, mostly because they use tons of sugar to make you like their salads– I just didn’t understand you can think of a salad less traditionally. This WARM, toasty, CARAMELIZED sweet potato, quinoa salad with organic Arugula, Italian basil and white beans is by far one of my favorites. It’s a great dish for the fall but in a pinch, can be a quick cold lunch salad!

What you will need:

  • 1 Can of organic white beans
  • 1 Sweet Potato
  • Organic Arugula (or greens of your choice)
  • 1/2 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 cup of quinoa
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Handful of Italian basil, ripped
  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1tbsp of Annie’s organic balsamic salad dressing
  • Balsamic Reduction
  • Olive oil
  • pink salt and pepper

Directions:

  1. Heat oven to 400 degree f
  2. Chop sweet potato into small cubes
  3. Prepare quinoa as directed, add salt to water it cooks in
  4. Place cubes of sweet potato on cookie sheet, drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper
  5. Bake at 400 degrees for 17 min, for 3 minutes broil on high, remove from heat right away
  6. In a pan, saute onion, garlic and beans until onion is translucent
  7. Add cooked quinoa, sweet potatoes, basil, season with salt and pepper
  8. Wash and dry arugula or your choice of greens
  9. In a large bowl, place arugula and drizzle with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper
  10. Add Annie’s dressing and 1 tablespoon or more of balsamic vinegar, and olive oil to the hot pan with cooked arugula, beans etc…
  11. When it is all mixed, remove from heat and add directly to the arugula bowl
  12. Mix and drizzle with balsamic reduction, plate!

I hope you guys like this recipe, I came up with it last night in a pinch…Enjoy!

 

Here’s to a healthy and happy you! xo

Spicy, Ginger Orange Butternut Squash Noodles with/ Tofu

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Feels so good to be back in the kitchen! I seriously should invest in a wok with all the asian inspired recipes I’ve been whipping up lately. It’s my favorite way to get lots of yummy veggies in our system while also tasting delicious. Asian sauces tend to have TONS of Cane Sugar, Corn Syrup and MSG in them so BE CAREFUL. Always check your ingredients…I prefer to make my own and I value the use of potent spices. On another note, I made this with that four letter word most people fear…TOFU. I’m not sure if it’s because many do not know how to prepare it or the texture or what not, but I swear if you slip it into some of your dishes you won’t even notice.

What you will need:

  • Butternut Squash noodles, spiraled. Our grocery store (Wegman’s) sells them already spiraled which is a huge advantage into a quicker meal prep.
  • Broccoli or veggies of your choice
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • half onion, chopped
  • 2 packs of brown rice noodles
  • Red Garlic Chili Paste
  • non-Gmo, organic Tofu, extra firm (not cubed)
  • 2-3 tablespoons of organic peanut butter
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup or honey
  • fresh ginger grated
  • lime juice
  • zest of 1/4 of an orange
  • pink salt, pepper, red pepper flakes
  • for extra spicy: use a Jalapeno pepper or spicy pepper of your choice. Make sure to remove the seeds and the membrane and wear gloves esp if you have contacts!!!
  • Soy sauce (gluten free)
  • Organic Sesame oil 1 tablespoon
  • Unrefined Coconut oil 1 tablespoon
  • Asian ginger seasoning (spices)
  • Sriracha (optional)
  • Scallions for topping

Directions:

  1. Drain water from tofu and place tofu on paper towels, in colander with book or something heavy pressed on top (this should be done earlier in the day an hour or so before preparing this meal)
  2. Once the tofu as drained for an hour, chop into cubes and place in bowl. Cover with gluten free soy sauce, lime juice, fresh minced ginger, salt and pepper. Let marinate.
  3. Place rice noodles and butternut squash noodles in cold water to soak
  4. Place large pot on high heat filled halfway with water and heavily salted (this is for the noodles)
  5. Mince 2 cloves garlic, finely chop half a large onion, chop scallions for topping, chop broccoli into florets
  6. Steam broccoli
  7. Place noodles in boiling water for 4 minutes, drain but save 1/2 cup of water for sauce
  8. place coconut and sesame oils in wok or LARGE pan… on med high heat
  9. Add garlic, onion, season with salt, pepper
  10. When onion starts to look translucent (1-2 minutes) add red chili garlic paste, fresh ginger, lime juice, spicy pepper (if using), 2 tbsp soy sauce
  11. After 2 minutes, add 2-3 tablespoons of peanut butter, orange zest, 1 tbsp maple syrup
  12. Pan fry the tofu in this sauce flipping occasionally, adding 1/2 of the sauce it was marinading in
  13. Add cooked broccoli, toss until covered in sauce
  14. Taste and season with more asian spices, add Sriracha here too for extra spiciness
  15. Finally, add cooked noodles with 1/2 cup of the water
  16. Cover and let simmer for 1-2 minutes
  17. Mix together and plate, adding red pepper flakes, topping with scallions and sesame seeds.

Bon apetit!

Here’s to a healthy and happy you! xo