Thanking My Pet Chickens

When I was a kid growing up in rural Iowa, I made friends with everything. I named snakes found in the yard. Hand-raised cockatiels rode in my bike basket. And, I even took my pet chicken Punky sledding with me. I know, I know. Stop laughing.
Photo Credit: SXC

I really am an animal lover through and through.

One summer afternoon while eating dinner outside at the picnic table, something happened that unknowingly would reshape my future. As I threw half-eaten chicken bones down for the dogs to enjoy (I know not to do this now. Chicken bones splinter. Don't give them to your pets, OK?) some of the farm animals also gathered around.

One of my pet chickens grabbed a chicken bone and ran off, gobbling the meat off as fast as she could. I watched. And watched. And watched. Something there wasn't right. She was eating herself, well, one of her fallen relatives. That image still replays in my head sometimes.

Since that day, it was difficult to eat meat. Little by little it was less appetizing and after a few months of hesitation during meals, I was a vegetarian.

So, thank you pet chicken for guiding me to a more humane, healthy lifestyle. I've been meat-free for the past 16 years and have no desire to become a carnivore again. (I'm not here to preach about whether or not you should eat meat. Do what feels right for you.)

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, and don't forget to eat your veggies!

Until Next Time,
Choose Healthy!

Angela Tague
Whole Foods Living

Can FootGlide Handle Yoga, Jogging and Daily Wear?

Photo by Angela Tague
Being healthy goes beyond the foods you eat.

It's also about how you care for your hair, nails and skin. During the winter I dread having dry, cracked heals. They're painful, unsightly and a great way to let bacteria get into your body. Yuck!

So, when I was approached by Bodyglide to give its new anti-chafe foot balm FootGlide a try, I was glad to accept. After all, I like healthy, happy feet. Don't you?

So, What is It?
First of all, FootGlide is not tested on animals and is made from plant-derived waxes instead of petroleum, lanolin or oils. Second, it's main purpose is to reduce friction that could cause blisters, chafing, dryness and skin irritation.

As I was reading through the paperwork sent with the trail size sample, I noticed you can use the product on other areas of your body to:
  • reduce rubbing from sports bras or wet suits
  • reduce chafing from thigh rubbing when wearing running shorts
  • reduce raw skin or hot spots from breaking in new shoes
So, to give FootGlide a good try, I subjected it to yoga, jogging and everyday walking. The product is housed in a deodorant-style case with an easy-twist dial to slowly raise the balm. The texture is soft and creamy but not greasy. I particularly like the light baby powder-like fragrance.

Let's Give it a Go!
I smoothed the balm of the bottoms of each foot, paying close attention to the area around the backs of my heels, where I usually have trouble with blisters. Then I slipped into a pair of new sneakers.

It was nice that my feet didn't feel overly moist, like after applying lotion or petroleum jelly. The balm absorbs quickly and you don't even realize it's there. I was a little worried it might be sticky or oily.

While doing yoga and jogging, I didn't even notice there was anything different on my feet. I thought maybe my socks would stick or possibly bunch up due to the additional moisture. Thankfully, my socks stayed in place. When I took a quick check of my feet, they were smooth and irritation-free. That's a bonus when breaking in new sneakers!

At the end of the day, after walking in the sneakers, my feet were still comfortable. I was also glad my feet were sweaty. I'm not fond of products that clog my pores and make it difficult for skin to breathe.

Overall, FootGlide worked well during my test and gets a thumbs up! Have you ever used an anti-chafing balm? What did you like or dislike about it? Tell me in the comments below.

Until Next Time,
Choose Healthy!

Angela Tague
Whole Foods Living

Disclosure: The FootGlide product mentioned in this blog post was provided free of charge from Bodyglide for review purposes. No monetary compensation was sought or awarded in exchange for the review. All thoughts expressed on Whole Foods Living are solely my own. ~Angela

Gluten-Free Thanksgiving Dinner Substitutions

Photo Credit: SXC
If this is your first holiday dinner on a gluten-free diet, eating can be intimidating. I used to always worry and wonder if wheat byproducts lurked in the sauces or barley malt hid in the processed foods.

The simplest way to approach a gluten-free Thanksgiving dinner is by choosing healthy, whole foods and simple dishes. 

I've been brainstorming a list of simple substitutions and alternatives to popular Thanksgiving fare. Take a peek!

Turkey: Choose a whole turkey and cook it yourself. Processed turkey products, like patties or nuggets, have too many fillers and may not be safe to eat if you or your dinner guests have a gluten allergy.

Gravy: Make your own gravy in lieu of the jarred varieties. Use corn starch or potato flour to thicken meat drippings without the risk of being glutened.

Green bean casserole: Oh, I just love this Thanksgiving dinner staple, but it doesn't love me. Those crispy fried onions are battered with wheat (darn it!) and the cream of whatever soup you use is usually thickened with wheat flour. You can either get really diligent and create your own cream sauce with rice flour, add diced mushrooms and pan fry your own onions, or go simple. I like to swap out this casserole with a bowl of steamed green beans drizzled with fresh lemon juice and toasted almonds for a healthier side dish.

Mashed potatoes: Boxed mashed potato mixes usually contain a dozen or more ingredients. Don't take the risk of getting sick this year. Instead, make homemade mashed potatoes. I like to boil, mash and season the potatoes myself so I know exactly what's on my plate. Try adding fresh chopped garlic, ground black pepper, butter, milk, heavy whipping cream or a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil to the potatoes.

Gelatin salads: Skip the refined sugar-filled fruit and gelatin salad this holiday. Instead prepare a fresh cranberry sauce using pineapple juice as a natural sweetener. I also add chunks of pineapple to give the classic side dish a new flavor.

Sweet Potatoes topped with marshmallows: I really do love this classic side dish, and most of the time it's probably gluten-free, but the marshmallows or marshmallow cream used on the top is questionable. To be safe, make this recipe from scratch using a gluten-free topping, or opt for roasted cubes of sweet potatoes drizzled with honey for a sweet alternative.

Dinner rolls: There are several companies out there that boast gluten-free bread options. My two favorites are Udi's (pre-made) and Pamela's (dry mixes). I think this Thanksgiving I'll fire up the bread machine and bake a loaf of Pamela's bread since the hubby thinks it's just as good as wheat bread. Or, make cornbread (use the recipe on the corn meal package), not corn muffin mixes tainted with wheat flour.

Pumpkin or apple pie: Thankfully you don't have to skimp on dessert while following a gluten-free diet. To stay away from traditional flour-filled crusts, I like to make pumpkin muffins or craft my own pie crust out of crushed corn flakes cereal, ground oatmeal or pulverized nuts. Or whip up a simple apple crisp using sweet sorghum flour in the crumbly topping. Yum!

Several Thanksgiving dinner favorites are naturally gluten free when they aren't loaded with creamy sauces or packets of seasoning blended with fillers.
  • Buttered corn
  • Roasted Brussels sprouts
  • Steamed broccoli florets
  • Mashed sweet potatoes
  • Fresh, whole turkey, ham, chicken, duck (all unprocessed, whole meats)
  • Simple, pure seasonings like pepper, salt, cinnamon, garlic and paprika
  • Chopped fruit salad topped with shredded coconut and a drizzle of agave syrup
  • Vegetable trays with homemade hummus dip
Can you think of other great alternative gluten-free dishes to serve this Thanksgiving? Please leave a comment below and share this post with your gluten-free friends.

Until Next Time,
Choose Healthy!

Angela Tague
Whole Foods Living

Perfectly Pure Coconut Products Make My Hair Super Shiny

It's no longer a secret; I am totally in love with products made with coconut oil. It's super hydrating, easy to use and best of all it fits into my natural lifestyle filled with whole, natural products.
Perfectly Pure products. Photo by Angela Tague

Last week I professed my addiction to coconut oil in "From Kitchen to Beauty Bag: I'm in Love with Coconut Oil", so you can imagine my delight when Puritan's Pride sent me a box of hair and skin care products made with...wait for it...coconut oil!

For the last few weeks, I've tucked my usual bath time products in the cupboard and concentrated on giving the Perfectly Pure line of coconut beauty products a good test. The results were fabulous! (So good that I'm still using them!)

Perfectly Pure Coconut Hydrating Shampoo: The fresh, robust coconut scent of this shampoo instantly calms me. It really does remind me of cooking with coconut cream or dipping my toes in the warm sand during a visit to the beach. After washing with this shampoo exclusively for a few weeks, my hair is soft, hydrated and super shiny. Since I swim in a chlorinated pool regularly, it's no easy feat to keep my hair from looking dry and brassy. Perfectly Pure Coconut Hydrating Shampoo really did perform well!

Perfectly Pure Coconut Hydrating Conditioner:
Of course that great shampoo has a helpful conditioning partner. I've been using this conditioner after each washing to ensure my long hair gets enough moisture. I've even been using it when I con-poo (that's washing your hair with conditioner only) after swimming. The thick, creamy texture stays put so I can let it soak for a few minutes before rinsing.

Perfectly Pure Coconut Hydrating Body Wash: I've also been testing out the coordinating coconut body wash and lotion. The body wash has the same indulgent coconut scent as the hair care products. The body wash foams into a rich lather making it perfect for both cleaning and as a shaving foam.

Perfectly Pure Coconut Hydrating Body Lotion: After bathing, I've been nourishing my skin with the equally delightful coconut body lotion. It absorbs quickly, leaving my skin soft and protected from the dry fall air. Unlike some body lotions, Perfectly Pure Coconut Hydrating Body Lotion doesn't irritate my legs and arms, so it's a great option for people with sensitive skin.

Perfectly Pure Coconut Oil: When I have time to really moisturize my whole body, I dip into a container of pure coconut oil. Perfectly Pure's formula is creamier than several grocery store brands of coconut oil I've tried in the past. The semi-solid oil smooths on easily and melts on contact with my skin. I've been using the coconut oil as a protectant in my hair when I go swimming, to moisturize dry feet at night and to add extra shine to dry hair during styling. Just a tiny dab of coconut oil on the ends of my hair gives my tresses a healthy appearance.

All of the products mentioned above are:
  • cruelty-free / not tested on animals
  • vegetarian
  • Free of artificial colors
  • Paraben, petroleum, SLS-free
The Perfectly Pure coconut oil is also free of minerals oil and artificial fragrances.

Have you tried these products or ventured into coconut oil-based beauty products? Tell me about it below in the comments! And if you want to get your hands on these great products, visit Perfectly Pure online.

Until Next Time,
Choose Healthy!

Angela Tague
Whole Foods Living

Disclosure: The Perfectly Pure products mentioned in this blog post were provided free of charge from Puritan's Pride for review purposes. No monetary compensation was sought or awarded in exchange for the review. All thoughts expressed on Whole Foods Living are solely my own. ~Angela


From Kitchen to Beauty Bag: I'm in Love with Coconut Oil

Photo Credit: SXC
You all know about my love affair with olive oil. Well, now there's a new cooking staple I adore: coconut oil.

You know it works wonders when I've considered buying a jar just for the bathroom.

No, really!

I recently joined an aquatic exercise class. Hey, trying all these yummy foods for my blog isn't always friendly on a girl's waistline, you know? When I realized how much the chlorinated pool was drying out my hair and skin, I knew I had to turn to my favorite natural moisturizers, oils.

Coconut oil wins hands-down. It's less expensive than jojoba oil and smooths on like a creamy lotion, making is simpler to use than olive oil. (I still love olive oil, but coconut oil is so much easier to apply!)

So, here's how I've been adding coconut oil to my daily beauty routine:
  • I comb a teaspoon through my hair before swimming to maintain my hair's soft texture.
  • I use the oil as a lotion to naturally hydrate my skin and repel chlorinated pool water.
  • The oil works great as a facial moisturizer and creamy lip balm.
  • I also smooth the oil on my dry feet at the end of the day to ward off unsightly cracked heels.
So, tell me, how do you like to use coconut oil, either in the kitchen or the bathroom? I think I'm going to have to start buying this multi-tasking oil by the case!

Until Next Time,
Choose Healthy!

Angela Tague
Whole Foods Living


My Afternoon Treat: Bigelow Cozy Chamomile Herbal Tea

Chamomile flowers. Photo Credit: SXC
I think either you're a tea person or you're not.

For me, a hot steamy cup of herbal tea is relaxing, warming and necessary. Usually by mid-afternoon I need to regroup and think about what absolutely needs to get finished during the day, and what's coming up on tomorrow's agenda.

I am a tea person.

My dear Whole Foods Living readers, you might remember my love of making a pot of homemade chamomile tea in my post, What's in Your Tea? or my Adventures in Homemade Ginger Tea.

So, when I was approached to review Bigelow's Cozy Chamomile herbal tea, I was delighted. Bring it on! I'm a chamomile connoisseur of sorts. Why chamomile? Well this little flower has a natural sweetness and soothing quality that can't be beat.

According to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) chamomile:
  • originates from a few varieties of flowers in the daisy family
  • helps ease anxiety, sleeplessness and gastrointestinal conditions
  • may aid in the healing of mouth sores due to chemotherapy or radiation treatments
For the past week, I've replaced my usual morning and afternoon mix of herbal teas with Bigelow's Cozy Chamomile herbal tea. I love the simple ingredient list: chamomile flowers. No fillers! The flavor is deep and robust, as it should be.

I love that each tea bag is individually wrapped so I can tuck a few in my purse for tea on the go. Since I'm allergic to caffeine, it's nice to have an herbal option with me when I visit a friend and they offer a cup of coffee. I say, "No thanks, but a cup of hot water would be great. I have herbal tea with me!"

So, do you like chamomile tea? I enjoy is plain or sweetened with a spoon of honey.

Until Next Time,
Choose Healthy!

Angela Tague
Whole Foods Living

Disclosure: The Bigelow's Cozy Chamomile herbal tea mentioned in this blog post was provided free of charge from Puritan's Pride for review purposes. No monetary compensation was sought or awarded in exchange for the review. All thoughts expressed on Whole Foods Living are solely my own. ~Angela

13 Ways to Love Black Beans

Photo Credit: SXC
As I sit at my desk working on a Thanksgiving-theme magazine article, rain gently taps at the window. The comforting aroma of a pot of bubbling black beans fills the house.

This morning I made the lofty decision to soak and prepare 3 pounds of the protein-packed little buggers. Yes, 3 pounds!

As a vegetarian, beans are a whole foods staple. They fill me up, keep me healthy and are fat-free. If you don't add beans to your menu very often, what are you waiting for? They're incredibly versatile and inexpensive. I purchase a 1 lb bag of dried black beans at the grocery store for a dollar. So, are you ready to indulge?

13 Ways to Love Black Beans

1. Make a three bean salad topped with a sour vinegar dressing.
2. Whip up a batch of black bean brownies.
3. Toss black beans into your favorite pasta salad recipes.
4. Simmer a pot of spicy black bean soup on a rainy day.
5. Make chili!
6. Mash cooked black beans, add cumin, garlic and fresh lime juice for delicious refried beans.
7. Create an enchilada casserole with a layer of spiced black beans.
8. Blend chilled corn, chopped tomatoes and black beans for a simple Mexican side salad.
9. Mix black beans into seasoned rice for a classic beans n' rice vegetarian meal.
10. Use black beans in lieu of ground beef next time you make tacos or burritos.
11. Puree black beans with a splash of olive oil and chopped garlic for a creamy bean dip.
12. Add black beans to your favorite tomato salsa recipe.
13. Sprinkle black beans atop a green salad for extra protein.

So, how do you like to eat black beans? Make me hungry in the comments below!

Until Next Time,
Choose Healthy!

Angela Tague
Whole Foods Living

Lotus Moon Lemon Poppy Seed Powder Cleanse Review

Photo by Angela Tague
When I think of a lemon-poppy seed combo, I immediately think of muffins. Not skin care.

So, when I was asked by Lotus Moon to give its Lemon Poppy Seed Powder Cleanse a try, I thought, why not? If it smells as good as muffins, I'll be thrilled.

I believe in full disclosure, so here's the fine print. I was given a free 4 oz. sample of this product for review purposes. I was not compensated monetarily and all views are my own.

Back to the good part! Have you ever used a powdered cleanser? This was my first attempt, and I was pleasantly surprised. You simply pour 1/8 of a teaspoon of the powder into the palm of your hand, add some warm water and rub your hands together to create a foaming facial wash.

At a glance, I think this type of cleanser would be perfect for gals who travel a lot. Even if the container opened during a flight, you wouldn't ruin anything with a leaking, sticky gel.

The facial cleanser has a mild, sweet scent, much like muffin batter. Bonus! As I smoothed it on my face, I could see the poppy seeds. These little black specs help the cleaner to foam and enrich the skin with vitamin E. The cleaner also has a noticeable yellow tint from the stone ground cornmeal which helps gently exfoliate the skin. There's also jojoba beads and lemon peel powder to nourish and cleanse the skin.

I really liked how this cleanser felt on my skin. It wasn't overly rough like some exfoliating cleaners, yet there was enough texture to know my skin was getting a deep cleansing. After massaging the foam into my skin with circular motion for about 30 seconds, I rinsed my face with cool water.

My resulting skin was soft, clean and, the big bonus, not rashy. (My sensitive skin doesn't respond well to cleaners filled with artificial fragrances and fillers.) Lotus Moon's Lemon Poppy Seed Powder Cleaner is 95% organic, gluten-free, vegan, non-GMO and formulated for all skin types.

This is one beauty product that has earned a front row spot in my bathroom cabinet.

Until Next Time,
Choose Healthy!

Angela Tague
Whole Foods Living

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