Category Archives: Natural Living

The Secret to Our Family’s Wellness

The Secret to our Family's Wellness
A couple years ago, I changed the way I approached our family’s wellness. Always an advocate of whole, unprocessed foods and a chemical-free lifestyle (when possible), I began to read about and use essential oils. I ordered them from various sources, and I picked up a few bottles from the local health food store. Tentatively, I began to put the bottles to use. I loved what I was learning, but I wasn’t seeing dramatic results, and I felt alone, without a community of support to educate me and spur me on.

Fast forward a few years, and I finally purchased a premium starter kit with Young Living. I had used a few of their oils and had found their product to be exemplary, but I’d been hesitant to purchase because I mistakenly thought I’d have to make monthly purchases or be forced to sell. After some discussion and research, I realized that was far from the truth!

The Secret to our Family's Wellness
Now, I honestly can’t imagine our life without essential oils, and I wouldn’t trust our family’s oils to anyone other than Young Living. The purity of YL’s therapeutic-grade oils is unmatched, guaranteed by their Seed-to-Seal promise. The company has more than 20 years’  experience and is the world leader and pioneer in essential oil research and distillation process. They rigorously test each batch of oils for therapeutic viability and they are the only company to submit their oils to AIRASE for purity testing.

But all that aside, the one thing I love most about YL is the way they’ve affected my family. We reach for our oils EVERY.SINGLE.DAY! We use them to aid in relaxation, to soothe skin irritations, to promote restful sleep, to alleviate seasonal irritants, to maintain general wellness, to promote a sense of calm and peace, to settle stomachs, to flavor foods, and so much more. They have truly changed our every day lives for the better!

The Secret to our Family's Wellness

Now I want to help you experience this lifestyle and these products for yourself and YOUR family! If you have any interest in essential oils, I would love to have you join me on this journey. My PurePrettyLife team is a diverse group of women just like you. Moms who want to positively affect their family’s wellness and move away from toxic products.

During the entire month of June, I’m offering a $20 reimbursement for any new member who signs up with me and purchases a PSK! This is the best way to immerse yourself in this lifestyle. The PSK comes with 11 oils, a diffuser, sample packets, literature, your wholesale membership (which grants you 24% off retail pricing on ALL YL products), and more. It is valued at more than $300! With the $20 reimbursement, you get it for just $140!

The Secret to our Family's Wellness
To order, click here and make sure the number 3112073 appears in both the “Enroller” and “Sponsor ID” fields. This will put you on my team and grant you access to the wonderful community of PurePrettyLife … a group committed to education and support! Make sure you choose the wholesale option and then select your PSK of choice.

If you have any questions, please comment here. I WOULD LOVE TO HELP you begin experiencing the goodness that is Young Living essential oils!

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Like what you see here? Then you’ll love my first-ever children’s book, Bruce the Brave. Now available on AmazonFor more content like this, connect with me on FacebookInstagramand Twitter! To receive more encouraging posts AND get a free printable, enter your e mail in the box to the sidebar at the right. Then just click “I want to Follow F&C!” Be sure to check your inbox for the confirmation and the link to your free printable. You can also follow F&C on BlogLovin’

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Apple Picking

Apple Picking | Faith and Composition

Hello dear friends, how was your weekend? We went apple picking on Saturday. Texas certainly isn’t known for its apple orchards, and the weather was less than ideal (it was hot and humid; thus gone were my visions of picking apples in boots and a tartan button-up), but we wanted the experience nonetheless. So we packed up and headed to the small local orchard where we filled a few bags with petite varieties straight from the trees. Despite the sweltering heat, the kids had fun, and they especially adore the handful of tiny-sized orbs that made their way into our harvest.

Apple Picking | Faith and CompositionApple Picking | Faith and Composition
The fruit is a bit tart, and some need to ripen further, but we’ve eaten a few and have been enjoying the fruits of our labor (literally). The majority of what we picked are Granny Smith, so I plan to use some for baking. Cannelle et Vanille has some fantastic apple recipes (and her always-inspiring images never cease to move me), but I’m also going to be on the search for a few more recipes featuring apples in the starring role. If you have any favorites, please share them in the comments!

Apple Picking | Faith and Composition

And speaking of apples, I’m going to be back in a few days to share my Harvest Salad with you. I’ve had it three times in the last few days. I.CAN’T.GET.ENOUGH. It’s that good! So check back in a few days, and I’ll see you then. Because you don’t want to miss the recipe for this simple, in-season salad!

Apple Picking | Faith and Composition

Apple Picking | Faith and Composition

I hope each of you had a lovely weekend! I’ll see you back here soon, friends! 

A Quick, Efficient Workout for Busy Mamas {Guest Post by Heather Jones}

The Busy Mom's 15-Minute Workout | Faith and Composition

Happy Monday to each of you! Today I have a delightful guest post from a friend of mine. Heather and I became acquainted through our church several years ago, and we eventually co-led a Bible study together. This girl is the real deal. Several years ago, she worked with Athletes in Action in Prague, and shortly after returning to the US, she met her husband. Heather’s an athlete, a personal trainer (with specialization in pre-/post-natal fitness), and a mom to a beautiful baby girl, so she understands the challenges of trying to sneak in a workout amidst the busyness of little ones. Since we’ve been talking about health with our whole food series, I also wanted to address fitness. So I asked Heather if she could craft a workout just for F&C readers, and she agreed! So today, she’s going to show you how you can tone up even with tiny tots underfoot. With three little ones, trying to figure out a consistent workout routine is a real challenge for me, so I’m especially excited for today’s post. Ready to join me? Welcome Heather!

Meet Heather, the busy mom's 15-minute workout | Faith and Composition
Like most of you reading this blog, you almost instantly fall in love with the completely relevant, insightful content as well, as the whimsical and cozy pictures that fill each entry. As I scroll down, picture after picture, I always think to myself, ”I want to be where she is!” So when she asked me to guest blog, I was honored! 

Let me take a second to introduce myself. My name is Heather Jones. I’m momma to a sweet 11-month-old and wife to an amazing man. I have an overwhelming love for my faith, family and fitness. I’ve been a trainer for five years, but a competitive athlete for 12 years leading up to that. I have several certifications, most recently specializing in pre/post-natal fitness.

I want to give encouragement and help to all you moms out there. I gained almost 50 pounds with my pregnancy, and let me tell you, I’m no spring chicken! Having my first at 32 years old, I was definitely nervous to see how my body would bounce back, as they say. So as you’re reading these words and saying to yourself: “Well, of course it was easy for her …she’s a trainer!” I want you to know 50 pounds is 50 pounds, and somehow it has to come off. So, just remember I’ve been there too!    

I want to help give you a quick and easy workout for moms who are ready to exercise and get healthy. But before I do, let me give you some very important rules to follow:

1) Listen to your doctor
Seems simple, I know, but please talk to your doctor about any and everything you’re feeling. Ask your doctor if she/he thinks you’re ready to start exercising.

2) Listen to your body!   
I cannot stress this one enough. Your body is your best friend. Listen to it. Let it guide you, especially at the beginning.

3) Fuel your body.  
I know it’s tempting to try and diet or restrict calories in order to speed this process along, but we’re focusing on lifestyle choices, not quick fixes.

4) Hydrate.
Drink lots and lots of water. Tons of water. If you have issues with water, try it at room temperature. Just get it down!

5) Find accountability.
The BEST thing that happened to me was being apart of a group of fellow moms a friend of mine put together. There were about ten of us on Facebook who created a private group, and we held each other accountable to do our workout of the day and our eating challenge.

I am going to give you a quick, 15-minute workout you can do with ZERO equipment. And zero equipment means ZERO excuses! Remember, this is not just for mommas out there, ANYONE can do this. If you are further along with your fitness level, just double it up and do this workout twice. Here we go.

The Busy Mom's 15-Minute Workout | Faith and Composition

Click here to print this workout.

Glossary and Notes:

Static Lunge: Make sure your weight is in your front heel. Do not let your front knee cross over your toes. Keep your shoulders over your hips.

Lower body jacks: Start in a squat position, feet wider than hip-width apart. Lower into a squat position, then jump up and bring feet together. Jump back into squat position. Lower into a squat and repeat.

Floor Bridge: Lie flat on the floor, on your back with the hands by your side and your knees bent. Your feet should be placed around shoulder width. Pushing mainly with your heels, lift your hips off the floor while keeping your back straight. Slowly go back to the starting position, and repeat.

OR

Hamstring curl: Find a slick surface (i.e. tile, wood floor, etc) for this exercise. You’ll also need a towel (hand size). Lie flat on your back with knees bent, and place the towel (folded in half) under your feet. With knees still bent, lift your hips off the floor. Slow and controlled, slide feet back toward your glutes and back to starting position. Try to keep glutes squeezed and activated. If you feel it in your lower back, stop and lower your hips.

Burpees: Begin in a standing position. Drop into a squat position with your hands on the ground. Kick your feet back, while keeping your arms extended. Immediately return your feet to the squat position, and return to standing position.
*If you don’t feel comfortable at first with jumping your feet back at the same time in the burpee, you can walk each back and then walk them forward.

All push-ups can be done on your knees or on the wall. Keep your hands in line with your chest. Keep ears and shoulders in alignment at all times. Try not to let your head dip down.

Cobra: Lie face-down on the floor with your legs straight and your arms next to your sides, palms down. Contract your glutes, and raise your head, chest, arms and legs off the floor. Simultaneously rotate your arms so that your thumbs point toward the ceiling. 

Whatever you do, just do something. Make goals, find a support system and take it one day at a time. If you miss a day, just remember, tomorrow is a new day. Don’t let excuses get in your way. You can find 15 minutes a day. Make yourself find 15 minutes a day! Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or concerns (e mail: heatherchristine10@gmail.com or leave a comment here). Love those babies, take time for yourself, and give them a positive example to follow!

Thank you, Heather! To pair this workout with healthy eating habits, check out my Whole foods for the Family Table series, if you haven’t already. And be sure to visit later this week, when I’ll be sharing a sample 5-day whole foods menu plan. 

A Quiche Recipe and a Book Review {French Kids Eat Everything}

A Review of French Kids Eat Everything and a Quiche Recipe | Faith and Composition
Open the first chapter of Karen LeBillon’s French Kids Eat Everything, and these words from the first paragraph jump off the page: “Ask my children what their favorite foods are, and the answer might surprise you. Seven-year-old Sophie loves beets and broccoli, leeks and lettuce, mussels and mackerel—in addition to the usual suspects, like hot dogs, pizza and ice cream. Claire, her three-year-old sister, loves olives and red peppers, although her all-time favorite is creamed spinach.”

I’d barely cracked the spine (err, fired up the Kindle) of French Kids Eat Everything before I was hooked. The book is a heartwarming manifesto-of-sorts that tells how Karen and her family moved to France and cured her children’s picky eating habits. For one, the book is honest, witty and a few times chuckle-out-loud funny. But it also provides some fantastic take-aways, ideas that can readily be implemented in any home with young, picky eaters.

The food culture in France is radically different from that of the food culture in the U.S. (obesity rates attest to this; whereas France’s rate of childhood obesity is one of the lowest in the developed world, the U.S. boasts some of the highest.), and there’s a lot to be learned from the French methods. Lucky for us, Karen gives some honest, you-can-do-this-too advice for busy moms and dads who want to get their kids to not only try their beets but to enjoy them as well.

During her year in France, Karen perceived a set of unstated, commonly understood rules that set the groundwork necessary to guide young French kids into a healthy relationship with food. These rules form the framework for the habit of eating in France, and Karen suggests that these rules can be applied to help establish healthy eating patterns in North American kids too. From the very first rule—“Parents, YOU are in charge of food education”—the book empowers parents with the confidence and the methods they need to help instill healthy eating habits in their little ones.

And perhaps the best thing about the rules? They’re not ironclad. In fact, rule number 10 (the Golden Rule, as Karen dubs it) states that “Eating is joyful, not stressful. Treat the food rules as habits or routines, rather than strict regulations; it’s fine to relax them once in a while.”

In short, the book is a witty how-to manual that gives advice for curing young, picky eaters with word pictures of the provincial French countryside dotted throughout. It’s a joy to read, and you come away from the pages thinking: I can do that. So if you need a little more help in encouraging your kids to eat and enjoy whole foods, check out French Kids Eat Everything (get the Kindle version here). You’ll be both pleasantly informed and entertained!

A Review of French Kids Eat Everything and a Quiche Recipe | Faith and Composition
The back of the book contains several simple French recipes that parents can whip up in no time. I asked Karen if I could share one with you, and she was happy to oblige. I’m choosing to share this Quick No-Pastry Quiche with you, because quiche is a meal we serve once every couple weeks, if not once a week. I especially love quiche for its versatility; we often throw in an assortment of veggies (broccoli, zucchini, greens) or a handful of herbs. It’s also great with a little ham or bacon. I sometimes double this so we can have a quick breakfast or lunch the next day. In Karen’s quiche recipe, she deliberately leaves out the pastry, which reduces the prep time and allows busy parents to have dinner on the table with less fuss and in no time flat.

Quick No-Pastry Quiche | Faith and Composition

Quick No-Pastry Quiche
Reprinted verbatim with written permission from Karen LeBillon  

Preparation: 5 to 7 minutes
Cooking: 30 to 40 minutes
Servings: 4 to 6 small adult servings

Easy and quick to make, quiche is a classic French recipe that pleases adults and children alike. Quiche is also one of the most versatile recipes in the French household, as it can be eaten hot or cold, for lunch or for dinner, and works well with any combination of vegetables that you can think of. French families often make it in advance, as it lasts well for a couple of days in the fridge (or even a few hours in the cupboard—my mother-in-law tries to avoid refrigerating her quiche, arguing that it changes the texture). In a pinch, I find that quiche freezes fairly well, although most French people don’t do this. The recipe presented here is the children’s version, which uses a higher proportion of milk and a smaller number of eggs than a quiche intended for adults. The resulting dish is fluffier, less dense, and less eggy, and so more likely to please young palates. For older children or adults, reduce the milk by a half cup, and add one more egg (or play with the ratio of eggs and milk until you find the texture that your family prefers).

Most French cooks have their personal twist on this dish. For a while, my favorite was a ratatouille-style quiche, with eggplant and tomatoes. A quick survey of our extended family turned up as many recipes as there were cooks: zucchini, broccoli, carrots—almost any vegetable you can think of. Chopped or grated finely, most vegetables don’t even need to be cooked in advance.

Ingredients:
8 large eggs
1 1/2 cups milk (or 3/4 cup milk and 3/4 cup cream)
Salt and pepper, if desired
1 cup flour

Filling suggestion (These are some of our favorites, but feel free to make up your own.):
Quiche lorraine: 1 cup cubed or sliced ham and 1 cup grated cheese (Gruyère works best, but Cheddar will also do)
Quiche aux légumes: 1 small onion, finely diced, 1/2 cup thinly sliced greens (I use spinach or chard, but not kale, which is too chewy) 1/2 cup finely chopped red pepper
Quiche provençale: 1 cup ratatouille (this is a great way to use leftovers)
Optional: dried herbs such as parsley or oregano

1. Preheat the oven to 325°F. In a large bowl, beat the egg; add the milk (or milk and cream) and mix well. Add a pinch of salt and pepper, if desired. Stirring constantly with a fork or a whisk (to avoid lumps), add the flour a little bit at a time. Mix in the cheese followed by the fillings you are using.

2. Pour the mixture into a greased 9- or 12-inch pie plate and bake for 30 minutes, or until the quiche puffs and starts to brown on top. Cool 5 minutes before serving (the quiche will settle, and you’ll be able to cut it more neatly).

Tip: Changing your quiche ingredients is also a great way to introduce new vegetables: the reassuringly familiar look of the fish may entice even the wariest of eaters.

Note: Take care not to overfill your pie plate, as the quiche will puff up as it bakes. I place mine on a baking sheet in the oven, in case of spills. The quiche will deflate after you remove it from the oven: this is normal! Kids like watching this soufflé effect.

Enjoy, and au revoir, friends! I’ll see you in the next few days with a sample week-long whole foods meal plan, and next Monday I have the first F&C guest post featuring a simple, yet effective work-out you can do at home with the little ones underfoot!

How to Make a Whole Foods Lifestyle Work for Your Family

Tips for incorporating whole, unprocessed foods into your family's meals | Faith and Composition

As I sit typing this post, there’s a bowl of cookies and cream ice cream keeping me company. It’s not organic, and if I read the ingredient list aloud, some whole food purists would certainly scoff. Now why in the world am I telling you that when we’ve been deep in the middle of a series on whole foods? Well, I confess for two reasons. First, because I want to be honest and transparent about our own whole foods journey, and that means letting you know that although we eat unprocessed, organic food nearly 85% of the time, we have our own shortcomings too. We’re not perfect in all of this; we still have quite a bit of ground to gain.

And secondly, I share this confession because it provides a real example that directly corresponds to point number 1 in my list of top tips for making this lifestyle work for families. So here you go. Without further ado … my tips for making a whole foods diet both manageable and attainable for a busy family with little ones underfoot.

Tips for incorporating whole, unprocessed foods into your family's meals | Faith and Composition

  1. Give yourself some grace.
    If you’ve been eating a diet that relies in part on processed foods, making the switch to unprocessed options can seem like a daunting task. Don’t expect to dive into these eating habits overnight. It’s certainly possible (and kudos to you if you can do it), but I don’t recommend it. Rather allow yourself some grace to take it slowly, and don’t get discouraged if it’s one step forward, one step back for a little while.
  2. Make one change at a time.
    This could operate as an extension of number one, but I think it’s important to make it a separate point. Choose one thing you’re going to change, get comfortable with incorporating that new food (or process) into your family, and then make another change. Our first step in this lifestyle was joining an organic produce co-op. Shortly after that I began making homemade whole wheat bread and a few pantry items. Then I slowly replaced store-bought salad dressings with homemade, and we just recently started purchasing raw milk. But had I tried to do it all at once, I would have felt so overwhelmed that I would have been defeated from the start. Little steps and small successes (like culturing yogurt at home) have made the entire lifestyle  that much more doable.
  3. Meal plan.
    This was also one of my money-saving tips, but it’s an especially important (perhaps more important) component of making a whole foods lifestyle work for busy families. Feeding your family an unprocessed diet isn’t hard, but it does require some foresight. Things like dried beans and some grains require soaking, chicken broth needs to simmer for several hours (I usually simmer mine overnight in the crockpot), pizza dough needs plenty of rise time. Thus I find that meal planning really is crucial in helping to alleviate a lot of the stress associated with mealtime prep work. If you need a little meal-planning inspiration to get you started, I’ll be sharing a week’s worth of whole-food menu ideas next week, so be sure to check back!
  4. Make double batches and freeze.
    Because a whole foods diet does include a bit more planning and a bit more work, it just makes sense to reduce your workload by making extra and freezing it for future use. My aunt’s bread recipe makes three loaves, which means two go in the freezer for the another time. And I usually double a batch of granola and freeze one. Also learn what entrees freeze well, and then double those recipes so you have an easy dinner option when you’re in a pinch. Things like browned ground beef and cooked black beans freeze well and can be easily defrosted to whip up tacos in no time.
  5. Let the kids pick a recipe.
    A great way to get the kids excited about a transition to whole foods is to let then help you with your meal planning by picking out one recipe for the week. You choose a few options and then let them make a selection. That way they have some input, and it’s perceived as a team effort, rather than you trying to force changes.
  6. Let the kids help with meal prep.
    This one is hard for me (with my type-A, desire-for-order personality and all), but I do think kids are more apt to try something when they’ve had a hand in creating it. Homemade whole wheat pizza is always a good option for little hands. They can toss on freshly shredded cheese or any other topping. And when we’re baking bread, my older two like to help with the mixing. Even a one-year-old can help with the salad spinner when washing fresh greens.
  7. Reduce (or eliminate) snacking.
    This is one of the French Food Rules that author Karen LeBillon details in her book, French Kids Eat Everything, and I think it’s crucial. Kids have a tendency to fill up on snacks when they’re offered. And if their bellies are full at mealtimes, they’re going to be a lot less likely to try that unprocessed, whole foods plate you just set in front of them. Reduce snacking, and your kids will eat more of the goodness you’re serving at breakfast, lunch and dinner because they’re legitimately hungry. We usually eat one small snack in the afternoon (fruit, a piece of whole wheat toast with nut butter, stove-top popped popcorn). It’s enough to satiate their little tummies till dinner, but they’re still hungry once the meal is on the table. (On a side note: I’m reviewing French Kids Eat Everything in the next few days, and Karen has given me permission to share a few recipes from her book, so be sure to check back then!)
  8. Find a few ‘keeper’ recipes.
    No matter how intentional you are about meal planning, you’re still going to have those moments when something unexpectedly arises and the planned meal just isn’t going to work. In those instances, you need something that you can whip up quickly without much thought. Thus, I recommend having a few tried-and-true whole foods recipes that contain ingredients you always have on hand so you’re never without an excuse. My keeper recipes include lentil soup; quiche; and sweet potato, black bean and egg mash-up.
  9. Do advance prep work.
    Prep lunch during breakfast, prep dinner during lunch. Simply put, plan ahead. If you’re going to have an egg salad for lunch, go ahead and hard boil the eggs while you’re making breakfast. If you’re having roast chicken and veggies for dinner, chop the vegetables while you’re busy preparing lunch. A little advance preparation goes a long way, especially when it’s 6 o’clock, your family is hungry, the dogs are barking and the baby is pulling on you. I’ll be honest, I’m not always able to do this (I do it a lot less than I’d like), but when I do, I’m quite thankful!

That’s it … my top tips for making a whole foods lifestyle work for your busy family. Now it’s your turn! Let me know what tricks you’ve discovered for getting unprocessed foods to your table. And put those whole-foods skills to good use with this FREE 5-day meal plan, click here