My History With Mental Illness

WHERE IT BEGAN

I started having panic attacks when I was 13 years old. I remember my first one. I woke up in the middle of the night gasping for breath. My heart beating out of my chest & the overwhelming feeling that my world was closing in. From there, I constantly feared having another panic attack. That fear quickly triggered more, which turned into multiple ER visits because I truly felt like I was dying. I felt completely out of control, detached, & lost all sense of reality. 

My world as a little 13 year old girl went from naive, exciting fun, to dark & completely terrifying. I vividly remember the years where I would open my eyes in the morning to immediately be hit with a wave of daunting anxiety & depression. I wanted to disappear. My world as I knew it had completely changed forever. I felt alone, ashamed, lost & scared to death of living.

ASKING FOR HELP

I want to preface this by saying I love my parents more than anything in this world, & they are amazing human beings. We were all trying to navigate our way through the challenges we were going through. 

As my panic got worse, my mom kept telling me “it’s just a little anxiety, everyone goes through this as a teenager. it will pass.” I knew what I was going through wasn’t just normal “teenage angst.” After desperately needing help, expressing my concerns & not being heard, I told my mom I didn’t want to live anymore. I actually screamed it at her in anger as I was crying. The night before that moment, I was taking a bath. I remember holding my breath under water, wondering what it would be like if I just didn’t come back up for air. I couldn’t understand how I could possibly go through life living in constant fear of my own panic. I thought, if this is going to be my life forever than I rather not live.

The next day my mom sought out professional help for me. I think then she knew this was something bigger than she understood at the time. I took anti-anxiety/anti-depression meds for 5 years, along with therapy at least once a week every week for 4 years. During these years of growth, I still struggled deeply. I felt traumatized from my panic attacks. I felt like I wasn’t in control of my mind, my thoughts, my life & I began to develop habits that helped me feel “safe.”

CONRTOL

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I began to control everything around me because everything inside of me felt OUT of my control. Once I got my drivers license I refused to let any of my friends drive us anywhere. I only felt safe if I was the one driving. I wouldn’t see movies unless they were comedies because I didn’t want anything to trigger an emotion in me that could possibly cause a panic attack. I couldn’t step foot near an airport without feeling terrified. The thought of being stuck on a plane & having no option of getting off made me feel physically sick. I couldn’t even take a road trip more than 1.5 hours from my hometown because the idea of being too far away from home made me panic. Once all of those things weren’t enough, I started controlling my weight to the point of disordered eating. This was my way of feeling safe, but it was no way to live.

As I got older, through years of therapy & growth, my panic attacks became far & few between. I started stepping out of my comfort zone & pushing myself to let the control go. I wanted my life back. I wanted to fully live again on my terms & I knew the only way to do this was to slowly take steps forward. Even if that was uncomfortable. (& it was.) It was terrifying at first, but started to feel extremely freeing.

I slowly began take road trips further than a few hours away. I pushed myself to get on a plane again, & somehow it’s become one of my favorite things to do. Now I hate being the one to drive anywhere, believe it or not. This took years of baby steps in the right direction. So many baby steps that now that I’m on the other side, I sometimes forget how far I’ve come. I forget to be proud of my story, the dark days, & the light. Because without the dark, I would never appreciate the light the way I do now.

GROWTH THROUGH LETTING GO

Even after years of therapy, it wasn’t until a couple years ago that I was able to look back & really see where my deep anxiety may have stemmed from. It took the realization that when we hold our emotions inside, they can manifest into anxiety & panic. This realization took the uncomfortable work of being honest with myself. I had to come to terms with the fact that my environment at that time in my life was not easy on me, was traumatizing & triggering. This wasn’t a simple thing to admit to myself. It was difficult because it meant allowing myself to feel all of those feelings again. It also meant letting go of codependent patterns & allowing myself to put the truth before the feelings of the ones I was trying so hard to protect.

I came from a home where it was encouraged to not cry, not be “dramatic,” & keep on keepin’ on. There’s nothing wrong with that. My parents taught me what they knew best themselves. But holding onto those values made it hard for me to let myself work through emotions I needed to let out. It was extremely difficult fo me to say to myself, “hey, those years in your life were really hard, especially for that little girl.” It took years to admit to myself that the things that hurt me deeply were not my fault. I had to truly believe that it’s ok to not be ok sometimes. That whatever my feelings are, are valid & to forgive myself for not knowing better.

INNER WORK + DAILY PRACTICES

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Over the years, I’m learning this is a big part of my story. Keeping the dark parts of my story hidden is what makes me feel more isolated. Not opening up is what makes others feel more isolated. I rarely struggle with panic attacks anymore, but my past with them has definitely shaped who I am in a big way & that’s important to be open about.

As I’ve grown I’ve learned a lot about myself & how important staying balanced is to my mental health. To me this means saying no to things that don’t serve me. Knowing myself enough to know big social events can be very draining to me, & to know my limits with them. This means knowing my boundaries & being firm when it comes to them. This means slowing down enough to look at my reactions to situations & examining what’s going on within myself that’s making react negatively, then learning from it. It means to truly feel my emotions as they come up instead of being scared of them & pushing them away. Also, learning to accept the love & good in my life without craving dysfunction.

I’ve developed a daily practice that’s helped me feel grounded, which keeps my anxieties at bay a lot of the time. 

  • First thing in the morning I open up all of the blinds in my house to let the light shine in.

  • Four/five days of the week I like to start my morning with my favorite movement. To me that’s either megaformer pilates, a beach walk, or a run.

  • I make my bed every morning because it feels so good to me to start my day with an uncluttered home. To me less clutter = less anxiety.

  • Majority of days I’ll journal + write 3 things I’m holding gratitude for that today. Some days this takes 3 minutes, some days it takes 30.

  • Throughout the day I make it a point to fill my body with real, nutrient-dense foods. This isn’t always perfect & that’s ok. I hold compassion for myself & allow myself space here. But at the end of the day I know that real, whole foods will help me thrive mentally.

  • Sleep is huge for me in relation to the amount of anxiety I have in my life. The less sleep I get, the more anxious I feel. 

If you’ve read this far, thank you for following along my story. If you are suffering, please know you are never alone. You are heard. Your feelings are valid, & I’m here to listen. There’s tremendous power in sharing our struggles. By sharing our stories with one another, it helps us feel connected & less alone. I encourage you to be open. You never know where the connection of sharing can lead you. Have you struggled with mental illness? I’d love to hear what helps you feel grounded & balanced. 

Toast Building Tips + My Favorite Combos

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I have a confession: I LOVE TOAST. I make some form of toast almost everyday. It’s become one of my favorite quick & easy snacks or breakfasts. To keep things fun, I’m always getting creative with my different toast toppings. One of my favorite gluten-free bread companies Little Northern Bakehouse recently sent me some of their bread. So I decided to share with you some of my favorite gluten-free, plant-based toast combos. Plus some toast building tips to show you how toast can be the star of your meal!

WHY I love Little Northern Bakehouse for my toast building:

All their products are gluten-free, plant-based, non-GMO, & contain whole food ingredients. They are also all certified Glyphosate Residue Free. Glyphosate is a carcinogen & extremely toxic to our health. So, the fact that all of LBH products carry the Bio-Checked Non Glyphosate Certified seal is a major win in my book!

Now let’s get to TOASTIN’!


Tips

Step 1: start with a base

For savory think:

Avocado, hummus, dairy-free cream cheese or spread, etc.

For sweet think: 

Nut/seed butters, dairy-free yogurts, sautéed or raw fruit, chia jams, etc. 

Step 2: load it up

For savory think:

Raw or sautéed veggies like mushrooms, tomatoes, spinach, onions, cucumbers, sprouts, microgreens, kraut, etc.

For sweet think:

Raw or sautéed fruit like bananas, berries, apples, citrus, etc.

Step 3: sprinkle a little love

For savory think:

Sesame seeds, pepper flakes, lemon pepper, chopped nuts, seeds, fresh herbs, nutritional yeast, etc

For sweet think:

Granola, chopped nuts, seeds, chopped chocolate, unsweetened coconut, cacao nibs, fresh mint, bee pollen, cinnamon, etc

Step 4: get drizzley with it

For savory think:

Dairy-free pesto, spicy honey, hot sauces, citrus juice, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, cashew cream, etc

For sweet think:

Raw honey, organic maple syrup, citrus juice, melted chocolate, nut/seed butters, coconut butter, sweet cashew cream, etc 

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My favorite combos:

All gluten-free, plant-based combos on Little Northern Bakehouse Millet & Chia bread.

Savory: Hummus topped with cucumbers, fresh dill, pepper flakes & sea salt (in photo.)

Sweet & savory: Almond cream cheese with strawberries, chia seeds & a maple syrup drizzle (in photo.)

Savory: Avocado topped with cherry tomatoes, everything but the bagel seasoning, a drizzle of honey & sea salt (in photo.)

Sweet: Bananas, topped with chopped vegan chocolate, an almond butter drizzle, bee pollen & sea salt (in photo.)

Sweet & savory: Garlicky sautéed mushrooms topped with thyme, sea salt & a maple tahini drizzle. 

Sweet: Sunflower seed butter topped with raspberry chia jam, granola, cinnamon & sea salt.

Skin care tips + my morning routine

Up until this past year, I never had much of a skincare routine. I was fortunate enough to not struggle with painful acne or skin issues growing up. Though this past year, I started having more hormonal breakouts around my cycle & start seeing some fine lines develop around my eyes + forehead. I thought to myself, “ok, you’re going to be 30 this year Jess! It’s time to start taking care of your skin!”

I have a few close friends who I consider “skincare gurus.” So, I started picking their brains about how to start caring for my skin! With all their advice I was able to slowly start developing a routine that worked for me. What shocked me about my skincare journey most wasn’t how confident I became without make-up, or how my breakouts began to disappear. But how this daily routine opened my eyes up to slowing down & truly caring for myself. There is so much power in something as simple as a skincare routine. The daily practice of valuing myself enough to slow down, look in the mirror & care for my skin has done more for my soul than I ever imagined!

Skincare is now a crucial part of my self-care routine & I can’t imagine a day without it! Below I’m sharing some simple tips & tricks to skincare, as well as my personal morning routine. This post is in partnership with Burt’s Bees.

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Skincare Tips

Hydrate- Our skin is one of the clues to hydration. I always notice my lips start to get dry when I haven’t been getting in enough H20. I carry around a 32 oz stainless steel water bottle throughout the day to ensure I’m getting enough hydration.

Detoxify- Setting aside time for a weekly face mask is a great way to rid your skin of impurities, toxins, & clogged pores that can leave your skin looking dull. It’s a great way to slow down & do something for yourself once a week. I just added Burts Bee’s Detoxifying Clay Mask to my collection & am loving it!

Sleep- Getting in our 8 hours is so important for clear, glowing skin. I find having a set time that I get my Z’s in every night helps me feel balanced, as well as helps with the balance of my skin.

Skin Foods - Salmon, avocados, nuts, seeds, sweet potatoes & citrus are all great options to boost your skins glow.

My Morning Routine

Hydrate- 32 oz of room temp water with trace mineral drops to get my digestion going.

Skin hydration- I brush my teeth. Then splash my face with water + spray my face with a hydrating facial mist. This helps wake me up + gives my skin a little pick-me-up! Burt’s Bee’s Hydrating Mist with aloe is one of my favorites!

Movement- Movement is therapy for me in so many way. I always feel my best when I start my day moving my body. My favorite forms of movement are long walks, runs, or megaformer pilates.

Fuel- I start my day with my Maca Choco which is a hormone balancing superfood drink. Then I’ll cook up a nutrient-dense breakfast. During the colder months I will usually have a loaded bowl of oats or quinoa porridge topped with blueberries, nuts, seeds or nut butter. (All great skin foods!) During the warmer months I’ll usually have a green smoothie with dark leafy greens, berries, & collagen topped with coconut, nuts or seeds. (Also, all amazing skin foods!)

Mindfulness- I take 5-10 minutes to journal my intentions & what I’m grateful for that day/meditate. I find this so important to the way my day plays out + my outlook on the way the day is going!

Cleanse- I work from home so could truly stay in my PJs all day. BUT I find starting the day fresh with a shower helps me feel my best! Once in the shower, I wash my face with a cream facial cleanser like this one from Burt’s Bees made with cotton seed extract. Then I will exfoliate gently, if needed. Once out of the shower, I use a toner to prep my skin. Then I will apply a moisturizer + a serum or eye cream. Burt’s Bees has a great Daily Moisturizing Cream without any harsh irritants like added fragrance, parabens, phthalates, or petroleum.

Productivity- After that I’m ready to take on a world of emails & recipe testing!

Grocery Guides To My THREE Favorite Stores!

Call me crazy, but grocery shopping is one of my favorite things to do! I love discovering all the new products, scanning labels to search for the best ingredients, & finding beautiful produce to create fun recipes with! And I of course love sharing those products & recipes with you!

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Having access to so many amazing products & grocery stores nowadays is such a blessing, but I understand it can be extremely overwhelming. What products are actually healthy? What store has the best produce? Where can I save some money & where should I spend a little more? This can all be dizzying & difficult to navigate, but I am here to help! 

I am taking you along to not one, but THREE of my favorite stores to shop! Trader Joe’s, Sprout’s, & Whole Foods. Not only will I be showing you what is in my cart & why… but I’ll also be sharing tips on saving money while stocking your house with nutrient-dense foods & products, as well as sharing printable guides to each store. Now let’s get shopping!

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When it comes to my guidelines for shopping, the most important thing to me is buying organic whenever possible. I always aim for organic, pasture raised, grass-fed meats & animal products. When it comes to produce I follow the “dirty dozen” rule. 

Though they don’t have everything, Trader Joe’s is SO great for inexpensive organic items! I try to buy most of my produce from TJ’s, but if they happen to not have an item or I need a specialty item I’ll go to Sprout’s or Whole Foods for those. 

Trader Joe’s Grocery Guide

Lets talk TJ’s! Trader Joe’s is great for inexpensive items ranging from organic produce, some organic meats, to fun products like their cauliflower gnocchi. When I’m shopping, I start at TJ’s - aiming to get as much off my list as I can from there because I know it’ll most likely be the least expensive. What isn’t available at TJ’s I’ll search for at Sprouts.

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PRODUCE (I buy all organic / follow the “dirty dozen” rule.)

  • Bulk sweet potatoes - I buy these in bulk because they are great to have on hand, won’t go bad quickly & saves money buying them in bulk.

  • Bulk sweet onions - I also buy our onions in bulk to save money.

  • Bulk apples - Love buying apples in bulk to save money. I keep in the fridge because I love a cold crisp apple, but it also helps them last longer.

  • Bulk avocados - I also store our ripe avos in the fridge to help them last a little longer. 

  • Cherry tomatoes

  • Berries - Strawberries, raspberries blueberries, & blackberries.

  • Lemons - I always keep in the fridge to add to my water throughout the day.

  • Carrots 

  • Brussel sprouts

  • Cucumbers

  • Herbs

  • Microgreens 

  • Celery

  • Arugula

  • Spinach

  • Pomegranate seeds

  • Bananas

  • Spaghetti squash

  • Butternut squash

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MEAT / POULTRY / FISH

  • Organic chicken - TJ’s offers organic whole chickens, breasts, thighs, & tenders.

  • Organic ground turkey - can’t beat the price at TJ’s.

  • Organic grass-fed ground beef

  • Organic, grass-fed beef hot dogs - we don’t buy these often, but they are great to have on hand for BBQs during the summer.

  • Organic turkey deli slices

  • Wild-Caught Alaskan salmon filets.

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FROZEN ITEMS

  • Organic berries - I use frozen berries for homemade jams, smoothies, cobblers, & stirring into oatmeal.

  • Organic spinach - Also great to have in the freezer for smoothies, or to throw into a soup for extra greens.

  • Organic peas

  • Organic corn

  • Organic frozen cauliflower florets - I’ll grab these every now & then for a quick sub to fresh cauliflower.

  • Organic riced cauliflower - Always great to have on hand. Perfect for a quick meal or side like fried cauliflower rice or to add to smoothies!

  • Organic cauliflower gnocchi - Another I like to keep on hand for a quick meal. Great with some spinach, red sauce & pepper flakes.

  • Organic delicate squash - Great to have on hand to bake & make a soup out of or roast up for meal prep at the beginning of the week when you’re needing something quick!

  • Organic chicken wings - The price is great for these! Plus, we love some buffalo wings in our house!

  • Wild-caught scallops

PANTRY ITEMS

  • Organic canned beans - Black beans, garbanzo beans, kidney beans, etc. Best prices!

  • Organic canned pumpkin - Amazing to have in the pantry for baked goods, pancakes, to add to smoothies, etc.

  • Organic canned coconut milk - I love using coconut milk in baked goods, stirring into oatmeal, making coconut whipped cream, etc.

  • Organic vegetable, chicken or beef stock - Quailty ingredients for a low price. Perfect for soup bases & using to cook your grains in for extra flavor! Always buy organic if you can & read the label to watch for no junk oils like canola + no added sugar.

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  • Organic brown rice pasta

  • Organic red lentil pasta - A great gluten-free alternative + can’t beat the price at TJ’s.

  • Organic sprouted rice - I love buying sprouted grains for their upped nutritional value & happen to be easier to digest & you really can’t find a better price for sprouted grains!

  • Organic sprouted quinoa - Again, can’t beat this price for sprouted goods.

  • Organic canned tomato sauce - Love having stocked in our pantry for quick pasta sauces, soups or bases to pizzas!

  • Organic peanut butter - When looking at the lable to your nut butters you want to look for: no added oils or sugars. TJ’s has great PB with no added junk for only $5.99

  • Organic Coconut Aminos – I love using coconut aminos as a gluten-free, soy-free swap for soy sauce! TJ’s has the best price for coconut aminos.

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  • Avocado oil – This is a must for high-heat cooking – it has a much higher smoke point than olive oil.

  • Organic unsweetened shredded coconut / flakes - I love to add to baked goods, smoothies & oatmeal for an extra boost of healthy fats.

  • Organic dried dates - Dates + PB = the perfect sweet snack.

  • Salsa verde / organic tomatillo salsa / serrano salsa / hatch valley salsa - Look for salsas without added sugars or chemicals.

  • Organic chia seeds - Love having chia seeds on hand for a great omega-3 boost to smoothies, baking or making homemade chia jam.

  • Organic ground flax seed - I add ground flax to my oatmeal, smoothies, & use create flax “eggs” for vegan baked goods. Best price here!

  • Everything But The Bagel Seasoning - Because it’s only $1.99 & who doesn’t like the seasoning of an everything bagel?!

  • Organic brown rice cakes - We always have these in our pantry. The perfect snack with nut butter, avocado, or organic deli meats!

  • Organic tortilla chips - I buy the stone-ground blue corn chips with sprouted amaranth, quinoa & chia seeds. They do have sunflower seed oil, which isn’t the greatest. But they aren’t something we eat on the reg! When buying chips you want to stay far away from canola oil. It’s best to look for chips cooked in avocado oil, coconut oil or olive oil.

  • Just Beets Chips - such an addicting snack!

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BAKING ESSENTIALS 

  • Almond flour - I buy TJ’s almond flour if I’m looking to save some money. I use almond flour in a lot of my baked goods.

  • Organic coconut sugar - Can’t beat this price!

  • Organic maple syrup - Love having maple syrup on hand for baked goods!

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REFRIGERATED PACKAGED GOODS

  • Kale vegan pesto - Not something I buy all the time, but a great buy for a quick simple add to any pasta dish, pizza, or to dip veggies in!

  • Jalapeño almond dip - Also not something I buy all the time, but love this vegan dip for snack boards! Great with any crackers or veggies!

Sprout’s Grocery Guide

Onto Sprout’s! I love shopping here because I feel like it’s the middle ground between TJ’s & Whole Foods. They carry a lot more specialty items than Trader Joes & have a lot more affordable prices than Whole Foods. When I’m heading to Sprout’s it’s usually for whatever organic produce or meats I couldn’t find at TJ’s, a specialty item like vegan cream cheese, or our favorite organic popcorn for $1.99!

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PRODUCE (I buy all organic / follow the “dirty dozen” rule.)

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  • Broccoli & cauliflower - Love buying fresh full heads to roast up at the beginning of the week for my meal prep!

  • Lettuce (romaine, butter leaf, green leaf.) - I love having fresh greens on hand throughout the week. I like to buy fresh lettuce instead of bagged so I get ours from Sprouts most the time.

  • Cabbage - I buy cabbage from Sprout’s because I prefer organic & TJ’s doesn’t carry it.

  • Limes - TJ’s doesn’t carry organic limes most the time so I get them from Sprout’s.

  • Kale, chard, collards

  • Asparagus

  • Boy choy

  • Bell peppers

  • Green onions

  • Roma tomatoes

  • Beets

  • Ginger

  • Tumeric

MEAT / POULTRY 

  • Organic turkey bacon - Not something I buy all the time but if I get it I buy from Sprouts. TJ’s doesn’t have organic & WF is more expensive.

  • Organic chicken sausage - I’ll buy these to keep in the freezer to add to quick meals.

FROZEN ITEMS

  • Bone broth - I like to keep a bag of this in the freezer for soups, or sipping. Great for gut health! I usually buy Bonafide Provisions in the freezer section of Sprouts because their prices! Usually on sale for $6.99 a bag.

  • Dairy free ice cream - I mean, ice cream. Need I say more? My favorite vegan brands are: Nadamoo or Luna & Larry’s.

PANTRY ITEMS

  • Sprouted GF oats - Love buying sprouted oats for their nutritional value & easier digestion. I buy One Degree Organics.

  • GF steel cut oats - Steel cut oats are my favorite! I buy Bob’s Red Mill.

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  • Grain-free granola - I’m in love with my grain-free granola! I add it to smoothies, toast, oatmeal, or eat it straight from the bag. Lark Ellen Farm is my favorite because they use sprouted nuts & seeds.

  • Cereal - When I have a cereal craving I search for products with little to no added sugars. Erewhon Organics is my favorite cereal brand. They have little to no added sugars. I love their corn flakes & brown rice puffs!

  • Almond flour crackers - I don’t buy these all the times, but when I’m craving crackers the Simple Mills crackers are my favorite. They’re gluten-free & grain-free + Sprouts always has a sale on them!

  • Popcorn - We go through popcorn like crazy & Sprouts brand is the best! I buy the organic himalayan popcorn that’s popped in coconut oil. Only $1.99!

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  • Chickpea pasta - I love buying chickpea pasta for the extra protein boost! Banza is my favorite brand & Sprouts always has a deal on them! Usually 2 boxes for $6.

  • Protein powder - My two favorite brands are Amazing Grass Organic Plant Protein & Garden Of Life Raw Organic Protein.

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  • Canned diced tomatoes - Great to have on hand to add to sauces, soups or casseroles.

  • Bulk nuts & seeds - I stock up on my organic nuts & seeds in the bulk section. Tip: store your nuts & seeds in jars in the freezer to keep them from going rancid!

  • Sunflower seed butter - I am obsessed with sunflower seed butter, it’s great on everything! Look for a brand that has no added oils or sugars.

  • Almond butter & cashew butter - Great prices at Sprouts. Again, you want to look for a brand with no added oils or sugars.

  • GF bread - I love toast! I usually buy my GF vegan bread from Sprouts. I like Little Northern Bakehouse bread & you can find it in the fridge section.

  • Greens powder - I use Healthforce’s Vitamineral Greens. It’s full of 25 of the most nutrient-dense superfoods which help support thryoid function, digestive health, & detoxification! I add it to my smoothies or green juices.

  • Organic sesame oil - Sprout’s has the best prices for organic sesame oil.

  • Apple cider vinegar

BAKING ESSENTIALS 

  • Cacao powder (organic) - I use cacao powder everyday in my Maca Chocos.

  • Maca powder (organic) - Maca is great for so many things! It helps balance hormones, mood & is great for energy. I use it everyday in my Maca Chocos.

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  • Baking soda

  • Baking powder

  • Spices (organic) - I find Sprouts has the best prices when it comes to organic spices! They range from $2.99-$5.99

  • Vanilla extract (organic + alcohol free)

  • Monkfruit sweetener - I love monk fruit sweetener because it’s low-glycemic & doesn’t shoot my blood sugar up.

  • Coconut flour (organic) - Love having coconut flour on hand for gluten-free baked goods!

  • Tapioca starch / arrowroot powder (organic) - I keep in the pantry for my baked goods + it’s great gluten-free, dairy-free, grain-free way to use to thicken soups or sauces.

REFRIGERATED PACKAGED GOODS

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  • Kombucha - Brew Dr is my favorite!

  • Miyoko's vegan cream cheese - This stuff is a splurge but SO good!

  • Miyoko’s vegan butter - Most vegan butters on the market are full of junk, but not this stuff!

  • Miyoko’s vegan cheese wheels - Not something we buy all the time, but great to snag for a vegan charcuterie board! Tastes amazing & junk-free.

  • Suja plant-protein milk (unsweetened) - I love snagging this milk when I want a break from nut or seed milk. It adds a great boost of protein to your drinks or baked goods.

  • Ripple pea milk (unsweetened) - Also a great nut/seedless dairy-free milk option! Full of great plant-based protein as well.

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Whole Food’s Grocery Guide

Oh, Whole Foods… often referred to as “whole paycheck.” Whole Foods can be extremely expensive which is why I only shop there on occasion. The main reason I go to WF is for organic meat that isn’t available elsewhere, like bacon, pork, or lamb. Also, for not-so-nessesary specialty items like vegan cauliflower pizza crusts, coconut yogurt, & my favorite sprouted hummus. 

PRODUCE (I buy all organic / follow the “dirty dozen” rule.)

  • Purple sweet potatoes - Purple veggies are great for heart health + look extra pretty! The only place I can find organic purple sweet potatoes in WF.

  • Delicata squash - My favorite squash! I buy fresh organic here.

  • Sprouts - I love the variety of organic sprouts WF has.

MEAT / POULTRY / FISH

  • Organic pork - Chops, ground, bacon. I choose to eat only organic pork if I have it & I found WF is the best to find it at.

  • Organic lamb - Not often that I’d make a dish with lamb, but if needed I get at WF for the sourcing.

  • Organic breakfast sausage - We don’t eat it a lot, but I found WF is the only store in our area that carries organic breakfast sausage.

  • Organic free-range eggs - Matt goes through eggs like it’s going out of style. We buy organic, pasture-raised local eggs.

  • Wild-caught shrimp, tuna, halibut & cod - I find WF has the freshest & best quality for a grocery store.

FROZEN ITEMS

  • Grain-free tortilla - I love Siete or The Real Coconut tortillas.

  • Cauliflower pizza crusts - These are a splurge, but a great low-carb, gluten-free option that won’t spike your blood sugar. I buy the plant-based Cali’flour Foods brand (most others have dairy so make sure you read the label if avoiding dairy.)

  • GF vegan rolls

PANTRY ITEMS

  • Seaweed - I’m a big advocate of getting seaweed into your belly as much as possible! It’s packed full of so many minerals & vitamins we need.

  • Kombu - Kombu is a powerhouse of a seaweed! It also packed full of vitamins/minerals, helps with digestions & improve thyroid function! I’ll add a some to soup when it’s simmering to soak up all the benefits & remove it before serving. Great add if you’re making ramen!

BAKING ESSENTIALS 

  • Cassava flour - Cassava flour is a great gluten-free, grain-free flour. Out of all the gluten-free flours, I think the texture is most similar to wheat flour.

  • Raw local honey

REFRIGERATED PACKAGED GOODS

  • Sprouted hummus - WF carries my all-time favorite hummus. The brand is Majestic Garlic.

  • Specialty dressings/marinades - If I’m not wanting to make our dressings/marinades from scratch I’ll look to WF for junk-free products. We like Steve’s Paleo Goods, Tessamae’s, & Primal Kitchen.

  • Kraut - Kraut is a great way to get your healthy gut-flora up! I love Steve’s Paleo Goods & Farmhouse Culture.

  • Dairy-free yogurt - I love dairy-free thick, greek-style yogurts. My favorites are Kitehill Greek unsweetened & Coyo plain!

  • Parmela's vegan cheeses - These are a splurge! But I love them for their cultured cashew cheese slices & shreds.

    OTHER

  • Ciders / wines - When I’m buying wine I buy organic with no added sulfites because that’s what feels the best to my system. I also love 101 Cider House ciders. They’re alcoholic fermented ciders that naturally have 0 sugar, are gluten-free & vegan!

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I hope you all enjoyed my guides! If you have any questions, please let me know! Have fun shopping!

*This post is entirely unsponsored & contains no affiliate links.

STFU 2018 Holiday Gift Guide

Tis the season, my friends!

This time of year is my absolute favorite! Not only because it’s a time of reflection, but also because it’s a time to openly spread love to the special people in your life. That being said, finding the right gift for that sometimes very long list of people can feel extremely consuming! To make your life a little easier, I thought I’d share all of my personal favorites rounded up into one guide

The list below holds items I love & use regularly, favorites that I personally am gifting to others, & of course things that are on my wish list as well! These gift ideas range in prices. So whether you’re looking for the big-daddy-whammy “omg I can’t believe you got me this” gift, or that special little stocking stuffer, you’ll find it here!

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I’ve separated the gift ideas by different categories to make browsing a breeze! Just click on the item you have your eyes on for that special someone (or yourself!) & it will open you up in a new page. I hope this makes your gift-giving this season easier & that much more enjoyable!

*Prices may vary due to sales, holidays, etc.

Happy Holidays sweet humans!

For Those In Need

During this time of year (& lets be honest, year-round,) it’s easy to get caught up in our own little bubbles, consumerism & the need for more more more. I thought instead of ONLY listing materialist items on my guide I would add some organizations that are close to my heart & gift ideas for people who are in need of some extra love, not just around the holidays but year-round.

Send a Brandless Box to someone in need! Brandless builds direct relationships with their suppliers, eliminating all extra costs associated with unnecessary mark-ups on quality products! Making ALL of their goods only $3. They have everything from GF baking mixes, organic coffee, oatmeal, non-toxic household & kitchen products, organic linens, health + personal care items, & even stationary! Click here to build a box for a person or family you know needs a little extra this year + get $12 off your first order of over $39 & free shipping.

American Foundation For Suicide Prevention - By bringing Mental Illness out of the shadows & into the forefront of our thoughts & fundraising efforts, we will decrease the stigma associated with these diseases. Those who are impacted should have hope, NOT SHAME. Treatment, not rejection. Those with depression or an anxiety disorder deserve the same support & hope that someone suffering from Breast Cancer is afforded.

Shatterproof - Roughly 1 in 10 people struggle with some level of substance abuse & ONE HUNDRED people die every single day from drug overdoes. By addressing gaps in both funding & resourcing, this nonprofit is hoping to help reduce the number of addicted Americans & drug-related deaths by 50% over the next 20 years. Shatterproof has also launched events in 30 cities across the country to help reduce the stigma of addiction.

Life Time Foundation - Kids need to be fueled with nourishing food to grow properly, fuel their growing brains, & have the energy they need! Life Time is committed to removing the Harmful 7 Ingredients of Concern from the School Food Program. They believe that the food served in our school systems should fuel children’s brains & bodies, not harm them. This foundation helps put REAL, whole foods on kids plates.

Gifts To Pamper

self-care/wellness:

skin-care/beauty:


Kitchen+Home Goods

  • The Almond Cow - $195

    The first plant-based milk machine! I am in love with mine & use it every week. It saves on time, messes & waste!

    (use code SHUTTHEFIGUP at checkout for $15 discount + free shipping)

  • Vitamix - $379

    This is one of those “omg I can’t believe you got me this” gifts. Every kitchen needs a vitamix!

  • Berkey Water Filter - $316.35

    Another big ticket gift, but so worth it. Matt got us this last year for the holidays & it’s the gift that just keeps giving! One of the best charcoal water filters you can get. 

  • Vonshef 10-Piece Glass Container Food Storage Set - $24.99

    For that meal prep lover in your life. I love these especially because they’re non-toxic, made of glass with BPA-free lids & the perfect sizes. I use them every single week for my prep!

  • Copper Measuring Cups - $24.95

    I have these & love the look of them!

  • Copper Measuring Spoons - $14.95

    The perfect match to the measuring cups.

  • Healthy Human Reusable Stainless Steel Tumblers & Water Bottles - $19.99-$26.99

    Great gift for anyone! Non-toxic stainless steel beverage holders to help keep drinks cold or hot for hours ‘n hours.

    (use my code JESSFIG10 at checkout for 10% off your Healthy Human orders)

  • Healthy Human Reusable Stainless Steel Straw Travel Kit - $14.99

    Gift the gift of helping save the planet. Comes with 5 straws, a straw cleaner & a cute carrying case! Love mine!

    (use my code JESSFIG10 at checkout for 10% off your Healthy Human orders)

  • Instant Pot - $89.95

    You can literally cook anything in this thing in half the time! Stew, rice, meat, rice, yogurt, you name it. We love ours!

  • Cast Iron Skillets - $4.69-$42.57

    I love our car irons! We have a 12in + a 6.5in & love them both. They are non-toxic, inexpensive & oven-safe!

  • Stasher Bags - $9.99-$48.50

    These bags are great! Reusable, plastic-free, non-toxic storage baggies that can go in the freezer, dishwasher, oven & boiling water. Perfect for eco-friendly food storage & cooking.

  • Vonshef Digital Air-Fryer - $59.99

    Frying something with out a junk-load of oil? Yep, that’s with an air-fryer does! You can literally fry, bake, roast all of your favorites foods in this thing without all the added oils & it tastes just as good! Love these.

  • WoodBrews Custom-Made Boards & Signs - $65-$100

    Handmade custom wood cutting boards, serving boards, bowls, utensils & wall art! My friend & her husband hand-make all of these amazing goods. Perfect personalized gift for anyone!

  • Reversible Prep & Serve Board - $38

    Wood on one side for chopping & marble on the other side for serving! This board is gorgeous.

  • “Droppin’ A New Recipe On Your Ass” Oven Mitt - $9.99

    For that person in your life that loves to cook & is always coming up with new recipes. I NEED!

  • Squeeze & Thank You Cactus Juicer - $14.99

    This little citrus juicer is in the shape of a cactus & so darn cute!

For The Plant-Lover

  • 3-Piece Macrame Plant Holders - $18.99

    Another gift for that crazy plant lady/gent in your life. The cutest! 

  • Celfie Planter - $8

    This planter is so dang cute! Would be the perfect addition to any desk or bedside table.

  • Cactus Enamel Pins - $2.20 each

    Seriously, these pins though! They’re just the cutest & I’m pretty sure I need all of them. For the price you could splurge & buy a different one for each of your friends!

Gifts For The Planner

Hormone Balancing Gifts

  • Food Period Moon Bites Monthly Subscription Box - $73-$75

    (use my code SHUTTHEFIGUP for $15 off your first order!)

    For that women in your life who’s experiencing unwanted period-related symptoms or irregular cycles & searching for a natural nutrient-rich solution. These use bites use the practice of seed cycling to help rebalance hormones! What better than a subscription to something to help your loved one feel her best again!

  • WomanCode by Alisa Vitti - $10.87

    I feel every woman should read this book! Woman unfortunately, aren’t taught enough about our own bodies & are left to navigate our way through this complicated thing on our own. This book is a bible for anyone who has ever struggled with hormone issues. Such a gift!

Bling-Blinging Gifts

  • Cactus Stud Earrings - $5.99

    I’m kind of obsessed with these & the price is amazing! Might just have to buy them for all my friends (& sneak in a pair for myself.)

  • Our Spare Change Cuff, Necklace or Keychain - $22-$40

    These beautiful custom-made pieces are literally crafted out of spare change. I have a skinny cuff & wear it every single day. Such a unique personalized gift for that special someone in your life!

Healthified Boozy Gifts

  • Boochcraft - $8-$12

    This stuff is so good! High alcohol kombucha made with organic cold pressed juices + botanicals. Great gift for the healthy-boozer.

  • 101 Cider - $8.99

    Highly fermented, probiotic, gluten-free, zero-sugar ciders! These ciders are my favorite & you can order them online!

STFU Inspired Gifts

  • Handmade Maca Choco Kit!

    My Maca Choco’s are a healthy spin on hot chocolates or caffeine-free iced lattes. They only require 5 ingredients & are the perfect gift anyone who loves chocolate! It’s full of antioxidants, iron, magnesium & calcium, helps balance hormones, mood, increase energy, as well as promotes skin, hair, joint, & gut health! Would be so cute packaged up in a little basket! Did I mention it’s the best tasting drink, ever?

    What you’ll need:

    Navitas Organics Raw Cacao Powder - $14.24

    Navitas Organics Maca Powder - $7.49

    Monkfruit Sugar - $14.99

    OxNutrition Marine Collagen - $28

    (use code SHUTTHEFIGUP at checkout for $10 off your first order!)

    Glass Mug - $3.95

  • Pecan Pie Bars!

    What’s better than baked goods for the Holiday’s? These bars are straight up addicting! They also happen to be gluten-free, vegan, & paleo. Making them a delicious treat for almost anyone. You will seriously be loved for this one, I promise! Here is the recipe & list of ingredients you’ll need!

Other Gift Ideas

  • Farm Girl Flowers

    In love with this company & have sent many bouquets to friends! They are always so beautifully designed & arranged wrapped in rested burlap coffee bags from their local roasters. The presentation is amazing! Their flowers are ethically grown + support local farms & are insanely fast on delivery! Who doesn’t love a gorgeous bouquet of flowers?!

  • Baked goods

    I understand not everyone has the time, energy, or money to find a recipe, get the expensive ingredients & bake treats for friends ‘n family. Especially around the holidays! But I also believe there isn’t a gift much more thoughtful than the gift of fresh baked goods! That’s where a little help from our friends comes in! Brandless has a handful of amazing baking mixes (GF included) to make gifting baked goods simple & inexpensive. Literally everything is only $3 & quality-sourced. I personally love the GF Lemon Pound Cake & I add dried cranberries to the mix to put my stamp on it! (get $12 off your first order over $39 + free shipping)

MY STORY + WHY STFU WAS BORN

MY HORMONAL STORY

For as long a I can remember I’ve never had a regular cycle, have always had painful periods & crazy PMS. I always knew something was off, but I was also young & didn’t worry too much about it. Summer of 2013 I started struggling with bad abdominal pain that sent me to the Urgent Care where they then discovered I had a few cysts & sent me on my way.

Come fall of 2014 I had two months of uterine bleeding, anemia, intense fatigue, stubborn weight gain, acne & terrible abdominal pain which turned out to be both of my ovaries now fully covered in cysts.

I left the doctors office that week with a diagnosis of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. A lifelong condition that affects 1 out of 10 women. PCOS is the leading cause of infertility. Over 50 percent of women with PCOS also develop type 2 diabetes by age 40, have an increase risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, & strokes - along with a slew of other not-so-fun things. I was sent home with what FELT like a life sentence. Plus, the treatment plan options of: birth control (which wouldn’t fix the issue, just put a band-aid on my symptoms,) & Metformin (a diabetes medication to help with my symptoms.)

I remember sitting in the OBGYNs office holding back tears, wanting to run out of the building as fast as I could. Once I finally got through the parking lot & into my car I just sat there bawling. INFERTILITY? A LIFELONG health condition?! I thought, how was this MY story? 

FINDING MY OWN HEALING PATH

Everything seemed to get worse before it got better. My hair started falling out drastically, my anxiety & depression hit a low, I could barely keep my eyes open when I was driving because I felt SO fatigued all the time - I was desperate for help.

The treatment plan of BC or Metformin never felt right to me. I spent hours on end doing my OWN research & decided shortly after that to peruse the help of a Naturopath. Once I did, I was then diagnosed with Hashimotos Disease, adrenal fatigue, leaky gut & the MTHFR gene mutation. Which at the time felt SO overwhelming, but I knew deep down I was on the path to feeling better. I finally had hope!

It was through naturopathic medicine that I discovered how POWERFUL real food, self-care, & mindful practices can be in the process of healing. I realized PCOS & Hashimotos was NOT a lifetime sentence, no matter how it was made to seem that way. I CHOSE to give my all to rewriting my story. I changed my diet & lifestyle completely. It truly felt my life as I knew it was changing completely. I knew it was all for my well-being but at times it felt incredibly isolating & overwhelming.

WHY SHUT THE FIG UP WAS BORN

This very overwhelming negative time in my life slowly turned into something I became incredibly passionate about. I started to heal. My cysts had dissapeared, I had more energy, & I truly felt like I was getting my life back. All because I decided to change what I was putting in/on my body, prioritize sleep, & begin to love myself through the process. 

I started to have this deep fire in me to share this journey with every girl whose ever sat in their car bawling because of the same things I cried for, for every girl who knows something is off with their bodies but can't get anyone to listen, for every girl who wanted help SO badly but didn’t know where to turn. I wanted to remind girls that they ARE strong, they are in control & they can make a change. I wanted to share that we CAN rewrite our story through REAL food & lifestyle changes. Real food is important. A non toxic lifestyle is important. LOVING ourselves no matter what our story has been IS important. And I wanted to be a part of sharing that message. THIS is my WHY behind shutthefigup.

FAST FORWARD FOUR YEARS

Eight months after my diagnosis I went in for an ultra sound. My ovaries were clear! That day I left the doctors office, sat in my car & cried... this time because I was so happy. A year after that, my Hashimotos was in remission. I remember being shocked that I was able to do this. After all of the doctors giving me what felt like a life sentence, I was able to put my symptoms at bay.

I used to be a full time hairstylist, but my path changed through this process. I became a certified ACE personal trainer, started Shut The Fig Up, & also started cooking for families out of their home who were passionate about living a healing lifestyle through food as well.

I want to share that my story is still ever-changing. This PCOS ride has been a rollercoaster & still is. I am still learning & trying to be patient with my body. This process, more than anything has taught me how important loving ourselves is. How truly important being forgiving & patient with our bodies can be.

I’ve also learned there’s great power in being open & honest about our struggles. It helps people feel less alone in theirs - which is why I love sharing my story. If you are struggling, I encourage you to share - be open. Don’t let shame trap you in a life of isolation. You’ll be amazed at how sharing our stories can make us feel connected.

Thank you for listening to my story. I’d love to hear yours 💕