Here are my favorite products that I recommend to my readers and to my friends and family. These products really make a difference in my life!
My Favorite Kitchen Products:
1. Aero Press Coffee Maker
The Aero Press is my FAVORITE way to make coffee-shop level espresso drinks at home.
I used to think I wanted to invest in a fancy and expensive espresso maker but the Aero Press is everything I want, for only $30.
To be fair, I prefer simpler gadgets, but if you are the same way, I encourage you to try it.
The Aero Press is also perfect for camping and van life. When I was camping with my best friend outside of Zion last spring (living in her adorable converted van for a week) the Aero Press was SO easy to clean. Basically you just push the coffee grounds out and rinse it off.
If you're looking for a small, portable, easy way to make a delicious espresso-shot-style coffee maker for under $40, try the Aero Press!
2. Electric Tea Kettle
Buying an electric tea kettle changed my life. They are just so convenient and quick!
If you're wondering whether to invest in one, I highly recommend it.
The water comes to a boil within 5 minutes and automatically turns off.
I even use mine to speed up the boiling process when I'm cooking pasta or something that requires a lot of boiling water.
I'm simplistic and old fashioned in many ways, but this little gadget is a great addition to my kitchen.
3. Cast Iron Pans
My family always used cast iron pans when I was growing up. When I would go over to friends' houses and see their parents using nonstick pans with so much ease and so little cleanup, I was shocked. I wondered why my parents went to all the trouble to use cast iron when there were "better" options out there.
Then I started researching the toxicity of teflon and I realized why.
Teflon contains a compound called C8 which is linked to different forms of cancers, hormone dysfunction, lower testosterone, thyroid disorders, kidney disease, liver disease, birth defects, testicular cancer, and more. When you cook with teflon, this compound can leech into your food and therefore you ingest it with all the risks above.
Cast iron pans can be almost as nonstick as teflon, if you clean them properly and keep them well-oiled/seasoned.
Cleaning cast iron pans:
I highly recommend these steel wool scrubbers for cleaning your cast iron pans.
These heavy duty grill scrapers are also really helpful.
If you are devoted to having a nontoxic, teflon-free kitchen, accept that your cleaning process will be different.
But different doesn't have to mean difficult. Having the proper tools available will make you more likely to stick to your healthy choices and not cave into buying more nonstick cookware in a bout of frustration.
4. Food Processor
I have lived without a food processor before and it's not the end of the world, but when you have one, it really opens up a world of possibilities with your recipes.
A few things I like to make that are difficult/impossible to make without a food processor:
- my chocolate date truffles
- keto pizza crust
I prefer the Cuisinart brand because it's what I grew up using.
This model I linked to is $140 and comes with a 3 year warranty, which my mom took advantage of when hers broke.
There are certainly cheaper options of food processors on the market, but I have not been as impressed with them.
In my opinion, if you can afford to invest in a Cuisinart, do it.
I have the Cuisinart mini food processor and it works surprisingly well. It's just a bit of a hassle when you want to make a bigger quantity of something.
5. Mason Jars
The two main places I get my mason jars are from thrift shops and leftover from jars of food that I buy that I just repurpose into drinking glasses or storage containers.
If you're wanting to purchase new mason jars, you can find boxes of them at craft stores, grocery stores, or home improvement stores. Or buy them in sets on Amazon.
I just love the classic look of mason jars and the versatility of them. They're so cute and sturdy.
I use mason jars for:
- storing leftovers in the fridge
- dry storage in the pantry (the large sizes are great for keeping grains, beans, etc. fresh and long lasting)
- making saurkraut and other fermented foods
- drinking beverages (so cute for iced coffee or lemonade in the summer!)
- storing my cooking utensils on the counter so they're easy to reach
- propagating plants
- vases for fresh flowers
6. Berkey Water Filter
The Berkey is the top of the line in terms of water filtration systems that aren't built in to your sink.
The best option is to have a reverse osmosis filtration system hooked up to your sink, but if your home or budget doesn't accommodate that, the Berkey is the next best option.
It comes in 3 sizes ranging from $285 to $350.
Compared to a Brita, which is just a water filter, Berkey is considered a water purifier.
Consuming pure, high quality water straight from the tap is impossible in most cities and towns, so investing in a high quality water filter is an investment into your health.
7. Metal Fish Spatula
This metal fish spatula is my favorite cooking utensil because it's so versatile.
Because I am always cooking, I am very picky about what utensils I use.
I can't just use ANY old spatula.
This one is great because it's semi-bendable, but still firm enough that it isn't flimsy.
It's sharp enough that you can use it to cut things in half as you're cooking, too.
I use it for cooking meats, pancakes, vegetables, pretty much everything. It's not just for fish!
8. Glass Tupperware
Investing in a high quality set of BPA-free glass tupwerware is not only good for you, but also so aesthetically pleasing to use.
Glass tupperware is preferable over plastic because it is:
- long lasting
- easier to clean
- safer to wash in a dishwasher
- safer to heat in a microwave
- BPA free
BPA is an endocrine disruptor. It can be extremely harmful to your health and your hormones, and has been linked to causing cancer.
According to Healthline.com, "many BPA-free products have merely replaced BPA with bisphenol-S (BPS) or bisphenol-F (BPF). However, even small concentrations of BPS and BPF may disrupt the function of your cells in a way similar to BPA. Thus, BPA-free bottles may not be an adequate solution. Plastic items labeled with the recycling numbers 3 and 7 or the letters “PC” likely contain BPA, BPS, or BPF."
If you can't completely eliminate your exposure to the chemicals in plastics, you can at least diminish it by changing your tupperware from plastic to glass.
9. Vegetable Peeler
Ok, if you're still using an "old fashioned" vegetable peeler handed down from your great grandma and haven't tried this new invention, you are missing out.
My sister Kali converted all of us to using this type of peeler and I can't use the other kind anymore.
As one Amazon review says, "the difference is dramatic."
You may laugh that I'm so passionate about a vegetable peeler but don't knock it til you try it.
If you cook a lot, you will get your money's worth out of this little gadget.
10. Wooden Spoons
My kitchen wouldn't feel like my kitchen without my wooden spoons.
Cooking with wooden spoons makes me feel like I'm on Little House on the Prairie.
I just don't get that same nostalgic feeling from using the modern nonstick cooking spatulas and spoons.
Plus, wooden spoons are nontoxic and not plastic!
11. Silicone Scraper Spatulas
These silicone scrapers are SO important when baking and cooking certain dishes.
I use them especially when making hummus, cookies or brownies, omelettes, or just scraping leftovers into my glass tupperware dishes.
Sometimes kitchen tools just make sense, and this is one of them!
Plus, silicone is a nontoxic material and is way healthier and safer than nonstick teflon cooking utensils.
My Favorite Beauty Products:
My favorite skincare, hair care, makeup, and other natural beauty products.
This is a company local to Indianapolis that my family and I adore.
We use all of their products and they work so well. They sell organic lip balm, lotions, body balms, soaps, and more. The magnesium balm is great for foot and leg cramps.
I highly recommend this company! It's all natural and safe to use on babies. My sisters use for their kids when they get rashes or just dry skin.
2. Coconut Oil
I use coconut oil for so many things.
Although I don't use it on my face anymore (see my post about oil cleansing to learn more) I love coconut oil for:
- deep conditioning my hair
- lotion on its own
- lotion mixed with the Tallow balm above
You can also use coconut oil for oil pulling. This is something I want to get more into but as of now I don't do it regularly. If I did, I would use coconut oil.
3. The Ordinary products
I highly recommend this brand for acne treatment. It's dermatologist recommended and isn't harsh on my skin.
After cleansing with avocado or jojoba oil, I apply The Ordinary Mandelic Acid 10% + HA with AHA and Hylauronic Acid . Then I apply The Ordinary Hylauronic Acid 2% + B5.
These products really helped my acne in the months coming off the birth control pill, which is saying a lot for how crazy my hormones were at that time.
4. Tom's Fluoride Free Toothpaste
I get really painful canker sores in my mouth when I use conventional toothpaste brands like Colgate and Crest. I also try to avoid Fluoride as I believe it's toxic.
Tom's is my favorite natural toothpaste brand, and I never get canker sores when I use it. It's also become more common to see Tom's sold at big chain grocery stores in the past few years, which is awesome!
Also, just as a side note, I am a dedicated every-night flosser and you should be too! Flossing is so important.
5. Pacifica Shampoo
Pacifica Shampoo is clean, cruelty free, and makes my hair so soft.
Sometimes you can find it at Tj Maxx or Marshalls, but you know how those stores are. You never know what you'll get haha.
When I was living in Montana my hair got so dry and tangly, so my sister sent me a hair care package and this shampoo saved the day. It makes my hair soft but still maintains the wavy/curly natural feel to it.
6. Bare Minerals concealer
My makeup routine is super simple and I like it that way. I do this under eye concealer, fill in my eyebrows, and add a little blush. I try to use natural products as much as possible, and I like the Bare Minerals brand.
This concealer brightens up my dark circles and doesn't feel heavy like some concealers (I've tried a lot!).
Books That Changed My Life:
These are the books that influenced who I am today.
1. You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero
When I finished reading You Are a Badass, I wanted to immediately read it again.
And I would have, if I didn't have such a long line of friends waiting to borrow my copy after I was done.
Instead, I started reading her other books: You are a Badass at Making Money, Badass Habits, and You are a Badass Everyday. You can purchase all 4 in a bundle on Amazon here.
Jen Sincero isn't your typical self-help writer.
She's hilarious, relatable, and is able to write about her experiences in a way that resonates unlike many other motivational books.
She is SO passionate about helping people get to where they want to be in life.
Her books will make you feel comforted and motivated to let go of your excuses and seize the day in order to tap into your potential.
I can't recommend Jen Sincero's books enough.
2. The War of Art by Steven Pressfield
The message is this: if you are a creative person who tends to get distracted and/or self-critical of your work/life purpose, your task is simple. Don't worry about creating something perfect or valuable or substantial. Just create something every day.
Let's say you are a painter. The fear of creating a bad painting could prevent you from picking up a paint brush, which is called Resistance. Resistance is that voice in your head that tells you not to paint or write or practice guitar or exercise, whatever your passion is. Resistance tells you to watch tv all day or scroll through tik tok feeling sorry for yourself. I don't mean that watching tv or scrolling through tik tok are bad things, everything in balance and moderation.
But if you have a creative passion and goals for where you want that passion to take you in life, then discipline must be achieved. If someone has achieved something in life and inspires you to do the same, understand that it is because of their discipline and focus.
In order to beat Resistance, if you are a painter all you have to do is devote yourself to painting something, anything, every single day for a set amount of time. If you consider it a trash painting, that's not important. What matters most is putting in the time. If you are a writer, write something every day, without worrying if it's the next Harry Potter. If you are a yogi, do yoga every day, even if you just lay in child's pose for half an hour. If you are a drummer, practice your drums every day.
I highly recommend this book. It goes into more detail about these ideas and it's super helpful for a more devoted and creative lifestyle.
3. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo
If you sometimes feel like you are at war with your possessions, you should read The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up.
What I mean by that is, if you feel like the time you spend organizing, tidying, cleaning, sorting, getting rid of, and getting frustrated by your possessions takes away from your passions in life, then this book can help you. Maybe it's an obvious idea to some people, but I have always struggled with having too many clothes, keeping my space tidy, and having enough space in my room. I would always have SO many clothes, but never feel like I was excited to wear any of them. Or I would constantly be having a meltdown because, although I am happiest in a clean, clutter-free space, my room would be the opposite.
This book explains that having too many possessions is directly interfering with people's joy. People are afraid to get rid of gifts, nostalgic items, expensive possessions, etc. because of a multitude of reasons. But the most important thing to ask yourself is, does this item bring me joy? And if it doesn't, you can thank the item for the joy it once gave you and the person who may have given it to you, and let it go. Life is too short to be joyless over inanimate objects, no matter what emotional baggage is attached to those objects.