Cheap & Easy Ways To Start Eating Clean

According to Fitness Magazine, eating clean means:

At its simplest, clean eating is about eating whole foods, or “real” foods β€” those that are un- or minimally processed, refined, and handled, making them as close to their natural form as possible.

I began eating clean with a 30-day “no eating out challenge”. In that month, I had to cook every meal at home and I started learning how to make well balanced meals at home and developed some good habits.

For me, eating clean means minimizing dairy, swapping out white rice for brown rice, switching white breads and pastas out for whole wheat and fitting in as many vegetables and lean proteins as possible. This is something I’m still working on, but here are ways that I’ve found to make clean eating easy and more affordable.

Only shop the outsides of the store: Most things on the shelves around the insides of the store are processed. That’s where you find your sugary boxes of cereal and bags of potato chips. Around the outside of the store, you things like produce, almond milk and frozen broccoli. Of course there are some exceptions here. You’ll find staples like beans, brown rice and steel cut oatmeal on the shelves inside the store and you’ll find frozen pizza nuggets and pizza in the freezers around the outside of the store — but for the most part, this rule of thumb works for me.

Kicking out white: Try using honey instead of sugar or lemon instead of salt. Replace white bread and pasta with whole wheat and give brown rice a chance.

Stay prepared: At my most disciplined, I would take Sundays to prepare my meals for the week so that everything was ready when I got hungry and I wouldn’t resort to hunger impulses like running to the local fast food place because I’d get food quicker. I’d reward myself by cooking my meals “to order” on the weekends. So I’d still eat healthy on the weekend, but I wasn’t eating the same, strategically planned out meals like I was doing during the weekday. It’s especially important to carry snacks around, so that when those hunger cravings hit you, you have a home made granola bar in your bag that you can grab, rather than a bag of chips from the closet convenience store.

Get used to eating a lot of the same thing: This works for me. Buying in bulk is cheaper and cooking food in bulk ahead of time, rather than making a meal every time you get hungry makes it easier to stay on track. For instance, I’ll make a huge pot of soup or bake a huge pan of pasta on a Sunday. I will make that meal my lunch everyday until it’s gone. Say I decide that I’m going to eat chili for lunch this week. A bag of beans, a couple of cans of tomato sauce and a few peppers will probably cost me less than ten dollars to eat lunch for the entire week! That’s the amount that one meal would cost at a local restaurant. I’ve saved money and it’s already made ahead of time. The downside is that that’s my lunch for the rest of the week.

Stick to your shopping list: Always create a shopping list, rather than shopping on impulse and stick to it. This way, you aren’t just dropping things in your cart as you see them. You stick to your budget and don’t overspend. Also, make sure these lists make sense to what you already have in the house. Already have a jar of tomato sauce in your cabinet? Buy some pasta and frozen spinach and turn that into a meal for a couple of days! Try to have a light meal before going to the grocery store so you don’t get “eyes bigger than belly” syndrome and buy everything that looks appetizing to you.

Don’t keep unhealthy snacks in the house: It’s much easier to forego a bag of potato chips that you have to go out to the store and get, than a bag that’s already conveniently sitting in your cabinet. Rather than have my favorite snacks sitting around in my house, if I want them, I have to actually bake those cookies myself, or get off of my couch and pick up a pint of ice cream. I usually end up just eating the healthy alternative that’s already in my house.

TREAT YOSELF: Most importantly, never deprive yourself or you’ll feel like you’re on a diet and want to rebel. When I’m craving a couple of slices from the local pizzeria or a huge order of nachos from Taco Bell that I’ll regret eating shortly after, I go ahead and get it. Having a few “cheat meals” here and there isn’t detrimental. Just get back on the right track once you’ve treated yourself. It’s better to do that than to deprive and eat every pizza slice in sight once you finally allow yourself to have pizza or rebel against yourself for being so “healthy” and eating every single thing you’ve been craving that you can get your hands on.

These are things that I’ve found to work for me in my journey to save money and time eating clean. What are some ways that you maintain a clean eating lifestyle? Share in the comments! :)

How to Acheive Healthy Natural Hair

IMG_3529One night, a little over five years ago, I stayed up until the wee hours of the morning researching natural hair. I wanna say that very night (or maybe the next night), I went and did my first bantu knot out and decided that I wasn’t going to relax my hair again — and I didn’t.

What had taken me so long to go natural after having relaxed hair my whole life? I just didn’t know “how to natural hair”.

Admittedly, I put a lot of time into my hair the first few years and that’s when I saw the most progress. These past couple of years, I haven’t paid my hair as much attention as I did in the beginning of my hair journey and I can tell. My length retention began to get stagnant. I had hit my initial hair goal, so I was okay with not retaining length like crazy.

BUT…. every now and then I see a picture like this that makes me want to grow my hair out more!

Screen Shot 2015-09-02 at 2.44.42 PMSo, I’ve officially decided to reignite my hair journey, but I had to ask myself: How did I retain the hair that I currently have in the first place? What am I going to do to get there? That brings me to my simple list of how to achieve healthy natural hair and retain length, according to my own experience.

Protective style: Protective styling has been INTEGRAL to my natural hair journey. If you aren’t familiar with protective styling, it’s when you wear hairstyles such as buns, updos, weaves, wigs, braids and twists where the ends of your hair are hidden (the ends aren’t necessarily hidden with braids and twists, but I consider them protective styles) and there is minimal manipulation to the hair.

My favorite protective styles are styles where I don’t have to manipulate my hair for long periods of time. My go-tos have been braids and crochet braids. I even enjoy braiding my hair up and throwing on a wig here and there.

Now don’t get me wrong, protective styles can get pretty boring and annoying. Once your hair starts to flourish, you start to want to wear it loose more and more often, but trust me. It’s so worth it to stick to protective styling. I went two years straight of consistent protective styling and that’s where the bulk of my hair progress came from

Low & careful manipulation: The tighter your curl pattern is, the more your hair is subceptible to damage from manipulation. One way I avoid this is by ditching hair tools. If I do use tools, I’ll use a very wide tooth comb during detangling session. Also, keeping the hair stretched (I do this by putting in four braids at night) will keep your hair from getting super tangled, leading to less manipulation and yanking your hair out during detangling sessions.

Moisture and protein balance: One of the most helpful things I learned on my hair journey was that OIL DOES NOT EQUAL MOISTURE! If you’re like me, you grew up thinking that hair grease would keep your hair moisturized. Nope! Water keeps your hair moisturized and oil helps to seal it in. Think of it like this: water and oil don’t mix. If you put a water product on your hair and follow it up with an oil product, it will be harder for the water, which is the real moisturizer, to escape from your hair strands. Moisturizing my hair with a water based product and following it up with oil every day or two is integral to keeping my hair moist, as well as weekly deep conditions.

HOWEVER, there is a such thing as TOO MUCH MOISTURE. I can tell when my hair is getting too much moisture, because when it’s wet, it feels stringy and the hair strands are really stretchy. This needs to be balanced out with protein treatments. Once a month is usually good for protein treatments, but it’s best to go by how your hair FEELS. Protein treatments can be done with Greek yogurt, mayonnaise, eggs, or if you’re not trying to go the fig and berry route, you can pick up some Mane-N-Tail from your local beauty supply store. The options are out there, but make sure you’re incorporating protein treatments to keep your hair nice and strong.

No Heat: This might be kind of extreme, but at the height of my hair journey, I completely swore off all forms of heat. No blow drying. No flat ironing. Not even a hooded blow dryer. I think I went heat free for a good two years. This may not work for everyone, but I do recommend cutting as much heat out of your hair routine as you are comfortable with. Heat can be drying and damaging.

Have patience: Taking pictures helps to have patience, because I find that you don’t really notice your progress unless you have pictures to compare. Also, if your hair is anything like mine, shrinkage will have you fooled and you won’t even realize your hair is almost long enough to step on. ;) This also means, never work with your hair when you’re frustrated or in a rush. This cuts down on getting frustrated and being super rough with your hair.

Of course there are TONS of other things you can do, like drinking tons of water and getting regular exercise, but these are the things at the top of my list that have worked for me. I’ve decided to get back to these basics and put my hair on a routine so that I can retain length better over the next year or so.

Over this course of time, I’ll definitely be back to go into more details like what kinds of products I use. In the meantime, if you have any questions what so ever about caring for natural hair, drop them in the comment section below.

I’ve attached different phases of my hair during my natural hair journey for fun. Check them out! :)

12 Lists: Make A List of Things That Make You Feel Confident


I didn’t forget about the 12 lists — although I’m way behind! For round 2 of the 12 lists that I snagged from Chez Gillian, are things that make me feel confident.

1. Freshly painted nails.

2. Clear skin.

3. Being freshly showered.

4. A good hair day.

5. Being organized.

6. Smelling good.

7. Being “in shape”.

8. A nice outfit.

9. Freshly groomed eyebrows.

10. Eyeliner and my favorite lipstick.

Justice Or Else! Million Man March 20th Anniversary

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Recent events have me utterly disgusted. That’s why I want to do what I can to help get the word out about the Million Man March happening in Washington, D.C. on 10.10.15. You can find out all of the information about it here. I just want to stress how important events like this are and urge anyone who can make it to go.

PHOTO: Grassroots!


The Grassroots Festival of Music & Dance in Trumansburg was…






The coolest places I’ve ever been to!

IMG_5402Grassroots Festival reminded me of why I was so excited to move to this area in the first place. Grassroots is a festival where everyone can be totally shameless — specifically, shamelessly hippie and I loved it! The overall vibe was amazing. It was a happy event, so the energy was great.

There was food, music and fun. I now see why when people move from here, they still find their way back during the summer to attend Grassroots.

PS: One of my favorite parts about the festival was that there was (of course) a vegan food truck there. That meant me being able to eat all of the hot dogs my heart desired. If you don’t eat meat (or the meats necessary to make a hotdog), then you probably understand the struggle of sometimes wanting to just be able to go somewhere and grab a veggie hot dog or burger. Hey, Star Truck in Ithaca!

By the way, I deemed myself the unofficial photographer for my job at Grassroots. Here are some of the pics I snapped!

PHOTO: King Ferry Winery

I’m a little (a lot) late updating some stuff, but I went to an event at King Ferry Winery a few weeks ago. My favorite part about winery events? Wine slushies. Of course I had my camera in tow and took a few pics. :)