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Healthy Holiday Gift Guide 2016: $50 or Under + Safe Skincare Giveaway!

Healthy Holiday Gift Guide Giveaway
It’s officially holiday season! As stressful as December can be, I do love all the twinkly lights, family time, and decorations. I know many of you have started doing some holiday shopping already, but I wanted to help you out if you need more ideas for those hard-to-get folks and I also have a healthy skincare freebie and a giveaway for you at the end of this post!

I love giving gifts that inspire a healthy and happy lifestyle, because of course I want my loved ones to live a long life full of vitality! This gift guide does just that and these items are also easy on the wallet because they are all $50 and under! Hope this helps your holiday shopping go much easier.

2016 Healthy Holiday Gift Guide

  1. Naughty to Nice Charcoal Bar and Mask Gift Set, $48. I’ve talked before about my love for activated charcoal for skin care and how much it’s helped me reduce my hormonal acne. This gift set from Beautycounter contains 2 of their most popular items at a reduced price! I love all their safe and toxin-free skin care products, and I use both the bar soap and the mask regularly to detox my skin of impurities and oils.
  2. Foam Roller, $24.97. When I first bought a foam roller, I didn’t realize how much I would LOVE using it! It works incredibly well at loosening up sore and tight muscles, speeding up recovery time after a workout, and my favorite: massaging my back and shoulders. I hold a lot of stress in my neck and upper body, and foam rolling every night has helped a ton in getting out the kinks and stiffness. It’s one of those gifts that the recipient doesn’t even know if he or she needs it until they try it!
  3. Meditation Pillow, $32.95. I’m a huge proponent of meditation, and I think everyone should try to incorporate it into their daily lives. Having something so comfortable like a meditation pillow will make it so much easier to sit on it and learn to breathe. This one comes in 6 different colors and it’s made with organic cotton. I also love that you can remove the inner fill for easy washing!
  4. Salad Dressing Bottle, $6.99. What a fun little stocking stuffer! This glass salad dressing bottle has 8 different dressing recipes on the bottle with fill lines for the different ingredients. Salad dressing is something that’s so easy to make at home and the typical store bought ones contain crazy ingredients and hydrogenated oils. Now this gift can make it even easier to enjoy homemade dressing. Some of the ingredients suggest vegetable oil and sugar, but you can just omit those and it will still be delicious!
  5. Luminous Nudes Gift Set, $48. Another awesome Beautycounter gift set! This one contains Sheer Lipstick in Twig and Lip Gloss in Bare Shimmer, 2 colors that go with every skin tone. I was a bit nervous about buying these colors because of my dark complexion, but they complement my skin really well. I actually didn’t like to use anything other than lip balm until I started using these! They contain jojoba esters and vitamin E to moisturize and nourish, so your lips are never chapped while using them.
  6. Adult Coloring Book, $9.57. Coloring has become one of my favorite ways to unwind and relax at the end of the day, and this coloring book contains such pretty details and designs. It’s become increasingly important for many of us to slow down and do something we enjoy, especially because we are always on the go and busy at all times, and coloring is a great, calming way to do that. I mean, who doesn’t love to color? It works for many people because you don’t have to be artistic to enjoy this simple activity.
  7. Zoya Nail Polish, $10-20. Since I regularly talk about the importance of safe skincare, I’ve been asked several times what nail polish I like to use. I love a good manicure and pedicure and nail polish wasn’t something I wanted to give up on. Luckily, Zoya’s nail polish is toxin-free and made without common harmful ingredients like toluene, camphor, formaldehyde, formaldehyde resin, and DBP (dibutyl phthalate). Plus, it stays on for a long time which is important for someone like me who cooks all the time. You can buy their nail polish individually (so many colors!), or they have a some great gift sets that you can buy for a reasonable price!
  8. Stainless Steel Lunch Box, $28.95. I’m all about encouraging bringing your lunch to school or work. You just eat so much healthier and more nutritiously when you make your own food. However, the quality of containers that you put your food in is important as well. This stainless steel lunch box is free of BPA, BPS, lead, toxins, and harmful phthalates, and I love the different compartments it comes with! It comes in 2 sizes, but I would go for the large size to pack meals and snacks to hold you over during a long day.
  9. US Wellness Meats Gift Card, $25-250. Some of us are fortunate enough to live near farmers markets and stores that have a great variety of high quality meats. However, there are others who do not have easy access to grass fed beef and pasture raised pork and chicken near them. Well, good news! US Wellness Meats is an awesome company that uses proper farming techniques to raise healthy and happy animals, and they deliver these meats straight to your door! Plus, I love that they have hard-to-find items like rabbit, liver, bones, and even wild-caught seafood. I think their gift cards, ranging from $25-$250, is a great way to support these farmers while encouraging your loved ones to eat better quality, healthier meats.
  10. Homemade Mixed Nuts, $5-10. I love homemade gifts because there’s always so much thought and love that go into them! It’s even better if it’s something you can eat. There are many recipes out there, but my Spiced Maple Rosemary Mixed Nuts are a hit every time and people really love them during holiday season! It’s a perfect combination of salty, spicy, and sweet. Put it in a glass jar, tie a bow around it, and it instantly becomes so pretty and fun. These kinds of gifts are also perfect when you are trying to save money over the holidays.

Safe Skincare Freebie & Giveaway time!

Healthy Holiday Gift Guide Giveaway

Now it’s my turn to gift YOU something. I’m in such a happy holiday mood, that:

I’m giving anyone who orders from Beautycounter through me in the entire month of December a free sample of the Purifying Charcoal Mask – no minimum orders!

I absolutely love the charcoal mask and I use it about twice as week, and it’s also great as a spot treatment on acne. It really is one of the best methods to cleanse and detox your skin! This offer ends on 12/31/16, 11:59pm PST.  Start shopping HERE!

Now for the giveaway

1 lucky winner will score Beautycounter’s travel set, worth $48, which includes:

  • Body Wash in Citrus Mimosa
  • Hydrating Body Lotion in Citrus Mimosa
  • Daily Shampoo and Conditioner
  • Travel Bag

All these items are safe and toxin free, and perform beautifully. It’s a perfect set to pack for your holiday travels! To win, enter below:

This giveaway is open to US residents only. It will be open for entry until Friday, 12/9/16 at 11:59pm PST. The winner will be announced above and will also be contacted by email.

Happy Holidays and good luck!

Healthy Holiday Gift Guide Giveaway

2016 Healthy Holiday Gift Guide

Safe Toxin-Free Skin Care Freebie Giveaway

What Great Grandma Ate / Jean Choi is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.
Regarding other affiliate links and affiliate relationships: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. Thank you for your support and understanding.

Safe and Toxin-Free Cookware Guide

Safe and Toxin-Free Cookware Guide
Once you start eating better, moving more, and making a conscious effort to live a healthier lifestyle, it’s important to think of all aspects of our lives that we need to clean out toxins and harmful chemicals from. One example of this is in our kitchen. And no, I don’t mean the food that we put into our body, although that is extremely important. I’m talking about the things we cook our food in. No matter how clean we are eating, we may ingesting toxins that disrupt our hormones and health if we use cookware and bakeware that are made or coated with harmful substances.

There are so many products out there when it comes to cookware, and it can be confusing to figure out what the safest and most toxin-free options are. Here’s a helpful guide to figure out which pans and pots you can keep, and which ones you can toss.


STAINLESS STEEL. Stainless steel cookware is one of the most cost-effective solutions if you want to replace some of your cookware right way. They are also quite durable and last a long time (I’ve had one of my pots for over 5 years now). The only negative about stainless steel is that they are not non-stick, so they are not ideal if you want to fry up some over easy eggs.

CERAMIC. Another thing our ancestors got right. Ceramic cookware (and I’m talking about 100% ceramic, not ceramic coated – which I will talk about later) is not only safe but enhances the flavor of the food by cooking it slowly and gently. Because of this, it’s not ideal for flash cooking or stir-fry. However, ceramic cookware is an excellent addition to the kitchen and they are nonreactive, without containing any metals that can leech into our food.

CAST IRON. This is one of my favorites and another old-fashioned cookware that’s probably the safest option. Many people are intimidated by cast iron because it needs to be seasoned routinely, but it’s really not difficult to do at all. Once you learn how to clean and season it properly, it’s awesome for non-stick cooking, both on the stove top and in the oven. Plus, if you take care of it properly, cast iron cookware can last a lifetime!

ENAMELED CAST IRON. I think I would own way more enameled cast iron cookware if they weren’t so ridiculously expensive. LeCreuset ones are also so pretty to look at. I have one which is a hand-me-down from my mom and I absolutely love it. Unlike a standard cast iron, it’s easy to clean and doesn’t need to be seasoned. It also cooks food evenly and is safe for both the stove top and the oven.

GLASS. Excellent for all your baking needs, oven safe glassware like Pyrex comes in various sizes. They also don’t break easily which is great for someone clumsy like me. I use it not only for baking, but also as food storage ever since I got rid of all plastic anything from our kitchen. Just remember that it IS glass, so you should avoid sudden extreme temperature changes and never put it in the broiler.

ANODIZED ALUMINUM (MAYBE). The process of anodization seals the aluminum so it doesn’t leech into the food. Anodized aluminum cookware is nonstick, scratch-resistant, and easy to clean. However, they do not last a long time. After about a year of use, the surface may wear down and the aluminum may start entering into the food that you cook in it. Just to be safe, I don’t use anodized aluminum cookware. However, it may be an okay option to use once in a while if you need an easy, non-stick surface to cook on.


TEFLON or NON-STICK. As convenient as Teflon cookware are, the part that makes them non-stick is what makes them leech synthetic chemicals that are harmful to our health. The coating on the pan breaks down especially at high temperature, and creates toxic and carcinogenic fumes that are released into the air and in our food. These fumes are even known to kill birds. To make matters worse, these pans scratch easily and the particles that are scratched off can enter into our food as well.

ALUMINUM. Another huge no-no when it comes to cookware is aluminum. There’s a connection between aluminum ingestion and Alzheimer’s disease, and it’s also known to cause bone and and kidney issues by depleting necessary minerals in our body. Aluminum leeches extremely easily, especially at high temperature or in contact with acidic foods like lemon and tomatoes. I advise you stop using aluminum foil in cooking as well. You may find some stainless cookware with an aluminum base. This is an acceptable choice as long the food doesn’t touch is the aluminum, and the surface isn’t damaged.

CERAMIC COATED PANS (MAYBE). Ceramic coatings have been pretty popular in the recent years and there are even knives that come with the trendy ceramic coating. Despite the name, the surfaces of these cookware are actually not ceramic in the traditional sense of the word. They are dipped or sprayed with synthetic polymer solution that dries into these non-stick plastic coatings. Ceramic coated pans, usually aluminum inside, do not last a long time. With heat and use, the coating wears down and you start ingesting the coating AND the reactive metals underneath. My recommendation is to not use it, but they may be okay once in a while if you take great care not to scratch the surface. Overall, it’s really not worth it to me.

Don’t be overwhelmed if you own Teflon or aluminum cookware at home. It’s never too late to make these changes. You can gradually start switching out pans and pots one by one, and within a few months, your kitchen will be toxin free and you won’t have to worry about the metals you may be ingesting in your food. If you have a tight budget, I suggest going with stainless steel cookware because they are safe and relatively cheap. Either way, aluminum and heavy metal toxicity is so common and serious in today’s world, and I think reducing these exposures in your kitchen is a great starting point and investment you can make toward your health.

What Great Grandma Ate / Jean Choi is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.
Regarding other affiliate links and affiliate relationships: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. Thank you for your support and understanding.

Safe and Toxin-Free Cookware Guide

Holiday Gift Guide 2015

I had such a nice long weekend doing things that got me in the holiday spirit finally. (Before this past weekend, I was one of those people screaming, “why is there a Christmas commercial on already?!?”)  We ate a ton of leftovers from Thanksgiving, bought a Christmas tree and decorated the apartment, and I did some online holiday shopping for myself friends and family.

If you haven’t gotten to your holiday list yet, don’t ya worry. I’m here to help you out! This holiday gift guide will encourage your loved ones to take steps to leading a healthy lifestyle. Sometimes, it’s hard for someone to take the initiative to change their behaviors on their own, but if they receive a gift from someone that encourages them to do so, they are more likely to try it out and find out how much they love making that change.  If you need additional ideas, you can also check out my 2014 gift guide. This one, like last year’s, is all under $50! So let’s get started.2015 holiday gift guide

  1. To Your Health Sprouted Flours, $4.50+. Sprouting grains makes them much more absorbable during digestion without stripping our body of necessary nutrients. Whether you know someone who is gluten free, have a hard time digesting grains, or they just love to try out new types of food, sprouted grains are a great gift. This site also sells ground up sprouted grains which are perfect for all your baking needs, while still preserving the grains’ nutritional density.
  2. Conair Cuisinart Hand Blender, $34.95. This is one of my most prized kitchen gadgets I have at home. It makes making soups, paleo mayonnaise, sauces, and smoothies a cinch, while minimizing cleanup which is always a plus. It also saves cooking time because you don’t have to take the extra step of transferring food into a food processor or a blender.
  3. Organic and non-GMO Culinary Herb Set, $13.99. This is the perfect stocking stuffer for anyone who is looking into having an indoor garden of edible herbs. I think growing our own food is so important, and this is a way to take your first step into doing that. Not only that, it’s so easy to do, and so satisfying to eat something that you grow yourself.
  4. Portable Adjustable Laptop Stand, $37.99. Sitting for a long time can be awful for your neck and back, and can create disorders in your bones and organs. However, standing desks can be pretty expensive. This portable and adjustable laptop stand is an economic solution so you can stand when you do work while keeping your health in check. Plus, it comes with a cooling fan so your laptop won’t overheat!
  5. The Casual Veggie Cookbook, $18. Woop, this is a shameless self-promotion, but I’m okay with it because it’s such a great resource for both beginner and experienced cooks out there. The Casual Veggie is a cookbook I contributed to focusing on 29 different seasonal vegetables, and various recipes on how to cook with each of them. It can sometimes be difficult to figure out what to do with even the most common vegetables when you are in a cooking rut. This book has so many ideas on how to celebrate different vegetables in easy creative ways. You can read more about the details here.
  6. Sockwell Chevron Compression Socks, $18.99+. I so wish I had these when I was flying to and from Asia. I think compression socks are one of those things that everyone agrees is a great idea, but they never take the step to buy a pair for themselves. Whether you are runner, or you sit or stand for long periods of time, they increase the blood flow in your legs and decreases aches and swelling. They are a great solution for promoting circulation in your legs, and which I think most of us need. Not only that, I think that the chevron designs on these are so cute!
  7. Young Living Essential Oils, $15+. I love essential oils, and I use them at home all the time. I make cleaning products, flea repellants for the dogs, lotion, toothpaste, and all kinds of home and body care items using essential oils and their scents really makes a difference in their effectiveness! I also like to just diffuse the oils at home according to my mood and mental and physical needs. I’ve used many different types of essential oils before, but Young Living is the brand I like the best and found to be the most effective. You can sign up to be a member and get access to top quality, organic oils at wholesale prices. They are so versatile and make great stocking stuffers.
  8. Presto Dehydrator, $33.99. Dehydrators are great for making healthy treats at home like kale chips, beef jerky, dried fruits, and more! These snacks usually tend to contain preservatives and artificial flavorings when you buy the packaged versions, so owning a dehydrator can really help make those snacks healthier and customizable with your own spices and flavors.
  9. 180s Bluetooth II Ear Warmer Head Phone, $36.70+. Just because it’s cold outside, doesn’t mean you should forgo all outdoor exercises. It doesn’t get cold enough here in NorCal for me to rock these headphones, but they would have definitely came in handy when I lived in NYC. Enjoy your winter hike with your favorite podcast or Taylor Swift songs with these cute ear warmer head phones. I love that they are bluetooth which means no annoying tangled wires!
  10. Kombucha Starter Kit, $49. There are so many benefits to drinking this probiotic-filled drink, but buying kombucha drinks from health stores can really do a number on your bank account. However, it can also be a bit intimidating to try to make it at home when you’ve never done it before. This kombucha starter kit comes with everything your loved ones will need with clear step-by-step instructions so they can soon be a kombucha brew master (and you can steal a few sips too)!

What Great Grandma Ate / Jean Choi is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

Regarding other affiliate links and affiliate relationships: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. Thank you for your support and understanding.