Category Archives: Lifestyle

My Favorite Non-Toxic Mattress

After much research, learn how and why I picked my favorite non-toxic mattress that is not only natural and free of harmful chemicals, but also extremely comfortable!

Disclaimer: I was received a product to try in return for my honest review. I fully stand behind this product, and the opinions are 100% my own.

non-toxic mattress

As someone who doesn’t sleep well with even a little bit of stress, having a comfortable sleep space and mattress is essential for my health and well-being. After sleeping on a cheap mattress for 5 years with constant back pain, and moving to a new, bigger house, it was definitely time to look into upgrading our mattress.

Why Non-Toxic Mattress?

The first requirement I had when I started mattress shopping was that they had to be non-toxic. Most mattresses on the market are filled with harmful chemicals that can not only pollute the air in the bedroom, but also our bodies. With years of suffering for hormonal imbalance and health issues, this was a non-negotiable.

Some of the toxic chemicals and ingredients that I wanted to avoid are:

  • Polyurethane foam
  • Formaldehyde
  • VOCs (volatile organic compounds)
  • Flame-retardant chemicals
  • PVC covers
  • Vinyl

Many of these are linked to cancer and have adverse effects on our immune system, endocrine system, and our respiratory health. These compounds have also been linked to infertility, obesity, and even developmental brain disorders. They also pollute our environment as well.

We spend a third of our lives sleeping in our bed and it’s during this time that our body detoxes the most, and our bodies can’t properly do their jobs when we are loading our system with these chemicals. We also have 2 small dogs that sleep in the bed with us, and I don’t even want to imagine what those toxins could do to their tiny bodies.

Why We Chose Sleep on Latex Mattress

non-toxic mattress

After doing a ton of research on the safety and comfort of various non-toxic mattress companies, we finally landed on a brand called Sleep on Latex. Sleep on Latex mattresses are made of 100% natural latex foam without any synthetic materials that emit toxins.

Their mattresses also go through rigorous testing to make sure they are highest in quality and safety. Not only that, they are lined with certified organic New Zealand wool for a breathable cover that naturally provides an effective fire barrier without the use of fire retardant chemicals.

And most importantly, I loved that you can choose the thickness of the mattress, as well as the firmness of the mattress from soft, medium, to firm depending on your preference. I have scoliosis and soft mattresses really mess up my back and I wake up with shoulder and back pains if I sleep on one, so I had to make sure I could get a non-toxic mattress that was also firm and comfortable.

Synthetic vs. Natural Latex Mattresses

Synthetic Latex

Believe it or not, the quality of your latex MATTERS to our health and our environment. Synthetic latex is cheaper for a reason. It’s made with petroleum-based compounds, styrene and butadiene, which are both VOCs and pose serious health risks especially to our central nervous system.

And many companies will market their mattresses as “natural latex” when most of it is synthetic with a little bit of natural latex mixed in, so make sure the label says “100% natural latex.” You’ll also notice that synthetic latex will have strong chemical odor when you first open it, which also impacts our health and causes headache, fatigue, and depression long term.

Natural Latex

Natural latex, on the other hand, is made from milky white liquid extracted from rubber trees which is why it’s 100% natural. Sleep on Latex‘s mattresses, specifically, are made from latex harvested in Sri Lanka. Because of this, it is eco-friendly without any harmful chemicals, and natural latex is actually more durable than synthetic latex and it has a more springy feel.

From Sleep on Latex’s site:

Rubber trees must be grown for several years before they will yield latex. Each tree can be used for up to twenty years. The cuts in the tree are periodically changed to maximize yield. After the latex is collected from the rubber trees, it is thickened (by removing excess water) and shipped to factories for use.

Rubber tree plantations have far less of a negative impact on the land than other crops, and they encourage much more biological diversity than other monoculture crops. It takes about ten years of growth before the rubber tree starts producing sufficient amounts of latex. This waiting period ensures that new rubber trees are being planted continuously.

How cool is that? I never ever knew that natural latex came from a tree and how sustainable it is without causing harm to our health.

non-toxic mattress

Test and Certifications to Ensure Quality

On top of being made from 100% natural latex, Sleep on Latex put their non-toxic mattress through rigorous testing to make sure that they are high in quality and free of harmful chemicals, which I was extremely impressed with.

Their latex foam is certified by both OEKO-TEX and eco-INSTITUT, the world’s leading independent textile emissions testing bodies. These groups perform tests that measures any harmful emissions (such as VOCs). Products must comply with strict emissions standards to obtain certification. Sleep on Latex’s foam carries a Class 1 certification (safe for babies and toddlers) from OEKO-TEX, which is the most stringent class, and ensures that the product doesn’t contain several HUNDREDS of harmful substances, from heavy metals, carcinogenic dyes, and pesticides.

Sleep on Latex’s factory also carries an ISO 14001 certification, which is an environmental practices certification that shows that an organization has made an exceptional effort to reduce waste and use their resources efficiently to improve environmental performance.

Our Personal Experience With Sleep on Latex

Now that I explained how Sleep on Latex makes great non-toxic mattresses, I’ll go a bit into our personal experience with our new mattress!

Since we wanted to upgrade to a king-sized mattress from a queen, we decided to go with a king 9-inch thick mattress that’s firm. I was adamant about going with the firmest one because of my back issues that get worse when I sleep on a soft surface.

The mattress was delivered to our house rolled up tightly and compressed in a plastic wrap. There was no assembly needed, we just removed the plastic and the mattress sprung out into its full size. And the best part? It didn’t smell AT ALL. I always get such a headache when I order a new furniture and the smell is so strong and unpleasant, and I was so pleased that we didn’t have to air out the mattress at all before using it.

non-toxic mattress

After sleeping on it for several weeks now, I can’t say enough great things about this mattress. Not only is it so comfortable with just the right amount of firmness, I’ve been sleeping better and my back pains are significantly reduced!

I was actually nervous that it wouldn’t be comfortable at first, because it’s a natural, non-toxic mattress so they may have had to compromise on the support and texture to make it without all the synthetic materials and toxins. However, I can honestly say that it’s one of the best mattresses I’ve ever slept on and even my husband (who does NOT care about toxins or any kind of “safe” or “natural” labels) has said how comfortable and great it is!

If you are interested in switching out your mattress or are in the market for a new one, I highly recommend you check out Sleep on Latex. They also have mattress toppers and pillows, which I’m sure are great quality too.

We found that our 9-inch thick mattress doesn’t need a topper, but we may purchase their king-sized pillows now that we are in love with their mattress.

Check out Sleep on Latex here.

Other Ways to Detoxify Your Bedroom

Not only have we switched to a non-toxic mattress, we have taken several simple steps to detoxify our bedroom. The bedroom is my safe space and I want it to be peaceful and clear of any harmful substances that may lurk in various products or building materials. Here are some easy ways to detoxify your bedroom:

  • Himalayan salt lamp. Yes, not only are Himalayan salt lamps pretty to look at and create a zen space, they actually purify the air. Salt pulls in water molecules from the room, including bacteria and pollutants. When the lamp is on and heats up, it releases water molecules back into the air but holds in the pollutants, naturally purifying the air. It’s also known to increase your energy levels, reduce allergy symptoms, and help you sleep better. This is the one that I have.
  • Beeswax candles. Beeswax is  known as nature’s air purifier because it releases negative ions when burned. Any kind of air contaminants like dirt, pollen, and pollutants carry positive ions. When negative ions from the beeswax meet the positive ions in the air contaminants, they are neutralized and this purifies the air naturally. Such a cool process! Learn how to make your own beeswax candles here.
  • No shoes. We actually have a no-shoe policy in our entire house which my husband loosely follows (insert eye-roll here). Your shoes can carry pollen, toxins, and bacteria that can easily be transferred into the house, so I am especially strict about this rule in the bedroom.
  • Organic bedding. Just like how our mattresses can contain toxins and pesticides, so can our sheets and pillow covers! This one’s an easier and more economical way to reduce toxins in the bedroom if you are not ready to switch out your entire mattress yet, so I highly recommend you invest in some organic cotton sheets. We really like these sheets, and they are so soft and comfortable!
  • Plants. If you follow me on Instagram, you know how much I love collecting plants for the house! Not only do they look pretty, they are actually really great for purifying the air. Some of the best air purifying plants are: spider plants, ficus, snake plant, ferns, aloe vera, and dracaena.
  • Air purifier. This is an obvious one, but I realized that not many people own one. Air purifiers clear the air of harmful pollutants, dust, pollen, smoke, and even mold. They range in size and price, but I really like this compact one for the bedroom that uses a 3-stage Air Filtration System that includes a pre-filter, true HEPA filter, & activated carbon filter.

I hope this post was helpful in educating yourself a bit about the importance of our mattress quality and choosing a non-toxic mattress for you and your family. Our bedroom is where we spend our time the most so I hope you’ll take some steps to detoxify your bedroom to make it a clean and safe space!

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.

How We Adjusted Raw Feeding For Our Dogs

After years of trying out various foods and diets, here’s how we have adjusted raw feeding for our dogs to fit our budget and convenience. Recipe and our favorite raw food brands included!

Raw Feeding For Our Dogs

When I recently talked about how we choose raw feeding for our dogs on Instagram, I got several questions requesting more details on their diet. I’ve talked about the benefits of raw food for dogs in this post and how it changed my dogs’ health, so I would start there if you want to learn more about it.

What is raw feeding?

Raw feeding is based on the guideline that our pets should eat the closest diet to that of their ancestors for optimal health. For dogs, that would mean eating like how wolves do in the wild. While wolves are omnivores, their ideal diet is based on raw meats, bones, and organs. You can also supplement with some veggies and fruits but they should be only a small percentage of their diet.

Raw Feeding For Our Dogs

Why we adjusted raw feeding for our dogs

When we first started out feeding our dogs raw, we used the BARF method (Biologically Appropriate Raw Foods), with a high percentage of meat, some bones and organs, and very little veggies and fruits. It worked really well for a while and my Frenchie’s skin allergies went away and my Shih Tzu’s hair got so healthy and shiny.

However, both of them were losing weight rapidly with raw feeding and we were realizing that in order for them to stay a healthy weight AND eat like how they are doing, we would have to feed them way more and it would be way too expensive for us to keep up with all the meat we were buying.

A more balanced approach for our family

So we’ve been switching up their food for a few years to find something that would work for all of us: A healthy diet for the dogs with the convenience, both financially and physically, for us. This meant switching it up quite often to see what would work best for us: high quality kibble, prepared raw food products, homemade meals, etc.

In the past year, I finally landed on a more balanced approach that’s been working really well. I’ve been raw feeding them, but with some cooked veggies and a different ratio of components to keep their weight up. Upping their carbs with veggies helps them not lose weight, and cooking them makes them more digestible.

Raw Feeding For Our Dogs

If we are too busy or we forget to make their food, we purchase prepared raw food. Luckily, we live close to a pet store called Pet Food Express, that has some amazing raw food options and they even have homemade raw food as well!

However, if we are traveling and have to leave them with a sitter, we feed them freeze-dried raw food or high quality kibble. We don’t want the sitter to worry about wet food while we are gone (not everyone’s comfortable handling raw meats and organ meats), and the dogs do great on them for a short time.

My personal raw feeding guideline

Most of the food that I prepare for our dogs consists of raw meat. I use chicken or turkey, because I’ve found that fattier cuts of meat will upset their stomachs. Every 2-3 days, I’ll add raw bones to their food, such as cut up chicken wings or bones leftover from cooking (ALWAYS RAW, cooked bones can splinter).

When I can find organ meats, I add a bit of it to their food. If I can’t, I just sprinkle some Perfect Supplements’ powdered desiccated liver to their food, which is grass fed and packed with nutrients.

You can get 10% off desiccated liver and other Perfect brand supplements with code: GREATGRANDMA10!

Raw Feeding For Our Dogs

With veggies and fruits, my guideline is this: however much meat I give them, 20% of that will be veggies and fruits. This is all in weights. I have a cheap kitchen scale to measure everything out. I measure the weight of veggies and fruits when they are raw and then cook the veggies afterwards.

For example, if I’m preparing 5 lbs of meat for the dogs, 1 lb of that would be veggies and fruits.

Raw feeding recipe for our family

Raw Feeding For Our Dogs

Of course, this is more work than feeding them kibble, so I make a big batch of their food about every 2 weeks and keep the food in the fridge. Here’s my exact recipe that our dogs love:

Our Personalize Raw Feeding Recipe for Our Dogs

Author: Jean Choi

After years of trying out various foods and diets, here's how we have adjusted raw feeding for our dogs.

Print

Ingredients

  • 8 lbs raw meat usually turkey or chicken
  • 1 1/4 lbs organ meats liver, kidney, spleen
  • OR 4 scoops Perfect Desiccated Liver Powder Use code GREATGRANDMA10 for 10% off your entire order
  • 1 1/2 lbs raw veggies and fruits make sure they are safe for pets!
  • Small raw bones chicken wings or thigh bones

Instructions

  1. If the raw meat and organs aren't ground up or in small pieces, cut up into smaller pieces or pulse several times in the food processor.

  2. Measure out the veggies and fruits. Fruits can be eaten raw, but for sensitive tummies, steam the veggies until they are soft. I like to use the Instant Pot to cook veggies easily and quickly.  

  3. Cool the veggies and place in the food processor with the fruits.

  4. Pulse several time until they are in small pieces or ground up.

  5. In a large mixing bowl, combine the meats, veggies, fruits, and Perfect Desiccated Liver Powder, if using. 

  6. Store in the fridge and feed the dogs during their feeding time. The quantity is different for all dogs so try different amounts until you find what's right for them.

  7. Add raw bones to their food every 2-3 days.

Recipe Notes

I have 2 dogs and one is 12 lbs, and the other is 25 lbs. This amount lasts me about 2 weeks for both of them.

Here are some of my favorite veggies and fruits to give my dogs:

  • carrots
  • bananas
  • blueberries
  • sweet potatoes
  • plantains
  • apples
  • green beans
  • pumpkin
  • broccoli
  • cauliflower
  • brussels sprouts
  • cantaloupe
  • celery
  • cucumbers
  • mangos
  • oranges
  • pears
  • spinach

Raw Feeding For Our Dogs

Raw feeding may not be right for every dog.

Just like humans, not one diet works for every dog, AND THAT’S OKAY. I know many people who tried raw feeding for their dogs, but their dogs had a bad reaction to it. Some dogs may have evolved too much that they can’t stomach raw meats.

I definitely think it’s worth trying raw feeding for every dog because it truly has improved our dogs’ health dramatically, but I understand that it may not be right for everyone. In that case, you can feed them quality kibble or freeze-dried food instead.

If you want to try out raw feeding but don’t want to make your dog’s food or you are just too busy to, below are some of my favorite store-bought options, both frozen raw products and freeze-dried products!

High quality frozen raw food brands

Because these are frozen raw meats, you’ll have to see if your local pet store has them. However, a few do ship and deliver to your house.

High quality freeze dried raw food brands

There are some great freeze dried options as well, and these are great for when we are traveling and don’t want the dog sitter to deal with raw meat and bones. You just add water to them and they bulk up into wet food that our dogs love.

High quality kibble

We do feed our dogs high quality kibble when we are traveling as well, because they are much easier to find and really convenient on the go. There are so many brands out there, and we are still experimenting with what works best for our dogs. I’ll update with another blog post when we find one that we really love!


Hope this post helped you answer any questions about how I’ve been feeding my dogs. Again, this may change in the future depending on how my dogs react. Just like humans, our dogs need individual nutrition which may change overtime. I highly recommend you experiment with different meats, ratios, and veggies to figure out what works best for them!

Benefits of Neem Oil for Skin

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Nubian Heritage. I was compensated and received a product to try. I fully stand behind this product, and the opinions are 100% my own.

Learn the amazing benefits of neem oil for skin, and how you can incorporate it into your routine with safe and natural products!

I first heard of neem being used in toothpastes, because it’s effective in reducing bacteria that cause cavities and decreasing plaque in the process. It’s only recently that I’ve heard of it being used in skin care products for a variety of benefits, and I was fascinated when I learned more about it and how amazing it is for so many skin issues!

What is Neem Oil?

Neem is an herb that’s been used for thousands of years in India for traditional remedies. Neem oil is extracted from the seeds of the neem tree, and has been used in medicine, skin care, hair care, and even pest control.

It’s contains powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal components, such as azadirachtin (natural insecticide), vitamins C and E,  carotenoids, linoleic acid, oleic acid, and nimbidin, which is known to have potent antihistamine and antiseptic properties.

Neem Oil for Skin Care

Benefits of Neem Oil for Skin

I was so amazed to find all the benefits that neem oil has on our skin health! It’s basically the unicorn of skincare, and is very popular in India in many of their products for this reason.

  1. Great for dry skin. Because neem oil contains vitamin E and also rich in healthy fatty acids, it’s great for healing cracked dry skin by penetrating into the skin. It also locks in moisture to smooth out the skin texture.
  2. Clears out acne. Neem oil is naturally anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial, so it’s great for removing bacteria from your skin and combatting acne. It also soothes redness and known to reduce acne scars as well! I also love that it won’t dry out the skin like other products that target acne
  3. Combats wrinkles. Did you know that neem also promotes collagen production, which is amazing for anti-aging? It’s also rich in vitamin E, which reduces free radicals in the skin to reverse damages and keep your skin supple. Don’t mind me while I bathe myself in neem oil.
  4. Evens out skin tone. As someone who struggles with uneven skin pigmentation, I love this one! Hyperpigmentation of the skin can happen with the overproduction of melanin, and neem oil balances out the melanin secretion to lighten up dark spots. It’s especially great for spot treatment!
  5. Reduce inflammation for eczema. Neem has been known to reduce redness and inflammation for eczema and relieve dry itchy skin. It’s an effective emollient, which prevents loss of moisture and helps build a protective layer over the skin.
  6. Nature’s insecticide. One of the ingredients in neem is azadirachtin, a powerful and natural pest and insect repellant. I usually like to avoid any kind of commercial bug repellants because they are so full of harmful chemicals, so I’m excited to add a neem based product the next time I’m hiking or camping!

Nubian Heritage Skin Care

Neem Oil for Skin Care

After learning about all the benefits of neem oil, one of the safe and toxin free skin care products I found that contained it was Nubian Heritage‘s Indian Hemp Haitian Vetiver line. It’s a new-to-me brand that uses ingredients and methods inspired by ancient rituals passed through communal wisdom. How cool is that? And best of all, they focus on culturally authentic ingredients which are ethically sourced and safe for the skin.

So far, I’ve been using the body wash, body lotion, and deodorant, and I’ve been loving them! They smell amazing from a combination of essential oils and no harsh fragrances, and they’ve been really gentle on the skin.

I especially love the body wash, because it lathers easily but leaves my skin really hydrated, and using the lotion afterwards really gives my skin an extra layer of moisture all day. The aluminum-free deodorant kept me smelling fresh for 12 hours straight on a hot summer day, and a little goes a long way without staining any of my clothes! I’ve been using these products for 2 weeks now with no complaints.

Along with neem oil, Indian Hemp Haitian Vetiver line uses hemp oil, which is rich in Omega-3 fatty acids for that added anti-inflammatory benefit. I just love how soothing these products are, and more importantly, they contain clean and safe ingredients that are organic and fair trade!

Neem Oil for Skin Care

You can order these products through Nubian Heritage’s website, but I’ve also found them at my local natural grocers like Sprouts and Whole Foods. If you are looking to clean up your skincare routine of all the toxic goop found in conventional products, I highly recommend you try them out!