Operation Nutrition

nutrition, fitness, motherhood, & everything in between

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Smoked Turkey

Happy Sunday everyone! Can you believe that Thanksgiving is this week?

The holidays are definitely my favorite time of year, but this year just seems so much more exciting with a 1-year old. We are hosting Thanksgiving this year and I’m really looking forward to it. To be honest though, we are only making a few things from scratch. The majority of the food is being ordered through Wegman’s. If you’ve never tried their catering, I highly recommend it. The food is fresh and they have such a large assortment to choose from. We are buying a deep-fried turkey and cooking one ourselves. My husband got a new smoker so he’s planning to smoke a turkey. He tried it out last week (so that we would know how it would turn out). It was delicious! In fact, it was so good, that I wanted to share the recipe with you.

It’s a 2-day process because we you brine it overnight. I’ve roasted turkeys before, but never brined or smoked one. I forgot to take a picture before we cut it, so here’s a (not so great) picture.

Smoked Turkey

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Here are the ingredients you’ll need to make a smoked turkey:

For the brine:

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup molasses
  • 1.5 cups salt
  • 1/4 cup apple spice dry rub
  • 5 bay leaves
  • 1/2 bundle of fresh thyme
  • 1 tbsp. whole peppercorn

For the smoker, turkey, & seasoning rub:

  • apple & cherry wood chips (soaked prior to use)
  • whole turkey (ours was 14lbs.)
  • 1 cup of Ghee
  • 1/2 cup salt; divided
  • 1/2 cup garlic powder; divided
  • 1/2 cup Louisiana spice mix; divided
  • 1 large onion; quartered
  • 1 orange peel
  • 1 lemon peel
  • 1/2 bundle of fresh thyme

Directions:

For the brine: (Be sure to brine the turkey for at least 12 hours before planning to cook)

1. Boil 1 gallon of water. Mix all of the brine dry ingredients together.

2. Dissolve all ingredients in boiling water (about 10 minutes).

3. After everything is dissolved, add ice to mixture to cool. Place 2 oven bags (double-bagged) into a deep disposable aluminum baking pan. Place thoroughly cleaned turkey into the bag. Pour mixture to turkey bag (be sure to have turkey completely submerged…you might need to add water to the brine to ensure that the turkey is completely covered).

4. Place in refrigerator and let it soak for at least 12 hours.

Prep Smoker:

1. Preheat smoker to 350 degrees. Add apple & cherry wood chips.

Turkey Seasoning:

1. Mix rub ingredients together (1cup Ghee, 1/4 cup salt, 1/4 cup garlic powder, 1/4 cup Louisiana spice mix).

2. Using your hands, cover turkey well with the rub.

3. Mix the remaining dry ingredients (1/4 cup salt, 1/4 cup garlic powder, 1/4 cup Louisiana spice mix). Use this mixture to coat the top of the turkey.

4. Stuff the turkey with quartered onion, orange peel, lemon peel, & 1/2 bundle of fresh thyme.

Smoke turkey:

1. Place turkey in smoker directly on rack.

2. Cook turkey at 350 degrees for about 3 hours (or until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees). Replace wood chips and water after about 1 1/2 hours or so.

3. Enjoy!

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“Zoodles”

Hey there! Can you believe that Thanksgiving is next week (I have a recipe that I plan to post later this week)?!?!? Time is going by so quickly. There’s been so much going on here lately.

First, the 2015 Fall Shred is underway and the group of people doing it are nothing short of amazing. Not only are they working hard to reach their goals, but they encourage one another along the way. I’m honored to be “coaching” this awesome group.

I’ve made spaghetti “noodles” with spaghetti squash a lot and it’s definitely a meal I enjoy. But, I just recently made spaghetti “noodles” using zucchini and I LOVE it so much more than spaghetti squash. I think that the zucchini noodles have more flavor and a better texture. I also think that it’s so much easier to make (especially if you use a spiralizer). My husband and my 1-year-old both love this meal too!

“Zoodles”

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Here are the ingredients you’ll need to make 2 servings:

  • 3 medium zucchini
  • 1 cup of tomato sauce
  • Parmesan cheese to taste

Cut both ends off of zucchini.

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Using a spiralizer, attach zucchini and make “noodles”.

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Boil “noodles” for about 3-4 minutes. Drain.

Divide into 2 equal portions and cover with tomato sauce & cheese. Enjoy!

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I am going to make this again this week, but I am going to add some meatballs. Let me know if you give it a try. I’d love to hear what you think.

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Fall Shred 2015

 

Fall Shred

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Fitness and nutrition go hand in hand, so by signing up you’ll get over a month’s worth of meal plans, workouts, and chances to win prizes.

Whether you’re trying to lose weight, eat healthier, or just want to do something different, the Fall Shred is for you!

If you did my Fall Fitness & Nutrition Challenge back in 2013, you’ll find that the format is very similar. However, there will be one major addition to this year’s Fall Shred. I’ll be posting videos to help you with some of the fitness moves.

Here’s everything that you’ll receive for signing up:

Meal Plans:

  • Every week you will be emailed a meal plan for the upcoming week (usually on a Friday).
  • Meals will consist of breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack, & dessert options.
  • You will have a couple of options to chose from in case you don’t like certain foods or have dietary restrictions.
  • Meal plans will come with recipes that are fast, healthy, & perfect for those busy week nights.
  • Prior to beginning this challenge, I can do a free calorie assessment for you, so that you know how many calories you should be eating each day.

Fitness Plans:

  • Every week you will be emailed a fitness plan for the upcoming week (again, usually on a Friday).
  • The fitness plans will consist of 5 different workouts that include cardiovascular training & strength training.
  • The workouts included in the fitness plan are extremely flexible so you can do them anywhere (at home, at the gym, etc.)
  • The best thing about the workouts is that you can tailor them to meet your individual needs. They can be pretty challenging, but there are modifications that you can make to get a great workout.
  • You will not need expensive equipment to do the fitness plan. You will only need dumbbells ranging from   5 lbs. to 20 lbs. (depending on your fitness level). You can even use your body weight for most of the workouts.
  • I will be providing videos to demonstrate proper form and certain exercises.

Additional great things you will get:

A Private Fall Fitness & Nutrition Challenge Page

This will be a private Facebook group where you can interact with others that are doing the challenge. It will be a place where you can ask questions, and encourage and motivate one another.

Coaching (This is the part that I’m most excited about!!!)

I will be helping you throughout this entire challenge. If you have questions, need modifications, or just need clarification, I’m here for you. You’ll be able to contact me whenever you need to!

Prizes

Throughout this challenge, I will be giving away prizes. This is just a fun way to keep everyone motivated. Smile

What is the cost to participate in this challenge?

The cost is only $30!!! This breaks down to about 85 cents a day for an entire month’s worth of meal ideas, workouts, and a private group (not to mention some pretty cool prizes too)!!!

When does the challenge start?

The challenge begins on Monday, November 2, 2015.

When does the challenge end?

The challenge ends on Sunday, December 6, 2015.

When does registration begin?

Today! Wednesday, October 21, 2015

When does registration end?

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Sign up here:





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No-Bake Chewy Granola Bars

Happy Tuesday! I have a new (and so easy) recipe for you! The original recipe had the serving size at 12 bars, but that would make them super tiny. If you cut them into 10 granola bars, they’ll be the same size as a Kashi granola bar (I measured them). Smile

No-Bake Chewy Granola Bars

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Here are the ingredients you’ll need to make 10 bars:
Recipe from Cooking Light

  • 1 1/4 cups quick-cooking oats
  • 1 cup grain cereal (I used crushed Cheerios)
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/4 cup chopped unsalted pistachios
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup creamy peanut butter (or almond butter)
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup chopped pitted dates

Combine the first 6 ingredients (through salt) in a large bowl.

Combine peanut butter, honey, and dates in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook 3 minutes or until peanut butter melts, stirring frequently.

Pour peanut butter mixture over oat mixture; stir well to combine. Spread mixture into an 8-inch square baking pan. You can either spray it with cooking spray or place a sheet of parchment paper in the pan (to prevent sticking).

Press firmly to form a compact, even layer. Place pan in freezer for 10 minutes. Remove from freezer, and cut into 10 bars.

Tip: Place bars in individual bags and store in the fridge. Then you have a healthy snack that you can grab and go during the busy week.

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Shakeology vs. Vega One

Hey there! I hope you’re having a nice weekend! I wanted to share some of my recent research with you.

I’ve been going back and forth between ordering Shakeology. I first heard of Shakeology from the Beachbody workouts.  I’m a huge fan of Beachbody workouts! Some of my current favorites are: PiYo, Turbo Fire, T25, & 21 Day Fix. If you’ve ever done any of the workouts, you’ve seen the commercials for the “healthiest meal of the day”.

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I started my research by locating a brand that had similar ingredients to Shakeology. The brand that I found to be most comparable is Vega One.

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Since I’m a visual learner,I put together a table comparing Vega One and Shakeology.

First, I must start off by saying that this is just a quick snap shot of the two products. The serving sizes are not exactly the same, but they are close (within 1 gram). Here are my findings:

Vega One vs Shakeology

In my opinion, both products have pros and cons.

  • Vega One has more protein, less sodium, less carbohydrates, and less sugar than Shakeology.
  • For the most part, Shakeology has more vitamins per serving.
  • Vega One is made without dairy or soy ingredients, whereas the regular Shakeology is made with dairy (they offer a vegan version though).
  • Shakeology does not contain soy, but it manufactured in a facility that processes soy.
  • Vega One is certified gluten free.

According to the Beachbody website,

“Although Shakeology is made with gluten-free ingredients, all Shakeology formulas are in a manufacturing facility that also processes known allergens such as soy, milk, egg, fish, crustacean shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts and wheat (gluten) ingredients.”

As far as tastes goes, I prefer the vanilla Vega One (however, I did not like the chocolate). To me the vanilla has more of a milk shake type flavor. I’ve only tried the chocolate Shakeology, and while I think it tastes good (although a little chalky), I prefer the Vega One.

In the end, I decided to go with the vanilla Vega One. I am impressed with the high amount of protein, low carbohydrates, and the low amount of sugar and sodium. While the Vega One may have less vitamins and minerals than the Shakeology, I get those from my daily meals and multi-vitamin. I’m not here to sway anyone’s opinion, I just wanted to provide you with my research just in case you were wondering how the two compare.

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It’s Pumpkin Season & Time for a GIVEAWAY!

Can you believe that it’s already September? You know what this means…it’s pumpkin season!

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To kick off this year’s pumpkin season, Giant Food has more than 50 original pumpkin products that you can enjoy this fall. These Items range from pumpkin-infused everyday products like pasta sauce, ice cream, waffles and hummus to specialty meal solutions like fully-cooked pumpkin organic chicken, pumpkin and sage ravioli and pumpkin bisque. You can also pick up pumpkin cheesecake cookies, pumpkin cinnamon rolls or pumpkin gelato!

Giant Food was kind enough to send me some goodies to sample. First up was the Heat & Eat Pumpkin Spiced Pecans. These were AMAZING! You pop them into the microwave and then eat! They taste like the fresh hot nuts you get from street vendors (nice and fresh and melts in your mouth). They were so good that my husband and I finished the entire bag in one sitting.

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The other product they sent me is the Pumpkin Pasta Sauce. We haven’t tried this one just yet, but I cannot wait. Based on the ingredients (pumpkin, tomatoes, cream, honey, carrots, butter, sea salt, onion, garlic, pepper, parsley, rosemary, cinnamon, and sage), it sounds like it’s going to have a sweet & savory flavor. I’ve never had pumpkin pasta sauce before. I’ll be sure to share my thoughts with you once I give it a try. IMG_1790_thumb[1]

I want you to be able to enjoy some of the delicious pumpkin products that Giant Foods offers, so I’m hosting a GIVEAWAY! You will receive a coupon for a free pumpkin product from me!

There are 2 ways you can enter. You can either (do both and get a double entry):

  • Leave me a comment below telling me what your favorite seasonal pumpkin food/drink is. OR
  • Send me a tweet @Opernutrition telling me about your favorite pumpkin food.

I will randomly select a winner this Friday (September 4th) at 8:00 am EST.

Disclaimer: The coupons are only valid in Giant Food stores. These stores are located in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington DC.

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New Addition Here!

Hi everyone! I hope you had a nice weekend. Ours was productive. I can’t believe I’m typing this, but we are getting ready to throw a first birthday party for my little one!!!!! Time is going by so fast. I cannot believe she’s turning 1! I’ve been practicing my cake-making skills (I’ve never really made and decorated a homemade cake before). I’m in the process of trying to perfect a cake for her “cake smash”.

Originally, I was going to make her a healthier version, but then I decided that you only have a first birthday once, so why not go all out and enjoy a traditional cake. I found a lot of recipes and tutorials on Pinterest. I didn’t photograph  my first attempt (thank goodness, it wasn’t pretty). Here’s my second attempt:

smash cake

I think it’s starting to look good. I just have to adjust the color a bit.

So, there’s a new addition here at Operation Nutrition! I created an entire section in the menu bar (titled “Non-Toxic Living” for information about my quest in removing toxins from my every day life. I plan to post anything and everything related to my journey of non-toxic living. I hope you enjoy the new addition!  If there’s something specific you’d like to see, please let me know. Smile

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Thinking Out Loud #5

Happy Thursday! Can you believe that we are already in the end of July? This summer is going by so quickly. I haven’t done a “Thinking Out Loud” post in awhile (they are my favorite), so it’s time.

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Thought #1:

As you know, I’ve been on a products make-over during the past few months. I’ve learned so much about the harmful chemicals that are in our every day beauty products, bath products, body products, home products, etc. (the list goes on and on). I learned about Ava Anderson products and was trying a bunch of them. Every single product I’ve tried has worked better than any product I’ve ever used. I’ve never said this before about 1 particular product line. My skin has never looked so good and the best part is that I know I’m not adding unnecessary chemicals/toxins to my body.

Here’s the “before” and “after” products:

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I feel so passionate about the Ava Anderson message, that I decided to become a consultant. I want to be able to spread the word about the importance of going non-toxic, while providing people with the products they can use to do this. If you’re interested in learning more, browsing products, or even placing an order, you can find my personal Ava Anderson page at:  www.avaandersonnontoxic.com/kristinb If you do place an order, be sure to use ID#79645 at checkout. Also, if you have any questions, feel free to ask here in the comments, or you can send me an email at: avakristinb@gmail.com.

Thought #2

Along the same lines, I watched an incredible documentary that I highly recommend everyone watch.

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From “The Human Experiment” website,

“ The Human Experiment lifts the veil on the shocking reality that thousands of untested chemicals are in our everyday products, our homes and inside of us. Simultaneously, the prevalence of many diseases continues to rise. From Oscar® winner Sean Penn and Emmy® winning journalists Dana Nachman and Don Hardy, The Human Experiment tells the personal stories of people who believe their lives have been affected by chemicals and takes viewers to the front lines as activists go head-to-head with the powerful and well-funded chemical industry. These activists bring to light a corrupt system that’s been hidden from consumers… until now.”

We are our own health advocates and the more we know, the more empowered we are with our health.

Thought #3

Over the past 2 weeks, I’ve been doing shorter workouts (due to some naptime regression). But, I have to say I’ve LOVED the shorter more intense workouts. I’ve been doing Shaun T’s T25 workouts. I have pretty much been following the schedule that he has mapped out for the program. They are effective and only 25 minutes (perfect for that 30-minute naptime block).

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Thought #4

I am still making a lot of the babe’s food, but now that we are expanding different types of foods, I’ve been buying  Plum Organics. I’ve been really impressed with the different combinations they have. For example, one of her favorites is the blueberry, parsnip, and buckwheat meal. I don’t think I’ve ever even had buckwheat. Smile 

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I like how they offer unique foods that are nutritious and organic. I am still nervous every time I introduce her to a new food. I’m so fearful of food allergies. I guess my experience with being an Elementary School Teacher and seeing so many severe food allergies has me a little paranoid. We won’t be introducing any of the higher allergy foods until after her first birthday. I’m almost half-tempted to give her those foods for the first time at the pediatrician’s office. Does that make me crazy?

Well, I hope you all have a great Thursday! Thanks for reading my “Thinking Out Loud” Post!

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Chicken with Creamy Sun-Dried Tomato Sauce

Chicken for dinner is a staple in our house. The problem is, I tend to get into a rut with they way that I prepare it. Our “go to” is usually grilled chicken. I wanted to try something different and found this recipe on Pinterest. My husband and I LOVED this, and it was SO easy to make. We’re planning to have this for dinner again this week.

Chicken with Creamy Sun-Dried Tomato Sauce

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Here are the ingredients you’ll need to make 4 servings:
Recipe adapted from Damn Delicious

  • 4 (3 oz.) chicken breasts (I butterflied 2 large chicken breasts)
  • salt & pepper to taste 
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 2 tbsp. minced garlic
  • 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/3 cup julienned sun dried tomatoes in olive oil, drained
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Season chicken breasts with salt & pepper.

Melt butter in a large oven-proof skillet (I used a Dutch oven) over medium heat. Add chicken to skillet and sear both sides until golden brown (about 3 minutes on each side). Remove chicken from skillet and set aside.

Add garlic to skillet, stirring frequently for about 2 minutes.

Stir in chicken broth, cream, sun-dried tomatoes, parmesan, thyme, oregano, and basil. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer until slightly thickened, about 3-5 minutes.

Return chicken to the skillet. Place skillet into oven and bake for about 25-30 minutes (or until chicken reaches temperature of 165 degrees).

Place 1 chicken breast onto each plate & top with sauce. Enjoy!

Full disclosure: You’re going to want to drink the sauce (it’s THAT good). Smile

Nutrition information:Label

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Products Made-Over {Part 3}

Happy Friday! A few posts ago, I wrote about how I’ve been learning so much about the harmful chemicals in most products that I was using. I wrote about the new shampoo and conditioner I’m in love with here. I’m still in love (if not, more in love) with both the shampoo and conditioner. I love the fact that the ingredients are nontoxic and contain no harmful chemicals. I also think it’s great how the first ingredient is organic aloe vera extract (rather than water like most shampoos contain).

My love for the Ava Anderson shampoo and conditioner prompted me to try some of the other nontoxic products in her amazing line. You can read about those products here.

Because I’m so passionate about spreading the word about toxic ingredients and the harmful effects they have on us, I decided to start my own business and become an Independent Ava Anderson Consultant. I decided to do this because it would give me the opportunity to help others identify harmful chemicals (while also helping to find other products that are safer to use).

This week I went through my old products, read labels, and tossed everything that had harmful ingredients. To my surprise, I had an entire large trash bag full of products.

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I also received my new Ava Anderson products!!!!!

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Normally, I would buy things “a little here, a little there”, but because I hosted an avaHour (online), I was able to get an incredible discount and even some free products! I haven’t tried all of them yet, but here’s a review of the ones I have tried: (if you’d like to earn a nice discount and free products, consider hosting  your own avaHour…contact me and I’ll tell you how)

Make-up remover – I cannot tell you how many different brands of make-up removers I’ve tried in the past. Unfortunately, most of them were filled with toxic ingredients and didn’t work that well. This stuff is AMAZING! I was wearing waterproof eyeliner, which is normally extremely hard to get off. I used a couple of sprays on a cotton round and like magic it was all off! Take a look at the safe & natural ingredients: purified water (aqua), citrus aurantium dulcis (organic sweet orange) flower water, sodium cocoamphoacetate, yucca glauca (organic yucca) root extract, radish root ferment, carthamus tinctorius (safflower) oleosomes, citrus aurantium dulcis (organic sweet orange) peel oil

Bathroom & Hard Surface Cleaner – I used this on our granite kitchen countertops, bathroom countertops, and bathtub. It worked really well and it smells so good! Here are the safe ingredients:filtered water, coconut oil, glucoside (sugar from non-GMO US corn), fatty acids from plants, enzymes (protease, lipase, amylase, cellulase & urease), citric acid, and a signature Ava essential oil blend of spearmint, lavender & neem. It’s nice knowing that after you clean a surface (especially in the kitchen), you’re not leaving harmful chemicals behind on the countertops.

The other thing I love about the Ava Anderson product line is that the products are so versatile! Take a look here at all of the many uses of the avaHome line:

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Exfoliator – I used the exfoliator before using the face cleanser. When I got out of the shower, my face was super soft! Like most of the products, you don’t have to use much at all. In fact, I only used a little less than the size of a dime. Here are the ingredients: barbadensis leaf juice (organic aloe), yucca glauca root extract (organic yucca), glyceryl stearate, prunus armeniaca (organic apricot) seed powder, butyrospermum parkii (organic shea butter), carthamus tinctorious (organic safflower) oleosome, citrus aurantium dulcis (organic orange) peel oil, punica granatum (organic pomegranate) seed oil, aspalathus linearis (organic rooibos) leaf extract, xanthan gum, vegetable glycerin (kosher, non-GMO), stearic acid (from non GMO coconut), citrus paradisi (organic pink grapefruit) essential oil, olive wax, raphanus sativus (radish) root extract

I cannot wait to try some of the other products! This is the first nontoxic product line that I’ve used where I’ve loved everything because it works so well. I cannot say enough about it.

If you’d like to learn more about the Ava Anderson product line, be sure to check out my personal website:

www.avaandersonnontoxic.com/kristinb

Feel free to browse or shop my catalog. If you do make a purchase, be sure to use party id# 79645 at checkout!

I also have a Facebook page. Here you’ll find product information and other information about nontoxic living. Be sure to “like” it so that you get the latest and greatest information: Ava Anderson Non-Toxic with Kristin

If you have any questions, either leave a comment here, or send me an email. Smile

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