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Detox Your Home

When you start down the path of more natural living and trying to detox your home, it can be a bit overwhelming as you realize how insidious toxins are. This can be especially scary for parents, or soon-to-be parents!

Note: as someone with a rigorous science degree, I’m careful of using the word “chemical” as a bad thing. Everything is made up of chemicals! So many scientific terms are misappropriated in common language. For the sake of this article, I am going to use the word “toxin” to describe chemicals that can be harmful to the body.

Pretty much everything we use is full of toxins – make up, perfume, dishwasher detergent, tile cleaner, carpet cleaner, air deodorizers, sunscreens, moisturizer, toothpaste, food containers, food, water… Like I said – overwhelming. I’m not going to get into what these toxins are and how they impact your body, because that’s a HUGE can of worms. Instead, I’m going to share my favourite products that I use on a daily basis, after years of trial and error! If you want to dig deeper, check out The Environmental Working Group, or read Slow Death by Rubber Duck.

I always recommend taking a slow, methodical approach to detoxing your house because it’s less over-whelming and less of a financial impact! So each time you finish a product, make a conscious effort to replace it with a cleaner one (either from the health food store/health section or make your own!) However, according to Gretchen Rubin what’s most important when making change is to know yourself. Are you the complete overhaul, 180 degree turn, all or nothing kind of person? Then go for it. Toss it all and replace accordingly! Once you figure out what works best for you, here are the main areas I recommend addressing.

1. Cleaning Products

Have you ever noticed how many different products you are told you need for your house? It’s all marketing friends. And marketing of some serious toxins. The majority of the ingredients in household cleaning products are hazardous – the warning is right there on the label. And the funny thing is, it’s totally not necessary! There are 3 amazing house-hold products that are just as effective at cleaning (both aesthetically and bacterially-speaking) as toxins, without any of the nasty side effects. These are:

Baking soda. Vinegar. Lemon.

There are a few additional ingredients that can be used too, such as borax, castille soap, washing soda and essential oils. But it really doesn’t have to be complicated. The cleaning products I use in my house are:

  1. Lemon vinegar cleaning solution (for the kitchen and greasy areas) – I also dilute this and put it in my reusable swiffer-type mop
  2. DIY bathroom cleaner

And that’s it…. honestly. Do you know how much money I’ve saved on products over the last 5 years or so? I wish I had the numbers, but it’s gotta be up there. I haven’t bought laundry detergent, or the ingredients to make it in over 18 months.

If you’re a little more particular and want some specific cleaning products for targeted areas (like hardwood, antiques etc.), check out One Good Thing by Jillee.

For clothing / hands / dishwashers, I use:

  1. DIY laundry detergent
  2. Dr. Bronner’s castille soap or The Soap Works bar soap (found at Bulk Barn).
  3. EcoVer dishwasher detergent 
  4. Nature Clean dish soap (I’m partial to the lavender and tea-tree oil)

And for natural deodorizers I use:

  1. Pure essential oils or an essential oil spray.
  2. Poo-pourri. (if you haven’t seen the commercial for this stuff, check it out now!)

But there are lots of clean options if you visit a health food store! Be skeptical though. Green-washing is a major thing these days since “going green” is super trendy. Check the ingredients and make sure there aren’t any wonky ones like parfum, parabens, or sodium lauryl sulphate.

TOP PRIORITY: the strongest smelling product in your arsenal, or the one that makes you a little woozy if you don’t open the windows. Bathroom cleaners and deodorizers (Febreeze, Glade plug ins etc.) are often the worst!

2. Personal Care

First and foremost – stop using perfume/cologne. It is purely synthetic and made of almost exclusively dangerous toxins. Over hundreds of toxic chemicals that the company is not required to disclose – it’s proprietary info. It’s the number one thing you can do to reduce your toxin exposure. Ok, now that that’s out of the way, here are my favourite products (sort of in order of use during the day):

  1. Shampoos & conditioners by Prairie Naturals. They have a variety of types based on hair-type. I personally use the avalanche line in the winter (helps with dry scalp) and the moroccan moon line the rest of the year. Some people have success with the no-poo method, but it didn’t work for me.
  2. Soap by The Soap Works. I use this for my hands and any parts of my body that need a good scrub – like my feet if I’ve been barefoot! But honestly, I usually just use a loofa and water in the shower.
  3. Toner – DIY. I dilute 1 part apple cider vinegar with 4 parts water and store in a little spritzer container in the shower. I use this on my face, neck, chest, shoulders and upper back. It tightens pores, but also helps mitigate blemishes. If my diet has been off a bit and I find some odour emanating from the armpit region, I’ll spray some on there too. I rinse off immediately after spraying!
  4. Moisturizer – argan oil or olive oil (as part of oil cleansing method, see below)
  5. Make up by Pure Anada. I love this brand. It’s Canadian and works so well. I used to buy it at The Big Carrot on the Danforth, but now order it online. It’s mineral make up, so it lasts me years. Other mineral-based make ups are great options as well. Just be careful not to inhale!
  6. Deodorant – DIY. I used to use my DIY deodorant, but a client of mine makes her own and it’s the best I’ve ever tried. I’m working on getting her to sell it!! Before I changed my diet, healed my gut and balanced my hormones, I was a major sweater. It was bad. I never wore t-shirts. Grey was a nightmare colour. Ugh, it was the worst. So this was the last thing I changed. For the longest time I used Tom’s anti-perspirant – which still had the aluminum for reducing sweating, but the rest of the ingredients were pretty darn clean. I still sweat a fair amount, but not anywhere near what I did before balancing my body! I even own a grey t-shirt! That I wear on not very hot days… 😉
  7. Perfume. I’ll be honest, I don’t use any. It was never really my style anyways, they always bothered me. However, I do sometimes use essential oils as perfume (especially blends designed for mood balancing like Peace & Calming if I’m going to an event which I know I’ll find overwhelming, or Valor if I need a confidence boost). Pacifica is an easy to find brand of perfume that is mostly essential oils.
  8. Face-cleansing / moisturizer. I follow the oil-cleansing method which I learned in The Purely Primal Skin Care Guide. It works wonders for my skin (after a few weeks of adjusting) and I can’t imagine going back. It took a little trial and error to determine the right oils (which is complicated by the fact that winter and summer have different requirements – always have for me), but it’s amazing. Another way I save a TON of money.
  9. Toothpaste – Earthpaste is my favourite (it does a great job whitening too), although we sometimes have Jason’s.

UPDATE: I am also including a variety of Beautycounter products as part of my regular routine. Click here to learn more.

TOP PRIORITY: anything that has the word “perfume” or “parfum”, followed by things that stay on your skin. So moisturizer is more important than shampoo.

3. Water

Drinking/ice/tea/kombucha etc. This was a very important area for us, since it is a major area of exposure and our water is full of SOOOO much junk. As soon as we bought house, we did some digging into the best water-filtration unit. We were willing to spend thousands on a whole-house system, but after doing some research (made easier by The Wellness Mama) we ended up going with a Berkey. At around $450, it was perfect for our soon to be growing family. Easy to use and gets rid of everything we don’t want, while also remineralizing. Bonus is it’s free-standing so when/if we move, we can take it with us. The best compliment we received was from a friend who said our water tasted like the water on his parents farm (in a very remote area!) – especially cool since the water that goes into the filter smells like a swimming pool. NOTE: previous to the Berkey, we used a Brita which has its downsides but is better than nothing. As soon as the water filtered through I dumped it into a glass juice jug so it wasn’t sitting in plastic all day.

Shower/bath – we also installed filters on our shower heads, and bought a bath ball. This is important because we actually absorb more chlorine through baths and showers than drinking. One of the mechanisms for this is gaseous chlorine in steam gets inhaled and crosses the lung barrier. There are several options available at health food stores – we’ve used both the Santevia and The Original Bath Ball.

TOP PRIORITY: this is a tough one, I’d say both. But from a financial perspective, I’d do what we did – shower filter + basic water filter to start.

4. Food

First and foremost, stop eating man-made, fake foods. It is a good idea to always avoid the following:

  • Food dyes / artificial colours (That means sprinkles, candy and common beverages like gatorade. There are dye-free options at health foods stores if you absolutely need it.)
  • Artificial sweeteners
  • Artificial flavours
  • Vegetable oils

After that, we purchase organic whenever we can. Not because organic foods contain more nutrients (although many do), but because of what they don’t contain – pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, hormones, antibiotics and genetically modified DNA. The order in which we prioritize that is as follows:

  1. Meat. This gets the top priority since it concentrates toxins up the food chain. Purchasing quality meat impacts your health, the health of the animals and the health of the environment. This includes animal-fats like lard, tallow, bacon-grease, duck fat etc. The fattier the meat, the more important, since toxins are stored in animal fat.
  2. Dairy. We don’t eat dairy (both have serious allergies), but if we did, it would absolutely be grass-fed or organic for the same reasons as above. This includes butter/ghee.
  3. Dirty Dozen vegetables & fruit. The reason this isn’t at the top, is if our budget is a little tight, we don’t buy these guys. We’ll stick to the veggies on the Clean Fifteen and buy them conventional.
  4. Other produce. If the price isn’t too much different, I”ll buy the organic version of the Clean Fifteen – because it is better for us and the environment. However, if it has been flown across the continent/world, I won’t.

Other foods to consider buying organic include:

  • Corn. If it’s not organic, it has been genetically modified to secrete it’s own pesticide that damages the intestines of the pests that eat it, which kills them. (sound familiar?)
  • Soy. If it’s not organic, it has been genetically modified to withstand ridiculously high levels of RoundUp, so everything around it dies, but the soy doesn’t – it just gets covered in it and then we eat it! Keep in mind that RoundUp used to be used on lawns (remember the commercials??) and is now banned in areas like Toronto, because it is so toxic.

TOP PRIORITY: fake foods, followed by fatty cuts of meat.

5. Plastics

Even BPA-free plastics. Plastics are toxins. End of story. BPA-free plastics have just had a different plasticizer used, that doesn’t have the drama around it. Same stuff, different day. The most important ways to avoid plastic include:

  1. Temperature. Never heat food in plastic! Even for a few seconds! Don’t put hot food in a plastic container either. This includes leaving your water bottle in the car in the sun.
  2. Acid. Highly acidic foods break down the plastic, which then leaches into your food. Tomatoes and citrus are the most common culprits.
  3. Fat. Foods that are high in fat/oil also leach plastic out of the solid state. So whenever possible buy oils and nut-butters in glass.
  4. Water. With the amount of water we need to drink, our exposure to plastic sky rockets. Recyclable water bottles start to degrade as soon as you open them, so definitely don’t reuse those. But even standard water bottles break down over time. Choose stainless steel or glass instead.

Dry foods are not nearly as much of a concern. So storing things like baking ingredients, grains (if tolerated) and spices in plastic isn’t something to worry about! For kids dishes – silicone is great option! Keep an eye on places like Canadian Tire, which often have sales on glass tupperware. Also start reusing jars instead of recycling! I wash salsa and nut butter jars, and reuse them for freezing food, DIY mayo and broth!

TOP PRIORITY: heating food in plastic.


Reducing your overall exposure to toxins is a process – trust me, I know! It probably took me a good 2 years to fully clear out my house of toxins. You don’t need to change everything all at once (unless that’s your personality type). Just making 1 or 2 small changes can have a huge impact. Do some research. Determine your priorities. Consider speeding up the process a bit if you are / plan to be pregnant or have little ones at home, but don’t stress! To help prevent stressing, at the end of each section above, I highlighted the top priority, to help you start your detoxing journey. Enjoy the process and learn as you go!

Please share in the comments below, what your favourite clean products are and where you find them!

Bacon and Apple Braised Cabbage

Bacon & Apple Braised Cabbage | AmandaNaturally.comCabbage isn’t many people’s first choice of veggie. It has a bad reputation that it simply doesn’t deserve! Cause you know what? It’s one of my favourites and I’m not a notorious eat what most normal people don’t like person. I have learned that if you cook food properly, it can taste amazing. Case in point – cabbage and brussels sprouts. When I ask clients what their dislikes are, the overwhelming majority responds “brussels sprouts” (which btw are the same family as cabbage – they’re pretty much just baby cabbages). To which I respond, “have you ever had it cooked any other way than boiled?”

<< silence >>

Exactly. I wouldn’t want to eat that $h*t boiled either! So trust me when I say that as long as you cook it right, cabbage and brussels sprouts can be amazingly delicious!

I love cabbage in slaw form, but hands down my favourite way to eat it is braised, or more specifically as Bacon and Apple Braised Cabbage. It turns deliciously sweet as the onions and apples get caramelized! My favourite dishes to pair braised cabbage with are pork chops, sausages or roast chicken. 

One of the best parts about cabbage is it’s super inexpensive, local, easy to find organic (and reasonably priced!) and it makes a huge amount. The leftovers seem to get better as they sit in the fridge, and they reheat amazingly well. I love the leftovers because they pair so wonderfully with breakfast! (anyone who works with me knows I am always trying to get people to eat veggies at breakfast!) Scramble up a few eggs, cook up a few extra pieces of bacon, side of apple braised cabbage – boom. Incredibly healthy breakfast.

Speaking of healthy, I’m just going to remind you the incredible health benefits of cabbage (I listed these over in my Simple Coleslaw recipe, but it can’t hurt to be reminded!).

Cabbage, along with other cruciferous veggies (kale, chard, collards, brussel sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, bok choy), are nutritional powerhouses. Here are some of their health benefits:

  • very high in the sulfurous compound, glucosinolate, which is metabolized by the body into potent antioxidants isothiocyanate and thiocyanate.
  • isothiocyanates have also been shown to be effective in protecting against cancer, specifically breastcoloncervical and prostate.
  • help the body excrete excess estrogens (this is particularly helpful for someone coming off of birth control, or anyone who has estrogen dominance. Also a good idea for everyone, because many of the chemicals we are exposed to daily, from plastics to fragrances to pesticides, are xeno-estrogens, which means they mimic estrogen in our body) (additional source)
  • contains sulforaphane which may reduce hypertension and improve kidney function
  • packed with nutrients – vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, fibre
  • contains indole-3-carbinol which supports phase 2 liver detoxificationphase 1 is also supported via the sulforaphane content. This balance is important because many “liver supporters” only up regulate phase I. Phase 1 often turns chemicals into more toxic substrates, before phase 2 neutralizes them. Only supporting phase 1 liver detox can result in nasty symptoms. (Note: supporting phase 1 and 2 liver detoxification is real detox, not juice-cleansing, cayenne shooters, no protein “detox” – that’s a load of crap.)

Cabbage Prep

Never prepared cabbage before? Here’s how I do it for braising:

1. Remove the outer few layers of the cabbage.

2. Chop the thick end off.

3. Cut into quarters. If the core is really dense, slice out a bit of it and discard. (I didn’t have to for this cabbage)

4. Roughly slice.

Bacon and Apple Braised Cabbage
A trusted recipe for making cabbage actually taste delicious!
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
45 min
Total Time
50 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
45 min
Total Time
50 min
  1. 1 large head of cabbage, roughly sliced
  2. 2 apples, sliced thin
  3. 2 onions, sliced thin
  4. ½ lb pastured bacon, diced
  5. ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  6. sea salt
  7. black pepper (optional)
  1. In a large pot, braiser or sautee pan (make sure it has a lid), cook the bacon pieces over medium heat, until crispy. Approximately 10 minutes.
  2. Remove the bacon pieces and set aside. If there is an excessive amount of rendered grease, pour of some to use another time.
  3. Reduce heat to medium low, add onions to remaining bacon grease and sauté for 5 minutes.
  4. Layer apples over the onions and immediately top with the sliced cabbage.
  5. Add in apple cider vinegar, and about 10 grinds of sea salt.
  6. Cover and cook for 45 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes or so. (if you find it's starting to burn, reduce temperature to low)
  7. Season with additional sea salt and pepper (to taste), top with crispy bacon bits and serve!
  1. You can absolutely make this without the bacon (but why would you?) For a bacon-free/vegetarian option use your favourite cooking fat such as avocado oil, olive oil or butter.
  2. Feel free to sub in apple cider (the juice or the alcoholic beverage) in lieu of ACV if you want! I'm sure beer would work well too if you tolerate it.
  3. You can use red or green cabbage. I just think red is prettier!
Amanda Naturally http://www.amandanaturally.com/

Laundry Detergent

Homemade Laundry Detergent | AmandaNaturally.comNatural products (cleaning, personal care and food) are important to me. One of my number one goals is to always be working to reduce my toxic load. What does that mean? Well every day we’re exposed to gazillions of toxins from things like:

  • pesticides on our food
  • pollutants from living in a city, or near a highway
  • air fresheners
  • make up
  • personal care products (shampoo, deodorant, perfume)
  • chemicals in our water
  • flame retardants on mattresses, couches, computers, clothes
  • cleaning products (kitchen, bathroom, laundry)
  • pharmaceuticals (prescribed, OTC and in our meat/dairy)
  • the list goes on and on….

Some of these things you can totally avoid by purchasing organic food, cleaning up your make up/skin care routine and changing from air fresheners to essential oils. However some you simply can’t avoid. So instead of going crazy over trying to avoid every last toxin (which is impossible), by avoiding the toxins you are able to, you take the constant pressure off your detox pathways, which will allow them to do their job when they do get exposed to toxins you are unable to avoid. Make sense?

One way is to make your own cleaning products! I’ve used vinegar, lemon, baking soda and castille soap in various combinations for kitchen and bathroom cleaning for a long time now, and I will never go back. Not only is it incredibly effective, but super inexpensive as well! 

Laundry detergent, however, is something that I came to later. I purchased “clean” detergent from health food stores for years, but always wondered how effective a DIY version would be. I was hesitant to try it on any of the washing machines in my previous living arrangements, because we were renting so they weren’t mine. As soon as we moved into our first house though, I was ready to make the change. 

As with all DIY home products, I hopped over to One Good Thing By Jillee and found this post about variations on laundry detergents. I made a few tweaks and eventually came to the following recipe. I have been using this recipe in my high efficiency washing machine for 9 months now and our washing machine is doing just fine! Our clothes come out fresh and clean – even if they’re super dirty!

Homemade Laundry Detergent (adapted from this post)



  1. Pour borax and washing soda into an empty detergent container (approximately 3L in volume).
  2. Add 4 cups of boiling water. Stir/shake to combine.
  3. Fill the rest of the bottle with tap water. Let cool to about room temperature.
  4. Add castille soap and essential oil (if using) and gently swirl to combine.
  5. When using, fill the detergent holder on your washing machine to the max line. None of the ingredients are sudsy, so it won’t oversuds your laundry like using regular detergent! 

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