Gluten Free Personal Care Products – Celiac Awareness Month


Happy Celiac Awareness month, everyone! In honor of the month and the amazing work done by the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness, I decided to go the extra gluten-free-mile and swap out my normal line of personal care products for two new gluten-free personal care lines–one from JĀSÖN and the other from Avalon Organics!



 JĀSÖN has quite an extensive line of personal care products that are certified gluten-free. I’ve only tried four, but what I really like about these products is that they are not only gluten free, but also organic, artificial color and fragrance free, hypoallergenic and work for all skin types (including oily)!

This brings me to my favorite Gluten-Free JĀSÖN product: Gluten Free Facial Scrub


I LOVE this facial scrub. It reminds me of a salt or oatmeal scrub in texture, but is just gentle enough to use every day! It took off all of my makeup and left my face feeling incredibly smooth. You can also use it on other parts of your body in need of exfoliation!

(Items shown above: Gluten Free Facial LotionGluten Free Hand SoapGluten Free Facial Crème and Gluten Free Facial Scrub!)

Avalon Organics


As you may be able guess based on the name of the company, Avalon Organics has a commitment and dedication to using organic ingredients in their personal care lines.

Luckily for us, they recently extended their line to include an organic, biodegradable and fragrance free “Gluten Free Body Collection,” which features cucumber shampoo, conditioner, bath and shower gel, and hand and body lotion.

My favorite product from this trial was, no question, the GLUTEN FREE CUCUMBER Bath & Shower Gel.

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I love how much the gel “suds up” when I put it on my loufa. I was a little skeptical about the fragrance free experience, but I actually really enjoyed it! I think I’m going to swap out my normal fruity body wash for this fragrance free one permanently….

(Items shown above: GLUTEN FREE CUCUMBER Bath & Shower GelGLUTEN FREE CUCUMBER Hand & Body LotionGLUTEN FREE CUCUMBER Replenishing ShampooGLUTEN FREE CUCUMBER Replenishing Conditioner!)


Overall I had a great experience swapping out my personal care line! I truly believe that all of the products above are amazing options for those who would like to extend their gluten free lifestyle, especially for those who have DH or fragrance sensitivities.


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Alternative Eating | Lo Martinez
exploring gluten-free, paleo & clean eating

Coconut Oil: Health Benefits and Uses of the “Wonder Oil”

Used for Coconut oil
I recently purchased a jar of coconut oil for a 3-day detox cleanse. When my friend, Molly, saw it on the shopping list, she exclaimed, “I LOVE coconut oil! I used to use it ALL THE TIME for EVERYTHING! You’ll love it.”

…And she was right.

Coconut oil has quite the list of uses and health benefits! I’ve spent some time going through this exhaustive list to pick out my favorites! Check out my top ten uses for coconut oil below.

Coconut Oil: What you can use it for

Top 10 Uses for Coconut Oil:
  1. Cooking – You can cook, saute, bake and broil with coconut oil and it won’t create harmful byproducts like some other oils/fats.  Coconut oil can be used to replace butter (cup for cup) in recipes.
  2. Curb Appetite – Have a problem with overeating? You can take a tablespoon on coconut oil before meals to help curb your appetite.
  3. Cleanser/Makeup remover – Coconut oil has cosmetic applications! Coconut oil can be used as a facial cleaner or alone to remove oil-based makeup, like eyeliner and mascara.
  4. Fitness – Training for a race or getting back into a regular workout routine? This might be the perfect thing to add! Coconut oil helps to increase metabolism and improve your thyroid function. Coconut oil will also boost your energy and aid in healthy weight loss.
  5. Acne Treatment – Coconut oil gently fights the bacteria that causes acne. Dab it directly on the affected area.
  6. Moisturizer/Conditioner – My friend Molly pointed this one out to me! When used as a moisturizer, coconut oil will soften and hydrate dry or damaged skin. When used as a conditioner, it will strengthen and repair damaged hair. Massage the coconut oil into your hair and leave for ten minutes, then rinse. If you have frizzy hair, a dab can be rubbed in to correct it.
  7. Sore Throat – For all my singing friends, coconut oil can be used as a throat coat! Dissolve a tablespoon in your mouth to coat and protect your throat. Doing this will boost the health of your mucus membranes!
  8. Lip Balm – Coconut oil is a perfect alternative to chapstick and lipbalm. Coconut oil also offers about SPF 4 protection. How about that!
  9. Illness Prevention – Intake of coconut oil can help your bodies mount resistance to both viruses and bacteria. It can help to fight off yeast, fungus and candida as well.
  10. Nausea –  Apparently, rubbing some coconut oil on the inside of the wrist and forearm can help to calm upset stomachs.

I purchased my jar of Coconut Oil from Earth Fare for $9.99.

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Alternative Eating | Lo Martinez
exploring gluten-free, paleo & clean eating


Juice Cleanse- My 3- Day Detox Cleanse

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You might be wondering why anyone would subject oneself to such torture…. “THREE DAYS WITHOUT SOLID FOOD?! But I LOVE food!!!”

Trust me, I’m there with you.

But here are a few reasons I decided to try it out:

  • Cliche as it may be, it’s a new year and I wanted to do “something big” to kick it off, setting the tone for a (hopefully) healthy year.
  • Back in the Fall, my friend and co-worker, Angelina, tried a detox cleanse. (This very same cleanse, in fact!) She had a great experience, and told me she would even do it AGAIN! My curiosity was peaked…
  • Drinking juice gives your digestive system a chance to rest. A proper juice cleanse  provides you with lots of nutrients while freeing up your digestive system to get rid of toxins and waste built up in your body. (Sounds good to me!)

3 Day Detox Juice Cleanse Recipe

I completed the Dr. Oz 3 day Detox Cleanse. It’s not technically a juice fast–more of a smoothie fast! I chose to go this route because, unlike with many pre-made juice cleanse systems, the protein, fiber and fat aren’t lost. I blended mine in a magic bullet blender.

The best thing about the program is there is a SHOPPING List, and I was able to get everything I needed for around $60! Most pre-made cleanses are that much a day!


Post-Cleanse Thoughts:

  • Day 1 I felt fine. No hunger pains… no cravings… I was a little sleepy since caffeine is cut out, but that was really it!
  • Day 2 was a little more challenging. I was fine until around 2:30, that’s when I started to feel it a little. (It didn’t help that cake was being served in the office) But I pushed through and once I got home and had my dinner drink, I felt fine!
  • Day 3 was the easiest of all three days. I felt energized and the sugar from the fruits in the juices had me feeling chipper as ever. As my work day winded down, I started feeling very sleepy. I felt extremely relaxed once I got home.
  • Day 4 (back to reality) I felt amazing! I work up and make a veggie and goat cheese omelette. It was the perfect re-introduction to solid food.

Things I noticed Post-3-Day Cleanse:

  • My skin cleared and brightened up.
  • I lost 2.5 lbs.
  • I haven’t craved coffee.
  • I haven’t craved sweets.
  • I have a sense of pride in having the self control and resolve to finish! (**always a bonus to completing a challenge!**)

I would recommend this 3-day detox cleanse and I would do it again in 6-12 months.

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Alternative Eating | Lo Martinez
exploring gluten-free, paleo & clean eating

A Foodie Christmas List

Trying to decide what to get your foodie friend for Christmas? Need a few gift ideas for the chef or hostess on your Christmas list?

Well, here are a few present ideas for your favorite food fanatic!

1. Unique Cheese Board

Christmas Present Cheese Board

This is a great gift for someone who loves a little wine and cheese, but might not have the disposable income to invest in a fun purchase like this. (New grad, anyone?) Personally, I have a thing for reclaimed wood cheese boards. I think it’s beautiful when they have the unique shape of the wood from which they were carved. Bonus points if the bark is still intact!

2. Grill Pan/Panini Press

Christmas Gift List Grill Pan

A nice, cast iron grill pan is a great christmas gift for any cook! When you live in a place like Cleveland, where the summer weather quickly wanes, it’s nice to be able to replicate that grill look and taste inside! Perfect for steaks, burgers and chicken. Gotta love the beautiful grill marks it leaves as well!

3. Indoor Herb Garden

Foodie Christmas Gift Ideas Herb Garden

If you’re an apartment dweller like I am, you pine for a little green space to call your own. This is one of those really fun gifts that keeps on giving! It’s an adorable addition to any apartment and provides fresh, yummy herbs year round.

4. Teakettle

Foodie Christmas Gift TeaKettle

Little known fact: tea is the second most consumed beverage after plain old water! If you have a tea drinker on your list, this is a great gift. There are a variety of shapes, colors and patterns available.  You can also investigate electric hot water dispensers, but I like the old fashioned way (and the “whistle”).


Musical Wine Glass Gift For Foodie

Alright guys, I saved the best for last. These are INSANELY AWESOME. These wine glasses are specially designed to play the major scale. My musical friends (who are also my wine drinking friends) are going to have a heart attack. You could actually tune an instrument using these glasses! Please take a listen. They’re not cheap at $60 for a set, but well worth it for the right recipient! Check out the video below.

Hope you enjoyed this foodie Christmas list. If you have more gift ideas, feel free to leave a comment!

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Alternative Eating | Lo Martinez
exploring gluten-free, paleo & clean eating

Gluten Free Pre- and Post- Race Snacks

Gluten Free Racing

This year, I decided to invite my extended family to participate in the Naperville Turkey Trot, an annual 5k race the morning of Thanksgiving!
Bright and early, I rallied with 4 of my favorite family members and headed to the starting line. Two of my siblings, Daniel and Kirsten, breezed through the race, which also happened to be their first! **Proud sister moment**

Naperville Turkey Trot

You might be wondering, what are good pre-/post-race snacks for someone following a gluten-free diet! I mean, aren’t you supposed to carbo-load?!
Well I’m happy to share a few yummy, GF, options!

Gluten Free Pre Post Race Snacks

Naturally Gluten Free
1) Banana with peanut butter
2) Low-fat Greek yogurt and berries
3) Strawberry-Banana smoothie
4) Cottage cheese and fruit

Show me the CARBS! (pictured above)

I can’t say it enough! There are tons of gluten free breads, pastas, muffins, etc. out there! Here are four great options to start or end a race:

1) Udi’s “Mighty Bagel
2) Udi’s Harvest Crunch Muffins
3) Toast made with Gluten Free Whole Grain Bread
4) GF LaraBars

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Alternative Eating | Lo Martinez
exploring gluten-free, paleo & clean eating

Gluten-Free Friendsgiving

photo 2 (2)    This year, Udi’s (one of my favorite, go-to gluten free brands) decided to try out a virtual gluten-free Friendsgiving!

Friendsgiving” is a quirky twist on the traditional Turkey Day feast. You gorge your face and celebrate what you’re thankful for, but not on Thanksgiving and not with your family. Instead, you spend this sudo-holiday with your closest, rag-tag group of friends.

Being gluten-free can be difficult and definitely requires the support of family and friends. I’m truly thankful to have a network of loved ones who have helped me to get used to my food restrictions and adjusted their menus to accommodate my needs! (Especially my mother, who did everything she could to eliminate gluten my old, favorite recipes!)

I’m also thankful to have found a group of friends here in Cleveland who I absolutely adore… And THRILLED to have been able to celebrate my Friendsgiving with them!

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I was given the daunting task of preparing the TURKEY, yikes! Luckily the hostess with the mostest (Meghan) was willing to help me out. We used Urban Accent’s Gourmet Gobbler Brine Kit, and it turned out great! The kit included a brine mix, which I bathed the turkey in over night, and a spice rub for roasting!

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The turkey was just over 11 pounds, so it was about a three and a half hour bake. We used the baster every half hour to keep the meat nice and juicy! By the time we were done, the bird had crisped to a beautiful golden brown… I could barely contain myself. I plated my turkey on mixed greens with apples, lemon and pomegranate seeds.

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The gluten-free brine kit, cookies and other goodies were provided by, Udi’s!

I was excited to put my Udi’s Friendsgiving package to use. And I have to say that I loved everything they sent! I’m looking forward to bringing some of their products out to Chicago and sharing my favorites with my gluten-free cousin! Happy #Friendsgiving, everyone!

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Alternative Eating | Lo Martinez
exploring gluten-free, paleo & clean eating

Brie Cheese

Brie Cheese Tonight, I decided to treat myself to a glass of wine and my favorite cheese: brie.

Brie is undoubtedly one of the best known and most well-loved of the French cheeses. I mean, it’s even nicknamed “The Queen of Cheeses!” (A name I feel it truly deserves.)

The round disk of soft, sweet cheese is often found with a powdery white rind, but don’t be intimidated, it’s edible. (Promise!) It’s served in a variety of ways, including: room-temperature with crackers and fruit preserves; and baked into a sweet and crispy pastry crust with cranberries and almonds. You will typically see a lot this delectable cheese around the holidays–and it is sure to delight your host if you bring it to a party as an appetizer.

Soft cheeses, like brie, are usually paired with a dry Riesling, Chardonney, or Champagne. I picked up one of my favorite Rieslings and served my brie at room temp with Glutino Table Crackers and Strawberry Preserves!

1 ounce of Brie Cheese: 95 calories

Brie Cheese


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Alternative Eating | Lo Martinez
exploring gluten-free, paleo & clean eating

The Best Spaghetti Squash Lasagna

Spaghetti Squash Lasagna

If you’ve ever dabbled in gluten-free, paleo or clean eating, then you’ve probably heard of an oblong winter squash called the spaghetti squash. The spaghetti squash is commonly suggested as a pasta substitute for specialty diets or as a carb-cutting trick.

The stringy, buttery and tender texture of the squash makes it an easy swap. As you scrape out the yummy insides, it even LOOKS like pasta (of the rice or angel hair variety).

Here’s the first of two spaghetti squash recipes I plan to feature in the coming weeks. It’s a spaghetti squash take on traditional lasagna, and it’s delicious!

It’s also easy to freeze and store for later! Bonus!

Spaghetti Squash Lasagna Ingredients


  • 1 medium spaghetti squash (when you pick it out, make sure there are no soft spots)
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • ½ cup parmesan cheese
  • 2 cups grated mozzarella
  • 1 tsp Italian herbs
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 jar of marinara sauce (I suggest mushroom marinara)

How to Make The Best Spaghetti Squash Lasagna:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. To prep the spaghetti squash, use a large knife to poke 10-12 holes around the squash. This will allow the squash to vent as it cooks. Place the squash in the microwave and cook for 6 minutes on each side. Let sit in the microwave for a few additional minutes.

(You can cook it in the oven, but I prefer the microwave! Same effect, significantly faster. See options here.)

3. Remove the squash from the microwave and cut off the stem. (It should cut easily since it has baked through.) Cut the squash lengthwise and begin removing seeds. Once all seeds have been removed and the squash is hollow, use a fork to shred the squash and remove the “spaghetti.”

How to Prepare Spaghetti Squash

4. In a lightly greased pan, spread squash as the first layer.

5. In a medium bowl combine ricotta, herbs, parmesan, and eggs. Mix well and spread mixture over squash.

6. Cover first two layers with marinara sauce. Sprinkle mozzarella over the top.

7. Cover your pan with tinfoil and bake for Bake 45 minutes.

8. Remove tin foil and bake and additional 15 minutes (turns the cheese a light, crispy golden brown.)

Serves 8

How to Make Spaghetti Squash Lasagna

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Alternative Eating | Lo Martinez
exploring gluten-free, paleo & clean eating

Sugar Substitute Comparison Chart

Sugar vs. Sweetener…The great debate.

Artificial Sweeteners | Sugar Substitutes

When I grab a coffee from the Starbucks down the street, I always head to what I (fondly) call the “sugar bar.”  I’ll stand and stare at the sweet assortment, mulling over my options…  I’ll often snag one of the pastel packets, patting myself on the back for dodging a few calories…. I’m not alone either.

According to a 2006 survey from Mintel Reports, 61 percent of U.S. women use artificial sweeteners daily. But should the number of calories in a tablespoon-sized packet be priority in our decision-making?

Recently I fell upon some startling sugar substitute statistics… (yeah, try saying that 4 times fast.)

Artificial sugars are dramatically sweeter than raw and table sugar. This might be obvious, but seeing just how much sweeter, was shocking to me (chart below). This knowledge in mind, it made sense that artificial sweeteners could disturb the body’s ability to count calories or cause unnatural cravings… I think it’s time to put down the colorful packets and pick up the white (or even better, brown). The numbers made the difference for me… How about you?

Click on the chart to expand it!

sweetener comparison

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Alternative Eating | Lo Martinez
exploring gluten-free, paleo & clean eating