Hearty Chicken Soup

Chicken Soup and Gluten Free Toast

 

 

 

 

Chicken soup with Glutino Multigrain Bread

With the colder weather here, my body has been craving warm soups and stews. Today all I wanted was a homemade bowl of chicken soup, so I whipped some up when I got home from work. This recipe is super easy and takes about an hour to make. The result is delicious!

Hearty Chicken Soup

1 cup water
1 box Imagine® Organic Free Range Chicken Broth 
2 large carrots (chopped)
1/2 onion (minced)
1 clove of minced garlic
1/2 bundle of asparagus (chopped)
1/2 cup chopped parsley
15 mini potatoes (chopped into quarters)
2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts

Preheat the oven to 350 and bake the chicken for 35-40 minutes (or until the juices run clear).

While the chicken is cooking, place the carrots and potatoes into a large pot or dutch oven and simmer in 1 cup of water. After 10-15 minutes pour the full box of Imagine® Organic Free Range Chicken Broth into the pot and add the onion, garlic, and asparagus.

Once the chicken is fully cooked, cut into cubes and add to the soup. Stir in the parsley and voila, a delicious hearty soup! Makes 4-6 servings. 

This was the first time I tried Imagine’s gluten-free chicken broth and wow is it delicious! It’s so flavourful and full of great ingredients. Not only is it gluten-free but dairy-free, non-GMO and organic. Definitely a must try. It might be the best boxed chicken broth I’ve ever had.

Chicken soup

 

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Hello Libre!

Do you remember Nonuttin? They’re by far my favourite gluten-free granola bars out there. Well, in early November they launched their new rebrand in Canada from Nonuttin’ to Libre Naturals. The name change reflects their growth beyond a nut free product. They are free of the 11 top common food allergens, including gluten, wheat, tree nuts, peanuts, eggs, soy and sulphites. They’re also vegan and non-GMO. A pretty amazing brand.

Libre Naturals Granola Bar

The best part is that they taste amazinggggg. I’ve had plenty of allergen-friendly granola bars and they’re either too small or tasteless. But these are the perfect size and they are just so delicious. The Chocolate Chip flavour reminds me so much of Quaker Chewy Chocolate Chip granola bars, which used to be one of my go-to purse snacks when I wasn’t gluten-free.

Along with Libre Naturals re-brand, they also launched a new flavour of granola bar, the Red Berry bar. The granola bar includes strawberries, raspberries and cranberries. It’s very good… I love it.

I used to buy these granola bars as single bars, which was kind of a pain as it would have been great to buy them in bulk, but now they come in five packs. So happy!

The line of granola bars includes four flavours: Chocolate Chip, Apple Cinnamon, Double Chocolate Chip and Red Berry. They’re all delicious, there isn’t one flavour I don’t like, but my top three favourites are Chocolate Chip, Red Berry and Apple Cinnamon.

They’re my favourite mid-morning snack. The bars are 110-120 calories, 18-19 grams of carbs, 4-5 grams of sugar and 2-3 grams of protein. and they’re the exact same size as Quaker Chewy Bars!

These granola bars are SO good that Libre Naturals has a risk-free online guarantee. If you don’t like their products, they’ll refund your purchase price within 30 days from the date of your order.

 

Libre Naturals Granola Bar

Libre Naturals also has delicious Oatmeal Cups. They’re of course gluten-free and also free of the top allergens. There are four delicious flavours: Pumpkin Seeds, Raisins & Spices; Apples & Cinnamon (which are both my favourite flavours); Blueberries & Cranberries; and Blueberries, Apples & Sunflower Seeds. I love these at work. You simply just add hot water, seal it back up with the lid and wait four minutes until the oats have absorbed all the water. They are the best!  They’re also all under 300 calories and 65 g of whole grain carbs per serving.

Libre Naturals Oatmeal Cup

A very cool thing about Libre Naturals is that they are pioneers in G12 testing. G12 is an amino acid strand that is found in a subspecies of pure oats, which is known to be a trigger for some with celiac disease. It’s great that Libre Naturals tests for G12, as it allows all celiacs to eat the oatmeal, granola and granola bars without any worry of reacting.

Check out Libre Naturals handy store locator to find out where you can purchase their products, or simply just buy online!

Have you tried Libre Naturals? What is your favourite flavour!?

This review is based on my experiences with Libre Naturals; however Libre Naturals has graciously provided the products free of charge as the only compensation for this review.

Gluten-Free Halloween Candy: What Can I Eat?

Another Halloween has come and gone. I hope you all got lots of good treats!

As kids, my sister and I used to dump all our candy on the living room floor and sort our goods into piles. Candy we loved, candy we’d share with our parents (which was candy we usually didn’t love…sorry Mom and Dad!) and candy that was no good. At that time, I never had to worry about what candy I couldn’t have.

Now as an adult I realize Halloween candy can be slim picking when it comes to what is allergen friendly.

Thankfully there are great websites that list all candy that is gluten-free, check out VeryWell.com to see what is safe to eat in your Halloween stash!

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Why the teal pumpkin? The teal pumpkin symbolizes The Teal Pumpkin Project – an initiative to raise awareness of food allergies and promote inclusion of safe treats for all trick-or-treaters. Next year remember to support this project, check out the link here.

New Blog: DeclutterSimply.com

The past few months year have been crazy-busy for me (and my family), as we were busy planning my wedding – which happened just over three weeks ago!

On top of the wedding plans, work has been busy, we moved into a new home and I launched a second blog…decluttersimply.com.

Busy but exciting times.

declutter simply is a blog dedicated to decluttering the mind, body and space for a stress-free life. I’m so excited about it! My new blog doesn’t mean that I’m saying goodbye to The Gut Gazette…I will still be just as involved…I just realized I needed another platform to share my love of organization, decor, and beauty on a different platform…which is why I created declutter simply.

One of my first blog posts up on declutter simply is all about THE TEN SPOT’s new CF Shops at Don Mills location. Why? Because THE TEN SPOT is awesome for not only reducing stress, and promoting a feel-good service, but for cleanliness (aka – no dirt, no grime…no clutter). I don’t see clutter as just odds and ends scattered on a counter top or found in a drawer, I view clutter in the form of negative energy and emotions; unhealthy food, chemicals and additives; and anything that just doesn’t belong…anything that hinders a negative atmosphere.

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Head over to decluttersimply.com to check out my review of THE TEN SPOT!

Now that things are calming down on my end, I can’t wait to get back into blogging!

The IMAGINE Network Project

Earlier in the year I woke up at the crack of dawn with excited butterflies flying around my stomach. I got myself organized and then got in my car to make my way from Toronto to McMaster University in Hamilton.

As I sat in my car with the smell of exhaust coming from the traffic in front of me, the sound of the rain pitter-pattering on the roof and the radio on low, I practiced my speech and made sure I sat up straight as to not winkle my dress.

Once I arrived at McMaster, I found my way to the Farncombe Family Digestive Health Research Institute and sat in the green room with a few doctors, researchers and Canada’s Minister of Health – Jane Philpott – awaiting for the event to begin. Once 9:30 a.m. came around, we made our way to the atrium and sat alongside various researchers, doctors, health organizations and members of the press. On March 31st I was part of a national research announcement as the lead patient representative for a multi-million dollar McMaster patient oriented research project called the Imagine Network, which stands for Inflammation, Microbiome and Alimentation: Gastro-intestinal and neuropsychiatric effects.

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Myself and Dr. Paul Moayyedi

Did you know that over 20 million Canadians suffer with digestive disorders?

The IMAGINE network project will be researching and developing innovative therapies for irritable bowel syndrome (known as IBS) and inflammatory bowel disease (known as IBD, which include Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis) to better understand the brain-gut connection and the role diet has on digestive diseases. The researchers on this project believe IBD and IBS are caused by an immune response to disturbances in the gut bacteria – brought on by diet and neuropsychiatric effects, like anxiety and depression. Therefore, patients will play a large role in helping to shape the outcomes of this research.

I myself am one of the 20 million Canadians with a digestive disorder. In 2008 I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, one of the two diseases categorized under IBD. It’s an auto immune disease that can affect any part of the gastrointestinal system. Along with Crohn’s, I also have symptoms of IBS, which is a non-inflammatory, functional disorder of the colon. When I was first diagnosed I had no clue what Crohn’s was – neither did most of my family or friends. I was also in my first year of university and felt incredibly alone with the diagnosis. Not only did nobody know what Crohn’s was, but it isn’t a disease that people really like to talk about.

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The Honorable Jane Philpott, Myself, Filomena Tassi and Dr. Paul Moayyedi

At university I would see support groups for students with diabetes, anxiety and other various health concerns, but there wasn’t anything for students with digestive issues. The more I talked about my diagnosis, the more people I came across who had some sort of a digestive issue – or who know of someone with one. It was then that I realized I had to step up and organize a digestive disorder support group at the university. That was my first step in becoming an advocate for digestive health. Now, eight years later, I had the privilege of helping shape the research proposal, which was accepted by the Canadian Institute of Health Research and I had the honour of standing in front of hundred of influential people, to explain the importance of this research for Canadian patients.

As a patient, I can vouch for the importance of better understanding the role that the brain has on the gut and vice versa. When I’m feeling anxious, nervous or stressed, my gut will react and when I’m having a flare up or my IBS is acting up, I will feel anxious. I’m also a huge believer in the role diet plays, because for me certain foods elicit a flare up with my Crohn’s – gluten being a big HUGE trigger.

For the next five years I’ll be working alongside the lead researcher of this project, Dr. Paul Moayyedi, Director of the division of gastroenterology at McMaster University and Dr. Stephen Vanner, Director of gastrointestinal disease research at Queen’s University, along with many other gastroenterologists in Canada and various patients.

It’s a very exciting time in digestive health research. Taking the time to better understand the role that bacteria plays and the connection of the brain and gut are huge strides forward into hopefully finding a cure for IBD and IBS.

Watch below to listen to myself and Dr. Moayyedi provide an overview of the network and an appreciation for receiving the funding.

For more information on this exciting research, check out the Canadian Institute of Health Research’s informative article here.

A Canadian Sunscreen Company

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This year has certainly been a sunscreen kind of summer! The one thing I have always disliked about sunscreen is the feeling of pure grease that lingers on my skin…it definitely doesn’t do my pores any favours.

I’ve come across a few really good brands that don’t feel greasy and don’t make me feel like I need to scrub my face before I breakout, but I’ve never been a fan of the quality of ingredients in them.

A couple months ago I was on one of my favourite beauty blogger’s websites (Beauty Editor) and thought I’d see what her go-to sunscreen was. She recommended CyberDERM. I read up on the company and not only was intrigued by the fact that there isn’t any gluten in their products and that their ingredients are pure, but that they are a Canadian company founded by Canadian physicians, Denis Dudley and Sharyn Laughlin. CyberDERM categorizes themselves as a ‘new’ school of sunscreen formulas, created with handpicked, unique ingredients that are beneficial to the skin – whether it has anti-aging properties or is therapeutic in healing the skin.

The three products I’ve been reviewing are H2O Hydration, Every Morning Sun Whip and Simply Zinc Sun Whip.

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H2O Hydration – $60

H2O Hydration is a great morning cream (that doesn’t actually contain sunscreen) for when you aren’t going to be outside a whole lot. I like to use this for days that I’m at work…sitting in my office. It’s very light, easy to blend and feels fresh. I also find that it’s a really good base before I apply my makeup.

This moisturizer is olive-based, which apparently mimics the skin’s barrier in order to allow for the active ingredients to penetrate the skin. The three active ingredients in the H2O Hydration are: ‘tetrapeptides’, which increase the production of collagen and elastin (important components in keeping our skin plump); ‘ectoins’, which is a natural substance that stimulates the skin’s own defense mechanisms in fighting off UV stressors and lastly reservatrol, an A+ antioxidant that rids free radicals to prevent oxidative damage.

Every Morning Sun Whip – SPF 25 ($38)

Every Morning Sun Whip has the same consistency as H2O Hydration and feels just as light. It has a matte finish, but I do find that to the touch it has the slightest bit of sunscreen feeling (it also acts as a good base before applying makeup). I like to put this all over my face and use the Simply Zinc Sun Whip for more sensitive spots (like my nose and around my hair line). This Sun Whip has 15% zinc, which makes it calming and gentle to the face. It’s also great for those with combination, oily or acneic skin. Definitely a keeper!

Simply Zinc Sun Whip – SPF 30 ($38)

Simply Zinc Sun Whip is full of zinc…a whopping 22%! Like the description on the website says, it does absorb nicely – considering the amount of zinc it contains – but I find it to have a glue-like consistency. I did not like the feeling of it on my whole face. Like I mentioned above, I like to put this on my nose and around my hairline, as it protects very well. I also found this to be a great day-time spot treatment. Pesky zits do not like zinc! I found that a little dab here and there reduced redness and helped erase them quickly.

Overall I am very impressed with this company. The ingredients are high quality, the product is packaged nicely and I love that it’s Canadian made – a huge plus! These have definitely been staples in my morning regime.

Where to buy? Online or at a few spas around the country (check out their store locator here).

 

*Disclaimer: I was provided with all three products for editorial consideration and review. My opinion isn’t compensated. 

#Glutened

Glutened

As careful as we can be when it comes to avoiding gluten, sometimes the inevitable happens and gluten creeps up in some way or another.

There have been a few incidences within the past month where gluten has crept into my diet accidentally, and I end up paying the price with a flare up of my digestive issues.

Pain and bloating are the main symptoms (along with a few others, like a foggy feeling) and I also feel exhausted for days. Gluten definitely isn’t my friend!

When I get ‘glutened’ these are a few of my go-to healing methods.

They’re also helpful if you’re suffering from indigestion, are bloated or are just experieincing stomach discomfort.

  1. A heating pack. Once gluten hits, my stomach tenses up – almost like a ‘Charlie horse’ but with more pain. I find that heat helps the muscles relax. Right now I have an ‘aromatherapy’ scented, microwavable pack that has lost all scent and just smells like burnt popcorn. Comforting but smelly.
  2. A nap. I get so sleepy and sore that the only thing I find bearable is sleeping it out.
  3. Two extra strength tylenol every four hours…it helps ease my pain substantially.
  4. Peppermint tea.
  5. Child’s pose or lying on my back and bringing my knees to my chest.
  6. Have you heard of the ‘I Love You’ baby massage technique to give babies with colic? Try it on yourself, it’s very comforting. It may seem silly, but massaging your own tummy helps to relieve some of the pain.

When you’re experiencing stomach discomfort, what do you find helpful?

*Disclaimer. I am not a medical professional. Always consult your doctor. 

Pure Hazelwood – An Anti-Inflammatory Cream

It wasn’t until a few months ago that I learned about hazelwood, which comes from the hazel tree and is a species of shrub indigenous to Quebec. The most interesting part about this plant is that it has healing properties and has been used by Aboriginals for centuries as a remedy to various health issues, including: intestinal problems (which obviously interests me), heart disease, skin problems and pain – including teething pain in babies.

Pure Hazelwood is a Canadian company who has been able to optimize the healing properties of the plant by creating jewellery and lotions. Over the past few months I’ve been testing out the Pure Hazelwood Moisturizing Lotion, which is in enriched with hazelwood extract and my hands have been the softest they’ve ever been during the winter months. I hardly have had any cracks or rough patches, and for the majority of the winter they have felt smooth and silky.

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I really love how the cream feels, it isn’t thick and it makes your hands feel like you’re wearing a silk glove (ooh la la!). It isn’t greasy and it seems to absorb right into my hands. The scent smells a bit like a floral shampoo, which I don’t mind, but for men it may be a bit strong. The great thing about this lotion is that a little goes a long way!

Pure Hazelwood’s line of jewelry, is made with 100% natural hazel wood from the Canadian boreal forest and various healing gemstones. I’m very interested in trying out one of their pieces of jewelry, the testimonials online sound amazing!

Check out their website – it’s a pretty neat product!

Have you tried Pure Hazelwood?

Positive Energy in 2016

Well, we’re into the second week of 2016 – Happy New Year!

This year is an exciting one for me – I get to marry my best friend and the love of my life :). September is the big month for us and our planning is going great!

I know you don’t have to wait for a new year to begin new resolutions or new goals, but it does feel refreshing to start off on a fresh foot in a brand new year.

I usually take the first week of a new year to think about the things I want to focus on in my life and make a plan as to how I’m going to ensure I follow my plan.

This year I’ve set out intentions to improve my mindfulness, practice yoga as much as I can, eat foods that make me feel great and surround myself with positive energy.

I’m all about energy. Whether it’s in the form of food, people, fitness, location or work – if it doesn’t feel good, I don’t want to be around it.

Sometimes negative energy is inevitable though – there may be a co-worker who bothers you, a long to-do list of items that you can’t avoid (but wish you could), or not enough time to get that ‘feel-good’ workout in. The good news is that you can balance those negative energies with positivity. A good workout, a few deep breaths during the day or even a cup of tea (or glass of wine) can help you relax and de-stress from any frustrations or negativity you felt during the day.

A few things that I love to use or do to help me become more mindful and balance out the negative energies in my life are things that I have aimed to use more of in 2016 – they me feel happy, relaxed and quiet my mind. Below are just a few:

Number one on the list is my nebulizer (which I wrote about yesterday).

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It’s the BEST invention and my new obsession.

I don’t know how I lived without aromatherapy until a couple months ago. The AromaGem Ultrasonic Nebulizer by Saje Natural Wellness is a heat-free, oil diffuser that acts as an air purifier and humidifier. It puffs out a soft mist of healing essential oils into the air, along with negatively-charged ions that help to clean the air of allergens and bacteria…pretty cool eh?

It’s super simple to use and on the intermittent cycle (puffing out air every 10 seconds) lasts around five to six hours. There are a variety of Saje oils that can be used and each oil comes with various benefits.

My favourite oils are Yoga, Immune and Refresh. To read more about my favourite oils and a review of the ‘Best of Saje Deluxe’ blends, click here.

My next stress-busting item that I’ve been loving since the summer has been my Himalayan salt lamp. It is super relaxing and apparently it helps to neutralize the “electro-smog” in the air to reduce allergens, irritants and create a soothing atmosphere full of negative ions (just like the nebulizer). Whether it does so or not, it’s still relaxing. I love the warming light it exudes and it’s the perfect element to my yoga and mediation practice. It also makes a room feel inviting, relaxing and comforting. I got mine at a health food store – most wellness stores carry them, including Whole Foods.

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See the photo in the corner?…that’s my fiance 😉

One of my newest favourite shower additions is the Eucalyptus Mint OGX shampoo and conditioner. It Screen Shot 2016-01-11 at 10.28.03 PMmakes the shower smell like a eucalyptus steam room and makes my scalp feel tingly and refreshed – I love ending my day with this before I get into bed! The conditioner is especially amazing.

Next on the list is my honey, lemon, cinnamon hot water in the morning. I boil water and add half of a freshly squeezed lemon, a tablespoon of honey and a pinch of cinnamon. It’s feels so refreshing and warms up my whole body. It makes me feel great and I love starting my morning sipping on it.

Screen Shot 2016-01-11 at 10.28.25 PMBecause I can’t take my nebulizer to work, I love spritzing the Saje ‘Arrive Revived’ mist around my desk when I need a boost. Although it’s intended for ‘jet lag and travel’, it still does the job of boosting my energy and helping me de-stress while I’m at work.

Lastly is my meditation practice. There are no props required, just a quiet room and the intent to focus on yourself for however long you wish. I was introduced to the practice of meditation last winter and it seriously changed my life. The skills I’ve learned from it have helped me learn to ease my mind in times of stress, anxiety or just daily life and have made me love myself for who I am.

The best tip I learned for meditating was that your mind doesn’t have to be 100% quiet. Unless you’re a monk or an experienced meditator, it’s very rare to kick out all the chatter that goes on in your head. As long as you can focus on breathing, a positive intention and recognize what thoughts linger into your mind as you practice your meditation, you will be fine.

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I like using this book to guide my meditation practices – there a bunch of ideas to give you meditation inspiration. There also a bunch of great YouTube sites that can take you on a guided meditation.

I’m so excited for 2016 and I also have lots of great things planned for the blog!

What are you excited for in 2016? What are your resolutions and goals?

Saje Natural Wellness – My Newest Obsession

A few months ago when I was visiting a friend in London (ON), I walked past a store called Saje – the smell emitting from the store was what lured me in. When I walked in, I learned all about their nebulizers and the benefits of essential oils and aromatherapy…but I ended up walking out empty handed as I wanted to do some more research.

A few months passed and to be honest I had totally forgot about Saje…that was until I saw a fellow blogger post something about her nebulizer. I did more research and couldn’t help but buy one for myself.

I purchased the AromaGem Ultrasonic Nebulizer in chrome (it was the least expensive and I thought the most stylish). It’s super simple to use and it acts as an air purifier and a humidifier. The nebulizer is heat free and very safe to use – once it runs out of water it stops automatically. By a simple push of the button, the machine turns on and puffs out a soft, waterless mist of essential oils, beneficial and healthy to breathe in. I usually put my nebulizer on the intermittent setting, it puffs out mist (which is not wet at all) every 10 seconds. The website says it lasts around four hours, but mine lasts about five to six hours before I have to refill it.

Saje AromeGem Ultrasonic Nebulizer

All of the essential oils by Saje have various benefits to them. My favourites that I’ve come across are Yoga, Immune and Refresh.

Yoga truly smells like a yoga studio – it reminds me of a spa and totally relaxes me. It is meant to ‘bring balance to your day, and practice and creates an intention of loving kindness’ – just like yoga is meant to do. It has notes of lavender, grapefruit and neroli and it definitely feels grounding. My favourite time to use it is after work. You know those ‘on-the-go’ days where you feel like you haven’t really stopped? After putting my nebulizer on with Yoga, I feel like I can breathe and forget about my busy day.

Immune is my second favourite (so far) – the name (just like ‘Yoga)’, does and smells exactly as it sounds.  It provides an immune boosting experience and cleans the air of bacteria and virus particles. It’s super uplifting, and the air in the room feels cleansed and cool. I love turning it on before bed or during the day – the scent of eucalyptus, and peppermint makes my mind, and body feel refreshed and pure.

Refresh is like a breath of fresh air. It has notes of peppermint, spearmint, lemon, and eucalyptus and it’s supposed to “sharpen focus and keep your train of thought on track”. I haven’t used this while I work at my desk, but I do find it very invigorating and cleansing. It just makes you feel ‘refreshed’.

Refresh is also part of the ‘Best of Saje Deluxe Diffuser Blends’. The diffuser blends in this set include (and are ordered by my favourite to least favourite – Refresh being number one):

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Rain forest: it smells like a rainforest. It has notes of pine, fir and mint. I like the earthy scent it brings into a room and it helps to clear the mind and make you feel grounded.

Exhale: very similar to Refresh. It has minty notes and is meant to clear the mind, and body to help renew and fresh. It’s great to have by your yoga mat as you practice your downward dog or meditation.

Liquid Sunshine: perfect to give you an energy boost. It certainly smells like every citrus fruit in one bottle – almost good enough to drink. It’s great to have on in the morning when you need to wake up, or even during the middle of the day for a boost.

Tranquility: is very peaceful and relaxing. You don’t need a lot of drops in your nebulizer as it’s very strong. You can smell notes of lavender and chamomile – it’s perfect to have on before bed.

Spa Spirit: my least favourite (I don’t like it at all)…although I thought the name would definitely make it my favourite. It’s apparently meant to bring a “healing, spa-like atmosphere in to your home” but I find it very sweet and pungent smelling. Everyone has their own preference in scents, but quite honestly this one gives me a headache.

*On the note of headaches…I’m very sensitive to fragrance. I get an immediate headache and the feeling of a drop in blood sugar when I don’t like a certain scent. These diffuser blends are 100% natural and don’t contain artificial fragrances – I am perfectly fine with them and they don’t make me react at all. 

I am just obsessed with Saje. They make an amazing product and the best thing is that they’re Canadian! I turn it on whenever I can – when I’m reading a book, watching TV, practicing yoga, blogging, or just hanging out.

I already want to buy a second nebulizer and am always browsing on their website to learn more about their various blends – I can see myself filling every room in my home with a nebulizer…

Stay tuned for more Saje reviews – I know it will be a favourite on the blog!

Saje was kind enough to send me product for review, and as a disclaimer, everything I review and write about is a product I truly love.