PUR is 100% Pure

A few years ago I reviewed Toronto-based PUR – a company that makes naturally-sweet gum and mints. The gum and mints are sweetened with 100% xylitol…no refined sugar or aspartame! The products are also vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut and peanut-free. When I reviewed their products in 2014 they only had a few flavours of gum…now in 2017 they have a bunch more flavours AND delicious mints. Read on….!



I was so happy to review their whole line and it’s so nice to enjoy gum and mints that are 100% pure. Did you know that xylitol is recommended by dentists to reduce plaque build-up and wash away bacteria? Pretty neat. I’ve noticed that there are a lot of natural gum companies where the flavour lasts for 10 seconds and the gum gets stuck to my teeth. Not PUR though. The flavour lasts much longer and the consistency is like “normal” gum. I love it!

PUR has the normal line-up of gum flavours, including Coolmint, Spearmint, Wintergreen, Peppermint, Bubblegum and Cinnamon…but they also have Chocolate Mint and Pomegranate Mint. Have you ever had Chocolate Mint gum? I’m a huge fan of peppermint chocolate, but I wasn’t sure how I would feel about it in the form of gum. I love it though. It’s sweet but refreshing. The Pomegranate Mint is also delicious. It has a hint of berry with a cool mint flavour in the background.

I love the mints too. The line-up includes: Spearmint, Peppermint, Polar Mint, Mojito Lime and Tangerine Tango. I love the Mojito Lime. It certainly reminds me of the delicious summer cocktail. All of the mints are super refreshing and I love that they are also naturally sweetened, free of common allergens and made with the highest quality ingredients.

PUR is a super pure company. It’s awesome to see a company that has such strong beliefs to create a product that is safe for all to consume. Not only do they accommodate those with food allergies/sensitivities but PUR is diabetic friendly, as xylitol is one of the lowest sweeteners on the glycemic index.

You can find PUR Gum and Mints in the majority of health food grocery stores, but I’ve also seen them at the counters at HomeSense and Winners (or you can shop online). I definitely recommend them…one of my favourite companies out there!

Disclaimer: I was provided with PUR Gum and Mints in return for my honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own and not included by PUR in any way!

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.

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!

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?

The Marilyn Denis Show

I’m excited to share some fun news – on Tuesday, May 26th (yesterday), I appeared on The Marilyn Denis Show sharing my favourite organization tips for the ‘morning rush’. It was pretty neat to go through all of the motions, from sitting in the green room, getting whisked away to the make-up chair and getting clipped with mics before I met Marilyn. The whole experience was very quick and I loved every minute of it.

Photo credit: The Marilyn Denis Show

I’m not sure if it’s a first child thing or what, but I’ve always enjoyed organizing. I may have not always been great at keeping my room tidy when I was young (or even in my mid-20s), but I’ve always felt comfort in having things in their place. When I was seven/eight I got my first digital organizer, a “Dear Diary”. I loved it. I’m not sure what the heck I had to organize at that age, but I appreciated the categories. When I was 13, I labeled my closet drawers (shirts, pants, underwear, etc…) – didn’t every teen girl do this? Around the age of 15, I would take time to re-organize the kitchen pantries and fridge. I know my parents appreciated the kitchen clean-out, but I also loved having a super organized fridge!

I believe organization is a bit of an art. It’s a practice. If you don’t practice it, it doesn’t come easy. Just like everything in life. There have been stretches in my life when I certainly was not organized…such as a couple years during university – however, once I would do the big room clean and get back on my organized track, it would be easier to stay on track.

Trying to stay organized may be easier for certain people, but it’s just part of personality. For me, I find organization easy, but that’s me. Trust me – as much as I love keeping organized, I am envious of those who can get ready in 15 minutes and run out the door with a bagel – especially a “regular”, non-gluten-free bagel. 

If I don’t have my routines, I find it harder to stay on track.

Weekday mornings are the time I’m most organized. If I don’t have everything figured out before I go to bed, I feel rushed and fuzzy-minded. I like having my morning routine, I know exactly how long I have in the morning before I leave for work and once I walk out the door, I don’t feel like I had to run around like a chicken without it’s head (because that’s how I feel when I do)!

Before Bed:

On weeknights after dinner, I take 15-20 minutes to pack my lunch and think about what I’m going to have for breakfast the next morning. One of my favourite go-to breakfasts for the next morning are overnight oats. It takes five minutes to throw everything into a jar or bowl and in the morning, once all the oats have absorbed the liquid, it’s a delicious breakfast. You can find a recipe here.

Photo credit: The Marilyn Denis Show

I then plan my outfit for the next day. I’m sure I’m not the only one who dislikes picking out what they’re going to wear for the day – sometimes it turns into a bit of a dilemma…don’t you agree??? If I have my clothing dilemma the night before, it doesn’t create as much stress as it would in the morning. Question for the men: are us ladies the only ones with outfit predicaments?

Sometimes I even take it to the next level and plan out three or four outfits on Sunday afternoon before the week ahead. If I know I have any ironing to do for the upcoming week, I’ll ensure to get it all done so I don’t have to worry about it the evening before work – trust me, it saves so much time.

I used to colour-coat my closet – it made it very visually appealing to open my closet and see a beautiful colour spectrum…I just didn’t find it very efficient. Soooo, I began clumping my clothes into various categories. Jackets in one section, blouses in another…pants in one drawer, skirts on a different rack. Much easier! If you want to make it every more organized, you could colour-coat your categorized sections.

Rise and Shine

I usually give myself just over an hour to get ready in the morning. I start my day off with a little morning yoga routine (supposedly it works better than caffeine…) and then I get dressed in my chosen outfit. I’ll eat my breakfast and my lunch is all ready to go.

At Work: 
Once I get to work, I take 10-15 minutes to plan out my day and I make my to-do list(s)…I love lists. If I don’t do this, I find it difficult to stay on track. I’m so visual, I like to see exactly what it is I have to do. 
Last year I learned about the kanban organization method. It was an exciting day friends – and I’m not being sarcastic. 

To give you a bit of background context, ‘kanban’ translates to ‘sign’ or ‘board’ in Japanese. It was a process that was initially implemented at Toyota to plan processes and since then the idea has erupted. Some organizations have huge kanban boards (check out this one) – tracking employee ‘to-do’ items and what’s in progress. It’s a way to keep people on track by having visual cues. Like I mentioned on the show, as humans we like to see what we’re doing. I also meant to mention that although we all multi-task daily, our brains aren’t actually wired to multi-task. We may do it, but we’re obviously not as efficient as when we take one step at a time and put our full focus into one task. The kanban board lets us see exactly what we have to do and we can focus our attention on the one task as we go through our day. It lets us see what we have on the go and once we’re finished it, the ‘done’ column gives us a sense of accomplishment. Feelings of accomplishment motivate us to move on to the next to-do task.
There are so many ways of implementing the board and you can really create it however way you want. There are lots of websites explaining different methods, you just have to find the one that works best for you. 
It may seem like a drag to plan for the next day once you get home from work, but it only takes around 30 minutes and it saves a lot of time in the morning…which means extra sleep
Maybe you like the rush or maybe you don’t need to practice organization to feel ready for the day, but for me, I need to practice organization to feel relaxed and prepared. 
I loved sharing my tips on The Marilyn Denis Show and I hope I’ll be able to share more in the future! Thanks for watching! 

The Balance of Life

Wake up, commute, work, commute, sleep. Repeat. There are times during life where we all find ourselves stuck in a routine that feels cumbersome and foggy. Days don’t feel all too fun and it feels like we are constantly looking forward to special events or holidays – just to escape from the daily rut. We all go through times like this in life and it takes these moments to step back and realize what exactly it is you want in life, what exactly you need to do to get out of that rut; how to create a healthy balance.

Everything in life – in our world – is balanced to a certain extent. We all hear about “work-life balance” and we usually wonder if anybody can actually achieve this state – does it actually exist??? It isn’t until we step back and evaluate the current condition and make a change until we can truly understand that work-life balance can be achieved.

I’ve recently taken a few steps back to reflect on how to create a better balance and I’m happy to say that after a few months of hard work, I believe I’m slowly learning what it’s all about.

I no longer have the “Monday blues” (yahoo!) and feel inspirited on Sundays before the work week. I enjoy a fresh, new work week and enjoy the career I’m in – it’s not a “job” because I actually like it. I’ve remembered how great yoga feels and I make sure to start my day (and try to end my day) with some time on my mat. I don’t worry about indulging in foods that don’t grow from the ground, if I feel like eating them, I enjoy them. I also enjoy salads and fruit without feeling like I need to eat them! I remember how nice it is to read books that aren’t work related and I’ve recently begun listening to audiobooks on my commute (why not kill two birds with one stone?). I’ve been able to spend more time with my fiance (yup, I’m planning a wedding!!!), family, and friends without worrying about what I have to accomplish at work and I absolutely love it.

If you asked me six months ago if there was such a thing as “work-life balance”, I would have said no. I didn’t think it could truly be achievable. I was wrong…

There’s no one saying you can’t take a step back to re-evaluate where you are in life and what you want to achieve. Everything in life involves baby steps, and learning about balance takes time. I’m no where near completely balanced, but I feel a lot more grounded then I did and it feels amazing.

A few things that have helped change my perspective on life and create a new-found balance are the following (to name a few):

1. Yoga. It’s been a huge game changer. When I’m on my mat, I try to leave any to-do lists or negativity on the side, it doesn’t get to accompany me during my practice. I started practicing yoga (after taking a few years off) by doing online classes, on BrettLarkin.com – a great site for beginners and anyone who needs the motivation to start back practicing. I do Brett’s ‘Get Fired Up’ yoga class every morning, it’s 10 minutes long and wakes me up better than any tea or coffee would.

DoYogaWithMe.com is also a fantastic site. I use this site for longer practices and I love the fact that they’re all filmed in Vancouver.

When I’m not practicing at home, I attend a studio that I’ve fallen in love with. I leave feeling extremely relaxed.

2. Journaling. I don’t journal all the time, but whenever I feel I need to, it really helps. Writing down thoughts, or better yet, talking about them make a huge difference for the mind and spirit. Getting things off the chest really lightens the load! *Buy a pretty journal though…you’ll have more motivation to write in it!

3. Meditation. I’m slowly learning what meditation is all about. One thing I’ve realized with meditation is that you don’t need to be in a state of silence for the whole 15, 30, 45 minutes you’re practicing. As long as you’re taking the time for yourself to sit and reflect, whether using a mantra, visualization or complete silence, you’re taking the step to better understand your mind and body. If your mind wanders during meditation, let it. Acknowledge the thought and bring it back to whatever your focus is on.

4. Eat, Pray, Love and Wild. I never thought a book could actually help change my perspective on life…but two (so far) have. I read Wild by Cheryl Strayd first and didn’t want it to end. I really connected with her take on life and how she took time to re-discover herself. I wasn’t inclined to take six months to hike the Pacific Coast Trail, but I loved her new outlook on life – so inspiring.

Eat, Pray, Love seems like such a cliche “self-discovery” book, and if it is, I don’t have any qualms because I fell in love with Liz Gilbert’s yogic/meditative journey. I won’t go into the details but if you need to figure out balance, I would highly recommend this book…skip the movie though (it’s a snoozer).

 

5. No. Learn to say ‘no’. Don’t have time to do something? Don’t commit. The past couple years have taught me that I’m not one to usually say no, which resulted in a bit of a burnout. Figure out how to distribute your time and don’t over commit.

6. Smile. Smiling takes less effort than frowning. Did you know it takes more muscles to frown??? I realize this sounds corny, but smile in your heart and mean it. It works.

It’s been an experiential past few months and I’m excited to continue on this path. Balance is real and anyone can take the time to figure it out. It just takes time and most importantly, patience.

I’m looking forward to begin blogging again and to add it to my “balance wheel”, because it sure has been a while.

Friday Flash-Contest – Gluten Free Garage!

Trying to blog with a new full-time job has proven to be a bit difficult – as you may notice my last post was three months ago!

To get the ball rolling again, I’m going to make my first post back short and sweet. I’m going to kick it off with a contest (see below)! 
If you haven’t heard about the Gluten Free Garage, you’re going to wonder why you never had in the first place. 
Inspired by her daughter Lily, 8, who was diagnosed with Celiac disease in 2009, Gluten Free Garage (GFG) founder RonniLyn created the event to give people a taste of gluten-free options in Toronto (that are actually good) by bringing over 60 artisanal vendors under one roof. The idea behind GFG is to promote and provide better access to top-quality local gluten-free food, create awareness about celiac disease and prove that gluten-free fare can be super tasty.
Marking its fourth consecutive year, GFG showcases the best of the best in gluten free eats and lifestyle, including food trucks, guest speakers and for the first time, beer and cider tasting. This year’s guest speakers include gluten-free expert and author, Kathy Smart, Bunner’s Bake Shop co-owner Ashley Wittig and holistic culinary nutritionist Marni Wasserman. 

I’ve been the past couple of years and I just love the intimate setting that it’s in (Wychwood Barns). Everyone is so friendly and you leave feeling full and happy. It’s true tummy love! 
Do you and a guest want to attend for FREE this year? You have three ways of winning:
1. Comment below 
2. Follow @gutgazette on Twitter
3. Tweet: “I would love to win two tickets to @Glu10FreeGarage via @gutgazette” 
This is a flash contest – you have until tomorrow (Nov 8) at noon to enter! Good luck! 

Bean Chips Winner!

It’s been quite a while since I posted last. I honestly can’t believe how quick time has gone and I can’t believe the last post I did was October 11! I hope everyone had a fabulous Halloween, and for those who are gluten free, I hope you were able to enjoy some gluten free goodies! 
I have a couple of product reviews that I will be posting shortly, including a fantastic gluten free granola and a line of delicious gluten free crackers. I also have a few recipes I will be testing to share with you to try!
Without further ado, the winner of the Beanito’s Bean Chip contest is entry #4, Lisa Brown! Congratulations! 
I hope to have another contest soon! Hopefully there are some more entries! 

Happy Mother’s Day!

Happy Mother’s Day to my Mom, and to all of you mothers and mothers-to-be out there!
First off, I would like to say that my Mom is the greatest. She’s the best Mom in the whole world!
I know many of you could probably disagree with that statement, thinking that your Mom is actually the greatest…but don’t we all think our Mothers are the greatest?
There aren’t enough words to describe how great my Mom is, but I thought I would at least try with this.
My Mom is supportive, loving, caring, trusting, kind, respectful, understanding, thoughtful, helpful, talented, funny (and silly), creative, a role model and pretty much just amazing. She is such an amazing woman, so inspiring. She isn’t just my Mom though – she’s my best friend. I tell her everything, we can talk for hours on end and I just never get sick of her.
Even though Mother’s Day is only once a year, it’s pretty much every day, because Mothers should always be treated the best!
Make sure to spoil your mother today!
Have a lovely Sunday!!

You Are Beautiful

My oh my! It’s been a week since my last post…and this post is going to be a quick one too…
I’ve been studying my brains out for exams. I have 2 more left, 1 Wednesday and 1 Friday…then SUMMER!! SO excited! I just wanted to say a quick “hi” and leave you with this note I wrote for Operation Beautiful.

Have you heard of Operation Beautiful?

Caitlin from Healthy Tipping Point started this movement as a way to “end negative self-talk or “Fat Talk.” It is to help women and girls realize how truly toxic fat talk is”. Anonymous people write notes in public places — at work, at the gym, at the grocery store, and scribble down whatever comes to mind — “You are beautiful!” or “You are amazing just the way you are!” Some people read them and just smile, but some people are truly touched by the effort of a random stranger.

I think this is SO cool, and I love the fact that people are starting to take a stance on the fact that everyone is beautiful just the way they are. There shouldn’t be one type of body that is the “ideal” body, everyone is different, and we should except what we have. Being super skinny is not healthy, nor is being too overweight. Being healthy is what is most important.

I urge you to start acting in this movement of Operation Beautiful…or at least check out the website…you will leave the site with a smile on your face feeling 10x better than you did going to it!