Meredith

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KetoCoach Ketone Monitor Review

KetoCoach Ketone Monitor Review

If you’ve followed my Keto Instagram page for a while, you know I’m obsessed with testing my ketone levels. Personally, I think that testing your blood ketones are an absolute necessity as you navigate the Keto Diet, and being in Ketosis. This post isn’t about how to monitor blood ketones or what the testing means, but is literally just a basic review of my new favorite Ketocoach Ketone Monitor.

I started chatting with Matt, the KetoCoach founder, about 8 months ago. He had been creating some urine strips which he sent me to try, and they seemed really great, but what I was really interested in was his promise for a new Blood Ketone monitor. The only one I had trusted at the time was the KetoMojo monitor, which you’ve no doubt heard me mention a few times on the blog and on my Instagram page. I loved that monitor, and was thrilled that a new one was going to be hitting the market!!

I’ve been testing this monitor out for a little bit now, and I have to say that I won’t ever switch back to my KetoMojo, and the reason is all in one word: TEST STRIPS!

Overall both monitors are great and easy to use. I liked the KetoMojo finger-pricker more, so I use that one with my KetoCoach Ketone monitor (which is why in the pics, that thing looks different than the KetoCoach stock pick). Not sure why, theirs is fine too, but I had just been used to the KetoMojo one so I stuck with it. The carrying case each come with is comparable, and both monitors are easy to read, although I do like KetoCoach’s more than KetoMojo because it’s slimmer. The real meat of improvement is how KetoCoach packages their test strips.

Check them out:

Each one is individually wrapped, which is entirely different than the way KetoMojo’s are packed (they’re packed all together in a little tub). Now, you might think it’s wasteful to have them all individually wrapped, but here’s what’s actually wasteful (and dumb): I accidentally left the top of my KetoMojo strip tub open once, not realizing they’re sensitive to the light. ALL OF THEM WERE RUINED. They’re $0.99 a pop (vs KetoCoach’s, which are $0.59 each, another win to KetoCoach). I was so mad, but I wasn’t about to buy new ones because of my own stupid mistake. I lost a bunch of money there, but hey…live and learn, right? Now, I can pack only the strips I need when I’m traveling (I test almost every day at work at some point), and having them individually wrapped means I’m always getting a fresh strip, every time. It’s plain genius, that’s it!

So, the cost: Right now the KetoCoach starter kit is on sale for $49.95 which is absolutely 10000% worth it. 50 test strips are $34.95, which is a lot better than $0.99/strip too, but the starter kit does come with 10 strips, plus the carrying case, and everything you need to get started.

Here are some tips, and after a month of being sick and eating junky food due to parties, birthdays, holidays, etc., I used my monitor to make sure I got back in Ketosis fast:

  1. The quickest way for ME to get back into Ketosis is to fast. I fasted for almost 42 hours, and at the 24 hour mark, my blood ketones were at 0.5 (you want to be around 0.5-3.0 mmol/L for optimal nutritional ketosis, but I’ve never gotten higher than 1.8 in all my readings). At the 36 hour mark, they were at 0.7, and then right around the 41 hour mark I tested a 1.4. They say your body gets faster at getting back into ketosis once you’ve been “in it” for a while before, so I know that helped me, but tracking like this is just such a great way to measure so that you KNOW!
  2. In the beginning I’ve tested right before I end every fast (I usually fast daily at a 16:8 interval; 16 hours fasted, 8 hour eating window).
  3. Now that I’m certain I’m on the right track again, I’ll test an hour or two after dinner, right around the time my fast is beginning again, just to make sure I’m still good.
  4. Buy some little alcohol pads to stick in the carrying case. They’re super cheap, good for any first aid kit along with carrying in your KetoCoach Monitor kit because you can’t always get to a spot to wash your hands before you test.
  5. Rub your finger before you test–it will hurt less, and there will be more blood.
  6. Make sure you have enough blood! I’ve wasted several strips thinking “there’s enough” when there definitely wasn’t. Just make sure you’ve got a good blob going so that you won’t get an error message!
  7. Don’t become obsessed with measuring. I’m a little obsessed myself, but it will get verrrrryyyy expensive if you don’t limit yourself. This is another reason I kind of lost it with KetoMojo. I didn’t want to believe my strips were bad, and I just went into a downward spiral of defeat when I kept pulling a “Lo” on that monitor when I KNEW I was eating perfectly (another reason to only buy the KetoCoach ones, again so you KNOW you’re getting a fresh strip every time…have a mentioned how great that is?! LOL)

Have you tried the KetoCoach Ketone Monitor yet?!

KetoCoach Ketone Monitor

We Marie-Kondo-ed All of Our Kid Toys and It Was Awesome

We Marie-Kondo-ed All of Our Kid Toys and It Was Awesome

Everyone is talking about the Marie Kondo Netflix special, “Tidying Up”. I’ve read several blog posts on it, and most of them are negative towards Marie and her methods. Honestly, probably because she’s a cute little adorable Japanese woman who clearly seems to have her shit in order. While most of us don’t, maybe people (women, in particular) are coming down on her because anything in mom-woman-world that seems too good to be true, is dubbed a fallacy of some sort. In typical Mean Girl fashion, we can’t just see another successful woman, mother, HUMAN, like ourselves, and be happy for her. NO, people across the internet have to rip her and her method apart and talk about how terrible it is. You know what? Just because it’s terrible for YOU doesn’t meant it’s terrible for EVERYONE, just like the fact that it’s wonderful for some people doesn’t mean that it’s wonderful for everyone.

Ugh. People.

Anyway, this post isn’t about that. It’s about my own personal method of cleaning out all the clutter. I took bits and pieces of her advice from her book and show, and here’s what I did:

Step 1: Watched “Tidying Up” on Netflix because we heard how awesome it is. And because we love Hoarders, and this seemed like the next evolution in our tv shows, since we exhausted all those Hoarders episodes on Hulu. For some reason, every time I watch Hoarders, or watch other people clean, it inspires me to do it as well. Weird…?

Step 2: Giggle about how Marie pronounces “books” because it’s the cutest thing ever. Also wish I was elegant, slender, and spoke Japanese. #nevergonnahappen.

Step 3: Decide to use the positive juju we felt watching other people get rid of their own shit, to get rid of OUR shit.

This picture? This is from Christmas, and I even posted it on my Instagram. It ALWAYS looked like this, and felt like such a beast. Things everywhere, ALWAYS… AHHHH!! Now, it’s always clean, there’s nothing ever out whenever we don’t want it to be.

No lie, we got rid of a TON of stuff, not just kid stuff. Marie talks about seeing if each thing sparks joy. I’m here to tell you that a Barbie shoe that was chewed up by a puppy will somehow miraculously “spark joy” in a toddler if given the chance to explain that “yes, I like that, I want it”. Kids as little as my daughter (2) don’t necessarily understand what this means. So our rules were: 1) does she play with it all the time and 2) does it have all the pieces. We also *tried* to explain about kids being less fortunate, and donating items to them. Surprisingly, she picked very few things as her favorites, and said yes to donating most. Whether she understood what she was actually doing is debatable, yet she hasn’t once yet asked for a toy that had been donated.

We dumped so much stuff, our entire living room seems like a clearer space. Clearer mentally, I mean, not just cleaner. She has a bin for dress-up, a bin for Barbies and Barbie toys, a bin for her Doctor kit, Polly Pockets and other small toys, and a bin for stuffed animals and miscellaneous toys. We can clean up the play area in 30 seconds or less.

(and before you wonder, YES, we do have multiple spots for toys: bedroom, living room (pictured), and basement. We did all of these areas, but I’m too lazy to take pictures of them all, and this was the only room I had a true, in-no-way-staged, before picture of)

I’ve noticed a lot of benefits from removing so many toys, and I’m so glad we did it. She clearly seems to value her toys more, and plays more decisively with what she has. It’s hard to let go of kid things sometimes, because I always feel like “well, they didn’t get to play with that yet” or “maybe they’ll want it at some point!”. I was holding on to some big blocks just because she would want to play with them like once every other month. That’s insane.

Marie Kondo’s method isn’t for everyone. It certainly isn’t all for me, because I don’t know that I can truly appreciate or understand what it means for a THING to bring me joy, or not to. I don’t understand the concept of “thanking” the items that I’m donating. To me they’re all just old things that are going bye-bye to be re-sorted in a Goodwill bin and then put out for someone else to take on their own journey. To me, thanking is something you do for people, not things. But I appreciate the concept nonetheless. Just not for me.

I did adopt MK’s method of folding, because it rocks. Not for everything, but most things. I love how neat everything is in my drawer, and it makes it super easy to find stuff! I didn’t do anything for the kid toys though. Show me that mom who has time to somehow organize all the toys by alphabetical letter, color, type of play, etc, and I’ll give you some sort of reward….I’m lucky there’s just a bin that all the Disney dresses get smushed into. But I’m totally happy with it!

Even if you don’t take her methods seriously, Tidying Up is worth a watch, because it’s just really interesting to see how she (and the families involved) think about cleaning. Let it inspire you to consider tidying up your space if you feel like you need it, like we did. We didn’t use all her methods, but we were still able to get the same result, and I’m SO pleased with what we accomplished!!! I don’t think minimalism is necessarily AT ALL for me, but after going through some very dedicated cleaning time, I can say it does feel amazing to know almost exactly down to the item–what toys you have, where they are, and if they’re taken out (haha is there ever a time they’re NOT out?!), knowing that cleanup isn’t the worst thing in the world anymore!!!

So kudos, MK. Thanks for your show, how you pronounce books (“bee-yooks”, I love it), and letting me be inspired to clean all the insane toy clutter we had here. The toys (and tons of other crap) in our household are much more manageable now!!

marie kondo method for kids

The Best Baby Bottle and Toy Sterilizer {Giveaway!}

The Best Baby Bottle and Toy Sterilizer {Giveaway!}

When I think of the things that I’ve needed and used with my babies, a baby bottle sanitizer hasn’t been on the list. Truth be told, I never thought I needed one. When Gourmia Jr. reached out to have me try out their Digital Bottle Sterilizer and Dryer, I was really hesitant, mostly because we’re almost to the point of not needing bottles anymore (I can’t believe my little guy is 9 months old!), and I really didn’t feel like it was something I needed. I said yes, and as soon as I used it, I was hooked!

There’s a giveaway for one of these at the bottom of this post, scroll down to check it out!!

To start off, it’s huge. And up front, I’ll say this is literally the ONLY downside I can find to the Gourmia Jr. baby bottle sterilizer.  You’re going to need a lot of space for it, whether you keep it out on the counter or put it in a cabinet.

Above are all the pieces it comes with–There’s a big base that gets plugged in, and that white tub sits on top and is able to be removed. Below are the steps to sanitizing bottles–AND TOYS–I repeat…AND TOYS!!!!!!

Step 1: Add water to the food-grade metal plate

Step 2: Add your bottles (or toys); my Medela bottles fit perfectly in there. So for reference, I clean these these by hand, and then stuck them in here.

Step 3: Add nipples (and toys!). The first time I only did bottles, but every time after, I’ve stuck baby toys in there like our Sophie giraffe, and other teething toys. 

Step 4: Put the top on!

Step 5: Set the timer. It sterilizes or sterilizes AND dries. I’ve only ever used the sterilize and dry option, because I want them dry and perfect! You can set the timer for 30, 40 or 50 minutes. I’ve only done 50 because I have the time to just let it do its thing.

Step 6: Sit back and relax!!!

Lastly, once it’s done, there are tongs to pull everything out!

The tongs fit the medela bottles perfectly! You can fit 8 bottles in there if needed!

So my honest review is that I never would have thought I’d need this, but YES, I’d buy it, and I LOVE it. It came at the most perfect time, because everything seems to need sanitation right now…Everyone was sick, so I was sanitizing these bottles literally multiple times a day, along with toys, so that I knew they were clean. We also got a puppy, and she’ll sometimes get into the baby toys, so I immediately take those away and sanitize them if she gets one.

The only downside like I mentioned, is that it’s huge. It’s like stand-mixer huge, and I know that can be a huge deterrent since space is limited. I don’t have a designated space for this in our kitchen, so every time I use it I put it back in the box and put it in the laundry room. Luckily, there aren’t a lot of parts, so you’re not having to really assemble a ton of things.

For $59.99 on Amazon Prime, I’d say this is DEFINITELY worth it, because of how much it can do and sterilize. If you’re already looking for a sterilizer, buy it!! If you were thinking (like me), that you might not use something like this, you might be surprised. After not having had one for my first baby, and now getting it 9 months into our second kiddo, I do wish I had this for my first. Knowing things are sterilized gives me such peace of mind, and as a parent, I feel like we’re all kind of searching for that, right?!

Enter the Giveaway Below:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thank you to Gourmia Jr. for sponsoring this post! All opinions are 100% honest and my own.

best baby bottle sterilizer

13 Tips on How to Start Keto for Complete Beginners

13 Tips on How to Start Keto for Complete Beginners

I’ve been posting all kinds of Keto related content, but I haven’t really talked about how to start keto. There are all kinds of articles on what keto is, why you might want to try it, etc., but that’s not what this post is about. This post is truly…HOW do you start a keto diet? Especially when it seems so overwhelming! (It can be). Here are my ten tips–what I personally have done–to start keto. Also remember: this is truly a WAY OF EATING, not just a diet. This isn’t something you can try for a week and see if it works out. It does require commitment, and honestly if you’re not committed, then you should look for another way of eating.

*Note: I’m not a doctor. This is my personal advice ONLY. Please consult your doctor before trying anything!*

Tips on How to Start the Keto Diet

  1. Meal plan! This diet takes consistency. You can’t just decide you’re going to start keto and then go off and have a cheat meal a few days later. Your body is completely changing the way it utilizes fuel…make sure you’re not confusing it!!! So, plan out your meals so that you know exactly what you’ll be eating.
  2. Make a lot of hard boiled eggs. The egg is probably nature’s most perfect food in general, but especially for this diet, it has a wonderful ratio of protein/fat/carbs. These are great go-to’s!
  3. Calculate your macros. I like this calculator.
  4. Download a tracking app and track EVERYTHING that goes in your mouth. I use the free version of Carb Manager, but I’ve used My Fitness Pal as well. Find one you enjoy, and use it religiously. I can’t even believe what I used to think a “serving” size used to be…especially of macadamia nuts!!
  5. Keep your carbohydrate intake to under 20 net grams per day. You may think you’re around 20g, but I guarantee you it is a VERY small amount, which is why #4 is so important!! Track track track, until you’ve gotten used to this way of eating!
  6. Eat healthy fats! Your diet should consist mostly of good, high quality fats like avocados, macadamia nuts, olive oil, naturally fatty meats, real butter, yes, bacon….
  7. Eat lower-carb vegetables. Some of my favorites are broccoli, spinach, brussel sprouts and asparagus.
  8. If you have a sweet tooth, buy some monk fruit sweetener or Swerve sweetener to make some fat bombs (fat bombs increase your healthy fat intake if you need it). One of my other favorites for my sweet tooth is Lindt 90% dark chocolate. It’s amazing!
  9. Keep protein moderate. Once you calculate your macros, use the protein recommendation as your goal!
  10. Stick to fatty meat sources like prime rib, or use other healthy fats to add on to something like a chicken breast.
  11. Use MCT (medium chain triglyceride oil) to help boost your healthy fat intake if needed. Bulletproof coffee is also a great way to get fat in.
  12. Test your urine with Keto strips, or use a ketone blood monitor. I’ve used both. Use the strips first, as they’re the least expensive investment.
  13. Don’t. Cheat. I can’t emphasize this one enough. It can (and will) take several days for your body to adjust and completely change how it utilizes fuel for energy. You can’t keep confusing it by thinking you can have a cheat meal or day!

These are my top 13…what are you own tips on how to start Keto?!

13 tips on how to start keto

Chicco NextFit Review

Chicco NextFit Review

I can’t believe I’m saying this, but it’s time to transition from an infant car seat to a bigger car seat–our little man is 7 months old already! We still use the infant car seat here and there, but I really wanted to upgrade to something that I wouldn’t have to replace every year as he gets older. We used a Chicco infant car seat for him which we loved, so I was ecstatic when Chicco sent me two of their NextFit car seats to try out–one for my daughter, and one for my son. All opinions in this review are 100% honest and my own, but I do truly appreciate the brand sending these over for us to test out!

We got two of the Chicco NextFit Zips, which fits kids up to 65lbs, rear or forward facing. So this is the only seat we’ll need until our kids hit that weight range, which I’m just thrilled about. I HATE installing and re-installing car seats!!!

Here are a couple features of the Chicco NextFit carseat:

  • 9 recline positions
  • 2 level indicators, which make it so easy to make sure it’s installed right!
  • Easy latch tighteners (trust me, these help)
  • Removable pads that zip off (this will be a pain to clean, like with any car seat, but the fact that they actually zip off is amazingly helpful)
  • Removable insulated cupholder

The quality of these seats is amazing. They’re softly padded, and easy to clean.

I love this insulated bottle holder. The only con to the insulation, is that it doesn’t make as good of a “drop all” toy holder as our other cup holder in another car seat.

The zipper feature makes me feel like this is way too fancy of a seat for me to have, especially when I know they’ll be covered in cookie crumbs and spilled milk in a matter of months! 

Here’s a picture of the zipper, and the underneath once you unzip it.

I would say that these Chicco NextFit carseats were so easy to install, a monkey could do it. I say that because I was able to do it, and I put my car-seat-installation capabilities on a VERY low base…. seriously, it was really easy. In the above pic, you can see that there’s a little holder for the latches if you’re going to install it just with a seat belt. This, along with the actual instructions on the sides of the seat, are AWESOME and super helpful to have!

My mom was able to easily stick the kids in by herself. I love how the seat is very roomy and “bucket-y” for the baby, and it’s super easy to adjust the height for my toddler!

I mean look at this guy! Super happy!!

UPDATE: So we’ve been using these Chicco Nextfit carseats for a little over a month now, and I have to say they’re still as awesome as I thought they were when I took them out of the box. We still love our Chicco infant seat (the best thing ever is that it has one-handed carry-handle click-down, if that makes sense), so we use that if we’re in my husband’s car, but I’m absolutely loving these NextFits for my van. If there was a complaint, I’d have to say it’s that the chest clip isn’t as one-handed-friendly as another brand I’ve tried, and it’s thinner. The cup holder can also be a bit of a pain, only because the insulation pieces will get in the way of some bottles or sippy cups fitting in there. Longer term, it will probably need way more cleaning that a plain plastic cup holder. But overall, I would say I give these seats a 4 out of 5 stars. Very high quality, easy to use and install, comfortable, and easy to clean. Nice job Chicco!!

Chicco Nextfit Carseat review

Keto Salted Caramel Chocolate Strawberry Bulletproof Coffee

Keto Salted Caramel Chocolate Strawberry Bulletproof Coffee

Holy heaven, you guys. I’ve been really into mixing up new flavors for my Keto Bulletproof Coffee (Chocolate is still my #1 favorite, click here for my perfect recipe), and I’ve found another winner!! I thought my Pumpkin Spice Keto Bulletproof Coffee was good, but this is even better than that!! It’s a really easy recipe, but does require a few products, so read on for more!

*this post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure page for more info*

How to Make Keto Bulletproof Coffee:

When I’m experimenting with flavors, I always use the same base every single time, which is:

1T of butter

1T Heavy Whipping Cream

Some type/flavor of MCT oil

~2 cups of coffee

The extras I add are some type of Sugar Free flavoring syrup (Torani brand is my favorite, and they have tons of flavors), and usually add a flavored Collagen. You can play around with basically any flavor, which is what I did here, and it rocked!!


How to make Salted Caramel Chocolate Covered Strawberry Keto Bulletproof Coffee:

Use my base:

1T Butter

1T Heavy Whipping Cream

Add:

1 Scoop of Strawberry Keto Collagen (this is from Now Keto, but there are several brands that have this flavor)

1 Scoop of Salted Caramel MCT oil powder (this is from Perfect Keto)

1 T of Sugar Free Chocolate Torani Syrup

~2 Cups of coffee, or whatever will fit into your blender (I use a Ninja blender that has a personal travel size attachment)

Blend for a few seconds, and it’s complete (and perfect). I wasn’t sure what to expect here with the taste, but it’s PHENOMENAL!!!!!!

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Keto Chocolate Strawberry Bulletproof Coffee

Keto Chocolate Strawberry Bulletproof Coffee
Keto Chocolate Strawberry Bulletproof Coffee