So my husband's birthday was on Saturday, but because he's awesome, we began the celebration on Thursday night. We maintain very strict, clean eating habits, but his birthday was a good opportunity to take a little break, while still allowing him to enjoy his favorite activity, eating. After eating at his favorite local breakfast hangout, I decided to take him to Atomic Burger for lunch. It's a new fast casual restaurant located on Burbank and Lee. They've been open for about a week and we'd heard rave reviews about them so we were excited.


So let's talk about why this place is a big deal for us. We make every effort to avoid chemical processing in every area of our lives, especially our food. Sure there are lots of restaurants where you can get a hamburger and fries, but we value eateries that take pride in the sourcing and preparation of their menu items. Atomic Burger seems to do just that. Their beef is ground fresh in house, they slice their own potatoes, and their produce is freshly prepared. In addition, they have a variety of options for those with dietary restrictions, and that was the cherry on top.




The design of the restaurant has a very retro, yet modern style to it, kind of like the In-and-Out Burger restaurants back home in LA. There were a few guests in line, but we didn't mind the wait because we could smell the awesomeness as soon as we walked in the door. What really impressed us was the Gluten Free (Products made without wheat, spelt, kamut, farro, durum, bulgar, semolina, barley, rye, and triticale) and Keto Friendly (low-carb/high fat) Cauliflower bun and lettuce wrap options. Our family has very strict dietary guidelines due to my wheat allergy and our son's eczema that's triggered by wheat, dairy, and eggs. There aren't many places where we can all enjoy a full meal without too many substitutions, so we appreciate their consideration of those with alternative dietary needs.


The Cauliflower Bun and Keto options are a nice touch for those with dietary restrictions. They also offer veggie and turkey burgers.

We both ordered the Atomic Burger with grilled onions and Cauliflower bun, and a side of fries to share. Although they do have shakes, our lactose intolerance just couldn't handle the dairy. However, their shakes aren't just the usual ice cream in a cup type shakes. They're actually chilled to order using liquid nitrogen (yep, you read that correctly). I promise you I stood there in a daze, fascinated by the process! One day, I may live on the wild side and try one. But I digress...


By the time we ordered, picked up a few condiments from the bar, and found a table on the enclosed patio, our food was ready. Now before I tell you about the burger, let's discuss this condiment bar. The hubs and I are both suckers for condiments. (Like seriously! Our fridge contains an ungodly amount of them) So you can just imagine the joy we felt in our hearts when we saw toppings like Roasted Garlic Aioli (our fave), Truffle Mayo, and Sriracha Mayo! We were in condiment heaven! Okay, so back to the burger. The Cauliflower bun was a pleasant alternative to the typical lettuce wrap. It had the texture of a fried egg and didn't fall apart or get all messy like a lettuce wrap either. I really don't like the taste of cauliflower, but I honestly couldn't even tell it was the main ingredient.


Dip the fry! Trust me! The Garlic Aioli is magical!

The patties had that signature beefiness that you want on a burger, and it honestly reminded me of In-and-Out burger as well. Especially with the grilled onions. The fries, (drool) were homemade. No one had to tell me they were freshly sliced because I could tell! They had a soft, fleshy potato center and a slight crisp on the outside. Perfect! You just can't get that flavor or texture from frozen fries. And I must say, the Garlic Aioli made a perfect dip.



After finishing the burger, although I was full, I wasn't "loosen my pants" stuffed, and that was a good thing. The cauliflower bun gave me the satisfaction of a "real" burger without an actual wheat derived bun. I can dig it! While eating burgers and fries are not our typical household meal, it's great to have options available where we can enjoy a burger made with fresh ingredients instead of all of the heavily processed, chemically altered ones.



Overall, we enjoyed our visit and our food. So much so, that we're adding it to our list of places to go in Baton Rouge. Have you tried Atomic Burger yet? Let me know your thoughts below. Until next time...


Rochelle C. is a homeschool mom, Co-Owner of LiveFree Natural Home and Body Care, The Red Wagon School Supply Concierge, and a Green Living Consultant. After teaching high school and college for 7 years, she traded in her red pen for a baby rattle and joyfully embarked upon a new career as a stay at home mom. When she’s not changing diapers, Rochelle works with her husband in the family business. Together they own LiveFree Natural Home & Body Care, a Health & Wellness company that specializes in formulating all natural home and body care products as well as teaching classes in their community on the dangers of harmful chemicals in everyday personal care products.





Updated: Mar 18, 2019





During my adolescent years in Los Angeles, everyone I knew had natural hair. Of course, we didn’t call it that, we just called it “hair.” No matter how long or short, it had to be perfectly pressed, full of body (see you later 1970’s “grease press”) and healthy in order to be acceptable. There were a few girls here and there who wore their hair in “natural styles” (bantu knots, twists, or afro puffs), but they were the unique ones.

I never thought twice about the products I used on my hair or their chemical makeup. I just used whatever my mom bought from the local beauty supply and went on with my life. No worries.

One product I wouldn’t use however, was a relaxer. Oh, the “Creamy Crack” was a sin in my neighborhood. I was taught that Relaxers were harsh chemicals and they damage your hair. So you can imagine the culture shock I experienced when I went away to college in the south and everyone’s hair was relaxed. I mean EVERYONE! It was the complete opposite of what I had known. Suddenly, all of us (the California girls) became the unique ones. We wore protective styles (braids, extensions, etc.) to maintain our hair because we struggled to find stylists who could competently style our natural tresses without subjecting us to the dreaded “Creamy Crack.”

Unfortunately, after years of resisting, I gave in to the convenience and permanently straightened my hair. It was a short season. After four years of routine touch ups, I noticed that although my hair was growing longer, it was also thinning. It wouldn’t hold a curl anymore and lacked the body and fullness that I knew it was capable of, sans relaxer.

It was time for a change. Time to get rid of the chemicals and get back to my God given coils.

As I navigated my way through my transitioning journey, I realized that some of the products that were formulated for black hair contained some of the same harmful chemicals as the relaxer I was trying to get away from. Most commonly, Parabens, Mineral Oils and Petroleum, and Artificial Fragrance. That’s a ton of chemical exposure when you consider how many hair care products black women use daily. We can possibly increase our cancer risk through a product as simple as a shampoo. I mean, isn’t life hard enough? Well, now that I know better, I’m doing better. And today, I’m going to help you do better too.



Parabens

It’s 2019, so by now we should have heard about the dangers of Parabens. If not, allow me. As a self-taught product formulator, one of the first things I learned was that parabens are the best preservative you can use. They’re broad spectrum and can protect against bacterial growth, mold and yeast for years. So, what’s the problem? Parabens are endocrine disruptors, which can mimic estrogen in your body and may lead to thyroid conditions, fibroid tumors and an increased risk of breast cancer. You’ll most likely find them in your shampoo, conditioner, or any water-based product, since they all need to be preserved to maintain their shelf life. If you want to avoid parabens, be sure to read the ingredients on the back of the products. You’ll find them listed as butylparabens, propylparabens, or yuckyparabens. Yeah, I made that last one up. 😊




Mineral Oils and Petroleum

Mineral Oils and Petroleum are two ingredients that I was all too familiar with as they’re the foundation of most hair grease and scalp oils made for black hair. Unfortunately, these two ingredients are cut from the same cloth: The petroleum refining process. So what the heck are they doing in our hair products? Well, mineral oil and petroleum are both emollients and are generally used to form a barrier on the hair and skin to prevent moisture loss. They’re also inexpensive. While this doesn’t sound like a bad idea, the problem with these compounds is the potential contamination risk during the refining process. Although the studies are conflicting regarding their carcinogenic properties, I still avoid these ingredients to make sure that I’m not exposing myself to any potential toxins.




Fragrance

True story. One day I’m in the grocery store and the cashier asks if I used a certain cloyingly sweet coconut-scented product in my hair. I laughed and asked how he knew my business. “Oh, my whole family uses that product so I can recognize that smell anywhere.” See, that right there should tell you that there’s absolutely Too. Much. Fragrance. in a product if someone can smell it from several feet away! Clearly product manufacturers don’t think so. They also don’t seem to be concerned with the fact that added fragrance ingredients can also be, you guessed it, Endocrine Disruptors! They’re also linked to cancer, birth defects, and allergies! See, I’m not sure where you are in your life, but I’m still child bearing age, and I don’t need anything disrupting my hormones and affecting my fertility. The best way to avoid the worst fragrance ingredients is to purchase products that are fragrance-free or fully disclose their fragrance ingredients (including essential oils). I know it may be tough to let go of your favorite fruity yum-yum products, but it’s just not worth it, friend.


It has been 6 years since I began my pursuit to return to my natural hair roots, and I don’t regret it one bit. My hair is the healthiest it’s been in years and it all comes down to one simple principle: “Natural hair care requires natural products.” Our bodies are designed to heal themselves, and honestly, a lot of our hair (and body) care products do not complement that process.  We have come a long way in the natural hair community when it comes to producing high quality hair care products, but some of them are still heavy laden with harmful toxins. Come on, sis! Let’s toss those products and prioritize our long-term health goals over our short-term hair goals.  Let me know if you need my help 😊



Rochelle C. is a homeschool mom, Co-Owner of LiveFree Natural Home and Body Care, and a Green Living Consultant. After teaching high school and college for 7 years, she traded in her red pen for a baby rattle and joyfully embarked upon a new career as a stay at home mom. When she’s not changing diapers, Rochelle works with her husband in the family business. Together they own LiveFree Natural Home & Body Care, a Health & Wellness company that specializes in formulating all natural home and body care products as well as teaching classes in their community on the dangers of harmful chemicals in everyday personal care products.






Updated: Mar 18, 2019




When asked how LiveFree Natural Home and Body Care became a business, we always start with a smirk, a giggle, and a “Weeeelll…” Honestly our beginnings were kind of peculiar.

On an evening that would change our lives, my husband and I settled in for a romantic evening of Netflix documentaries (proud nerds we are) and stumbled upon one about household chemicals. By the end of our evening we were convinced that our entire lives were ending and everything we knew about life was wrong. I mean seriously! Everything we had in our homes was discussed in the film, and we knew we had to make some changes. I mean, I’ve always believed that the natural way was the best. Both my husband and I were raised by parents who were quicker to grab herbs to heal a sickness than mainstream meds, but none of this stopped me from buying the fruity lotions, deodorants with the stereotypical “Aroma of Man” for my husband, or perfumes that would leave a trail of floral goodness behind for myself. What we didn’t know was how deep this “holistic health” rabbit hole could go. What started out as two newlyweds trying to save a little money by canceling their cable and watching Netflix documentaries, led to several years of research, relationships, and eventually a business.

Now, on the subject of Wellness, there are so many topics that can be addressed. Afterall, living a healthy, natural lifestyle is a journey that never ends. You can literally learn something new everyday and still not be aware of everything there is to know about how to reduce your toxic burden. When my husband and I began our journey, we knew we wanted to rid our home of all of the toxic products we had been using over almost all of our lives. That would be easy, right? Heck no! In fact, it can be a very time consuming and expensive ordeal. On the bright side though, while we’re learning and growing through this process, there was a change happening in us; A shifting of our worldview. A paradigm shift.

When my husband and I first began our natural lifestyle journey, we sold out immediately. For him, all it really took was for him to understand that fragrance causes men to produce too much estrogen and he tossed a whole six pack of Old Spice Deodorant, never to be seen again. For me, it was knowing that all my peachy, cucumber melon, fruity yum-yum lotion and perfume collection were increasing my risks of developing estrogen-based cancers and could possibly affect my fertility. It was a harsh reality for us to face the fact that almost everything we had been using on our bodies and in our home for YEARS was causing us harm. While there were several harsh realities that we had to come to terms with over the years, I’ll share a few that I think will get you over the initial hump of “Going Natural:”



Being Healthy Costs a Little More



Let’s just go ahead and get this one out of the way. Being healthy costs more! Sometimes significantly, but it’s totally worth it! I try to be a good steward of the finances we’ve been blessed with, so when presented with a Buy 3 Get 3 Free sale at the “smell good” mall store, you already know which way I’m going. But knowing that these products contain chemicals that can alter my life, and the life of my children causes me to think twice about where and how I choose to spend our money. Most natural ingredients are plant based from non-genetically modified seed. They aren’t sprayed with pesticides (or are sprayed with organic pesticides), and are harvested and processed differently than conventional ingredients. Even to receive an Organic Certification costs manufacturers thousands of dollars, which is inevitably passed on to the customer. Natural Oils, butters, essential oils, etc. are just expensive to make. So in this case, you really do get what you pay for.



Research and Question Everything!



I know this sounds like conspiracy theory, but I promise you it’s the truth! Question EVERYTHING! Read every label! Do the research! Read peer reviewed studies, medical journals, and by golly, read books! All of my friends know that when presented with anything, my first question is usually “What’s in It?” I’m sure they despise this LOL, but I must know. I must question everything that goes in, on, or around my body or in my home. I don’t take anything at face value. I must read the ingredients, learn the process, and question the establishment. I’m not paranoid or anything, but I’ve learned to trust my discernment even if I don’t’ have all of the facts up front. When the Lord shows me that something’s up, I trust Him, even if it seems a little “tin foil hat” at the time.



I Am In Charge of My Health



God is my protector and gives me wisdom on how to live. He guides me to reputable information and people who can help me to keep myself, and my family healthy. With all the information available, I am fully capable and responsible for valuing and being a good steward of my temple. Doctors, The FDA, and CDC, etc. are great resources, but at the end of the day, my body was given to me by the Lord and I will be held accountable for its care. The decisions I make today can affect my family and I for the rest of our lives, so I must choose wisely.

So have you sold out to living a healthy natural lifestyle yet, or are you still struggling with letting go of your favorite carcinogens (That’s harsh, I know)? Well it’s time to let those things go and let your body breath, detox, and be refreshed by the healing properties of natural foods and products. Its time to LiveFree of these harmful chemicals and lessen the toxic burden you’re placing on your body. Let me know if you need any help. (insert kissy face)


Rochelle C. is a homeschool mom, Co-Owner of LiveFree Natural Home and Body Care, and a Green Living Consultant. After teaching high school and college for 7 years, she traded in her red pen for a baby rattle and joyfully embarked upon a new career as a stay at home mom. When she’s not changing diapers, Rochelle works with her husband in the family business. Together they own LiveFree Natural Home & Body Care, a Health & Wellness company that specializes in formulating all natural home and body care products as well as teaching classes in their community on the dangers of harmful chemicals in everyday personal care products.


For more information, visit www.livefreenhbc.com/detox to book a Home Detox Class. Learn how to reduce your exposure to these harmful chemicals today.


LiveFree Natural Home & Body Care is a family owned company specializing in educating the community on the adverse effects of chemicals used daily in home and personal care products, while also making safe, non-toxic home and personal care products. Visit us online at www.livefreenhbc.com to schedule a Lifestyle class for your small or large group.



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