-Wellness Lifestyle & food –

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With 2017 coming to an end and 2018 quickly approaching us, I decided to look back at my new years resolution list to see if I’ve followed through with the goals I set for myself at the beginning of the year. I wrote down over 50 new resolutions which included small goals like saying “I love you,” more to my loved ones to major life changing decisions like going skydiving. I haven’t been skydiving yet, partially because I’m a bit of a pansy and partially due to the fact that I simply do not have the time, but it’s mainly because I’m a wuss and the thought of jumping over 12,000 feet from the air completely terrifies me. Now I know I set some pretty drastic goals which I was unable to complete this year but I still plan on completing at some point in my life, however I also set reasonable goals that I was able to follow through on, and for that I’m pretty proud of myself – it’s okay to celebrate the small victories in life, in fact I encourage you all to.

One goal that I set for myself was to research and educate myself on products that test on animals. Personally, I find animal testing to be unethical, cruel, inhumane and bad for the environment but that’s just my opinion and you’re absolutely entitled to think otherwise. Back to the subject at hand, I wanted to transform my skincare routine into a cruelty free one. Luckily for me this wasn’t terribly difficult because a majority of the products that I’ve used since I was a preteen have been all natural and cruelty free for the most part besides a few lotions and haircare products. My goal wasn’t to just go out and buy a bunch of organic and cruelty free products to use, I needed them to actually work for my skin and thus a period trial and error ensued. I purchased a few products from Whole Foods and a few from Amazon to begin my cruelty free journey but of course some worked better than others and some seemed to cost an arm and a leg while others were very reasonably priced.

When looking for new products for your skin, I think it’s very important to get to know your skin and become one with it. After all it is the biggest organ of the human body and it deserves to be loved and cared for. I’ve gotten to know my skin pretty well throughout my life, I know that I have VERY dry skin which gets red and patchy when I don’t moisturize properly or if I don’t drink enough water. I have sensitive skin, so if I ever touch my face without washing my hands first I can expect to find a pimple there the next morning. I also get white patches if I don’t use sunscreen every single day- rain or shine! I’ve also tried countless products for my skin which seemed to work just fine for a few weeks, and then I’d either breakout or I’d see patches of dry flaky skin. After years of trial and error, I think I’ve finally found my go-to products that have not only worked wonders, but I’m confident in knowing that I’m not contributing to the world of animal testing.

This post is a bit of a skincare routine but it’s mainly to share honest reviews on products that I love and believe can work for you too! 

  1. Face Wash- I use the cucumber milk facial cleanser by Lather. I absolutely love this facial cleanser! It’s gentle, has a very light scent and it gets the job done! The cucumber, aloe and antioxidant-rich sea algae cleanse your skin while gently lifting away any impurities and the oat protein and sweet almond oil moisturize the skin. This product is free of parabens, sulfates, mineral oil, synthetic fragrances and colors and is not tested on animals. You can purchase this cleanser from Amazon by   clicking the hyperlink above. IMG_8409
  2. Facial Toner- I use a toner every other day directly after washing my face. I apply it gently with a little cotton pad and wait for it to dry before applying my moisturizer. The Thayers Alcohol-Free Rose Petal Witch Hazel Toner  is a lifesaver. I love how faintly scented the product is, but it’s also really gentle in comparison to most toners that contain alcohol. IMG_8411
  3.  Moisturizer- The Era Organics moisturizer is hands down my favorite product that I discovered in 2017! As I mentioned above, I have super dry skin and I’ve had a hard time finding a moisturizer that didn’t wear off in less than an hour. I used to  carry a small bottle of face cream with me everywhere I went to reapply whenever I felt my skin dry up. I discovered the Era moisturizer and I’m never going back! I apply this bad boy in the morning and at night and I’m good to go! No need to reapply numerous times a day. It’s soft and gentle and leaves your skin looking f-a-b-u-l-o-u-s!IMG_8410
  4. Body Lotion – The Alba Botanica body lotion is everything you could ever want in a moisturizer and more. From the beachy summery scent to it’s airy properties this item is my go-to during all four seasons. The cocoa butter & tropically emollient oils nourish dry skin while leaving you smelling sweet and fresh. IMG_8412
  5. Sunscreen- I believe everyone should use sunscreen every single day. Sunscreen isn’t just a necessity during the hot summer days, but it’s essential even when the sun isn’t out. A lot of generic sunscreen lotions contain loads of chemicals, but the Alba Botanica Hawaiian Sunscreen Lotion is just what you need to protect yourself from the sun’s harmful rays without feeling like there’s a thick layer of product on your face. This product is biodegradable, gluten-free and offers broad spectrum protection with aloe vera, sunflower oil and tropical fruit extracts!IMG_8415
  6. For the unexpected pimple- We all get them and there’s no shame but there’s nothing worse than waking up and looking at yourself in the mirror to find a huge crater on your forehead. Well, fear not because the Desert Essence Kinder to Skin Tea Tree Oil is just what you need for those unexpected visitors. Desert Essence has a variety of tea tree oils that are distilled differently. Tea tree oil is really powerful and can sometimes irritate the skin if you use a strong form of it. Because I have sensitive skin, I use their Kinder To Skin product which is more distilled to treat a pimple gently! IMG_8414
  7. Deodorant- Now this is one part of my hygiene routine that I have struggled with for years because I’ve only ever used organic and aluminum free deodorants but they wear off very quickly and therefore are pretty ineffective. I finally found a product that is natural, aluminum free, cruelty free, and organic that actually works perfectly fine for me. The Schmidt’s Deodorant smells great, doesn’t leave any white stains under your armpits and the best part is that it LASTS ALL DAY! Even on days where I’m sweating profusely, I don’t need to reapply this product.IMG_8413

Just like most things in life, you need to take care of your body from the inside out. This includes drinking enough water, exercising, eating fruits and vegetables and making sure your body is getting the nutrients it needs not only so you look good, but so you feel good too! There’s no magical product in the world that will replace proper hydration and nutrition.

Before buying anything be sure that you’ve had a chance to get to know your skin. What works wonders for someone with oily skin, may end up messing with someone who suffers from very dry skin. Find out what type of skin you have before tossing out all of your current skincare products and buying new ones.

As always, if you start to use any of the items I shared with you please let me know how they worked for you!

Disclaimer: I am not a dermatologist and I would advise speaking to one before switching up your skincare routine. 

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It is no secret that green tea has been around for thousands of years. Originating in Eastern Asia around the 8th century, green tea quickly spread around the world due to its’ known health benefits. It is believed that before the common brewing method of tea leaves, people would chew on the leaves much like Ethiopians chewed on coffee beans before brewing became popular. For hundreds of years all tea was considered green tea. Green tea is made from the Camellia Sinensis plant which originated in China and is commonly known as the “tea plant,” because its’ leaves can produce black tea, yellow tea, white tea, oolong, puerh, and of course green tea but they are all processed differently to maintain different levels of oxidation. Green tea is the Camellia Sinensis plant in its’ purest form due to the fact that it undergoes very little to no oxidation at all.

When green tea was first introduced as a beverage, it was very uncommon for those who were not considered royalty to drink it. It wasn’t until the Ming Dynasty around the 17th century that green tea became a fundamental part of Chinese society. By the end of the 17th century, Western traders began taking the tea back to Europe and its’ popularity spread like wildfire which is why it is a commonly known drink in the Western world today.

Below I will list 10 science-backed facts of the health benefits that green tea provides which is I personally refer to it as “magical tea.”

  1. Oral health- Because of its’ anti-inflammatory properties green tea can help control or prevent periodontal disease which is a common gum disease that causes swelling of the gums, redness, and tenderness. Although periodontal disease is caused by poor oral hygiene those who suffer from it can find alleviation in a cup of green tea.
  2. Weight loss- Green tea is a commonly known drink for weight loss due to the catechins found in the tea leaves. There are many studies that link catechins not only to losing weight but to keeping the weight off.
  3. High blood pressure- Green tea contains high levels of flavonoids. Flavonoids are a diverse group of phytonutrients found in almost all fruits and vegetables and helps regulate heart health and it can decrease high blood pressure by 50% if consumed on a daily basis.
  4. Inflamed joints- As previously mentioned, green tea is full of anti-inflammatory properties so it is perfect to soothe the pain brought on by swollen joints.
  5. Bowels- Irritable Bowel Syndrome also known as IBS is an intestinal disorder which causes stomachaches, constipation, diarrhea, and gas. Green tea can help soothe the stomach pains due to its’ anti-inflammatory components and has been shown to significantly improve gut microbiota.
  6. Antibacterial- Green tea has been proven to have high levels of antibacterial properties in its’ leaves and therefore can aid in ridding the human body of bacteria when consumed.
  7. Cancer- The Epigallocatechin gallate otherwise known as EGCG is a type of catechin  which is a compound found in green tea that has shown in some cases to prevent the growth of cancer cells. Green tea also triggers proteins that kill cancer cells.
  8. Skin care- Green tea is packed with skin-rejuvenating and skin-healiong vitamins and minerals which help maintain a beautiful complexion. Loaded with manganese, vitamin B, caffeine, folate, potassium, amino acids, and phytochemicals  you’re bound to clear and tone your skin in no time. You don’t need to just consume the tea internally, but you can brew a cup or two and pour it in an empty spray bottle and spritz in on your skin throughout the day to draw out impurities.
  9. Cholesterol- An analysis of published studies found that consuming green tea, was linked to significant but modest reductions in total and LDL which is known as the bad cholesterol.
  10. Chronic Fatigue- Green tea contains theanine which is an amino acid believed to boost energy, increase dopamine, and protect brain cells.

Personal Statement

I usually enjoy a cup of green tea first thing in the morning. I’ve never been a coffee drinker, but I find that I am far more energized and alert after a nice and warm cup of tea.  I’ve also noticed a significant difference in the overall appearance of my skin after introducing green tea as a regular part of my diet. However, I would not recommend drinking the tea at night due to the fact that it does contain caffeine and it will keep you wide awake if consumed before bed.

Here are a few of my favorite green tea brands that I highly recommend. Each brand recommends a different brewing time and measurement, but they all list specific instructions for preparation.

  1. Prince of Peace Organic Green Tea
  2. Organic India Tulsi Green Tea
  3. Tavern’s Green Tea Sampler

 

DISCLAIMER: Please refer to your general physician before changing your diet, or using green tea in replacement of pharmaceuticals.

 

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Like most Americans, I am a BIG fan of ice cream. After a long day sometimes you just need to stop by the grocery store and pick up a pint or two of you favorite Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, turn on the TV and indulge in that sweet frosty goodness! But as tasty as ice cream is, most of it is loaded with sugars, carbs, and fats. In fact ice cream is considered a high-fat food since it must contain more than 10% milk fat to be considered ice cream. So if you’re like me and you have a sweet tooth but you’re also trying to monitor the amount of sugar and fats you consume then you’re probably seeking an alternative.

I stumbled upon this recipe for this 100% organic and vegan friendly banana “ice cream,” a few months ago and I decided to add my own twist to it and I’ve been hooked ever since. It’s easy to make and you’ll be sure to please your vegan, non-vegan, lactose intolerant, and health conscious dinner guests! Plus it makes a great alternative to the delicious dessert.

Equipment:

  • Knife
  • Cutting board
  • Ziplock bag or freezer safe container
  • Food processor or blender
  • Spoon or spatula

Ingredients: 

  • 2 frozen bananas
  • 1/4 cup of coconut milk or almond milk
  • 1 tsp of cinnamon

Instructions:

  • Slice bananas and place them in a freezer safe container and freeze until solid.
  • Mix frozen bananas, coconut milk, and cinnamon in blender or food processor on medium until you get a thick and creamy consistency.
  • Place in bowl and top it off with your favorite fruits, sweets, or nuts. I personally like to sprinkle coconut flakes and a little bit of cinnamon and honey on top.
  • Serve cold and enjoy! 🙂

Tips:

  • If you enjoy a smooth custard like texture you can serve the “ice cream,” instantly but if you’re looking for a thicker more “ice cream like,” texture pour your mix into a freezer friendly container and freeze two hours before serving.

 

Try it out and let me know if you enjoyed the recipe! I love getting feedback.

 

 

 

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Everyone wants that Hollywood skin, but not everyone wants to pay the Hollywood price for it. Luckily for us non-superstars there are hundreds of inexpensive all-natural ingredients available at our local grocery stores and in our kitchens that we can use to achieve healthier skin.

One of the key ingredients for a healthy complexion is EXFOLIATING! You may wash, tone, and moisturize your skin every day but that doesn’t necessarily mean that your skin is living up to its’ full potential. When we exfoliate we are removing the dead skin cells from the top layer of our skin, but why is this important? Well, as we get older our bodies’ process of cell regeneration slows down, which means we do not generate fresh skin cells as fast as we did when we were kids. When dead skin cells pile up on the surface of the skin we’re often times left with a dry, blotchy, and dull looking complexion. Dead skin cells can also lead to clogged up pores and excess oil which can cause blemishes and acne.

One of my favorite methods to exfoliate my skin is this homemade, all natural exfoliator:

What you’ll need

  • 1 tablespoon of ground all natural coffee
  • 1 tablespoon of light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of virgin or refined coconut oil

Mix all three of your ingredients together and gently scrub the exfoliator all over your face. Leave it on for 5 minutes and rinse off. Not only will your skin look and feel like velvet, but the coconut oil mixed with the coffee will leave your skin looking bright and toned.

Keep in mind that you should never exfoliate your skin more than 1-2 times a week. Just like anything in life when done in excess, over exfoliating will do more harm than good. So find your balance and work that skin! 😉 

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I think I could easily eat pasta every single day of my life without a single complaint. Think about it, it’s the ultimate comfort food and there are literally hundreds of different ways to make it. Although pasta is delicious it’s definitely not a meal that should be eaten frequently, especially for those trying to monitor their carb intake like me.

A few months ago I was parading around my kitchen looking for the necessary ingredients to make traditional pesto sauce but I was out of luck, and had zero desire to go to the grocery store. I needed to improvise! After a little trial and error I ended up creating my new favorite pasta sauce that’s quite tasty and nutritious.

The following recipe is my vegan friendly superfood “pesto pasta.”

Total prep time: 25 minutes

Ingredients

  • Noodles ( I use whole wheat or egg noodles)
  • 1 cup of quinoa
  • Broccoli
  • Mushrooms
  • 1/2 celery stick
  • 1/4 cup of pine nuts (optional)
  • Cilantro (as much as desired)
  • 2 avocados
  • 10 basil leaves
  • 1/2 of a lemon
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons of flaxseed oil
  • 1/3 cup of water
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Directions 

  1. Start by boiling your noodles and add a tablespoon of flaxseed oil, a pinch of salt and pepper to your boiling water.
  2. Dice avocados and put in your food processer or blender with your basil leaves, chopped up celery, garlic cloves, a pinch of salt and pepper, lemon juice, 1 tablespoon of flaxseed oil, cilantro, 1/3 cup of water and pine nuts.
  3. Blend ingredients for the sauce until you get a nice and smooth consistency.
  4. Mix your sauce with your noodles and your quinoa.
  5. Top it off with your brocolli and mushrooms or any of your other favorite vegetables.

This sauce does not have to be used solely for pasta, but can also be used as a dip for veggies, tortilla chips, bread, and even pita chips.

As always, let me know if you tried the recipe out and whether you enjoyed it or not. 🙂

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With Summer coming to an end and Autumn approaching I started to get this tingly sense of excitement running throughout my body. I love everything about Fall. The crisp cold air that hits my face the moment I walk out the door, the beautiful array of colors on the ground left by the trees that are preparing themselves to endure the cold harsh winter, turtlenecks, scary movies, Thanksgiving, Halloween, the pumpkin spiced candles at Yankee Candle, carving pumpkins, and of course pumpkin flavored foods! I know I’m starting to daydream a little bit too much here since summer isn’t technically over yet, but lets just say I’m ready for Fall.

On a different note, I went to the grocery store and I noticed that Trader Joe’s had a large display of pumpkins up for sale – a little premature I must say, but I couldn’t help myself so I bought one. It’s way too early to start carving pumpkins or to put them on my doorstep, but it’s never to early to eat them. So what better way to bring in the Fall Season than some pumpkin soup?

This pumpkin soup recipe is easy, vegan, and absolutely delicious!

Ingredients

  • 1 pumpkin (any size will do)
  • 1 can of coconut milk cream
  • 1 red onion
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 8 cherry tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoons of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper

Cooking Directions 

  1. Remove the skin off of your pumpkin and remove the seeds.
  2. Cut your pumpkin into small chunks and boil in water until tender.
  3. Blend your pumpkin with chopped onion and garlic until you get a soup-like consistency.
  4. Pour one can of coconut milk cream with your pumpkin mix and blend.
  5. Pour soup back into your pot and add salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper.
  6. Serve hot and enjoy!

For a non-vegan friendly meal, you can top your soup with some shredded cheese.  I added a little bit of Frontier Co-Op’s Five Spice Powder to mine for a little bit of a kick.

 

~Happy early Fall Everyone~

 

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The first thing I think of when I hear the words “banana pancakes,” is the super catchy Jack Johnson song. The second thing I think of is this delicious three ingredient banana pancake recipe. I learned this recipe from a friend of mine, but I decided to add my own twist to it. It’s easy, inexpensive, and takes about 30 minutes to make. There are three main ingredients used for this dish but feel free to play around and add your own personal flair to it. I’ve listed the main ingredients along with some optional ones for you to try out!

This recipe will make about 5 pancakes.

Ingredients:

3 bananas

1 egg

2 teaspoons of baking powder

1/2 cup of rolled oats for thickness (optional)

1 tablespoon of flaxseed oil (optional)

1 teaspoon of cinnamon (optional)

Honey and fruits to top it off (optional)

How to make the pancakes:

1) Blend the bananas, eggs, and baking powder together until you get a smooth consistency.

2) Pour mixture onto pan and let simmer on medium for 3-5 minutes on each side.

3) Pat any excess oil with a paper towel.

Voila! You’re good to go. You can top the pancakes off with fresh fruits, syrup, honey, condensed milk, or anything your hungry heart desires. I enjoy mine with raw honey and fresh bananas and blueberries on top. If you get a chance to try these pancakes, let me know how you like them and share some pictures with me!

 

 

~BON APPÉTIT! ~

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