Whipped Coconut Lotion

What we put on our bodies is just as important as what we put in our bodies. Our skin is our largest organ and it absorbs everything that we put on it making it so important to nourish it with things that are good for our bodies and not filled with toxins and chemicals. So while eating healthy, organic, farm fresh foods is also really important for overall health so is what you put on your body. I am certainly not perfect at always following this rule but I do my very best to use and travel with skin care products that have only natural ingredients or that are even better homemade!

Along with using natural deodorants free of aluminum (this was probably the toughest switch for me since I tend to sweat in this Florida heat) another product I have made the switch over to is body lotion. While admittedly it does feel a bit oilier than most body lotions I was used to using before - I LOVE how nourishing and moisturizing it feels. You can also use it sparingly in smaller amounts and that will reduce the oily feel. Most importantly, knowing how much better it is for my body inside and out makes it worth every ounce of effort it takes to make it. Bonus too is that in combination with dry brushing my skin is noticeably softer and smoother. 

While it might seem daunting to make your own beauty products - I promise you this lotion was incredibly easy to whip up (literally). I found several online recipes and then doctored them up and made my own version which i'm sharing here. 

What you need:

  • Equipment - a stand mixer (this is preferable but not entirely necessary, you could also use a whisk and whip it vigorously by hand)
  • Coconut Oil
  • Vitamin E Oil
  • Essential Oils - here I used Lavender mixed with Lemon (you can use whatever scents you enjoy) *I love to use the lavender bc of the smell and its calming properties.

How to make:

Measure 1 cup of coconut oil, 1 tablespoon of Vitamin E Oil, and a few drops of your favorite essential oils (I used about 10 drops of each). Place all ingredients into your mixer and blend on high speed for 6-7 minutes until it's whipped (see above photo for texture). And voila, that. is. it! Store it in your refrigerator if you live in a very hot climate, like I do, or else it will melt. 

 


Gut Health & Probiotics

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Did you know that most of our immune system lives in our gut? Apart from weight loss one of the main reasons I began my own personal health journey was because of the countless digestive and gut issues I was having. It seemed like nothing sat well with me and I was having an endless string of "IBS" issues. I had been to doctors, had tests done, had an endoscopy done and after I exhausted all of that and ruled out any larger health issues I decided to take a deeper look into my diet and the foods I was eating. This was and has been one of the biggest changes in my body.

I started keeping food journals, doing elimination diets and began getting to the root of what was really messing with my gut microbiome (essentially gut bacteria). As a lover of pizza (still love it) unfortunately dairy was at the root of most of my digestive issues which is why you will notice most of my recipes are dairy free.  As much as I miss dairy, I do not miss feeling the way I did at all. I am quickly reminded sometimes when I sneak a piece of pizza or a few slices of cheese that for me it's simply not worth it.

Dairy aside - it was so great to finally discover what foods agreed with my system and what didn't. Through it all and still today one of the things that helps keep my gut in balance the most is probiotics. I take a probiotic supplement everyday and I definitely notice a difference if I don't take them for a few days. I highly recommend probiotics especially if you have poor digestion but it is also important to get to the root of the poor digestion in combination with taking probiotics. If you are having more severe stomach/digestion issues you should also seek the advice of a medical professional. Probiotics are not a quick fix for digestion. However, our bodies and gut lining tend to get stripped of a lot of the natural flora and bacteria that is good for us and probiotics help to restore that healthy flora. 

Some things that Probiotics help with:

  • Lactose & protein digestion
  • Modulating inflammation
  • Regulating metabolism
  • Detoxification
  • Allergies
  • Lipid regulation
  • Oral health
  • Anti-hypertensive
  • Nutrient utilization
  • Balancing pH

Probiotics are also found in foods. If you would like to up the intake of your probiotics outside of taking a supplement here are some foods you can incorporate into your diet: yogurt/kefir, miso, tempeh, sauerkraut, kimchi, raw pickles, ginger, olives, kombucha, sourdough and anything fermented. Fermented foods are great for our guts!

Things you can do to keep a healthy gut:

  • Take probiotics (I take Acidophilus but there are many others out there - so do some research)
  • Eat fermented foods (sauerkraut, pickled foods, kefir)
  • Eliminate OR limit inflammatory foods (such as: dairy, gluten) 
  • Do an elimination diet to discover what is at the root of your poor digestion

The bacteria in your gut is very responsive to dietary changes so if you start to alter your diet your body and stomach will start to take notice. Believe it or not, the more diverse your gut bacteria, the better. It's important to experiment and see what works best for you individually. Two thirds of our gut microbiomes are uniquely ours without taking genes into account so everyones gut has different needs. I will be doing more posts on the microbiome since I have only scratched the surface - so check back for more soon!

 


Simple homemade Face Mask

Simple Homemade Face Mask & Cleanser for blemishes & redness

First off apologies for the scary up-close face shot of me with the mask on. :)

After recently moving from New York to Miami my skin started to have a bit of a freak out - i'm not sure if it's the change in weather or humidity but plain and simple my skin wasn't happy. I've been using the same skincare products for years and decided it was time for a change and a more simplified clean approach. So after researching several home remedy face masks specifically to decrease inflammation and blemishes, I came across this super simple and clean recipe.

Ingredients:

2 Teaspoons of Raw Honey

1 Teaspoon of Ground Cinnamon

 *Make sure to remove all make-up and start with a clean face before applying the mask. 

Combine ingredients into a paste (add more honey if it's too grainy) and apply a thin layer to moistened skin. Leave the mixture on for 10-15 minutes and then wash off with warm water and pat dry with a towel. The cinnamon is not only a natural anti-inflammatory but it also helps to exfoliate  so it has been leaving my skin incredibly smooth after and noticeably less irritated. I've been using this mixture once every 2 days or so and have noticed a significant improvement in my complexion. 

To moisturize I have just been using a thin layer of coconut oil and dabbing off the excess since the Miami humidity has my skin feeling pretty well nourished but you can leave it on if your skin is extra dry or in winter mode.

The best part about this mixture is that I've been using it for about a week now and have gotten at least 5 uses or so out of it so a little goes a long way. I store it in my refrigerator in between uses and just pull it out about 15 minutes before applying. I'm going to be experimenting with more homemade facial treatments in the coming weeks so keep checking back for more!

 


Self-Care & Dry Brushing

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I want to share with you all another one of my favorite, daily rituals of self care - dry brushing. Dry brushing is simple and is something you can very easily incorporate into your morning routine. Since your skin is your bodies largest organ it's very important to treat it with love and care.

What is Dry Brushing?

Dry brushing is a technique using a natural bristle brush to help increase circulation and remove toxins from your skins surface.  Some of the benefits of dry brushing include: helping to reduce the appearance of cellulite because of increased cell circulation, exfoliating your skins surface, increasing blood flow, and helping to support your bodies lymphatic system which in turn boosts immunity. Doing this daily ritual will leave your skin feeling softer and more vibrant.

Here's how to dry brush:

1. Get a natural bristle brush with a long handle so can reach all areas of your body. Whole foods has a great one - see photo above for an idea of the type of brush you are looking for.

2. Before showering begin brushing your body by starting at your feet and moving in long sweeping and/or circular motions toward your heart. Always brush toward your heart.

4. Brush several times in each area, overlapping as you go and moving up your body.

5. Avoid sensitive areas of your body or dry brush them very lightly - such as the breast area.

6. After brushing take a nice long hot shower.

7. Gently pat your skin dry and moisturize with coconut oil and essential oils. I like to add a few drops of either lemon, lavender or peppermint essential oil.

Dry brush every day for best results. My skin always feels incredibly soft after continuous days of dry brushing. It takes less than 5 minutes and you can even dry brush while you are oil pulling - two birds, one stone. Try this for at least 30 days and trust me you will start to see and FEEL results! 

 

 

 

Eggs...

There is a lot of conflicting and confusing information out there about eggs. Well I am here to help break it down for you a bit and explain why I prefer my eggs pasture raised :) Here are a few definitions to explain the difference between conventional, natural, cage-free, free-range and pasture-raised.

I've listed these in order from least optimal choice to BEST choice...

CONVENTIONAL Even the name conventional sounds off putting - am I right? In any case conventional eggs are the ones most typically found in your local supermarket. They come from chickens/hens raised in an overcrowded hen house, never see the light of day and are fed a grain based/corn heavy diet and are often treated with hormones and antibiotics.

NATURAL Currently, no standards exist for this label except when used on meat and poultry products. USDA guidelines state that “natural” meat and poultry products can only undergo minimal processing and cannot contain artificial colors, artificial flavors, preservatives, or other artificial ingredients. However, “natural” foods are not necessarily sustainable, organic, humanely raised, or free of hormones and antibiotics. 

*Most products use this term as a marketing tool to have you think you are making a good clean food choice when in reality you are being mislead.

CAGE-FREE “Cage-free” simply means that the birds are raised without cages. What this doesn’t explain is whether the birds were raised outdoors on pasture or if they were raised indoors in overcrowded conditions. If you are looking to buy eggs, poultry, or meat that was raised outdoors, look for a label that says “pastured” or “pasture-raised.” 

FREE-RANGE The use of the terms “free-range” or “free-roaming” are only defined by the USDA for egg and poultry production. The label can be used as long as the producers allow the birds access to the outdoors so that they can engage in natural behaviors. It does not necessarily mean that the products are cruelty-free or antibiotic-free or that the animals spent the majority of their time outdoors. Claims are defined by the USDA, but are not verified by third-party inspectors which can make it tricky.

PASTURE-RAISED “Pasture-raised” indicates that the animal was raised on a pasture where it was able to eat nutritious grasses and other plants, rather than being fattened on grain in an overcrowded feedlot or barn. Pasturing livestock and poultry is a traditional farming technique that allows animals to be raised in a humane manner and in their natural habitat. Animals are able to move around freely and carry out their natural behaviors. This term is very similar to “grass-fed,” though the term “pasture-raised” indicates more clearly that the animal was raised outdoors on pasture.

 

You'll also notice that the color of the yolk of a pasture-raised egg is darker and more orange in color as opposed to a conventional egg which is often pale light yellow in color- this is usually related to the type of diet they are fed, not being allowed to forage for their own food and the fact that they live sedentary lives. 

The yolk of an egg is personally my favorite part - I am a HUGE fan. Most people are scared of eating eggs (particularly the yolk) because they think it will raise their cholesterol but i'm here to say that studies show that egg cholesterol actually does not effect blood cholesterol, so eat away! (I mean you probably don't want to be eating 6 eggs a day - but you get the point - everything in moderation) Egg yolks actually hold a majority of the nutrients and vitamin A of an egg- so say goodbye to the days of only eating egg whites and get to eating whole pasture-raised eggs. If you can't find them at your local grocery store, check out your nearest farmers market or CSA.

         Left: Pasture-Raised Egg                          vs.                        Right: Conventional Egg

*some of the information from this post courtesy of Institute of Integrative Nutrition.

Self-Care & Oil Pulling

Self-Care

Self-care is the groundwork for a fulfilling life. When you take time to care for yourself you also begin to nurture your relationships and career more wholly. Self-care comes in a variety of forms and encompasses not only the physical but the emotional as well. The importance of self care is something I cannot stress enough. Learning how to treat yourself well will reflect positively in other areas of your life and make you feel limitless.

I will be making my self care posts into a series where I will share self care tips throughout the month so please keep checking back for other helpful ways to nourish yourself.

Self Care Tip - Oil Pulling:

Oil Pulling is an ancient Ayurvedic technique with a variety of health benefits - the antibacterial properties of the oil help to pull out a lot of impurities from your body. Health benefits include: pulling out bacteria and fungus, alleviating inflammation, congestion, and even allergies. It thwarts bad breath, bleeding gums, cavities, gingivitis, plaque, and sensitive teeth, and moistens the mouth, lips, and throat. Oil pulling is even said to relieve stomach issues such as ulcers, improve kidney function, and kill strep throat bacteria.

How to Oil Pull:

*What you need - Unrefined Coconut Oil (Trader Joe's sells a great one for cheap! - see above photo :))

Using an oil such as Coconut Oil or Sesame Oil - Coconut Oil is my preference. Put 2 teaspoons of oil in your mouth first thing after you wake up, even before brushing your teeth. Swish the oil around in your mouth and in between your teeth for 20 minutes. I know 20 minutes might sound like a long time but you can work your way up by starting at 10 minutes and gradually adding on more time when you become more comfortable with it. After 20 minutes spit out the oil into a trash can and swish your mouth with warm water a few times and then brush your teeth. It is important not to swallow any of the oil so that you do not swallow the impurities you have just worked to remove. I usually do other tasks in the morning while i'm oil pulling like making lunch, getting dressed, showering, etc... - so for those of you that don't think you have enough time - you can always make the time.

*Important note - spit the oil into a trash can and not into your sink or drain as it can cause clogging.

I love the ritual of oil pulling as much as the benefits because it is a reminder that i'm taking time to care for myself each day.  One positive result I have personally loved is noticeably whiter teeth - naturally and without bleach. Hooray!

Happy Oil Pulling!

 


Make it through your day without Sugar!

If you are anything like me and most people I know for that matter - you likely have some form of a sweet tooth. Mine usually hits right after lunchtime in the afternoon when I'm starting to lose steam for the day and will-power for that matter. This is usually the time that most of us reach for that little something sweet.  While this isn't necessarily a bad thing it can lead to many of us choosing the wrong types of sweet snacks that are often filled with sugar and artificial sweeteners. Believe it or not though there are things out there that we can reach for that will satisfy your cravings and are healthy to boot.

Here are my top tips for satisfying that sweet tooth with healthy alternatives:

1. H20 - Stay hydrated! I know this isn't a sweet but staying hydrated can often help keep all cravings at bay so before grabbing for something sweet try reaching for a full glass of water first. (if you are still craving something sweet please proceed to tips 2-5 :))

2. Tea- My go to afternoon sweet treat is a cup of green tea, with a splash of unsweetened almond milk and a little bit of honey. Adding the nut milk and honey give it a certain richness that feels more fulfilling. If you don't like green tea try it with other teas such as peppermint, black teas or herbal teas. A favorite of mine as of late has been a turmeric ginger tea which has a great natural sweetness. In the summer it's great to pour some tea over ice and if you need that extra sweet boost - add a little raw honey or pure maple syrup.

3. Dark Chocolate - this is an absolute favorite of mine. I usually keep a few bars at home of 80% or higher - 85% is my sweet spot (pun intended). This way when I do get a sweet tooth this is one of the only things I have in the kitchen to reach for. It's not only tasty but it's healthy for you as well and filled with antioxidants! I recommend the higher % you can handle the better - insider tip: Trader Joe's sells a delicious 85% bar that I always keep stocked at home and it's only $2 a bar.

4. Fruit - Fruit is always a great sweet snack to turn to as long as you aren't eating too much of it a day - which can lead to too much sugar intake. Try grabbing for an apple or a handful berries to help keep sweet, sugary cravings at bay. If you prefer bananas, try limiting those to 1 a day at most because of all fruits they are highest in fructose.

5. Nut butters - Nut butters are naturally a bit sweet due to their nature (especially cashew butter). A heaping spoonful of nut butter (almond, cashew) is not only pretty filling but delicious as well! You can even slice up your apple and dip it in the nut butter for an extra tasty and satisfying afternoon snack or post dinner dessert - up your game and dip your dark chocolate squares in it! 

I hope these tips have been helpful. Remember to give yourself and your body time to adjust to cutting out sweets. For example when I started to cut out refined sugars nothing tasted sweet enough to me but now that I've virtually eliminated them from of my diet - things like 85% dark chocolate taste very sweet to me now. Even my husband who always preached how nothing could beat milk chocolate has become a dark chocolate convert. Your taste buds will learn to slowly adjust so don't get frustrated and try to stick with it. Your body will thank you!