Thursday, March 27, 2014

10 Steps to a Natural and Pampering Shower

Here are the steps I take to a relaxing, pampering, and rejuvenating shower. 

1. Essential Oil


A great thing to do is to sprinkle a few drops of essential oil in your shower stream once the water has gotten hot. The steam from the water will act as a diffuser for the oil and your whole bathroom will turn into an aromatherapeutic steam room. I like to use lavender because it's a very relaxing and soothing scent - perfect for showers. I purchased this at Whole Foods, but you can buy essential oil at just about any natural health food store. 

2. Dry Brushing


Before I even enter the shower I will dry brush my body. This is great for multiple reasons. First, it stimulates circulation and can help reduce cellulite. It also removes dead skin and helps aid in the body's natural detoxification process. To do this, all you need is a soft brush with natural fibers. Then, just brush your body in directions that are toward your heart (ankles to hips, wrists to shoulders).


3. Hair Wash


The first thing I do once I get in the shower is wash my hair. I stopped dying my hair because I didn't want to be putting those chemicals on my scalp so often. However, it's only been a few months since I've stopped so most of my hair is still a lot lighter from dying it; that is why I have two different products here. After rinsing my hair and body thoroughly, I will use these aveda hair products. I will either use the Color Conserve on my ends and the Invati on my roots or I will alternate between the two every other day or so. The invati is my favorite (I recently used up the shampoo so that is why it is not pictured). It is designed to help your hair to be thicker and to lose less hairs by exfoliating the scalp and strengthening the hair. It also smells fantastic because it uses ayurvedic herbs like turmeric and ginseng. 


4. Deep Conditioner



Next I will use a deep conditioner and leave it in until the end of my shower. Recently I've been using Carol's Daughter Black Vanilla Hair Smoothie which I purchased at Ulta. It has no silicones, parabens, mineral oil, artificial colors, or petroleum. I haven't been using it for very long, but so far I've been loving how my hair feels and looks. I still need to use a bit of hair detangler after getting out of the shower although my hair is very long. To use this I just take a generous amount and work it into my hair, particularly working on the ends. I usually don't put any on the hair close to my roots because it is the newest growth and doesn't really need it. 


5. Natural Body Wash



Using a natural body wash is important because your skin covers so much of your body and you want to make sure you're using clean ingredients so you don't damage your skin or allow harmful chemicals and toxins to enter the body. I've been loving the 100% Pure Eucalyptus Hydrating Body Wash which I also purchased at Ulta. It makes my skin feel super clean plus there is peppermint oil in the ingredients so it leaves your skin tingling and feeling refreshed. I love this product because it is 100% natural and 100% vegan. I also usually use this to shave. 

Ingredients: Organic Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract (Aloe Juice)*, Organic Rosa Centifolia Flower Water (Rose Hydrosol)*, Organic Lavendula Angustifolia Aqua (Lavender Hydrosol)*, Cocos Nucifera (Saponified Coconut) Oil, Essential Oils of Peppermint and Eucalyptus, Organic Camelia Sinensis Leaf (Green Tea)*, Calendula Officinalis Flower (Calendula), Opuntia Tuna Fruit (Prickly Pear), Punica Granatum (Pomegranate), Euterpe Oleracea Fruit (Acai Berry), Lycium Barbarum Fruit (Goji Berry), Morinda Citrifolia Fruit (Noni), Aristotelia Chilensis (Maqui Berry), Sambucus Canadensis (Elderberry), Rubus Fruticosus Fruit (Blackberry), Organic Rubus Idaeus Fruit (Raspberry)*, Citrus Grandis (Grapefruit) Seed and Lonicera Caprifolium (Japanese Honeysuckle), Hyaluronic Acid * Certified Organic

6.  Clarisonic


Next I will use a clairsonic. I have a clarisonic for my feet, for my body, and for my face. Since I started using the clarisonic brushes, my face and body have never looked or felt better. At this point in the shower I will normally use the body and foot brushes because I like washing my face to be the last thing I do in the shower, right after I rinse out my hair treatment. 

7. Ginger Wash


I often times will use this with my body Clarisonic brush. These Origins ginger products were a limited edition set during christmas time, but the individual items are still available. These smell so refreshing and the Incredible Spreadible scrub is and effective exfoliator yet it's very gentle. The Ginger Burst body wash is creamy and feels great on the skin. 

8. Face



Now that my body is clean, I will rinse my hair treatment out, and lastly I will wash my face. These are the face products I've been using. The  Checks and Balances face wash, A Perfect World face wash, and the Modern Friction gentle exfoliator. I couple these products with my Clarisonic for a deep clean. These have been working well to keep my face clean but they are also gentle enough that my face never feels like it's burning from using harsh chemicals. 

After my face is clean and I've completed all my shower steps, I will rinse my entire body in cool water.
This helps to close pores, and the hot to cold change is also good for your circulation. 

9. Face Lotion



After getting out of the shower and drying off, I will apply some face lotion. If I shower in the morning, I will use the Origins Perfect World SPF 25 moisturizer. And if I shower at night I will use the Origins High-Potency Night-A-Mins mineral enriched renewal cream. I will also apply my eye treatment that I talked about in my face routine post. 

10. Body Lotion


Lastly, I will apply a body lotion. While I have many different body lotions that I love, to go along with the ginger theme I really enjoy the Origins Ginger Rush body cream or the Ginger Souffle Whipped Body Cream that was pictured above in the set.









Saturday, March 22, 2014

Oil Diffuser Review + Giveaway


One of my favorite things to do is to diffuse essential oils. From doing yoga to sleeping to just lounging around I will have a diffuser going. I love how different oils will have different effects on me. For instance, I love using lavender oil when I'm sleeping or wanting to relax. Orange and ylang ylang help me feel more energized. Peppermint helps me feel better when I have a cold or am feeling under the weather. I recently started using the ZAQ LiteMist Aromatherapy Diffuser and it works very well. Even though it is little, it still mists for a long time before needing to be refilled. It also only takes a few moments before you start to smell the oil. I've also noticed that my skin feels more moisturized when I sleep with it on which I love.

 I got a second diffuser to give away to one of you! To enter just comment below either saying what your favorite essential oil is or why you want a diffuser! I will announce the winner next Thursday, March 27. This is a great diffuser, you guys!

Congratulations, acer! I will contact you to retrieve your shipping address!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Simple Greek Salad



Ingredients:

Salad

  • 1small red onion, chopped
  • 1 cucumber, cut in bite size pieces
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 1 small red pepper, chopped
  • 3/4 cup kalamata olives
  • 1 head lettuce or bag of baby spinach
  • A few pepperoncinis
Dressing

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced and crushed
  • black pepper to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • juice of 1/4 a lemon
  • 1/2 dijon mustard 
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • a pinch of salt (optional)
Directions:

  • Combine salad ingredients in large bowl and toss the salad. 
  • Combine dressing ingredients and stir until well blended.
  • Dress salad with dressing and enjoy! 

Sunday, March 16, 2014

6 Tips for Good Oral Hygiene


1. Floss



We all know that flossing is a daily necessity. It's good to floss at least once a day but even better if you can floss after every meal. A good idea is to stock up on floss and keep some in convenient places other than just the bathroom like in your purse, in your car, at your desk, or by your bed. I like to alternate between using regular floss and a water floss. The water floss I use is the Philips Sonicare Airfloss. It uses a combination of air and water and is extremely easy to use. However, I would not recommend it as an alternative to flossing but it works great in addition to a regular flossing routine. 

2. Natural Toothpaste


Many toothpastes today contain hazardous and toxic chemicals so it is best if you can find a toothpaste with recognizable and natural ingredients. For example, a common ingredient in toothpastes is Triclosan which as been registered as a pesticide (EPA). It gets a score of 7 on a toxicity scale with 10 being highly toxic on ewg.org. I've been using Desert Essence's  Natural Tea Tree Oil Toothpaste, but you can also just make your own with a little baking soda and peppermint oil.  

3. Brushing

While electric toothbrushes are much more expensive than standard toothbrushes, I highly recommend investing in one. I notice a significant difference in the appearance and feel of my teeth when using an electric toothbrush, and I will never look back. I do like to alternate between an electric toothbrush and a normal one so that I'm not being too harsh on my teeth. The electric toothbrush that I use is the Philips Sonicare DiamondClean Toothbrush. My teeth have gotten noticeably whiter since using this toothbrush, and it also has different modes you can use such as whitening, gum care, sensitive, polishing, and clean. 

It is important to keep your toothbrush clean as it can be a good place to harbor bacteria otherwise. First, don't keep your toothbrush near your toilet. It's best to keep your toothbrush in an upright position in a cupboard without a cover so that your toothbrush doesn't stay in a moist environment. If you don't have a cupboard, it's better to use a toothbrush cover and put it in a drawer than keeping it on the counter with the toilet nearby. Also, it is recommended to replace your toothbrush/toothbrush head about every three months. 

4. Tongue Scraper 



A major cause of bad breath is a dirty tongue. Using a tongue scraper or a tongue brush will help to remove tongue plaque and is more effective than using your toothbrush. I use the Orabrush. Doing this will keep your breath much fresher. Just put a little dab of toothpaste, baking soda, or hydrogen peroxide on your brush before using it. 

5. Mouth Wash 

After flossing, brushing, and cleaning your tongue, follow up with a mouth rinse. Just like many toothpastes, many mouthwashes contain dyes, preservatives, and other harmful chemicals. Many also contain alcohol which can dry your mouth out and can cause increased bacteria and bad breath. Unless you want to buy a natural one, you can use ingredients at home. Apple cider vinegar is good to gargle with because of its antibacterial properties. You can also create a mouthwash using hydrogen peroxide, water, and peppermint oil. Oil pulling is also something you can do to reduce bacteria in the mouth. 


6. Food and Beverage

Keep in mind that certain foods can increase teeth staining like coffee, black teas, dark juices, and wine. Try to brush immediately after consuming these or try to use a straw when appropriate. Eating clean food will help keep teeth strong and healthy because of the nutrients and lack of harmful chemicals and teeth decaying unnatural sugars. Also, always choose water over soda or other unnatural sugary drinks. 




Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Vegan Chocolate Cake With Chocolate, Coffee and Coconut Ganache



While this cake recipe doesn't follow my usual whole food plant-based recipe posts, it certainly was a delicious cake!  I made this recently for my father's birthday, and everyone loved it. It's fun to be a little indulgent every once in a while. :)

Ingredients:

Chocolate Cake

  • 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cups natural unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 4 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 2 cups coffee (or water)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
Chocolate, Coffee, and Coconut Ganache

  • 8 oz semi sweet or bitter sweet (depending on desired degree of sweetness) chocolate chips (dairy free)
  • 2/3 cup almond milk (or other non-dairy milk)
  • 3 tablespoons raw blue agave syrup (or maple syrup)
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 7 tablespoons coffee
  • About 8 oz unsweetened shredded coconut
Directions:

Cake

  • Heat oven to 375° Fahrenheit.
  • Grease and flour two 9" cake rounds (you can also line them with wax paper if you prefer).
  • Combine all dry cake ingredients in a large mixing bowl. 
  • In a smaller mixing bowl, combine all wet ingredients. 
  • Slowly add wet ingredients to dry ingredients until well blended together with minimal lumps. 
  • Add mixture to cake rounds and cook for about 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out dry.
  • Let cool for about 10 minutes before carefully removing cake from pans (it will be harder to remove cake if you wait much longer than 10 minutes so try to keep cool time to 10 minutes or under)
  • Let cake cool completely.
Ganache

  • In a small saucepan, heat milk on medium heat until it comes to a gentle boil.
  • Add chocolate chips and agave syrup and stir until chocolate melts. 
  • Remove pan from heat and add powdered sugar and coffee. 
  • Let cool for about 25 minutes. 
Cake Assembly

  • After letting ganache cool for about 25 minutes, spoon some of the ganache mixture onto the top of the bottom layer of your cake. Cover the top completely with the ganache (ganache should still be pretty runny at this point; that's ok).
  • Place the other cake round on top of the freshly frosted bottom layer. 
  • Place the ganache in the fridge for a few hours before completing the rest of the cake so that it is easier to apply to cake. 
  • After letting the ganache cool in the fridge for a few hours, or overnight, begin by frosting the very top of the cake leaving the sides unfrosted. 
  • After the top is thoroughly frosted, start adding the shredded coconut to the remaining ganache in the pan and stir. Continue adding coconut until it becomes your desired consistency. I didn't add quite the whole bag of shredded coconut.
  • After achieving desired coconut to chocolate ganache ratio, begin to coat the sides of the cake until the cake is completely covered. 
  • Let set in the fridge for an hour or two (optional) and enjoy! 


Monday, March 10, 2014

Brown Rice Pasta With Veggies in a White Wine Sauce



Another vegan pasta recipe!

Ingredients:

  • one package brown rice pasta 
  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
  • About 5 cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • 3-4 roma tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 4 garlic gloves, minced
  • 5-7 ounces baby spinach (depending on how much you like)
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional)
  • 1/4 of lemon for juice
  • handful of fresh parsley
Directions:
  • Cook brown rice pasta according to package directions.
  • Meanwhile, add about a tablespoon of olive oil to medium high heat in a large pan. Add onion and sauté until translucent, then add garlic and cook for another 30 seconds to 1 minute. Remove onion and garlic and set aside. 
  • Add about 1/2 to 1 tablespoon of olive oil to pan again, and add mushrooms. Sauté for a few minutes.
  • Add spinach and cook until spinach begins to wilt, adding more olive oil if needed. 
  • Add the onions and garlic back into the pan with the spinach and mushrooms as well as the tomatoes. 
  • Cook on medium heat for about 1 minute, then add wine. Let the wine reduce. 
  • Add vegetable broth and cook for another few minutes, stirring when needed. 
  • Add salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes to your liking in the sauce.
  • Using tongs, slowly add pasta to sauce making sure sauce coats the pasta as you add more (I didn't end up using the entire package of pasta). Depending on how you like your sauce to pasta ratio, add more or less pasta. 
  • Squeeze lemon over pasta. 
  • Add pasta to serving dish and add fresh parsley to garnish. 
  • Serve and enjoy!
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