Delicious Smoothie Recipes

In our previous blog, we focused on Spring Cleansing of the Mind, Body, and Home. Today, we’re expanding on the cleansing and detoxification of the body with some delicious smoothies!

As the weather gets warmer and we enjoy more outdoor activities, it’s essential to replenish and fortify our bodies with nutrients and minerals. Including antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and immune-boosting ingredients in smoothies is a great way to drink in the goodness.

One of our favorite organic smoothie blends is:

  • 1/2 cup blueberries
  • 1/2 cup blackberries
  • 1/2 banana
  • 1/2 cup strawberries
  • 1 tsp chia seeds
  • 1 tsp Spirulina
  • 1 tsp chlorella
  • 1 tbsp raw cacao
  • 1 cup almond milk and/or coconut milk

We often use organic frozen berries so the smoothies blend into slushy, frothy yumminess. And, frozen berries keep longer so stock up on some when you get a chance.

If you prefer a smoothie that’s chockfull of greens, another of our favorite blends is:

  • 1 apple
  • 1 cup kale
  • 1 cup arugula
  • 1 cup spinach
  • 1 cup carrots
  • 1/2 slice ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 cup almond and/or coconut milk

Additional wonderful and tasty ingredients to include in smoothies are watercress, lemongrass, turmeric, and matcha. Make several servings at a time and store some in the refrigerator to enjoy over the next few days. Or, freeze the extra for a frozen treat during those warms days or whenever you’d like!

What’s your favorite smoothie blend? Let us know. Happy blending!

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Spring Cleansing: Mind, Body, & Home {HEALTH & WELLNESS}

Spring Cleansing
Spring is almost here and readying its blossoms. This is the time when we emerge from our layers and unburden ourselves from Winter’s sedentariness. We often lighten from the outside by cleansing our homes of clutter and excess. And, we cleanse from the inside by purifying our minds and bodies.

Many have watched Marie Kondo’s Netflix series, Tidying Up, that offers ideas on how to organize and purge our homes of clutter, allowing us to open up and brighten our spaces. We tackle this by letting go of material items and clearing our homes of the years of amassed clothing, shoes, and books. We’ve ‘KonMari-ed’ our home and recently took on our sister’s kitchen cupboards! We felt a bit like Monica Geller from the television show Friends (if you know what we mean :)), but we got the job done!

For our bodies, cleansing may include exfoliating the dead layer of Winter’s skin that has been hidden underneath heavy, thick clothing. Also, choosing the right foods including leafy greens like kale, watercress, and arugula and anti-inflammatory and antioxidant foods like ginger, garlic, turmeric, lemon, and berries can help to heal and protect our bodies (we’ll include some of our favorite green smoothie recipes in an upcoming post).

For our minds, cleansing our thoughts may feel like the most challenging task. Because how do we stop our minds from drifting, especially to negative thoughts that can affect both our minds and bodies? What can we do?

For us, taking long walks gets our body moving and allows us to reconnect with nature from which we draw inspiration and to clear our thoughts. Life’s details snare us. So, we turn off our cellphones and disconnect from the social noise so that we can reflect in the beauty before us and, most importantly, the beauty within us. We admire the perfect imperfections of nature. Not every tree is perfect. There are many with fractured branches. But that’s what gives each tree its character. Not all the rocks are uniform in shape. Yet, the variations in shape allow for greater contrast and a varied flow in the waters. It’s the combination of these differences that create the perfect picture that we call life. So, take a step back and breathe. Let the fresh air purify your body and mind.

More recently, we’ve also found that meditation can help to clear our minds, especially of any negativity and distractions that can draw us down a seemingly endless rabbit hole. As we researched the meditative practice, we reviewed material from Oprah Winfrey, Marie Forleo, Gabrielle Bernstein, and Dan Harris whose book, 10% Happier, gave us a good understanding of how meditation can help many to be more centered in their personal and professional lives. Meditation takes time and discipline to effectively incorporate into our day-to-day lives but it’s a practice that can help us remain focused on what’s most important…our health and well-being.

For us, we’re still working on honing the meditative practice. Oftentimes we find it hard to stop thinking about the dishes that have piled up in the sink or the loads of laundry that need to be washed, but we’re working on that :).

Choose the practice that feels most comfortable to embrace into your life. Take the time to disconnect from the social noise so that you can reconnect with your inner self. It will help to disentangle from the minutia and allow your mind and body to cleanse.

Thank you for being kind to your body.

[HEALTH & WELLNESS] Autumn Renewal

IMG_8357While Spring signals new and fresh beginnings for many…for us, that is what Autumn represents. It’s our favorite time of the year, when the crisp, clean air and the changing colors of the leaves give us pause. We take time to admire the brilliance of nature and witness the beginnings of a renewal.

During this season, enjoying nature’s bounty, filled with wondrous hues from delicious plums, pumpkins, apples, and berries, is a boon for our skin and bodies. This colorful variety reflects the antioxidant richness and the vitamins and nutrients that are essential for our health and wellness.

Some delicious skin- and body-loving fruits include:

  • Pumpkins are rich in zinc to help keep the skin clear and vitamins A and C for immunity and collagen-boosting benefits to maintain skin’s elasticity.
  • Strawberries have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits that can help prevent various types of cancer.
  • Blueberries are fiber- and antioxidant-rich with vitamins C, K, and magnesium to protect against some cancers and heart disease.
  • Raspberries are a wonderful source of antioxidant vitamin C, an immunity booster, and a great source of fiber.
  • Blackberries are higher in antioxidants compared to other berries and can help prevent cancer, lower the risk of heart disease, and are an excellent source of vitamins C, K and manganese.
  • Apples are a good fiber source, has vitamin C to reduce the risk of cancer, and can boost brain and neurological health.

We hope you take some time to cherish the wonder that Autumn brings and enjoy nature’s beauty. Thank you for being kind to your body.

[HEALTH & WELLNESS] Is it time for a GUT check?

IMG_5436Is your gut in balance? As we continue to research about the skin and proper skin care, we came across the term “leaky gut syndrome”. We found significant correlations between gut health and various skin and overall health conditions.

What is leaky gut syndrome? It’s when the lining of the intestinal walls are damaged, allowing undigested food and toxins to seep into the bloodstream, and the body begins to attack the foreign entities that invade it. Symptoms of this condition could include inflammation, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Celiac disease, food allergies, ulcers, Thyroid conditions, eczema, and other health and skin-related issues. This condition can be brought on by poor diet, medications, stress, and genetic predisposition.

Eating a balanced and healthy diet of mostly colorful fruits and vegetables, drinking sufficient amounts of water to flush toxins from our bodies, and making sure the flora (the microbiome – the community of microorganisms) in our gut is in balance are crucial. Proper gut health is critical in allowing our bodies to digest and absorb the nutrients and minerals necessary to maintain a healthy body and could alleviate some of the ailments that affect it.

So, how can we balance our gut microbiota? Including more probiotic foods into our diet such as miso, apple cider vinegar, fermented foods like sauerkraut and kimchi, Kombucha, and yogurt can help. Reducing and limiting the intake of alcohol, processed foods and sugars are also critical. If your immune system is compromised, it’s best to choose organic produce to limit exposure to harmful chemicals and pesticides.

Repairing the gut can take some time depending on how damaged it may be. Yet, healing and rebalancing the gut is important so that our bodies can remain healthy. Perhaps it’s time for a gut check with your medical practitioner. Your body will thank you for it.

Fun in the Sun [BEAUTY TIPS]

Summer VacationSummer is around the corner! And, we often take this time to remind ourselves of how we can protect our skin from potentially damaging ultraviolet (UV) rays that can lead to premature aging and skin cancer.

Yet, Summertime isn’t the only time that our skin is exposed to potentially damaging UV rays. It’s year round during sunny and overcast days.

Here are some tips for when you’re heading outdoors for some fun in the sun and during those cloudy days too.

  • Don that wide-brimmed hat to provide some shade up top because sunburn on your forehead, ears, and scalp are not pleasant. Yes, we’ve been there! Spending more time under shady trees and umbrellas are also helpful.
  • Slather on sunscreen with an SPF (sun screen factor) of 30 or higher. Look for sunscreen products that offer broad spectrum coverage to protect from UVA and UVB rays. Products that include titanium dioxide or zinc oxide could provide more natural protection and avoid artificial chemicals such as oxybenzone, petrochemicals, PABA, parabens, phthalates, and artificial fragrances.
  • Wear breathable, light-colored clothing that offer more coverage and keep you cooler at the same time. Staying indoors during the hottest times during the day is also a great way to protect your body.
  • Shield your eyes. Wear the right sunglasses to protect your eyes from glare and damaging UV rays.

So, have a wonderful time enjoying the great outdoors and remember to be kind to your body by protecting it!

Eczema [BEAUTY TIPS]

IMG_20140321_182708After several years of not knowing what the skin irritations were, it finally made sense. It felt like the pieces of a puzzle fell into place when a dermatologist made a proper diagnosis. It was eczema. An inflammatory skin condition that can be triggered by contact with environmental allergens, certain foods, and even stress.

With eczema, the affected areas on the body can become inflamed with dry, scaly red patches. And, symptoms can include unbearable itching! Scratching could feel great, but it’s best to refrain from scratching since that could break the skin, leading to infection and deeper scarring. If your skin is prone to hyper-pigmentation at the slightest blemish, you know how important it is to avoid scratching.

If you experience skin irritations and you’re unsure what it is, first and foremost, please consult a medical practitioner for a proper diagnosis. If the diagnosis is eczema and depending on the type of eczema, your physician may prescribe a hydrocortisone cream to relieve the inflammation, itchiness, and to help promote healing. For us, we used a topical medication that helped, but at the same time we researched preventative measures and natural remedies for the near and long term if it recurred.

While you may not be able to avoid eczema especially if it’s genetic, here are some at-home remedies that we found helpful in managing some forms of eczema, alleviating some symptoms, and to promote healing.

  • Stay hydrated. We’re often so busy that we forget to hydrate and our skin was screaming from the dryness! Well, we heard it loud and clear. So, drink ample amounts of water to stay hydrated from within. Alternatives to water are flavorful beverages like coconut water, chamomile tea and Rooibos Tea, which are hydrating and have anti-inflammatory benefits. Also, these beverage options are non-caffeinated so they’re perfect to drink throughout the day.
  • Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize! With eczema, the skin cell barrier is compromised, so it’s difficult for the skin to retain moisture. Regular and frequent moisturizing can help keep moisture locked in and prevent the condition from reoccurring or worsening. After showering or bathing, pat the skin dry and moisturize immediately. We found it helpful to moisturize in the morning and evening before bedtime since our bodies lose moisture during sleep as well.
  • Exfoliate. The last thing you may want to do is exfoliate, yet this helps to get rid of the dry, dead skin cells so that moisturizers and treatments can more effectively absorb into the skin. A sponge or soft loofah may be ideal since you want to be gentle. In some cases, blister-like bumps can form in and around the affected areas so it’s even more important to get a proper medical diagnosis to rule out any bacterial or fungal infections since you wouldn’t want it to spread.
  • Stay calm. Stress can trigger eczema. Meditation, yoga, long walks, listening to your favorite songs, and engaging in your favorite activities can help to take your mind off of the itching and irritations and alleviate stress.
  • Use gentle all-natural body cleansers. Soaps and fragranced body washes can irritate and cause or worsen flare-ups. It’s best to choose fragrance-free body washes that also calm and add moisture to the skin.
  • Take a soothing bath. Draw a warm bath and sprinkle some oatmeal into the bath to enjoy a relaxing soak. Or, use a body wash with colloidal oatmeal to soothe the skin. Avoid taking long hot showers which tend to dehydrate your skin so be cognizant of the water temperature and the length of your shower.
  • Monitor your diet. Certain foods can trigger skin irritations including nuts, shellfish, dairy, gluten, and sugar. We kept a daily food diary to identify potential food triggers. We had already significantly limited dairy and shellfish from our diet, so we focused on managing our sugar intake.

The most important take-away is to consult a medical practitioners for a proper diagnosis. While eczema and other skin conditions can feel embarrassing, remember, you’re not alone. According to the National Eczema Association, 3.6 million Americans suffer from some form of eczema. Wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants until the eczema and scarring eases are not the most fun especially during the heat of Summer, but remember it’s temporary. Identifying and addressing the triggers that can cause your outbreaks are important in managing flare-ups. Know the causes, symptoms, and treatments that work best for you and it will help you in the near and long term. So, remember to listen to your body, and your body will thank you for it.

Turmeric…more than just a spice. [HEALTH & WELLNESS]

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Have you tried including turmeric in your skin care regimen? If so, did you experience the golden-orange after-glow :)? We were pleasantly surprised by that but we didn’t mind the temporary hue because it’s oh so good for your skin!

A relative to ginger, turmeric has also been touted for its immunity-boosting, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antibacterial qualities. What does this mean for skin? It means that it’s a wonderful ingredient to include in your skin care regimen to help keep skin clear and younger-looking.

Curcumin, the revered chemical component in turmeric, has been known to nurture skin with its anti-aging benefits to help fight free radicals that can cause premature signs of aging and manage other skin-related issues such as acne and promote the healing of acne scars.

Try including turmeric in your facial masks or try our Pumpkin Honey Masque to keep skin radiant and glowing. As noted earlier, Turmeric can stain, so avoid wearing white or using white towels when working with this skin-loving spice. And, thoroughly cleanse your skin to rinse off the turmeric.

If you plan to include turmeric in your diet whether in smoothies or in soups, add a dash of pepper to help increase the absorption of Curcumin. This body-loving ingredient can enhance the liver’s ability to detoxify the system, ease irritable bowl syndrome (IBS) symptoms, enhance mood, along with other health benefits.

So, the next time you happen upon turmeric, you may see it the way we do…that it’s more than just a spice. Let’s have fun eating and pampering our way to healthy skin! Thank you for being kind to your body!

OH SUGAR! [HEALTH & WELLNESS]

Immunity-Boosters Plate PhotoSugar. The sweetness that many palates crave is touted differently by others of late. During the last year, in our quest to maintain better health and wellness, we took a closer look at the foods that we were consuming. The foods that we were relying on to maintain our health. And, we noticed an ingredient that we didn’t expect to find in many of the foods. We noticed it over and over again. What was it? It was sugar. Sugar in it’s various forms…cane sugar, high fructose corn syrup, glucose, maple syrup, and agave. And, it was everywhere! From pasta sauces, to breads, to juices, to cereals.

Based on our research, we found that excessive consumption and buildup of sugar in our bodies could play a major role in various health-related issues including irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), inflammation, arthritis, thyroid conditions, dementia, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and cancer. So, in our quest to ensure that we maintained our health, managed our sugar consumption, and consumption of inflammatory foods, we decided to significantly reduce all processed foods and foods that had added sugars from our diet. This included some pastas, pasta sauces, potato chips, granola bars, bagels, bottled juices, breads, and cereal. But there was more. It was more than the sugars that were listed on ingredient labels. We factored in natural and “hidden” sugars that were in whole and dried fruits, and carbohydrate-rich foods that our bodies convert into sugar such as corn, potatoes, peas, carrots, and others.

We decided to do this for 12 months, with the intention of reintroducing certain foods back into our diet afterwards. You may wonder as many did…”What did we eat?” In addition to increasing our intake of immunity-boosting foods like lemon, ginger and garlic, below are some of the foods on our “Eat More of” list.

1) Low-sugar, non-starchy foods:

    • Arugula root
    • Cabbage
    • Cilantro
    • Romaine lettuce
    • Mushrooms
    • Spinach
    • Cauliflower
    • Cucumber
    • Asparagus
    • Celery
    • Baby carrots
    • Artichokes
    • Broccoli
    • Brussels sprouts
    • Cucumber
    • Garlic (raw)
    • Kale
    • Onions
    • Tomatoes
    • Zucchini

2) Fruits that were lower in sugar:

    • Avocado
    • Lemon
    • Lime
    • Olives

3) Unsweetened beverages:

    • Water
    • Coconut water
    • Almond milk
    • Coconut milk

4) Snacks:

    • Almonds
    • Cashews
    • Sesame seeds
    • Pumpkin seeds
    • Veggie chips

Because we were opting for more fresh foods, this meant cooking more often which meant grocery shopping more often. Sometimes the most frustrating and time-consuming part of this process was having to deal with long grocery store check-out lines, but we remained determined. When pursuing this, we realized that this also meant a lifestyle change. This changed our daily routine especially when we had work events. Gone were the days when we timed our mornings so that we could squeeze every second of morning snooze with just enough time to shower, dress, and go (fellow sleep-lovers…you know how difficult this is!).

Instead, we woke up earlier to prepare our daily meals to make sure we had as much of what we needed for the day. Oftentimes, we cooked large meal portions enough to last the full week and we reheated the meals in the mornings so that we could bring breakfast, lunch, snacks, and beverages for the day. Needless to say, our shoulders felt the burden of carrying the meals in heavy glass Tupperware. But our solutions for our heavier loads…rolling back packs and lighter stainless steel food containers! During days when we did not have events, we would often eat lunch before leaving home and then return home after meetings and/or errands for dinner.

At times it seemed impossible to stick to our new diet especially during gatherings with friends and family due to the options available. Yet, we chose wiser options and we kept to our diet as much as possible.

At the conclusion of the 12-month period, we felt the difference in natural energy levels. And, we decided to keep many of the changes that we made to our diet, incorporating more color and variety in the produce that we chose to consume to make sure we had the proper nutrients and vitamins to nourish and replenish our bodies. And, the fresher the ingredients, the better. 2017 was a year of healthier discoveries for us. And, we met many friends and colleagues on this same journey which helped us stay on track. By doing so, our journey better prepared us for a healthier 2018!

Did you have a similar journey? Let us know. We thank you for being kind to your body.

Mindfulness [HEALTH & WELLNESS]

 

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With a new year, comes New Year’s resolutions. The majority of us make them, but the greatest efforts are in keeping them. Recently, we’ve been hearing a great deal about resolutions that involve “mindfulness”. Mindful eating. Being mindful to others. A focus on mindfulness in general.

We thought about what being “mindful” meant. What does it involve? What do we do to be more “mindful”? With mindful eating, it’s about being conscientious about what we’re putting in our bodies. Being aware of where our food comes from, how our foods are prepared and the ingredients that are used in producing them.

Being mindful of others, first and foremost, is being able to recognize that everyone is different. Their opinions, attitudes, and circumstances are different. Being mindful of others is about being compassionate and empathetic to others. To care about their well-being and to lend a helping hand when needed despite the differences.

Yet, while we’re often more mindful of others, with everything that goes on in our lives, we often forget to be mindful of our selves. To focus on our health and well-being. To recognize when our minds and bodies need a break, and to prioritize the people and the things that are most important in our lives that will improve our quality of life.

As we begin 2018, whatever your New Year’s resolutions may be, we hope that we can all be more mindful overall. We wish everyone well and we thank you for being kind to your body.

Returning to Om [HEALTH & WELLNESS]

IMG_4969Is life getting you stressed? Do you feel as if you don’t have time to take a break? If so, then it may be time to recharge.

Here are some strategies we’ve found helpful when recharging and getting in some quality time:

  • Meditate – Take your mind off everything. And, we mean ev…ver…ry…thing! Even if it’s for five or ten minutes during the day, take a seat, dim the lights, close your eyes, and breathe. Focus on your breathing, as you inhale and exhale through your nostrils. Whether you choose to do this during the morning, afternoon, or in the evening, it’s a great way to calm and recenter your mind and body.
  • Plan a friends’ night out – Catching up with friends and family is a great way to destress and reconnect with the awesome people in our lives.
  • Have a movie night – Pop in some DVDs or binge watch your favorite shows on Netflix and laugh the layers of stress away!
  • Soak in the sun – Boost those endorphins and get some vitamin D while you’re soaking in the rays of sunshine. Please remember to wear sunscreen when heading outdoors :).
  • Nosh on some healthy snacks – We love snacking on nuts, fruits and veggies. The nutrients energize our bodies and boost our mood!
  • Get active! – Hiking, biking, boating…enjoy activities that get your body going to help the blood flow and oxygenate your system. It’s an ideal way to decompress and to take your mind off of the daily stressors in our lives. 

Doing the right things to destress can help to relieve the body of the potentially damaging effects that stress can cause to our emotional and physical well-being. At the end of the day, do what you can. And, your mind and body will learn to let go. To recenter. And, to refocus on the more important things in life.

Thank you for being kind to your body.