Healthy Living

Natural Beauty.

So, let me preface all of this by saying beauty/health starts from the inside out. And I say beauty-slash-health because I think a healthy person is beautiful no matter what they look like. They are radiant, vibrant, and they just glow. One big pet peeve of mine is how a large portion of the beauty industry has managed to pull a major one over on people. In my hand right now I have a conventional bottle of shampoo. Here are the ingredients:

Aqua/water, Sodium Laureth Sulfate (a known carcinogen), Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Acrylates Copolymer, Disodium Cocoamphodiacetate, Peg-7 Glyceryl Cocoate, Sorbitol, Panthenol, Propylene Glycol, Parfum/Fragrance, Glyceryl Laurate, Mantha Piperita (Peppermint) Oil, DmDm Hydantoin, Menthyl Lactate, Sodium Hydroxide, Benzophenone-4, Disodium EDTA, Polyquaternium-7, Polyquaternium-16, Limonene, Benzyl Salicylate, Hexyl Cinnamal, Linalool, Butylene Glycol, Butylphenyl Methylpropional, Iodopropynyl, Butylcarbamate, Maris Sal/Sea Salt, CI 42090/Blue1, CI 19140/Yellow 5, CI 17200/Red33, Silica

Okay, seriously, WHAT IN THE HELL?

I have no idea what Peg-7 Glyceryl Cocoate is. Or what Polyquaternium-7 or 16 are. And by the way all the artificial colors are known carcinogens as well. If someone tried to sell you a bottle of this not as shampoo would you buy it? Would you put it on your skin? Would you put it near your eyes? Probably not, right? And even more mind-boggling is how they market this as "Energizing Shampoo with Atomized Sea Water". Legally no one can challenge that. Yes it has Sea Salt, but it's the second to last ingredient, only behind the artificial colors, so there is probably very little of it to offset any of the ton of other non-natural ingredients.

Also, if you had to add fragrance and artificial colors to something (including and especially FOOD), it is probably chemical and harmful slop. Sloppity slop with no cherry on top! So, why get anywhere near this? Why put it in your bloodstream? And if they are chemically laden, how on earth are they "moisturizing" and "revitalizing"? And why are they astronomically priced sometimes- especially the "organic" ones? Hmmmmmm...

Enter the alternatives!

Not only is my hair so much better off after having  stopped the use of all these heavily marketed, cheap, negligible products, but natural products are non-pollutants. This is important because think about everything that goes down the drain into our water supply and then back out of our faucets. Yikes. Natural ingredients don't add to the already toxic load of our city water. And the products I use are not natural in the the way organic pop tarts are "all natural". Their ingredients actually come from nature. :)

Here is what I use on my hair exclusively:

The top picture is my shampoo and "conditioner". I use Calia's Hydrating Shampoo whose ingredients are:

Aqua, palm oil, coconut oil, pine extract, alfalfa extract, chamomile flower extract, echinacea flower extract, nettle leaf extract, clover flower extract, green tea leaf extract, horse tail extract, olive fruit oil, glycerin, citric acid, lavender oil, bergamot oil, rose geranium oil.

That's it! And even that's not clean enough for me because of the glycerin and citric acid, but when I opted out of using pure homemade baking soda shampoo to find one for purchase, this was the best one I found that does not have an overwhelming smell and actually feels clean. (And by the way, I have no vested interest in this company, I just love their shampoo.)

For conditioner I use raw apple cider vinegar. I put the dilution into a plastic cup I keep in the shower. I dilute about 1 tablespoon in 1 cup of water and leave it in until I finish my shower. I give it a quick rinse and my hair is shiny and soft!

The picture below that is rosemary infusion which I use as a hair rinse after every shampoo. I put about 4 tablespoons worth of fresh rosemary leaves into 4 cups of water and then use about half a cup every time I use the rinse. It keeps in the fridge for a couple of weeks so just use a half a cup or so each time from the jug (I store it in the fridge in a large mason jar). Check out this post from Wellness Mama about the benefits of using rosemary.

Now, I know some of you are wondering about styling products. The only natural styling products I know of are aloe gels with essential oils in them. Other than that I don't know of any clean gels, pomades, hairsprays, mousses, or de-frizzers. Most of the things that will manipulate the texture or direction of your hair will surely have a chemical in it so if you're like me and like clean wholesome products, you'll just stay away (although when I do want some texture I spray some of Alaffia's Texture Spray which kind of works like "beach hair" products) but that's not every day. I understand some people have to use hair styling products to achieve a certain look (models, stylists, performers, etc) so by all means use them. But try to find the best alternatives out there so you can stay as healthy as possible.  We should all pay attention to what's going into our bodies every day. Our bodies are sacred and it's important to remember beauty starts inside and radiates outward. Huge parts of that process are how we feel, the actions we take, and what we allow into our bodies and minds.

Skin CARE.

Someone complimented my skin recently and asked me what my "skin care regimen" was. I giggled at the thought of skin care being regimented and just smiled and said "nothing". I received a look of shock and disbelief and that was the end of the conversation. The truth is, I could have said what I actually do for my skin but I don't think this person was open to hearing it. When she asked me what my "regimen" was I think she needed to hear that I moisturize in the morning and layer eye cream on top, wear tinted moisturizer and sunscreen throughout the day and then use lift cream at night- or something to this effect. The truth is, if I ever use anything it is Witch Hazel with Rosewater in it which I add 5 drops of Immortelle essential oil (from Living Libations) to for a youthful glow and healthy skin on my face and neck and Best Skin Ever (also from Living Libations) or MSM lotion and straight organic coconut oil on the rest of my body. And no, I never ever ever wear sunscreen. Ever, never. We are children of the sun and benefit from its Vitamin D. I know all of us don't have the luxury to be able to tan well, but we can at least take a walk in the sun. But more on that another day...

I only wear make up on special occasions, really.  If for whatever reason I want to spruce up my look, I wear a bit of mascara (there are some great beeswax ones out there!) or some natural lip and cheek tints (Living Libations also has some great ones!).

In my opinion, healthy skin does not have anything to do with Butylene Glycol, Dimethicone, Nylon-12, Isopropyl Palmitate, Isostearyl Behenate, or Petrolatum (all ingredients found in the VERY sought after and expensive La Prairie skin products). Whatever goes on your skin, goes into the cells of your body. Those ingredients are all synthetic and just wrong. I don't know how women are sold this. There is a need for more women to understand that these disease causing  ingredients have nothing to do with healthy or vital skin and certainly do not "fight aging" or "smooth out wrinkles".

My wish for all women is that more begin to critically think about what they use for beauty and even how they define beauty. I believe beauty is simple and there's nothing a good workout, a healthy meal and some simple organic products can't help!

My M.O. about B.O.

I used to be a Gucci-purse-toting, Fendi-tee-wearing, thick-layer-of-MAC-cosmetics-on- every-inch-of-my-face, low-self-esteem, almost-alcoholic, disaster of a "woman." Now I am a happy, healthy, whole hippie. Now, please don't misunderstand. I don't think the world has to be crunchy like I am now. Everyone has their unique and special path and purpose in the world. But somethings just make good sense. One of them being not wearing chemical deodorants!

If you are at all concerned at the overly-abundant amount of toxic chemicals found in conventional deodorants- and in my opinion, everyone can really benefit from becoming more aware of what they put in their body- I have an easy alternative for you!

There is this wonderful magical fairyland of a website called Mountain Rose Herbs. It has tea blends, herbs, essential oils, spices, seasonings and a spectacular variety of natural products for our bodies and our homes. Through them I learned to make my own deodorant at home.

One thing you learn along the way is that when you start cleaning up your environment and the kinds of foods you eat you start to need deodorant less and less because your body works more efficiently and is cleaner from the inside out. The toxic load is reduced. I mean body odor is never going to smell like roses, but you do smell less and sometimes not at all. And if you are totally crunchy like me, you don't mind a little occasional sweat. If I offend anyone, it's more their issue, not mine. Admittedly, I don't use deodorant everyday because for one I have two kids and I forget. But also because it is no longer a priority for me to mask my natural scent. If one is to believe Spirit created us in all its perfection, shouldn't that include our sweat glands as well? Something to think about!

Buuuuuut, like I said everyone has their preferences. So, if you opt for deodorant, I urge you to read labels. They're kinda scary! And if you are keen on trying this at home, here is the recipe I got from Mountain Rose Herbs (you can purchase all the ingredients there or at any health food store and you can find awesome, high-quality essential oils here and here):

1.5 oz organic Witch Hazel extract

10 drops organic Sweet Orange essential oil

1-2 drops of organic Vetiver essential oil

(optional) 5 drops of vanilla or rose oil (just because I LOOOOOVE vanilla and rose oils)

... and if all of this is way too much for you, you can always dip your finger under the running water in the bathroom sink, dip it into a box of baking soda and- voila- that one tiny bit will leave you stink free all day!

Have fun brewing!

New Year.

There are a few things I always do on New Year's Eve/New Year's Day... 1. Watch "When Harry Met Sally"

2. journal (or in this case blog) while I listen to a great playlist which always starts with Bette Midler's version of "What are you doing New Year's Eve?"

3. meditate

4. Set intentions for the upcoming year

I don't like saying "make new year's resolutions" because the word "resolutions" gives me a picture of people trying to do things that never actually happen like "lose weight", "ask that guy out", "dump that loser", or "make more money". Maybe those things don't happen because spoken so casually and lackadaisically they lack true intention and specificity. I've made plenty of resolutions that have been forgotten by the end of January so now I choose to set intentions.

So, what are these intentions I speak of?

There are always so many. The question becomes more "how do I narrow down what I want to focus on this year?" It took some time to decide but the top 3 are:

1. Open my heart more. Think with my heart. Accept and surrender.

2. Nurture friendships.

3. Concentrate on my temple's physical aspects- yoga, belly-dancing, and movement galore!

*** Sidenote: I love that the repetitive lyrics to the song I'm currently listening to are "Why would you play by the rules?" !!!!!! ***

For 1, I realize that having children has put me in a more anxious state. I have forgotten how to drop down into the space of silence and trust. The place of the simple "I am." The place where my heart understands and is at-oned with the mysteries of this universe. It's ironic because at the same time my heart has been monumentally thrust open with the presence and love of my children, it has also been severely neglected in other ways. I have found it hard to find time to journal, to sit in nature, to fill it with it's favorite nurturing yummies and I'm starting to see and feel the effects of that.

I can see how its affected my life because I have seriously dropped into the illusion of "me" and "them." It feels as if the duality dial has been turned to ludicrous speed, especially lately. I feel intolerant of nearly everyone and feel that at the same time I am wanting more compassion, love, and understanding from others, I have been unwilling to fully give that myself. As my sweet friend Gina reminded me the other day, "you have to hold the vibration of that which you are wanting." I feel judgmental of everyone and everything and have allowed myself to use the tip of my tongue for creating things a bit lower than for the highest good. I am not perfect; certainly it could happen again. But I am aware and would love to see a clearer me emerging this year. I am soul-tired of not letting things flow and not accepting people and things just as they are. I am tired of feeling everything external is not enough. And I am absolutely exhausted of fighting my family. My friend Ganesha reminded me of a great point the other day: irradiated or not, crystals that cOme into your space are for a purpose and for your highest good. This goes for people too!

So, heart- I am coming for you. Peacefully... but still coming for you, I am.

For 2, I need my friends. Simple as that. I just NEED them. I welcome new ones into my life if that is to be but whatever the case is, I want deeper friendships. I want to know the people I know more and I want a deep friendship to emerge. One where I can share ME in its entirety. To share days with the kids and feelings and trips and the messiness of life.  I'm not afraid anymore. I turned a corner.

For 3, throughout my entire life I have always moved. I have always danced in some way or another. Ballet, jazz, tap, modern dance, salsa, belly-dancing, yoga (not a dance but it kind of IS). For three years now I haven't been able to dedicate myself to this which I adore so much. But my children have all arrived and they are happy and healthy little ones so it's time to begin to come back to myself more. Bit by bit. This is one of the bits I want to start with. I started yoga once a week again a few weeks ago and in a couple of months I'll be back to my advanced belly-dancing class. It will mean all the more to me now after learning so much about the history of women, the history of where we are really from, the truths of the universe and connections to Mother Earth.

*** Sidenote: I'll also continue to knit and crochet my way into a zen state and write more too, but that's a given. ***

I stand in my resolve so that I can be a better woman and so I can grow my soul. For my family, for my friends, for my community, for my world. I evolve so we can ALL continue to evolve into who we are. To who we always were and always will BE.

Happy New Year! Light and love to all of you. In lakesh a laken. <3

The Mother of All Key Lime Pies.

Let me preface this by saying that I know I say that each of my friends are the most wonderful people on earth but they truly are. Each and every one of them. I feel honored to know them and call each of them my friends. That being said, my friend Willow is one of the gentlest, kindest, most soothing and wonderful persons to be around. Her beautiful little daughter recently celebrated her first birthday party. The event was great. Awesome people, great conversation, delicious raw food and adult free time as she had so brilliantly hired a fairy to entertain the kids! When I asked the fairy for her business card, she handed me a cute pink butterfly with her name and number on it and the title "Fairy for hire". So great.

I am a big lover of key lime pie. What am I saying... I'm a lover of pie period. Willow's raw key lime pie is by far the best key lime pie EVER. And I've had some key lime pies in my life. It even beats the one at Lokal in Coconut Grove (if you haven't tried it yet, run- don't walk- to go get a grass-fed beef or turkey burger and key lime pie for dessert. You'll thank me later!). I haven't tried to make it myself yet as I just got the recipe from her a few days ago but I am so excited to! Raw recipes always take more prep time but the upside of that is no baking time!

Willow credits Cafe Gratitude with the greatness of the pie, but I'm sure her love added to the awesome flavor. I hope mine tastes just as yummy and love-filled as hers :)

Key Lime Pie (raw vegan)

(makes one 9 inch pie) Macadamia-Pecan Crust: 1 1/4 cups macadamia nuts 1 1/4 cups pecans 3 oz date paste 1/4 tsp liquid vanilla (or 1/2 tsp vanilla powder) 1/8 tsp sea salt Directions: -add individual recipe’s crust ingredients to the food processor. In date paste recipes, include half the amount in this step. -process all ingredients until the crust starts to rise on the sides of the processor bowl. -Stop the machine and mix with a spatula or spoon. -repeat a few times until nuts are well broken down. Add remaining date paste (if called for in recipe) and continue processing until mixture is consistent. The final result of the crust should be a mixture that can hold together with a gentle pressure and can be broken apart with a clean break. -lightly grease entire inside of pie pan with some coconut oil. Some nuts become very oily after processing and don’t require this step, such as crusts that are entirely macadamia nut. -distribute crust evenly on the botton and sides of pie pan and lightly compact by hand. -Decorate edge of crust to your liking. Crust should rise above the rim of the pan but not more than a half inch. Set aside until ready to be filled.

Lime filling: 3/4 cup lime juice 1/3 cup raw honey (or 1/2 cup agave syrup) 1/4 cup coconut milk 1 cup avocado (wet measure) 2 tsp liquid vanilla (or 1 tsp vanilla powder) 1/8 tsp sea salt 2 Tbs lecithin 1/2 cup & 2 Tbs organic coconut oil

Directions: -in blender, add all ingredients except coconut oil and lecithin -blend until smooth and creamy -stop blending and add the lecithin and melted coconut oil -resume blending until oil and lecithin are well incorporated -pour filling into pie pan with prepared crust -place in freezer to set (1 to 2 hrs or until middle of pie is firm to the touch, unless otherwise specified in the recipe) (optional: finish and/or garnish pie with coconut meringue)

Coconut Meringue: 3/4 oz Irish Moss (weight) 1/4 cup water 2/3 cup coconut milk Directions: blend until Irish moss is completely broken down add to blender: 1 cup coconut milk 1/4 cup coconut meat (wet measure) 1/2 cup soaked brazil nuts 5 Tbs agave syrup (or 2.5 Tbs raw honey) 1/2 tsp vanilla 1 tsp lemon juice 1/8 tsp sea salt blend well until smooth and creamy, then add: -1 Tbs lecithin -1/2 cup & 1 Tbs coconut oil resume blending until lecithin and oil are fully incorporated. Pour into container and set in fridge until slightly firm, with a soft consistency. For best texture, ideally set in fridge over night. Store in an airtight container in the fridge. Good for at least 3 days.

Enjoy! :)

My favorite cookies!

My favorite cookies are ginger & molasses cookies. I've never made these- I've always just bought them at Whole Foods. Now that I have a baby who is more of a sleeper than my first was, I have some time to do some things like bake. This morning I had time to finish up two crocheted slouchies and make banana bread! Next weekend I will be making these bad boys for breakfast and enjoying them with some chai. They are so yummy. I'm sure you'll love them! Ingredients:

4 cups flour (or Pamela's wheat and gluten-free Baking Mix)

4 tsp baking soda

2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp cloves

1 tsp ginger

1 tsp sea salt

2 farm-raised eggs

1.5 cups organic palm oil

2 cups organic palm sugar or 1/2 to 1 cup of raw honey

1/2 cup of organic molasses

organic granulated sugar (optional)

Directions:

1. Melt 1.5 cups of organic palm oil. Let cool.

2. Mix the palm oil, sugar or honey, molasses and eggs. Beat well.

3. Add the rest of the ingredients. Mix well. Chill 3 hours or overnight.

4. Form into 1 inch balls. (optional: roll in granulated sugar)

5. Place on a cookie sheet about 2 inches apart.

6. Bake at 375 for 8-12 minutes.

Store cookies in an airtight container.

Makes about a dozen cookies.

Enjoy!