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My Next Review:Nerium AD

NeriumAD Results

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Paleo Pesto Chicken on Spaghetti Squash

In advance bake your spaghetti squash ( I usually do 2 large squash to feed our family of 9), see directions here: HOW TO BAKE SPAGHETTI SQUASH.  And don't forget to save your seeds and ROAST THEM just like pumpkin seeds.
Next Fry up some bacon or BAKE IT IN THE OVEN, reserving the fat (it's like gold around here, I use it for everything!).  Crumble the bacon and use it as a garnish.
Then either grill some chicken breast or thighs or slice and pan fry your chicken in some bacon grease with salt and pepper (unless you are using leftover meat or seafood).  If you are pan frying your chicken, after slicing it please be sure to dab dry (I use paper towels for this) before placing it in the pan of hot bacon grease.   Oh, and I typically figure on one piece of chicken per person.

Chop up some fresh ripe tomatoes to garnish your Pesto Chicken with if desired.
3 cups fresh basil leaves, (you'll kind of have to shove them in there a bit)
1 1/4 cups whole walnuts or pecans (toasted*)
4-5 cloves of fresh garlic (depending on your taste)
2 TBSP lemon juice
1 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil ( a good olive oil can make all the difference in taste!)
salt to taste (I use approximately 1/2 tsp)
pepper to taste

Combine basil, nuts, and lemon juice in food processor, then adding the olive oil very slowly turn the mixture on.  My food processor has a little reservoir I fill and it allows a trickle to go in, which makes it much easier.  Mid way through add some salt and pepper and mix and then taste.  Mix until combined and the desired texture, it's that simple and sooooo yummy!  

* To toast your nuts preheat oven to 375 and bake for 8-10 minutes on a baking tray, mixing 1/2 way through.  Allow to cool before using.
Pesto Spaghetti squash with leftover turkey mixed in and bacon to garnish.

2 cups fresh basil leaves
heaping 1/2 cup dried tomatoes (not packed in oil)
4 cloves of garlic
1/4-1/2 tsp sea salt (to taste)
1 cup of toasted pecans * see note above*
1 TBSP lemon juice
pepper to taste
1 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil (good quality makes all the difference regarding taste!)

Place everything except the oil in your food processor bowl, while processing very slowly add the oil to the mixture.  Process until desired texture and taste.  

My apologies for the lack of photos, but I hope you'll try it anyway. Enjoy!

Serve Veggies and Make a Good Impression

Want To Make a Good Impression? Serve Vegetables

Throw some vegetables on their dinner plates and your family will think you’re a hero. No, really.

serve veggies
Brussels sprouts, broccoli, green beans—people may not think they’re so icky after all.
MORE: How to Sneak In Beauty-Boosting Vegetables
Sponsored by Birds Eye, researchers at Cornell University Food and Brand Lab set out to explore how some of our least favorite foods (vegetables!) impact our perception of the meal and the person who prepared it.
As part of the study, they conducted a national survey with 500 moms who had two or more children under the age of 18. A variety of meals were shown with and without vegetables. Participants were then asked to rate those meals and the cook on a scale of 1 to 9 and to describe both from a list of attributes.
What they found was surprising: Vegetables don’t always have people turning up their noses.
Ratings given to meals (steak, chicken, pasta, etc.) without a vegetable averaged 7.0. But toss some broccoli, zucchini or green beans onto the plate and all of a sudden that same dish scored an 8.1. Participants were also more likely to grade the meal as “loving” when some green stalks or crunchy crops were present.
MORE: Can Eating With Your Family Make You Thin?
The produce did more than improve the perception of the meal, though. Adding vegetables to a dish boosted the perception of the chef as well. Tossing some greens (or yellows, reds or oranges) on the plate earned the cook higher accolades, and the cooks were more likely to be rated as “thoughtful,” “attentive” and “capable.”
Surprised? We were too.
Why Vegetables Rule
Lead researcher and author of “Slim by Design: Mindless Eating Solutions for Home, School, Grocery Stores, Restaurants and More,” Brian Wansink Ph.D., told us why vegetables help to make a meal more attractive all around.
“Part of it is psychological,” he says. “It goes back to the association we have with larger meals, such as a holiday meal or a Sunday meal. They tend to be more deliberate or intentional, and that’s what this is invoking. We are used to seeing good meals with vegetables.”
MORE: Meet the Mind: Brian Wansink
Produce is also a palate cleanser and gives us a break from endless bites of the entree, which add to their appeal.
And even though this study was conducted with adults, Wansink surmised that the perception about our now-beloved vegetables can translate to kids. “The basic idea is that if the parents have these higher associations, then kids will, too,” he says.
What’s most important in all of this is that those servings of vegetables get on the table in the first place, adds Wansink. “We found that 70 percent of the vegetables people eat are at dinnertime, but only 23 percent of dinners include a vegetable,” he notes.
At least now we know we can up that percentage without resorting to sneaky hide-the-spinach-in-the-soup tactics. And hey, we’ll come out looking like a hero, too. Bring on the kale

Frankinscense Oil and Its Benefits

Health Benefits of Frankincense Essential Oil

The health benefits of Frankincense Essential Oil can be attributed to its properties like anti septic, disinfectant, astringent, carminative, cicatrisant, cytophylactic, digestive, diuretic, emenagogue, expectorant, sedative, tonic, uterine and vulnerary.
Frankincense Oil is extracted from gum or resin of Frankincense or Olibanum tree, whose scientific name is Boswellia Carteri. Main components of this essential oil are Alpha Pinene, Actanol, Bornyl Acetate, Linalool, Octyl Acetate, Incensole and Incensyl Acetate. Frankincense has been a popular ingredient of cosmetics and incense burners since ages. Its instances have been found in the remains of ancient Egyptian and Anglo-Saxon civilizations. It is also associated with religious activities.
Apart from being used as a cosmetic and as a fragrance, it has numerous medicinal uses, which are summarized as under.
  • Anti Septic & Disinfectant: Frankincense Oil is good as an anti septic. Even the fume or smoke obtained on its burning has anti septic and disinfectant qualities and eliminates the germs in the whole place affected with fume. It can be applied on wounds without any harm or side effect to protect them from tetanus and being septic. It is equally good on internal wounds and protects them from infections.
  • Astringent: The astringent property of Frankincense Oil has many benefits. It strengthens gums, hair roots, tones and lifts skin, contracts muscles, intestines and blood vessels, thereby giving protection from untimely fall of tooth and hair, wrinkles, loss of firmness of intestines and muscles of abdominal area and limbs associated with age and above all, helps stop flow of blood from wounds and cuts. This astringent property also helps cure diarrhea of certain types.
  • Frankincense Oil Harvest
  • Carminative: Frankincense oil drives away gas and also prevents its formation. This removal of gases from intestines also gives relief from associated problems such as stomach ache, pain in the abdominal region and chest, abnormal sweating, uneasiness, indigestion and many such.
  • Cicatrisant: This is an interesting property of Frankincense Oil. It makes the scars and after marks of boils, acne and pox etc. on the skin to fade away. This includes fading of stretch marks and surgery marks, fat cracks etc. associated with pregnancy and delivery.
  • Cytophylactic: Being a Cytophylactic, Frankincense Oil promotes regeneration of healthy cells and also keeps the existing cells and tissues healthy.
  • Digestive: Suffering from indigestion due to that turkey last night? A patient of chronic indigestion and acidity? Fed up of those antacids? Then you are the right person to try Frankincense Oil. I am sure you will benefit. This oil has digestive properties without any side effects. It facilitates digestion the way a medicine should, not like the common antacids which only suppress the symptoms. This oil speeds up secretion of digestive juices (gastric juices, bile and acids) in the stomach and facilitates movement of food stuff in the intestines by stimulating peristaltic motion, thereby aiding all round digestion of food. Its other properties, like being a carminative also helps in digestion.
  • Diuretic: If you thought that Lasix and its variants were the only drugs that could help you lose water from the body through urination, you were wrong. They may be instant, but not at all safe. Here is a natural and safe alternative. Yes! The Frankincense Essential Oil. It promotes urination and helps you lose some extra water, fats, sodium, uric acid and some other toxins from the body, with the added advantage of lowering blood pressure. The best part about this is that this oil is totally safe and has no adverse side effects.
  • Emenagogue: Opens up obstructed and delayed menstruation and delays menopause. It also helps curing other symptoms associated with menses and Post Menstrual Syndrome, such as pain in the abdominal region, nausea, headache, fatigue etc.
  • Expectorant: Drives away cough and phlegm deposited in the respiratory tracts and lungs. Also gives relief in bronchitis and congestion of nasal tract, larynx and pharynx, bronchi and lungs. It also gives relief from body pain, headache, toothache and rise in body temperature associated with cold.
  • Sedative: Frankincense Oil is very effective as a sedative. It induces a feeling of mental peace, relaxation, satisfaction and spirituality. It also awakens insight, makes you introvert and ends anxiety, anger and stress.
  • Tonic: Frankincense Oil tones and boosts health and therefore is a tonic. It tones up all the systems operating in the body, including respiratory system, digestive system, nervous system and excretory system and also gives strength by aiding absorption of nutrients in the body. It strengthens immune system too and keeps you strong and safe for long.
  • Uterine: This oil is very good for uterine health. Since it regulates production of estrogen hormone, it reduces the chances of post-menopause tumor or cyst formation in the uterus, also known as uterine cancer. In pre-menopause period too, it keeps uterus healthy by maintaining proper menstrual cycles.
  • Vulnerary: Just apply a diluted solution of this oil on wounds, or use it blended with a skin cream, and get your wounds heal faster and protected from infections. This oil is equally beneficial in healing internal wounds, cuts and ulcers.
  • Other Benefits: It keeps skin healthy and young, relieves pain associated with rheumatism, arthritis etc. It helps heal boils, rotten wounds, acne, circulatory problems, insomnia and inflammation.
Few Words of Caution: No known adverse side effects at all. Still, should not be used during pregnancy, being an emenagogue and astringent.
Blending: Frankincense Oil blends well with Lime, Lemon, Orange and other Citrus oils as well as Benzoin, Bergamot, Lavender, Myrrh, Pine and Sandalwood oil.
This article was contributed by Aparup Mukherjee

What Is Your Workout Dosha?

What’s your workout dosha?

yoga inversion workout dosha
Lots of things explain why you love insanely hot, slow Bikram sequences, while your best friend would rather be running the city streets on a 40-degree day.
But from an Ayurvedic perspective, the workout you’re most drawn to may be the one your body needs the least. (Bummer!)
“Like increases like,” says Ayurvedic expert Monica Bloom, author of the blog, Hey Monica B. “So, if you’re a fiery, competitive person (a Pitta constitution in Ayurveda), you’re going to want to literally race. But that will just add more fire. What you really need is to slow down, to create balance.”
And certain times of year can really set off your dosha. Fall, for example, is Vata season according to Ayurveda, so you may feel more scattered and need some grounding yoga sessions. (And put your iPhone down more often.)
So what types of workouts do you and your dosha need? (You can find out your dosha here.) These are Bloom’s workout recommendations for each dosha:
Monica Bloom
Monica Bloom, the Ayurvedic expert behind the blog, Hey Monica B.
What you’ll want to do: Run, cardio
What you should do: Barre, Pilates, restorative yoga, strength training
“Vata people are go, go, go,” says Bloom. So, stop. “They don’t eat a lot and don’t have great endurance, so what’s good for them is a routine that’s not too intense and is grounding.” The concentrated, precise movements of a focused barre class, as opposed to running laps, for instance. Yoga is great for Vatas’ characteristically tight muscles and creaky joints.
What you’ll want to do: Competitive sports, triathlons
What you should do: Bike riding, running, swimming, yoga
Pitta people are fiery and competitive, and Bloom says if you’ve ever passed out from exercise, you’re probably one of them. (Most of us are way too lazy to take it that far). “Pittas should do something that’s cooling and that they can enjoy alongside their more competitive sports,” she says. “Riding a bike with the wind in their face or swimming without clocking your time are great options.” Important: Don’t. go. to. hot. yoga. (Spontaneous combustion may occur.)
What you’ll want to do: Heavy weight lifting, restorative yoga
What you should do: Lots of cardio, hot yoga or Bikram
“Weight lifting will make grounded, earthy Kaphas feel heavier instead of lighter,” Bloom says. “What they need to do is move their little booties!” While you might dread it, you should approach workouts with the intention of breaking a sweat, via cardio-heavy activities like running or a High Intensity Interval Training boot camp. And Kaphas need fire, so Bikram yoga, or a post-workout sauna, are great ideas. Also, a fitness buddy (or concierge) is a good idea  for motivation, which can be tough for Kaphas.
No matter your dosha, says Bloom, you should walk as much as possible, since it’s a tri-doshic activity (good for all doshas) that creates health and balance in everyone. Which is great news for car-eschewing New Yorkers. —Lisa Elaine Held
For more information, visit

Pomegranate Salad

green olive, walnut and pomegranate salad
Green Olive, Walnut & Pomegranate Salad
Source: Turquoise: A Chef’s Travels in Turkey by Greg & Lucy Malouf
Notes: Use the amounts as a guide. I added a bit more of almost everything. Also, make sure the green olives are good. If you are able to taste them — from an olive bar, for example — before you buy them, that is ideal. Remember: if you don’t like the olive before you chop it up and throw it in the salad, you probably won’t like it any better when it’s in the salad.
Substitutes for pomegranate molasses: Pomegranate molasses is syrupy in texture and both sweet and tart in flavor, so if you really want to add a splash (which is all the recipe calls for) of this ingredient, then you want something like a mixture of honey and lemon or brown sugar and cranberry juice. I found lots of good ideas from the Food52 community as well as a recipe from Simple Recipes, but all I ended up doing — did I mention I’ve been feeling super lazy? — was splashing in some white balsamic vinegar, which certainly doesn’t create the same effect as pomegranate molasses but which added a nice bite and flavor.
3/4 cup walnuts
1/2 cup pitted green olives, coarsely chopped (I added more)
1/4 cup unsalted shelled pistachios, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds (I added more like a cup)
2 small shallots, peeled and finely diced
1 red Serrano chile, seeded and finely diced (I used green)
1 tablespoon shredded flat-leaf parsley (or more)
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon walnut oil (optional — use extra virgin olive oil if you don’t have walnut)
splash of pomegranate molasses (optional)
juice of ½ lemon
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
1. Preheat oven to 350⁰F. Scatter the walnuts onto a jelly-roll pan and roast for 5-10 minutes, until deep golden brown. Pour the nuts into a tea towel and rub well to remove as much skin as possible. Chop the walnuts coarsely and toss in a sieve to remove any remaining skin or dust.
2. Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl and toss gently. Leave to stand for 5 minutes or so before serving to allow flavors to meld. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary — add more lemon, olive oil, pepper, salt (just be careful because the olives are salty), etc.

Paraben Update!

Paraben update: New research on beauty’s most problematic preservatives

woman reading ingredient label for parabens
“Parabens,” the term for a group of preservatives used in mainstream beauty products, wasn’t always a dirty word.

In 2004, Dr. Philippa Darbre, a research scientist at the University of Reading in the UK, published a small but pioneering study that showed high concentrations of parabens in human breast tumors.
Women everywhere flipped over their moisturizers to read the list of ingredients.
“That first paper shocked people because it was the first time intact parabens had ever been measured in the human body,” says Dr. Darbre. And while the study did not show that the chemicals cause cancer, it sounded a serious alarm.
Why? Parabens, which prevent bacteria from growing in beauty and personal-care products, are able to mimic or interfere with estrogen in the body, and exposure to estrogen is one of the primary influences on the development of breast cancer.
Since then, several studies have detected and reported parabens in human urine and tissue. In response, many beauty companies have eliminated them from ingredient lists, though they’re still used in many mainstream products.
Now, Dr. Darbre has published two new studies that shed even more light on the ways parabens enter our bodies and how they affect our health.

Here’s what you need to know about the latest research (and before refilling your beauty bag):
1. Parabens are getting into your body. In March, Dr. Darbre and her team published the results of a study that replicated the original study done in 2004, with a much larger sample size. They looked at the concentration of five parabens in breast tumor tissue. One or more types were found in 99 percent of the tissue samples, and all five were measurable in 60 percent of the samples. “The take-home message was that we validated the earlier study with a much more substantial study. Parabens are getting into the breast, and they’re getting in in significant amounts,” she explains.

2. Yup, your skin is letting them in. The parabens identified in the study were primarily intact, meaning they’ve bypassed the liver. What does this mean? You’re not getting them from your food, they’re being absorbed through your skin.

3. Deodorants and antiperspirants aren’t the only bad guys. For a long time, Darbre thought deodorants and antiperspirants were most likely delivering parabens into breast tissue. (She cited close proximity and the fact that many breast cancers start in the area closest to the armpit). But seven people in the new study had never used deodorants or antiperspirants, and their concentrations of parabens wasn’t any lower. So, anything from moisturizer to sunscreen to eye makeup could be to blame. “I had to change my mind,” says Dr. Darbre. “I think it’s more about the total load on the skin across the body. What we still need to try to understand is how they can move around the body.”

4. Parabens are carcinogenic. Past research has focused on how parabens fuel the growth of existing cancer cells through their estrogenic activity. But in a second study published earlier this year, Dr. Darbre found that parabens may be carcinogenic, meaning they can transform healthy cells into cancer cells.

The takeaway, says Dr. Darbre, is that parabens are only a tiny slice of the problem. They’re just one of many chemicals we’re all exposed to in our day-to-day environment. “We’re going to see that the problem is long-term, low-dose exposure to a cocktail of chemicals,” she explains. “But the reason I’m keen on the personal-care products [issue] is that women have the option to stop using these things. I want to empower them to be able to make their own decisions.” —Lisa Elaine Held

Vanilla Kissed Hand Cream by Shannon

Vanilla Kissed Hand Cream

I just bought some new vanilla bean pods to make homemade vanilla extract. If you don't know how to make it yourself, click HERE for my tutorial.

I always make my own vanilla extract. You only need two simple ingredients. 
 So anyhow, I realized I still had some vanilla extract from last year in my herb pantry and decided to make a Vanilla Kissed Hand Cream with it.  This recipe makes a small batch that will last about 30 days or so.  I added in a bit of grapefruit seed extract to help very mildly preserve it along with the alcohol from the vanilla extract, but I still suggest you store it in the fridge and fill a small container to be used within 7 days at a time.

Vanilla Kissed Hand Cream
20 grams jojoba oil
15 grams coconut oil
11 grams emulsifying wax
3 grams stearic acid
2 grams liquid lecithin
20 grams aloe vera juice
30 grams vanilla extract
2 grams grapefruit seed extract
30 drops benzoin resin

Place the jojoba oil, coconut oil, emulsifying wax, stearic acid and lecithin in a small glass measuring cup. Place the aloe vera juice and the vanilla extract in another glass measuring cup.  Heat both in a simmering water bath until the waxes and oils melt to combine. 

Pour the liquid wax/oil into a small heat proof mixing bowl. Slowly add in the aloe/vanilla while mixing with a handheld beater. 

 The two phases will combine and turn creamy.  You need to continue mixing for about 10 minutes.  Add in the grapefruit seed extract and the benzoin resin.

 Mix the hand cream for another 10 or 15 minutes until thickened. 

 You will know it is ready when it reaches a lotion or cream like texture. 

 Not to get to much sidetracked, but I found these GoToob soft silicone squeeze bottles at Costco a few days ago and I picked up a four-pack.  

 I pulled the following information from the GoToob website. 

GoToob is the civilized, smart, squeezable tube for traveling, outdoors, and more.

Typical travel bottles are hard plastic canisters that pay no attention to the human experience at hand.

The award-winning and patented GoToob is made from soft yet rugged silicone, so it's easy to squeeze, and it dispenses the product right away. A special, "no-drip" valve helps the cap stay clean.

The collar is made of two rings that unsnap from one another. The outer ring has an ID window, and the inner ring lists content indicators. Simply snap the outer ring off and back on to display "Soap," "Lotion," and more. A blank setting lets the user write in their own content indicator.

A large opening means it's easy to fill and clean your GoToob. The small 1.25 fl. oz. size slips easily into pockets, bags, purses, and other tight spots. The medium 2 fl. oz. size features a handy suction cup that can briefly attach to walls for moments when you need your hands free. And a large 3 fl. oz. size gives you maximum volume for longer times between refills.

 I filled my GoToob up with my Vanilla Kissed Hand Cream and stored the rest in the fridge. The texture is soft and silky and absorbs instantly.  The vanilla is soft and scrumptious and lingers for a while.  I hope you enjoy making this recipe as much as I did.  Enjoy & Green Blessings!!!


4 Superfoods to Cure

4 Superfoods to Cure Your Digestive Issues and Give You More Energy

When my digestive system needs a little cleansing, I make a smoothie with some of my favorite superfoods: dates, dark sweet cherries, chia seeds, and coconut oil. 

These four foods don’t get enough credit for their digestive benefits!

Although chia seeds and coconut oil have gotten their share of buzz recently, dates and dark sweet cherries sometimes get a bad rap for their sugar content.

Here's why these superfoods deserve a second-glance: 
1. Dates

Dates add the perfect amount of sweetness and consistency to many recipes. They contain numerous vitamins and minerals, elevate the amount of healthy bacteria in the belly, and are easily digested to provide greater energy within 30 minutes of consumption. In order to get the best digestive and laxative effect from dates, soak them in water overnight and use in your smoothie, or drink the syrup-like dates alone. 

2. Dark Sweet Cherries

Dark sweet cherries are a rich source of antioxidants, and the sugar they contain is a productive source of energy, even for diabetics. The antioxidants they contain keep the digestion system working productively, and they contain high fiber, which relieves constipation. Other benefits include protection from bacterial, viral, and fungal infection; anti-aging qualities; and they aid in healthy brain functioning. 

3. Chia Seeds

Think flax seed on crack! These little seeds keep you full longer, and provide complete gastrointestinal relief due to their high fiber content. They provide slow and sustained energy, and have even been said to contain more calcium than a glass of skim milk. Chia seeds expand in water, and develop a gel-like consistency, which when consumed creates a greater feeling of fullness.

4. Coconut Oil

The anti-microbial properties of coconut oil eliminates the bad bacteria in our digestive tract, allowing for stability and relief from constipation. Coconut oil is extremely easy for you to digest due to the medium chain fatty acids, which are digested differently than other fats, and don’t require much strain or use of the pancreas. The nutrients and energy from coconut oil is quickly absorbed and put to use, making it an efficient energy source.

Try out this yummy (and slightly addicting!) superfuel smoothie! 

  • Spinach, handful
  • Mejdool dates, pitted
  • Dark sweet cherries, frozen
  • Chia Seeds, 2 tablespoons
  • Almond slivers, handful
  • Almond milk, ½ cup
  • Coconut Oil, 1T
  • Cacao powder, 1 tsp
  • Hemp protein powder, 4 T
Add all ingredients to blender, and voila!

If the consistency is too thick, add a little water to loosen it up.

Amazing Arms and Abs Workout

An intense at-home bodyweight circuit to strengthen arms and abs. No equipment necessary!

3 Minerals for ENERGY

Three must-have minerals for more energy

woman exhausted
Are you healthy but wiped out? Could be you're short on thyroid-supporting minerals

You might count on coffee, tea, or (your dirty little secret) Diet Coke to put that morning pep in your step.
But if you’re regularly tired or exhausted, it could be that your thyroid, responsible for energy, is running on fumes. (Even if you—and your thyroid—are pretty healthy.)
And a shot of caffeine just can’t help with that.
Susan Blum, MD, a functional medicine physician (and a Dr. Oz Disease Detective) says three overlooked minerals are helpful to all women—not just those hitting the snooze button and using Starbucks to get through the day.
“Even within the normal range of healthy thyroid function, there is better and still better,” says Dr. Blum, who checks for low T3 hormone levels in her patients. (The T3 hormone is the “gas” hormone in your BMW of a body, which increases metabolism, energy, and heat in cells. When it’s low, it’s a cause of sluggishness and weight gain.)
Brazil nuts
Better than a Starbucks run for energy? Brazil nuts
“Minerals keep the thyroid functioning optimally, which is really good for energy,” explains Dr. Blum, adding that a multi-mineral is more important than a multi-vitamin in this case. —Melisse Gelula
So what minerals make up Dr. Blum’s tiredness-fighting trifecta? And which foods contain them (since that’s a direct source)?

Zinc (15 mg daily)
What it does: Helps the thyroid work at the cellular level
Where to get it: Tahini. Make a dressing for a salad or rice bowl with it.
Selenium (200 mcg)
What it does: Essential to making the T3 hormone
Where to get it: Brazil nuts are a great source. Sunflower seeds are a runner-up.
Iodine (150 mcg)
What it does: It’s the foundation mineral that makes all the thyroid hormones
Where to get it: Buy a table salt that contains iodine, shake kelp flakes over food, and make a point of eating seaweed salad.

Using Essential Oils

Inspired Living: Using Essential Oils to Boost Mood, Enhance Performance
Danna Norek's Inspired Living Articles
Written by Danna Norek of Aura Sensory   
     Today I’d like to talk to you about using essential oils in different ways to boost your mood, intensify concentration, and overall enhance your olfactory experience.  Essential oils can do this without inhaling the toxic chemicals used to make most other airborne scents and “environment enhancers” like air fresheners, candles, incense oils and more.

     I was reminded of the power of natural aroma the other day when I stepped outside to our magnolia tree in full bloom.  The tree is huge, so the blooms filled the air with a pungent sweet fragrance. That, combined with the warm and slightly humid air instantly invigorated me.

     It also transported me back to my youth and brought on feelings of nostalgia from my youth and smelling the warm scent of lilacs and magnolia in the spring time.  Scent is very powerful that way. It can transport you to the past, inspire you for the future, and remind you of a person, place or situation.

     One of my favorite ways to instantly recharge and have a pleasant aroma surrounding me all day long is by making my own little wrist and neck spray with essential oils.  I combine Orange oil, which is uplifting and bright, Juniperus mexicana (also known as Cedarwood) for a nice woodsy touch of warmth, Clary Sage and African Chamomile.

    It lasts for about 4-5 hours, is all natural, and I can sniff it any time I like for an instant pick me up. Unlike chemical perfumes, the scent doesn’t turn “rancid” and sour on my skin after a few hours; it just mellows out and still smells wonderful – just fainter.

     Lemongrass is another essential oil I’ve found to be energizing and uplifting.  Just inhaling its crisp, astringent scent gets my mind revved and my senses awakened. I like to add this to my shampoo for a nice boost in the shower when I’m washing my hair.

     I also use it as part of a room spray that I will occasionally spray in the summer time, combined with other citrus oils like lime, grapefruit and bergamot.  Bergamot is a wonderful scent.

     To make a room spray, I combine distilled water, some perfumer’s alcohol (which has no strong medical smell like rubbing alcohol), and the oils.  I make it in small batches since not much is needed to pleasantly scent an area.  This also keeps the ingredients fresh and potent.

     I’ve found that by surrounding myself with uplifting natural scents, it not only improves my mood, but it helps me concentrate on big projects or other ambitions.  It can really help me to brainstorm and think in a positive way, so it really does influence my outlook and my productivity.

     Studies have shown that simply inhaling the essential oil of lavender has identifiably effects on the brain. It helps relax the mind and even boosts the brain waves that signal a good mood.  Lavender is mostly known as a relaxing oil, but it also reduces stress and creates feelings of calmness and well-being.

     As you can see, essential oils can have powerful effects on human emotion. They can really recharge your mind and invigorate the senses. They can even alter your mood.  It just goes to show how powerful our olfactory senses are when it comes to enhancing our life experience.


Danna Norek is the Owner and Formulator of Aura Sensory, and is now writing the Inspired Living Column here at the ANB Mall.
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DIY Thyme Toner for Clear Complexion

What you will need:
  • Fresh or dried thyme. I used dried which I found at my local health food store in bulk.
  • Apple cider vinegar. You can read all about the benefits here.
  • Glass container to store toner. I used am empty vitamin E jar.
  • Cheesecloth or strainer
  • Glass jar. I used a mason jar.
Here is what you do...
Add about 1/2 cup of raw apple cider vinegar into a glass jar and heat it the microwave for about 30 seconds. Add about 3 tablespoons of thyme.

Let this sit for up to two hours.

Place the cheesecloth on top of the glass jar and carefully pour the liquid into your toner container.
You now have the ultimate acne and age spot fighting toner! You can use this nightly. Apply it with a cotton pad, let dry and then apply your moisturizer on top. To prolong the shelf life of your toner keep it in the fridge. My suggestion would be to only make a small batch at a time and try to use it up within two weeks.

Neiman Marcus Dip

Neiman Marcus Dip

This chunky little dip packs a lot of flavor 
for having so few ingredients.
We're not sure why it is called Neiman Marcus Dip.
Maybe because it taste so "rich"...
Like a million bucks.
Whatever the is good!

 It just takes 5 ingredients.
Fresh green onions straight from the garden.
Thanks Jeanne!
Shredded cheddar cheese.
We love the little hand held grater from IKEA. 
It holds all of the cheese inside, 
then you can put it anywhere 
you want it...on the chopping board, 
straight in a casserole, or right in a bowl. 
Easy as can be.
Chop the onions.
Grate the cheese.
Then dump in the bacon bits,
 almonds, and mayonnaise.
Stir and refrigerate for a few hours
 so all of the flavors blend together.
 Now if you have picky onion haters in your family
 like we do in ours... 
 (You know who you are Amber & Cory) 
 then just leave out the onions.  
 Usually when we make it we stir everything together
 but the onions, set aside some for the haters,
 then throw the onions in and mix.

Neiman Marcus Dip
5 - 6 green onions
 8 oz. cheddar cheese, shredded
1 1/2 cups mayonnaise
1 jar Hormel Real Bacon Bits 
1 pkg. slivered almonds
Chop the green onions.
Shred the cheddar cheese.

Mix the onions, cheese, mayo, bacon bits,
 and slivered almonds together.
Chill for a couple hours.
Serve with Ritz crackers or corn chips.


Honey and Cinnamon to Cure Colds

DIY Wine Cork Magnets

DIY Cut wine corks in half, hot glue to magnet and now you have cute cork magnets
Photo: DIY Cut wine corks in half, hot glue to magnet and now you have cute cork magnets

This a great little extra for those homemade gift baskets!!

10 Ways to Make a Bad Day Better

10 Ways to Make a Bad Day Better

It is very likely that we have all had at least one day where the Universe seems to be conspiring against you, where you just feel kinda funky and everything else seems to be reflecting that same funkiness back to you and where your life feels like a personalized version of Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.

We don’t have control of most things that happen to us and around us, however, we can control how we react to these moments and days where life just seems to push back really, really hard. Do we react with intense emotion and frustration and then carry that negative juju with us all day long, letting it muddy-up everything else we do that day? Or, do we just accept the reality, recognizing that it is what it is and that there is nothing that we can do to change what happened so why should we allow it to doom the rest of our day to disaster?

I’ve tried both tactics, and from experience and a lot of days of toting negative juju over my shoulder, I can tell you that option B works so much better. No day is set to be a bad or a good day. Within every moment exists the opportunity to change…to change a mood, to shift a perspective to transform what feels like a really bad day into a rather good and sweet day. We get to choose what receives our energy. We get to choose how we want to direct that energy. We get to choose whether or not we react with anger and irritation or with kindness, compassion, joy and equanimity. So, maybe choose the reactions that feel better. Choose the reactions that are love. Always. Choose love. 

But, how do we turn that terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day into something that is…for lack of a better word…better? First, we change our minds. But sometimes it takes little more than just changing your mind. Other times we need to shake up it up a little bit. Here are 10 ways to shake it sweetly.

1. Hug it out.
There is nothing like a hug to just make things feel OK. One of the best things about a hug is that you really can’t get one without giving one back simultaneously. It’s a win-win. You give and you get. So, hug someone or something, your spouse, a friend, your lover, your pet, a parent, child, sibling, a stranger even. But don’t just hug for the sake of hugging, and please avoid the half-assed side-arm hug which just always leaves me feeling worse instead of better. Make it a hug that you are fully present for, a hug that you mean, a hug that matters.

2. Laugh.
Find something to laugh about. Call a friend that makes you laugh and maybe stroll down funny memory lane. Turn on a comedy or sitcom -- Modern Family is my go-to laughing source these days, seriously guaranteed laugh-lout-loud.

3. Make a Happy List. Write down the things that make you happy. It can be a list of anything….soy lattes, fluffy white bath towels, a gift of raw dark chocolate macaroons, wearing a sundress in San Francisco and still being hot, the extra 10 minute massage after a fresh pedicure, heating blankets, the smell of my face soap, Friday Night Lights…anything that brings you even the smallest dose of joy. Maybe even look back on the supposedly bad day and identify all of the good things that have been a part of it, too. This shifts my perspective right away and I realize that there is always a ton of good that just gets overshadowed by the bad sometimes.

4. Shake your groove thing. Turn on some music and dance. Dance like no one is watching or, if it’s your thing, dance like everyone is watching.

5. Take it outside. Growing up, when we inevitably started to get on each others’ nerves, my mom would tell us to “just go play outside.” I remember so vividly that the minute we hit the fresh air our collective mood would change. Fresh air can be so healing and so purifying. Even if it’s just for five minutes, step outside and sip in a big ol’ breath of fresh air deep down into your lungs.

6. Take three deep breaths. When we are stressed, frustrated, and anxious we are existing in our sympathetic nervous system where everything is heightened and we find ourselves on edge. Fortunately, all it takes to shift out of the sympathetic nervous system into the parasympathetic nervous system where we feel more balanced, calm and relaxed, is three deep breaths. Inhale slowly and fully and then exhale completely. Notice yourself begin to relax.

7. Sweat.
However you want to do it, sweat. Roll out your yoga mat, go for a run, take your dog for a vigorous walk, go to a kickboxing class, have a dance party, chop your own firewood, or do whatever you gotta do that feels right to you. Just get your heart rate up and get a good sweat on. Those positive endorphins can do some seriously good work on a bad mood.

8. Sing. Turn on that song that you love to sing along to and turn the music way up and just sing your heart out. Alicia Keys, Norah Jones, Adele, Anthony Hamilton and more country singers than I can mention have lifted me out of some pretty dark moments just by unknowingly allowing me to sing with them. Or, if you love to chant, chant your heart out. A little bit of Kali Durga Jai Jai Ma or the Gayatri Mantra and I am a new(er) person. Sing or chant without any worry or concern about how your voice sounds. Sing or chant as if you have the most beautiful voice in the world. If it’s a nice day and you feel like going for a drive, get in your car, roll your windows down and belt it out. Just sing, baby.

9. Practice a random act of kindness. Do something for someone else just because you can. No agenda. No expectation. Practice a random act of kindness without any attachment to the outcome. Even better, do it anonymously. This is like magic.

10. Pray. Know that you are not alone. Ever. Prayer is a powerful way to remember this.

Trouble Area Workout

Trouble Area Target Circuit: Do this workout to target your obliques, inner thighs and triceps.
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