health

Trying out The Whole 30

Paleo Diets have been the new big thing for a few years and may be singlehandedly keeping Pinterest in existence (can you look for any recipe on there without a Paleo one coming up? try it). Through an Instagram friend I came upon something that is the same, but different, called The Whole 30.

From what I can tell thus far (from reading the website, not the NYT BEST SELLER book) the main difference is in the details. For example, there are a number of specific chemical components (carageenan, MSG or sulfites) used in prepared foods that are to be avoided, but coffee and salt are allowed (not Paleo). The general idea of no refined sugar, grains, legumes, dairy, alcohol, processed foods, etc are the same.

Much to my dismay, the Whole 30 does stress the avoidance of the Paleo-type cheats that have been widely used (See: pinterest). As the site says:

Do not try to re-create baked goods, junk foods, or treats* with “approved” ingredients. Continuing to eat your old, unhealthy foods made with Whole30 ingredients is totally missing the point, and will tank your results faster than you can say “Paleo Pop-Tarts.” – See more at: http://whole30.com/whole30-program-rules/#sthash.tqhCuUVy.dpuf

They have a point. But I’ve been doing this for about 2 weeks now consistently, and I just have to have something sweet after dinner, so I’ve been whipping up a banana-ice cream (with almond butter) and YOU CAN’T CHANGE MY MIND ABOUT IT.

The idea I like about The Whole 30 is that it has an end time. It feels like a game to try to be getting to the finish line, instead of a diet, which feels more easily cheat-able with no end in site. And if I gain some knowledge and positive good habits along the way, SO BE IT!

So far I feel so great and less bloated without any dairy or grain. I also feel so much less crazy without any sugar. This isn’t new news, but I sure do feel the noticeable difference between having and not having sugar – when I don’t have any, I don’t crave it. But when I give in to those donuts in the office kitchen…. I want more the rest of the day. The addictive properties of sugar are no joke, and if you’ve never seen the segment on sugar from John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight, please do so.

Here’s one of my favorite recipes I’ve been whippin up on the reg since doing The Whole 30

FRITATTA

I’ve been making frittatas for ever but for some reason they’ve gotten more tasty in doing this eating plan (and as I get better at making them).

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They’re really easy, and can incorporate any vegetables you have. I usually use zucchini, tomato, peppers, kale, spinach… whatever I have around that can be roasted or sautéed. After preparing them, I beat 3 or 4 eggs (I WOULD throw in some parmesan cheese, but not on the Whole 30), and pour them over the veggies I’ve prepared in the same skillet.

Cook on low until the egg is solid and cooked, and you can flip it.

I’ve eaten this for breakfast, lunches, dinners… I usually make a big one and cut it in pieces for different meals!

Next recipe for the Whole 30 coming up later this week! Thanks for reading!

UPDATE: My Experimenting with Apple Cider Vinegar

A few posts ago I declared my suspicions about the BFD with raw apple cider vinegar. I really wanted to understand what all the hype was about, so I decided to try it out (consistently) for myself.

Many of the recipes and recommendations I was reading suggested consuming it in some form every day, sometimes multiple times a day. I could not do that. It definitely got easier to drink over time, but every day was too much for me.

Instead I focused on using it three (sometimes four) days a week for the last month – either taking a shot of it mixed with water and juice, or using it on a salad.

MY RESULTS (thus far)

  • I can not confirm or deny any effects on my immune system, thus far. I haven’t gotten sick, but it’s also summer and I normally would not be getting sick.
  • I can however confirm there may be a slight change in my skin and breakouts. As I’ve mentioned many times I suffer from (really AWFUL) hormonal breakouts that have never been an issue in my life before the past few years. I am willing to try anything and everything, but it’s hard because I also have sensitive skin. The inside out approach (as I’ve mentioned before from reading Eat Pretty) has been especially helpful, including ACV. My usual breakout at that-time-of-the-month was not as severe as I’ve come to expect (though this could also be because of other dietary changes as well). I also really liked using the ACV-based toner recipe I mentioned in my previous post!
  • I will say I think the ACV has helped in my digestion, and although it may have been a placebo effect, the ACV did assist in my feeling fuller, quicker, when consumed before a meal.
  • Also felt like consuming it before a meal helped in my mood and energy (and possibly slight weightloss too!
  • I would say it assisted in “detoxing,” (remember, when people tell you they are on a detox, it usually just means they are pooping a lot).

I did not try using ACV as a hair cleanser, so I can not speak to that. And overall I liked the results, and I think had I been consuming and using it every day my results probably would have been even better. I think I will continue using it  the way I have thus far though.

Anyone else have results like these from consuming apple cider vinegar consistently? Better, or worse than my experiment?

Thanks for reading!

Returning Beauty Products

Racked has done a great recap of places you can return beauty products. I feel like I am constantly buying and trying new items for beauty and skin care, but in the last few years I’ve definitely made a point of shopping at stores where I can return if I want to. They’re so expensive it’s downright crazy to buy something anywhere where you can’t easily take that $40 cellulite-fixing-lotion that never works, back.

http://racked.com/archives/2014/07/11/beauty-return-policies.php

All I know is I have a full basket from my Body Shop phase that I am definitely cashing in on ASAP.

The only additions I would like to make to the list, from experience, is somehow there is no mention of Target?? Target takes back EVERYTHING – used, unused, opened, unopened. If you have the receipt or it was purchased on your Target card and they can look it up, you can get the money back. If not, you’ll likely get a store credit (which in my case might as well be actual cash anyway). And did I mention they take an-y-thing?

And second, Sephora will also take back anything, even if it’s used, and even without a receipt. They will just give you store credit (which again, in my case, might as well be cash)

 

Happy returning! Thanks for reading!

When Chocolate Attacks

Despite my love and adoration for the wondrous and delicious substance that is chocolate (of the dark or milk variety, I’ll take it basically however I can get it), I have to admit, to the world and to myself, it really doesn’t love me. My relationship with chocolate is much like that of an immature or borderline abusive boyfriend, in that he keeps screwing me up, and I still keep taking him back when I’m at my weakest (dark, I know, but it’s the truth!!).

Of course I’m referring to the effects of chocolate on my skin. I don’t know what happened in the last few years, but suddenly, I can’t enjoy half a Snickers bar (who the am I kidding, I mean a whole, king size Snickers) without some kind of blemish, breakout, or single zit right in the middle of my forehead within 24 hours. I keep blaming my hormonal breakouts on the fact that I am at “baby making age” and my body is a little out of wack. But in reality it probably has more to do with what I’m putting in my body, like when I can’t resist bingeing on my secret stash of stress-chocolate in my desk at work.

Sometimes the things we love, hurt us. I’ve learned this the hard way, and I’ve been searching for the products to remedy this as best I can for my sensitive/combination skin, and this time from the outside (for the inside, see my mention of the lovely book “Eat Pretty,” in a previous post). Here are some of my favorite items that have helped me keep my chocolate abuse off my face.

1. Boots No. 7 – Beautiful Skin, Rapid Spot Rescue

I bought this stuff completely on whim because it was on clearance at Target one day, and I’ve been using it almost nightly, since. Usually I don’t believe that any “spot treatments” really work, but this one has proved me completely wrong .When using at night I’ve seen a very visible difference in the morning, and it’s an awesome feeling to have something that I know will work in my arsenal.

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2. Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Peel pads

I know what you’re thinking – “those are a lot of intimidating words for one product name.” You’re not wrong, ALPHA BETA PEEL? My skin is red, blotchy and dry just hearing those words. But trust me, they are just words, and a “peel” does not mean your skin will be sliding off of your face. I have the most sensitive skin you can ever find, EVERYTHING makes me break out, but not these. The first pad has helped smooth, refine pores, and clear up my skin, and the second pad helps moisturize. I even have mild rosecea from time to time and this has help calm that, not enhance it in any way. They do smell chemical-y, so trust me I’m as surprised as you are about how gentle they really are. I use one or two a week when I’m looking less glow-y and dull than I should! If you don’t believe me, read the reviews for these at the Sephora link above. They’re expensive, but boy are they worth it.

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3. Josie Maran Argan Milk – Moisturizer

After all the drying up of skin and pimples using the aforementioned products, I usually need a bit of moisture. I was given a small sample bottle of this, and really wanted to hate it so that I wasn’t compelled to buy the full size. But I have to say – it does everything it says it will for my skin. I’ve seen Josie talk about her products on QVC a few times and she’s very convincing, but I have not had nearly the success with the actual Argan oils, as I have with this product and the whipped Argan oil lotions. Both are hydrating, healing, and create the exact dewy effect they promise. The Argan Milk has minimized my pores, helped clear break outs and helped fade scars, in just a few days I’ve seen such a nominal difference. The Whipped lotion has done the same for the rest of my body but especially calmed a patch of eczema on my thigh. For someone like me, who breaks out from EVERYTHING, these have both been a real godsend.

What products do are you swearing by right now?? Let me know, I’ll probably want to try that too!

Thanks for reading!

GOOP Detox

Let me preface this by saying I am by no means a big fan of Gwyneth Paltrow. Before actually perusing her website/blog GOOP, I’d only heard very pompous sounding excerpts from the it in other stories, or articles criticizing GOOP, and I thought “ugh, another celebrity who thinks they should be giving the general public health and lifestyle information. As if the privileges their lives afford them are in any way comparable to my life…”

BUT I actually gave it a chance when stumbling upon it again, and I have to say, I don’t hate it (insert the monkey covering it’s mouth emoji).

Take a look at this link below, to a detox she discusses doing (and provides “doctor” information for) around the dead of winter. Lately I’ve been overindulging and was looking for a healthy way to feel a little bit cleansed, and these light, simple, and somewhat nutritious recipes will definitely do the trick over starving myself with juices. Even if I don’t follow the plans exactly, the recipes like the carrot ginger dressing, and the broccoli arugula soup sound good enough to eat any time.

http://www.goop.com/journal/make/15/detox

Let me know what you think, or if you’re a regular GOOP-er!

What’s the BFD with ACV?

acv

Amongst the blogs, twitters, and instagrams I follow that discuss health stuff, the health benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar repeatedly comes up. I’ve read countless articles, and most of them say that either by ingesting or using topically, RAW Apple Cider Vinegar will do any of the following:

  • clear your skin
  • boost your immunity
  • clean your hair
  • help you “detox”
  • help you lose weight
  • give you energy
  • enhance your mood
  • save the whales

But my question is, has anyone actually seen these benefits first hand? It’s easy to write a blog post echoing a study that you think someone did once, or repeat information you read somewhere else that you think works. But what about some hard investigative reporting where said blogger follows up  with what they find out?

Look no further my MANY (few) followers, I am here. I am going to put a few of the Raw Apple Cider Vinegar recipes I’ve found to the test, and let you know what kind of results I get. Currently I could stand to lose a few ten pounds, as well as could do ANYTHING to clear my chin acne, and both of those things already bring down my mood, so I would be happy to see any of that eradicated. Also, I am definitely going to drink it before lunch and see the effect it has on my “afternoon slump” at work. Here are the few recipes I found if you’d like to play along:

ACV based vinaigrette – from Refinery 29

Any of these great juices – from The Healthy Honeys

Or these juice recipes

and This ACV and Aspirin toner

Also in everything I’ve seen, it’s important to use RAW Apple Cider Vinegar, such as Bragg’s, which is available at Target!

If anyone has truly done these before, please let me know your experiences or how you prefer to take it! I’ll take all the advice I can get. 

Thanks for reading!

 

 

Cold Brew Coffee – my summer savior

When I wake up every morning dreading the slow crawl from my bed, to the gym, to the job I hate, there is one thing that reminds me “YOU CAN DO THIS, DON’T BE A WUSS.” And no, it’s not the fear of disappointing my family and friends, and it’s not the alternative of no longer having a steady paycheck. No my readers, the thing that’s getting me out of bed and reminding me to seize the day no matter the circumstances – my own cold brewed coffee.

I know you’re thinking “coffee is coffee, there’s not coffee so good that it’s reminding you you want to live,” and to that I say NAY. If you love iced coffee like I do, the ability to have it already made and in my veins before getting to my desk makes all the difference in the morning. And making the iced coffee just like your favorite coffee shop does is so much easier than you think, not to mention so much more flavorful and stronger, when it’s not heated.

There are two ways to separate the grounds in cold brewing, either with a french press (which I use) or with a large tea bag like material that can soak grounds in water. So far I prefer the french press, so here are all the other VERY simple details to wake up your summer mornings.

– You can use completely normal grounds that you would buy in any store for any coffee you would make. Try to find course grounds. These have always worked better for me in the quality of the final product, as well as in the least amount of grounds that are left over in what I am drinking.

– Use 2 cups of grounds to every 4 cups water, in a large pitcher. Use 3 : 4 if you want a REALLY strong brew. Sometimes I will also add some spices like cinnamon or nutmeg to the grounds beforehand.

– Stir the grounds and water around a bit, and let sit overnight in the fridge. I like to have it sit for anywhere from 9 – 11 hours.

– Use the french press to separate the grounds from the coffee – pour the mix in into the press, and push the plunger down. The pour what is separated into a separate container or my preference, mason jar.

– Add your regular coffee accoutrements and enjoy! You’ll notice how much less bitter your coffee is, how many more subtle flavors you can taste, and how you might need less of what you’d normally use to mix (milk, creamer..) because the flavor will be stronger.

 

Let me know how this goes, or how you make your cold brew coffee! Thanks for reading!