Tuesday, February 26, 2013

CALM BEFORE THE STORM

     Toronto is calling for another snow storm and whether or not it happens it is always great to be prepared, even mentally. Snow storms can be stressful especially for those who need to commute to work or for those who simply just need to leave the house.
      I decided that it would be a great idea to have a spa night at home, the calm before the potential storm. I wanted to try something new, something to add to the peaceful music and lavender scented oils. Tonight is all about the healing powers of steam. Steam has been used as a therapeutic treatment for centuries and is a great tool for relaxation and detoxification. 
       Yes, I could travel to a spa and pay a good buck to have a wonderful treatment, or I could stay cozy at home, save money and relax in my own space. At spas there are steam rooms which are awesome for your entire body and really help detox you as a whole. At home it is easy to steam your face with a few simple tools and ingredients. You can steam your face with just water, but research shows that there are many more benefits to steaming with herbs such as camomile and sage or even green tea. I have a wonderful Organic Detox Green Tea from “David’s Tea” which I will use tonight.


Benefits of Steaming with Green Tea
- balances complexion                      
- clears away clogged pores
- hydrates skin tissue
- helps prevent UV damage
- increases immune function of skin
TOOLS 
- large glass bowl
- kettle
- 5 cups water
- 2 tbsp of Organic Detox Green Tea
- 1 large towel
- 1 face cloth 

STEPS TO STEAM 
1. Boil approximately 5 cups of water in the kettle.
2. Pour boiled water into glass bowl and add green tea.
3. Hover your face 5-6 inches above the bowl and drape the large towel over your head.
4. Relax for 5-10 minutes.
5. After steaming, blot your face with face cloth.
6. Apply natural moisturizer, coconut oil or argan oil to nourish your skin.

* If you have sensitive skin then hold your face a couple inches higher and steam closer to five minutes.


References:
1. Alive – Canada’s natural health and wellness magazine – February 2013 issue.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

FOR THE LOVE OF WHEATGRASS

      I received a Eco-Culture kit from my boyfriends parents for Christmas, what an awesome gift! This gift added some living greens to my condo and continues to give me a daily dose of nutrients. Simply add some wheatgrass to your morning smoothie and you will reap many benefits.


BENEFITS OF WHEATGRASS
- high is vitamins (A, B-Complex, C, K) 
- high in cholorphyll
- source of beta-carotene 
- removes toxins from the body 
- boosts immune system 
- lowers blood pressure
- alkalizes the blood
- breath freshener
- lessens effects of radiation
- promotes youthfulness
- increases red blood cell count
- fights tumors
- cleansing

WHEATGRASS
COMPLETE PACKAGE
ECO-COIR
 
Day  5 - grass starting to show
 Day 6
 Day 7
 Day 8
 Day 9
SNIP GRASS AND ADD TO SMOOTHIE---
GRASS WILL CONTINUE TO GROW FOR MORE SMOOTHIES :)

*Order your own Eco-Culture Growing Kit*

References:
1) www.hippocratesinst.org
2) www.seracon.ca 

Monday, February 11, 2013

TAMPON TALK

       I will assume all readers know what a tampon is, what it is used for and where it goes. You may or may not be aware that the majority of tampons on the market contain chemicals, and if you know where tampons go then you know where the chemicals are going too.
      Unfortunately we live in a world where we need to research and look for healthier options because $$$, success and convenience just seem to be more important than our environment and our health. I have done my research and whether or not all of the research I read is 100% true, one thing is for sure, the more natural ingredients in a product, the healthier the product is. When I say 'natural' I mean earth grown, unprocessed and naturally safe for the body. 
      After reading a few articles on the process of making tampons and the chemicals used to make tampons I concluded that I will stick with the brand I have been using for a few months, Natracare.  Natracare tampons are "healthier by nature" because they contain one ingredient, 100% organic cotton. This cotton is chlorine free and perfume free.
       "Natracare was developed as a direct response to health and environmental concerns about dioxin pollution caused by chlorine bleaching, the use of rayon in tampons, and the extensive use of pesticides on conventionally grown cotton. Since 1989, natracare has been trusted by women seeking a chemical-free choice in tampons, pads, panty liners and wipes. Natracare Organic cotton tampons and chemical free pads are high quality products made from only pure and natural materials that are not chlorine bleached and are free of plastics and other similar synthetic materials that have a negative impact on your environment."
       "Out of respect for all living things, Natracare products do not contain any animal ingredients or raw materials processed with any animal products. Neither the raw materials nor the finished products are ever tested on non-human animals. All Natracare products are suitable for vegans and people of Faith whose teachings respect animals as sentient beings."  (http://www.natracare.com/p129/en-GB/Your-Health/Animal-Testing/Animal-free-vegan.aspx)

Search more Natracare products, find where to buy them and learn more about what they stand for at Natracare.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

TOXIC NAILS? NO THANKS!

      Nothing feels better than taking care of yourself, looking good and feeling great. When we are at our best it is much easier to become more selfless and reach out a hand to others. I know most women and I am sure some men would agree that having healthy, well groomed nails can simply add to that confidence and help us to feel great about ourselves. 
    I remember for many years I would brighten up a gloomy day by going to a nail salon and either getting a mani and pedi, a polish change or even a set of fake nails. Looking back I now realize that I was going to a place where chemicals were used to make my nails look better but really what they were doing was making them unnatural and unhealthy. At the same time I was inhaling toxic fumes for the 30 to 60 minutes that I sat in those awesome massage chairs that just seems to take my mind off of the horrible fumesThat was then, and now I am grateful to be aware of healthier options to colourful nails.
      I first searched for vegan nail polishes, and surprisingly there are many well known nail polish companies that do not use animal products or do testing on animals. That made me smile :) However, many of these companies still use chemicals in their nail care products that are not necessary and certainly not healthy. I believe that everything put on our body is absorbed or in the least has an effect on our bodies. Just think about it, why is it that pregnant women should not paint their nails? Toluene and Dibutyl Phtalates (DBP) are chemicals found in nail polish that are toxic specifically to a developing fetus and can cause birth defects. These two chemicals can also result in many negative side effects such as short term memory loss and headaches.  The third of the "toxic trio" chemicals in nail polish is Formaldehyde which has been linked to cancer, asthma and skin problems
    I believe that the healthiest nails are nail polish free, but I also like to change it up once in a while and add some colour. Do not be sad, there are safe options to colourful nails. Suncoat is a company that makes water-based nail polishes and is claimed to be the number one long-lasting and quick-drying water-based nail polish on the market. This company is not a vegan company but does have various shades of polish that are vegan and none of their products are tested on animals. Suncoat nail polish is not 100% natural it is said to be the most natural polish on the market and it does not contain any of the 'toxic trio' chemicals. 



Check out the list of Suncoat nail polishes by clicking on the link below. When you get to the site click on 'products' and then 'nail polish' and you will see an entire list of polishes and it will clarify which ones are vegan. You can purchase Suncoat polishes at most health food stores in Canada.
http://www.suncoatproducts.com/ 


Reference
1) http://veganclaws.com/vegan-nail-polish-resource/
2) http://www.sfgate.com/health/article/Study-finds-hazardous-chemicals-in-some-nail-3472582.php  
3) http://www.suncoatproducts.com/ 

Friday, February 8, 2013

SNOW WHITE'S SECRET, REVEALED

     The Evil Queen constantly asked her magic mirror, "Mirror, mirror on the wall. Who is the fairest of them all?" She always got the same answer, Snow White. Filled with rage she was determined to get rid of Snow White once and for all. I always wondered, why didn't she just ask her for her secret to such beauty? You see, the Evil Queen was bitter because her skin was old, wrinkly and dry from many years of living through icy and cold winter months. All she really needed to do was ask Snow White her skin care routine and I am sure that with proper care, her skin would have healed itself, as for her heart, I would have offered her "A Return to Love". :P
     Yesterday morning I was in my condo gym listening to Chum FM. They had a guest on their morning show, a plastic surgeon, Dr. Frank Lista. Dr. Lista was asked questions about skin care in the winter months and how to keep your skin healthy and young. He spoke about the importance of moisturizing and wearing sunscreen no matter how many clouds are in the sky. Our skin needs extra attention and care in the long winter months and it is up to us to take action.
      Just because it is winter does not mean your skin cannot have a healthy glow. It is common for skin to get really dry in the winter and lucky for you I had a few words with Snow White and she decided to share some of her skin care secrets.


1) Drink more water
Keeping your body hydrated allows for your skin to be hydrated as well. The more hydrated your skin the less likely it will become dry. Makes sense right?

2) Exfoliate
When exfoliating your skin you are simply removing the dead cells from the surface of your skin which will then allow the live cells beneath to be revealed. There are different methods of exfoliating to use depending on your skin type so make sure to do some research on the best way to exfoliate your skin. Also, be careful not to exfoliate too often, research says 2-3 times a week. I exfoliate a little more often but I also make sure that I follow step 3 right after.
Key Lime Body Scrub
This product is amazing! When I do not use my usual body wash with my scrubby scrub I use this body scrub instead. I use it a couple times a week, usually when I am in a rush.  This body scrub is amazing because it exfoliates and hydrates all at the same time. When I use this scrub there is no need to lather my body in creams or oils afterwards.


Nourishing Carrot Facial Scrub 

This facial scrub is wonderful because it exfoliates and nourishes the skin at the same time. It is gentle on the skin and therefore is great for sensitive skin.

3) Hydrate
Hydrate your skin with chemical free, organic creams and oils. For my face I use 100% pure products because they are 100% natural and 100% vegan. I use the Organic Rose Hydrosol to hydrate my skin and the Organic Argon Oil to nourish my skin.

 Coconut Oil
There are so many benefits to using and eating coconut oil. Coconut oil is a great alternative to creams and does an excellent job at nourishing skin and even hair. Coconut oil is said to delay the wrinkling and sagging of skin. It is also a great massage oil. ;)

4) Sunscreen

Dr. Frank Lista stressed the importance of wearing sunscreen on your face in the winter, even when the sun is hiding behind the clouds. He said the the UVA and UVB rays get through the clouds easily and reflect off everything so even if you are wearing a hat it can the damage can still be done. 100% pure foundation contains SPF protection along with many other makeup companies, therefore no excuses.

     I am sure there are many other ways to help keep your skin healthy through the winter months so start by following these four easy steps and then continue to do some research and take care of your beautiful skin because we all deserve to look as healthy and glowing as a cartoon character :P

Thursday, February 7, 2013

A RETURN TO LOVE

     With Valentine's Day coming up I thought it would be suitable to share about one of my absolute favourite books --- "A Return to Love" by Marianne Williamson.  In this book Marianne shares her thoughts and insights about love and inner peace as she reflects on A Course In Miracles
     "Williamson reveals how we each can become a miracle worker by accepting God and by the expression of love in our daily lives. Whether our psychic pain is in the area of relationships, career, or health, she shows us how love is a potent force, the key to inner peace, and how by practicing love we can make our own lives more fulfilling while creating a more peaceful and love world for our children." (book cover)
     Marianne Williamson was far from God in her youth, she did not understand how such a loving God could let so many bad things happen. She partied hard and claims to have been 'lost' for most of her adolescence. "I sank deeper and deeper into my own neurotic patterns, seeking relief in food, drugs, people, or whatever else I could find to distract me from myself." (pg.xv) Her life changed for the better after reading "A Course in Miracles".
     I read this book while going through a difficult time in my life. I underlined many great quotes from the book and continue to read them over when I feel like I need a reminder of what is truly important in this life, love. 
 A few of my favourite quotes:

"Meaning doesn't lie in things. Meaning lies in us. When we attach value to things that aren't love--the money, the car, the house, the prestige -- we are loving things that can't love us back. We are searching for meaning in the meaningless." (pg. xxii)

"In any moment when we choose fear instead of love, we deny ourselves the experience of Paradise." (pg. 36)

"We either have faith in fear or we have faith in love, faith in the power of the world or faith in the power of God." (pg. 54)

"..when we thing we have things already figured out, we're not teachable." (pg. 59)

"The ego bases its perception of reality on what has happened in the past, carries those perceptions into the present and thus create a future like the past." (pg. 73)

"When you meet anyone, remember it is a holy encounter. As you see him, you will see yourself. As you treat him, you will treat yourself. As you think of him, you will think of yourself. Never forget this, for in him you will find yourself or lose yourself." (pg. 91)

"Forgiveness is the key to inner peace because it is the mental technique by which our thoughts are transformed from fear to love." (pg. 93)

      I could go on and on with these quotes, but instead I will simply recommend reading the book. This book helps to heal the mind, it refocuses our minds back to our innate ability to love from our worldly-learned need to fear. This book is a great gift idea for Valentine's Day, for yourself or for a loved one.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

ACIDIC VS ALKALINE


     The SAD (Standard American Diet) is high in acidic foods. A pH of 7.4 is the normal pH level for humans and it is slightly alkaline. A pH of 7 is neutral, below 7 is acidic and above 7 is alkaline. Since our bodies are naturally supposed to be at a slight alkaline level it is important to consider avoiding highly acidic foods. I will list highly alkaline foods as well as highly acidic foods. Keep in mind there are many moderate and mildly alkaline and acidic foods that I will not be mentioning. I am listing the highly acidic foods to avoid and the highly alkaline foods to eat more of.


HIGHLY ACIDIC                         HIGHLY ALKALINE 

- alcohol                                                 - himalayan salt
- coffee                                                  - grasses
- black tea                                              - cucumber
- fruit juice, sweetened                          - kale
- cocoa                                                   - kelp
- honey                                                   - spinach
- jam                                                       - parsley
- mustard                                                - broccoli
- miso                                                     - sprouts
- rice syrup                                            - sea vegetables
- soy sauce        
- vinegar
- yeast
- dried fruit
- beef
- chicken
- eggs 
- fish
- pork
- shellfish
- cheese
- dairy
- artificial sweetners
- syrup
- mushroom                                                           

     It is important for the body to be in balance, at a pH of 7.4. Therefore it is not healthy only to eat alkaline foods. As I mentioned there are many mild-moderate acidic foods that can be eaten that will not create so much acidity in your body. Some examples are black beans, brown rice, mango and many other fruits. When our bodies have a pH of below 7 we are at risk for mood disorders, cardiovascular disease, obesity and many other diseases. Eat your greens :D 

References:
1) livestrong.com 
2) energiseforlife.com

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

SHAKE IT UP!

        My new favourite snack is the easiest to pack! Simply scoop, dump, add water, shake... drink! VEGA has an awesome nutritional shake that is a delicious and nutritious snack option. My favourite flavour is the newest flavour of the bunch, French Vanilla. Other flavours include, Berry, Chocolate and Vanilla Chai. I was lucky enough to get a free sample of all the flavours at my local health food store the other day. This was a great way to choose which flavour would be the lucky winner and get to come home with me. VEGA understands that you would want to try out the flavours before spending money on a large amount and so there are individuals packs of one serving that you can purchase to try out. 
      Each scoop contains an assortment of vitamins and minerals as well as 15g of protein, 1.5g of Omega-3, 6g of fiber, 1 billion probiotics, 3 servings of greens and plenty of antioxidants. This snack is 135 calories and can be mixed with other ingredients such as nut milks, nut butters and/or fruit to have a super nutrient dense snack. 
***DAIRY, GLUTEN & SOY FREE, NO SUGAR ADDED***
 FRENCH VANILLA & BERRY :)
 THE GOODS INSIDE
When I feel like chewing instead of drinking :P 

"Not only can a plant-based diet provide your body with all the protein you need, without all the things it doesn't---like the hormones, antibiotics, and steroids commonly found in animal proteins --- it also comes with a host of side benefits, too! Easier to digest, low in saturated fat, alkaline-forming and much better for the environment, you can build dinner--and muscle--around satisfying and delicious plant-based proteins.
- Brendan Brazier (visionary and formulator of VEGA)

     I have added a link to the VEGA website on the right hand side of my blog under "Vegan Websites". VEGA has also launched a new website called THRIVE FORWARD which I have also made a link for. This website allows you to sign up for free and have your own personalized online program to help you THRIVE FORWARD by educating you on eating healthy and an having an active lifestyle.

Monday, February 4, 2013

ORAL HEALTH- PART 3

     Most gum brands on the market are filled with sugar, caffeine and man-made chemicals. Many people quickly turn to sugarless gum which usually contains aspartame. Studies have shown that aspartame can be toxic, increase hunger and long-term use of it has been linked to cancer, diabetes, birth defects and neurological disorders.  At this point in my life, if something does not grow on a tree or come from nature itself, I tend to question it. Man has the general tendency to screw with everything natural (put nicely), make it harmful in some way and then charge money for it. No one likes stinky breath so here are some healthy, natural alternatives to gum.

1) Parsley & Mint Leaves- Two lovely herbs that are known to freshen the breath. Simply chew and feel free to swallow to get some extra healthy greens in your diet. 

2) Fennel Seeds - These tiny seeds contain an essential oil that has antibacterial properties and can help cover up the smell of previously eaten food.

3) Licorice Root - This alternative is more for people who like to chew. Licorice root has many health benefits and can also help freshen breath. 

4) Water - Drink more water! Having a dry mouth could be the reason why your breath is bad. Water helps to stimulate the salivary glands in your mouth which help fight bacteria.  

5) Green Tea - Green tea as well as black tea is said to contain chemicals that prevent the growth of bacteria. 

6) Cardamom - This spice contains an antiseptic that kills bacteria and helps get rid of bad breath. Just chewing on a few seeds can do the trick.  

     Still want gum? My favourite vegan gum is Pur gum. It comes in many flavours, is aspartame free, GMO free, and diabetic friendly. This gum can be found at most health food stores and is worth the few extra cents. Tight on money? It would cost the exact same or less if you had half a piece of gum at a time. Healthier and no extra cost.

References: 
1) Dr. Ben Kim - http://drbenkim.com/articles-gum.html
2) http://health.yahoo.net/articles/oral-care/photos/8-ways-beat-bad-breath#1

Sunday, February 3, 2013

ORAL HEALTH- PART 2

     I am happy to say that people always notice and compliment my white smile. I am delighted to share how I get my pearly whites to stay so white :) Up until a few months ago I always used Crest White Strips and for many years Crest or Colgate toothpaste. When I learned more about animal testing I decided to find an alternative. Besides the animal testing done for many toothpastes, there are also unnecessary chemicals found in most toothpastes. Tom's toothpaste is what I found when I searched for a healthy toothpaste that is made from a company that loves animals. 

WHY TOM'S?
* No animal testing or animal ingredients.
* No artificial colours, flavours or preservatives.
* Share the ingredients they use, its purpose and its source.
* Sustainable practices are a priority with an emphasis on recycling.
* 10% of profits go to human and environmental goodness.      



     Maybe the thought of not eating animals freaks you out, or you believe that your diet is at its best with animal products in it, BUT at the same time you cannot stand how animals are mistreated, used and abused, tested on and killed. Switching over to products that do not test on animals is one way that YOU CAN HELP them. Just because you cannot give up your steak does not mean that you cannot help stop the suffering of animals in any form. 

YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE & GET A WHITER SMILE AT THE SAME TIME :D  

**Check out the new link to Tom's on the main page of my blog**  

Saturday, February 2, 2013

ORAL HEALTH - PART 1

     I recently bought a tongue scraper after hearing and reading about all the benefits. At first I read that they can only be ordered online but I came across a few in a health food store so BAM, I bought one for me and my man. I will not go into the gory details of how well this tool works, but trust me it does and I highly recommend everyone to at least try it out. Once you see what you remove from your tongue you will be glad you invested in one. (costs no more than $10) Oral health is so important and has a huge impact on ones overall health. So keep clean and scrape away! 


BENEFITS OF A TONGUE SCRAPER
- treats Halitosis (bad breath) 
- prevents reabsorption of toxins
- removes bacteria and fungi  
- strengthens taste buds
- aids in digestion
- revitalizes the throat and keeps the sinuses clear

*FUN FACT*
Tongue scrapers have been used since ancient times in Russia and India. (Wikipedia)

Friday, February 1, 2013

FRESH FACED

     ***I LOVE 100% PURE *** I have posted some of the products I have purchased from this company before, and everything I have purchased I adore. From makeup to skincare and an assortment of gift sets this company uses 100% pure ingredients and is 100% animal friendly :) All of their products are free of any synthetic chemicals, artificial fragrances, alcohol, preservatives and any other toxins. My mascara smells like coffee, I have to constantly tell myself not to eat it :P This company is also great at offering free shipping when spending a reasonable amount and often, if not always, gives a free gift with purchase. 

    
 I recently ordered this skincare package and I am over the top impressed with the way these products work wonders on my skin. 

Organic Rose Hydrosol: "This hydrating rose water is made from the collection of steam while producing pur organic rose essential oil. Instantly hydrates and soothes, this anti-inflammatory organic rose water has all the medicinal and therapeutic properties of organic rose essential oil."

Organic Argon Oil: "100% Pure Organic Argon Oil is rick in vitamin E, phenols, carotenes, squalene and essential fatty acids to deeply moisturize, nourish, soften and repair. Argon Oil's restorative nutrients are beneficial for all over your skin, including lightly around your eyes, your decollete, hands, hair and everywhere else."

Cucumber Juice Cleaner: "Richly foaming facial cleanser soothes and hydrates the skin with cucumber juice, rose hydrosol, green tea and calendula while washing away impurities." I have gone through many cleansers in my life, and this is by far my favourite!

Nourishing Carrot Facial Scrub: "Hydrating and nourishing facial scrub made with cucumber juice, carrot seed oil, tomato powder and avocado butter to make your complexion incredibly smooth and soft! Soothing calendula, jasmine green tea and aloe replenishes and calms the skin. Packed with anti-aging antioxidants and vitamins" 

     I used to use many harsh chemicals on my skin in hopes of having clearer skin. This set was at least $30 cheaper than Proactiv and other sets I have tried, and it is full of love and pure ingredients. What more could you want for your skin? My skin has never looked for felt healthier :) Check out the link to the official 100% Pure website on my homepage under "Vegan Websites"

What did I get free with my purchase? 502ml of body wash and  a scrubby scrub :)
 Cabernet Grape Hydrating Body Wash: "Hydrating body wash leaves you sparkling clean and refreshed while nourishing your skin with vitamins, antioxidants and skins brightening fruits."