Grocery Shopping – You’re Doing It Wrong

As adults, we look back at our schoolhood days and realize that there were so many practical things that our education should have taught us about the world. Rather than being taught about how to formulate a quadratic equation or an obscure battle in history fueled by the male ego, we should’ve also been taught about budgeting, the loan process, and I dont know, maybe how to properly nourish ourselves.

Once upon a time during my personal journey learning about nutrition, I came across an article about how to shop at a grocery store. It threw me off guard for a moment. I mean, you just go in and buy food right? How hard is that? But there is actually a strategy to it. Its been said that you should only utilize the outer aisles of the grocery store because that’s where the freshest food is. Think about it. The foods on the outside are dairy, meat, and produce. Everything that is highly processed lies in the inner aisles. When you think about it, it makes sense.

That information is still mostly true today, but as health and wellness are on the rise in America, there are loads more healthy options in the mix making shopping throughout all aisles more available, but a bit more tedious. Products practically scream at you from the shelves. “Hey you, yeah you! I’M FAT FREE!” “Don’t listen to him, I am ZERO SUGAR! Yeah, you like that, huh?” “Buy me! I’m ALL NATURAL! Who really knows what that means, but its the mystery and assumption that make it all the more fun!While these things may be true about a product, the target audience is the misinformed.

  • Fat Free: You need fat to fuel your body. Eating fat doesn’t make you fat.
  • Zero Sugar: Even though there is no white sugar, there tends to be sugar alternatives and alcohols.
  • All Natural: This itself is a vague and enigmatic term. A CNN article called “What are natural flavors, really?” states that a product may list “blueberry flavoring”, but that doesn’t mean it comes from actual blueberries. It’s most probable origin is a chemical found in a laboratory.

That is just a sampling of how ingredients may read on any given item and with a grocery store having thousands and thousands of products, the process of eating healthier and cleaner is a bit overwhelming.

But alas, not all hope is lost! There are couple key things to keep in mind that will make the experience less daunting.

#1 – FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THINGS HOLY, YOU NEED TO READ THE INGREDIENTS. I have wrote about this in the past so I wont reiterate much of it, but you can view the full post here. Here is an example: wasabi peas. Yes, it is a processed snack which shouldn’t be a prominent food source in your diet, but I would like to note marketing at its finest. At first glance, they don’t look that bad. Note the disclaimers on the front, their name, and also the coloring of the packaging. It seems like a healthy snack. They’re peas. They’re green, and they’re vegan!

Nowadays, almost everything makes sure that things like “vegan”, “gluten free”, “zero fat”, etc. are front and center. Companies know that these are food concerns for the general public, so they take the thinking out of it for you. They choose words and packaging colors that ALLUDE to health, but you need to read the ingredients.

The ingredients for this item lists: soy bean oil, two types of corn startch, sugar, glucose and artificial colors among other things. In summary, soybean oil is processed with chemicals, bleachers and deodorizers. Corn starch is linked to weight gain, high blood pressure, pregnancy complications, and more. It is also where glucose and fructose come from. The source of sugar is unlisted and it most likely bleached white sugar. For the last ingredient, I present to you this:

Artificial colors are made from petroleum and kids tend to be the most sensitive. They are mostly found in candy and commercial cereals so they are targeted more exclusively. Also, if you grow up eating these sweet treats, you are more likely to continue buying them as an adult. A customer for life. More information can be found here and here.

#2 – Mostly shop the Perimeter. Referring back to the map I posted earlier, sticking to the perimeter of a store is where you’ll find predominantly whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, eggs, land and sea meats. Just beware of the processed/cross merchandised items. Also, while things like rice, quinoa, beans, oats, etc. are found in the “land of the forbidden”, by reading the ingredients list, you can easily avoid consuming things that take turn a healthy food not-so-healthy. A side note: buying frozen fruits and veggies are a great alternative if your produce has already rotted by the time you typically get to it.

Below is an off-handed list of things I buy when I’m shopping (I still have to read the ingredients before they go in my cart, they’re sneaky bastards):

  • Ice cream alternative: frozen bananas with cinnamon, flax/chia seeds and honey sprinkled over it
  • Pasta brand: Ancient Harvest or Barilla lentil pasta
  • Snack option: Pita, hummus, and olive/sautéed veggie mix
  • Frozen brussel sprouts or broccoli with balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Also peas with grass fed butter and Frank’s hot sauce
  • Mini carrots with balsamic vinegar and olive oil.
  • Butter – Kate’s butter or any grass-fed butter
  • Eggs – look for FREE RANGE -if you have the brand, choose Nellie’s.
  • Snack option: Vermont Village apple sauce. Mott’s is packed with high fructose corn syrup whereas Vermont Village brand has no additives.

When you eat whole, nutritious foods, you don’t really have to worry about how much you’re eating. There is less stress. Of course, if you overeat and stuff your face every-day-all-day in general, you’ll still gain weight. The cool thing about eating this way it that, as you fuel your body with legitimately healthy things, cravings for crap food fall to the wayside. The chemicals and such in a lot of our food are the culprits of triggering cravings and also, malnourishment.  Processed foods leech the nutrients FROM us instead of giving them TO us which causes us to crave even more of said items. It’s a vicious cycle.

An easy way to eat better is eating the rainbow!

Recently, I have seen more of a change to my body and mood as I have cut out foods that have more than one ingredient to them. I mean, I’ll mix foods together such as rice, beans, veggies, etc, but I’ve stopped getting food from the hot bar at work that is prepared with a paragraph of ingredients. Most importantly for me, I have switched my end-of-the-meal sweet treat to fruit- fresh or dried, it doesn’t matter if the fruit is free of additives.

Shopping healthy doesn’t just involve eating good foods, it also involves the house hold products we use, but we will save this for another time. Just remember products are designed to be the loudest, most colorful, and attention grabbing out there so we buy THEIR PRODUCT. The grocery store is a low-key battle ground- Hunger Games style.

THE BOTTOM LINE: Be mindful when grocery shopping. Be a detective of the ingredients that make up our food and “food”. In a day and age where we have unlimited information at our fingertips, it’s only right that we dig a little deeper to find out what is fueling our bodies and minds.

To read the full article on soybean oil, click here.
To read the full article on cornstarch, click here.

Love and light,
Ze ❤

**Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with any links that I post. Any programs, products, sites, etc. I mention are for sharing purposes only. All images are obtained from Google search engine.**

Supermarket Mystery Fruits #1

Imagine this: You walk into your local grocery store through the chilled aisles of the produce section. There, you find something locked away in a box. You can barely make out what it is through the little plastic window. The images and text on the box allude to the mystery inside, but you still have no idea as to what it could be. Curious, you pick it up. Along the opening of the box, sealed by tape it reads: To open: state my name. Your only clues are this: It has a hard brown shell to guard itself from predators, but once cracked, it reveals a soft, date-like flesh on the inside. You’ll need to peel away the spine to get to it, and beware of the black seeds. Any guesses on what this fruit is?

Hmmm?
Hmmmmmmmmmmmm???

After long deliberation, a word comes to you from unknown origin. You utter the 4 syllables: Ta-ma-rind. Suddenly, the tape binding the box shrivels away and a golden light radiates from inside, shining so brightly it engulfs the whole grocery store. It disappears as quickly as it came, revealing a magical entity – the Goddess of Tamarind- in the boxes place and- okay, I’ll stop there. You’ll just need to try the fruit out for yourself to find out what happens next. 😉

Going on a culinary expedition doesn’t have to be some vast experience that costs you a lot of time and money. You can do that just by picking up an unfamiliar fruit or veggie and learning something about it.

Tamarind is a tropical fruit that originated from Africa, but has spread vastly to Central America, South America, and South Asia. It is typically made into a drink, but you can also eat the fruit by itself. It has a sweet and sour/tangy flavor to it. I personally enjoy them when they are more on the sour side, and the fruit just as is. But please, for the love of humanity, do not eat too many of them at a time. Tamarind is good at stimulating the digestive tract and acts as a laxative. And it works really well. Believe me. 

Tamarind has a variety of ways you can eat it such as:

  • Raw
  • Dried and ground as a spice
  • Made into a drink
  • You can also make it into candies, jams, and sauces

There are so many amazing benefits this guarded fruit has to offer, but please, let this video tell you what they are!

After scouring the internet to find the simplest recipe I possibly could, I present to you how to turn tamarind into a drink according to Food.com.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1lb whole tamarind pulp, pods (tamarind deshelled and deveined)
  • hot water
  • 2 quarts water
  • 1 12 cups granulated sugar or 1 1/2 cups honey

DIRECTIONS

  • Cover tamarind pods with hot water.
  • Let stand 1 hour; drain.
  • Rinse and drain.
  • Remove pods, stems and strings from tamarinds.
  • Place pods in 2 quarts of water.
  • Let stand at least 8 hours or overnight; strain, reserving liquid.
  • Press as much tamarind pulp as possible through a sieve.
  • Mix pulp, reserved liquid and the sugar or honey.
  • Heat just until the sugar or honey melts.
  • Cover and refrigerate until chilled.
  • Serve over ice.

Going out of your comfort zone doesn’t have to mean pushing yourself to be social, or driving someplace far, or trying something that you really don’t want to do. Sometimes, all it takes is being a little more adventurous during your grocery shopping and using your imagination.

To view the full article on organicfacts.net, click here

Please comment below if you have tried the fruit/drink before or have made tamarind into other simple and yummy kitchen creations!

Love and light,
Ze ❤

**Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with any links that I post. Any programs, products, sites, etc. I mention are for sharing purposes only. All images are obtained from Google search engine.**

The Best Post Workout Drink. EVER.

Working out is cool and all, but did you know what you eat right after and how soon is just as important?

Once upon a Rebecca Louise workout, I learned that AT LEAST 20-30mins after you workout, you need to consume some healthy calories. Once upon a Fitness Blender workout later, Kellie emphasized having a snack ranging from 200-300 calories within that same time frame. I was getting the hint that I this was something i had to learn more about so I decided to do my own research. I came across three articles putting all that science into layman’s terms. Below is the most simple version, but if youd like to delve a little deeper click here or here.

It’s common not to feel like food straight after a workout, but what you heard is correct. It’s best to eating something within 30 minutes to an hour after exercising in order to refuel and allow recovery to take place. Your body loses a lot during a workout (including lots of sweat!) and this small window period straight after allows your muscles to take in protein — amino acids necessary to rebuild muscle tissue — electrolytes like potassium and carbohydrates. They then get stored away for energy and muscle repair. Of course you can wait longer to eat, but your muscles are less likely to take in the nutrients from these foods, which can lead to a decrease in energy and leave you feeling stiff and sore.

Source: PopSugar Fitness

I’m always looking to up my fitness game and that includes eating better and cleaner so if consuming something 20-30 minutes after my workout meant I would get stronger and toner faster, then I was game. There was, however, a problem: I wanted to throw up after I ate anything solid after working out. I typically don’t eat anything solid until a good 3-4 hours after I wake up. Most protein drinks taste AWFUL, to boot, and well, all know how I feel about nutrition bars (see here).

And then there was the second problem: I was finally getting good at the healthy eating part, but if you’re like me, you may have a morning routine and eating breakfast came after my work out, my mediation, getting dressed,walking the dog, etc. and that could take anywhere between 60 to 90 minutes. I tried a number of different things that didn’t work to give my muscles the boost they needed. Then one miraculous day, I found Orgain vegan all-in-one shakes.

I finally, FINALLY found something that tasted good and got the job done. Orgain all-in-one protein shakes come in a terrapack and contain a large assortment of organic fruits and veggies, chia seeds and pea protein. Each of the vegan drinks is gluten/dairy/lactose/soy free, Non-GMO, has 16g of protein and 21 vitamins and minerals, and is 220 calories per drink. You can buy them individually, in a 4 pack or 12 pack.

If I lost you at vegan, have no fear! They have dairy shakes in tons of different flavors and several different protein powders including keto- friendly. They have superfoods, collagen peptides, kids drinks and more.

Another reason why I love this product so much is how it all began. The founder, Andrew Abraham, had cancer as a teen and healed himself through food. Orgain came from a place of love and wanting to help others. Conventional foods just don’t cut it. So many things that are promoted out there are crap and sold as short cuts. A lot of people don’t care about your health, they care about your money and doctors aren’t even taught, at least back in the day, about how nutrition directly effects your health. The 3 minute video below is the moving story of Andrew’s journey and how that led him to quitting is job as a doctor to pursue something for the greater good.

Honestly, it’s not hard to eat healthy if you are in the position to choose what you can eat. You just have to have the courage and will power to forge your own path away from all the marketing. It’s not more expensive to eat better as “they” say it is- the processed food look-a-likes are. All those dairy and meat alternatives end up adding a whole bunch of by-product to make something “look and taste like the real thing”.

It doesn’t mean you still can’t eat the crap food you love on occasion. Just put more of the good, unprocessed stuff into your body and you’ll naturally stop eating lesser foods. You’ll also notice the fog lift from your mind and eyes, feel more present, and excited to be alive. You’ll be able to take control and move towards life, not death. It is possible. Eating healthy is a very tangible thing once you get past all the BS that’s falsely labeled as “healthy”.

To visit Orgain’s website, click here.

Note: Orgain products are available for purchase on the website, Amazon, Whole Foods, and Market Basket.

Love and light,
Ze ❤

**Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with any links that I post. Any programs, products, sites, etc. I mention are for sharing purposes only. All images are obtained from Google search engine.**

Green Vibrance – Amp Up Your Water

I am always looking for little ways to improve my overall nutrition that are easy and affordable. But, smoothies are a hassle and most of the time I don’t want to cook. Then, one day, the clouds parted and through the sunlit opening, a magical little packet called “Green Vibrance” descended from the heavens.

Green Vibrance is a plant based, vegetarian powder you can add to any liquid. And yes, if you are a smoothie person, you can add it to that too! This probiotic packet aims to fulfill the 4 cornerstones of health: nutrition, digestion, immunity, and circulation. Their long list of ingredients (a good long list) includes powders that support the skeleton, liver, and immune system. It also includes probiotics, enzymes, adaptogens, plant based micro-nutrients, grasses, and fiber. According to their website, Green Vibrance contains “approximately 70 ingredients and all of the vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and probiotics the body needs to grow healthier and stronger.” They do, however have a small disclaimer. “With our constant improvement of our Green Vibrance formula we detected a tiny quantity of soy and dairy, byproducts of the probiotics in our formula. While only trace amounts, we disclose each ingredient, even trace allergens, because you deserve to know. “

I was ecstatic to have discovered my new found love that doesn’t make your water taste like grass and sewage. Plus, it always makes me happier knowing that I am doing good things for my body and mind. (stay happy y’all!) But why even consume greens in the first place?

Growing up, we were always told to “eat your veggies so you can grow big and strong!”. Though it seemed like torture then, especially when cookies were beckoning you from the cabinet, it was pretty sound advice. According to Choosemyplate.gov, “people who eat more vegetables and fruits as part of an overall healthy diet are likely to have a reduced risk of some chronic diseases. Vegetables provide nutrients vital for health and maintenance of your body.” In addition:

  • Eating a diet rich in vegetables and fruits as part of an overall healthy diet may reduce risk for heart disease, including heart attack and stroke.
  • Eating a diet rich in some vegetables and fruits as part of an overall healthy diet may protect against certain types of cancers.
  • Diets rich in foods containing fiber, such as some vegetables and fruits, may reduce the risk of heart disease, obesity, and type 2 diabetes.
  • Eating vegetables and fruits rich in potassium as part of an overall healthy diet may lower blood pressure, and may also reduce the risk of developing kidney stones and help to decrease bone loss.

I’m all for lowered risk of chronic diseases and better bodily maintenance, sign me up!

You can find the packets and the powder at Whole Foods or, of course, on the internet. Personally, buying the big thing of powder is a waste. It would just sit in my kitchen with the million other things I’ve attempted to consume for my health. The individual packet costs $2.39, while a box of 15 costs $32.00. Pair a packet with a 1.5L of water (~$1.39) and it’s cheaper than coffee!  I really do recommend getting a large water bottle to dilute the powder so you can barely taste it. Because at the end of the day if its good for you, but it tastes bad, are you really going to drink it?

This is my favorite water :3

I try to drink it every day I am at job #1, which is about 4 days a week. I have gotten out of the flow of drinking it before and I do notice a difference in my overall energy and mood levels compared to when I’ve been consistently consuming it. I contribute it to both the packet and the water.

Side note: make sure you finish the water in 24 hours. It’s not a good time if it has been sitting there. Trust me. If 1.5L seems daunting, make it into a game.

Side side note: I did find the packets cheaper on this website. A box of packets is $26.79 compared to the market price of $32.00

Love and Light,
Ze ❤

**Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with any links that I post. Any programs, products, sites, etc. I mention are for sharing purposes only.**

Take A Break – Your Sanity Depends On It.

Some of you may have noticed that I didn’t post anything last week. I work two jobs and just started taking self-defense classes. I really tried to, but with all that, the Easter holiday week, and a local strike that increased our business, I was burnt out. I wanted to run away. I wanted to just lay in bed and sleep forever. Those feelings usually signal that I need a break, time to recharge more than I usually do. But how do you do that when you still have to work, pay bills, and uphold commitments? I’ve discovered the answer is prioritizing.

Take a look at your week. Write it out. Mark down when you work, any necessary things- like picking up children-, and any social things going on. Now, take a look at how much time you can spend on yourself. How much is there? Is there any at all? MAKE TIME. Your health depends on it. Cancel anything and everything you can. Maybe that even means calling out from work for one day, or leaving early. You’d leave if you physically weren’t feeling well, right? Mentally feeling well is just as important.

If you’re the type of person who is recharged by social engagements, by all means, make contact with people you haven’t seen, and go out a little more than usual. If you’re the type of person who is drained by social engagements, cancel whatever isn’t necessary. If you’re dreading doing something or going someplace in this current moment, don’t go. Don’t worry if they’re gonna be mad or if you don’t want to disappoint someone. Your health is on the line and if they are truly your friends, they will know you and understand that you really just need time to yourself.

Also, be extremely kind to yourself, well always, but especially right now. You may already be on the verge of an outburst or a breakdown. If there is something you’ve been wanting to buy or a treat you’ve been craving, go ahead. I always feel like I’m reverting back to a child like-temper when I am overwhelmed with life- being extremely sensitive to everything. So treat yourself as such, and be loving and compassionate. Note that needing/giving yourself a break DOES NOT make you weak. In fact, it helps you become stronger mentally, emotionally, and physically. I’m spanning this post across all three of my categories because it really does affect how you stay happy, healthy and fit.


Stay Happy.
Taking a break from things is a necessity for your mental health! During last week, I found myself becoming short with people and just wanting to cry whenever anybody asked me anything. All I could think about was what I had to do when I got home, but when I got there, I would just put on Arrow and stay in bed. I knew that I hadn’t come up with two posts for last Wednesday. I had ideas, but when it came down to writing them, I had nothing. I was drained. I even started thinking “what if this happens all the time? Why did I start this blog? How am I gonna keep it going?” It snowballed and I started feeling ugly things. But in all actuality, that’s not truly how I feel about Cottontail Living, I love it. I love writing and sharing with you guys. It took a lot to be brave enough to not post anything- I didn’t want to disappoint anyone who reads my blog. I could not, however, ignore the fact that my energy wasn’t there in terms of writing. It was there when I took my self-defense classes.

I learned to go where energy flows and not to make myself do something because of a schedule I set up for myself. I really just wanted to attend my class and hang out with people. So, I suspended my writing and anything else with an approaching deadline and did those very things. And, I had such a great time. I followed where I was already putting my energy to and now I feel restored. Sometimes we set such rigid rules or routines for ourselves that we think they are permanent things in our lives that we HAVE to adhere to. Life is never like that, though. It is constantly fluxing and flowing, and just like that, we should learn to do the same. It’s kind of like the buildings they have where earthquakes are frequent- the structure sort of moves with the motion to minimize damage as opposed to a solid structure that can crumble under too much stress.

Stay Healthy.
Taking a break is also healthy for your body. A common thing with companies nowadays is to cut the workforce and put more responsibility on employees without proper compensation. This physically wears you down depending on how hard of a worker you are. Stress is contributed to so many health ailments such as weight gain, depression, heart disease-just to name a few. It causes such an imbalance to your thought process by putting stress on the mind and it can disrupt your eating habits. If you’re so busy, when you have a moment to eat it’s probably going to be something not so great for you. Stress and overwork can also disrupt your fitness routine. When you’re overwhelmed and work late every night, do you sacrifice sleep or fitness before the morning comes and you have to go back work again? But guess what, you’re only human! You need to establish and uphold boundaries so you don’t become miserable and get to this state in the first place. Don’t let anyone make you feel like you need to push past your limits just to be a good worker.

Stay Fit.
Believe it or not, taking a day, or a couple days not to workout helps you get stronger. You’re allowing your muscles and body to heal by giving them time to recover and grow. If you’re sore or even injured and you push through the pain, you do not help anyone. You especially do not help yourself. If you workout under those conditions, you’re stressing your body out more and causing further injury. Muscles don’t just change while you’re working out, what you do after the workout is just as important- even more so. Eating right, sleeping enough, staying hydrated are all key factors in healthy physical transformation.

Of course I say all of this within reason. Please don’t quit your jobs or not pay your bills or eat all the junk food in the world for a week. I am simply saying that there are moments when energy seems to come to a boiling point and our sanity balances on the precipice of “well” and “not well”. It is more than acceptable and understandable to just stop for a minute, an hour, a day or two days and just breathe.

In the words of Ariana Grande, “just keep breathin’, and breathin’, and breathin’.” Everything is always going to be okay. Life is meant to be enjoyed and experienced. All we can ever do is take it one breath at a time.

-Ze ❤

**Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with any links that I post. Any programs, products, sites, etc. I mention are for sharing purposes only.**

Nutrition Bars

Nutrition bars are supposed to be a great way to get good nutrients on the fly. They give you protein, fiber, and vitamins. “Keeps you fuller longer! 5grams of sugar! 18 grams of protein!” While that may be true, they also give you a lot of crap. Bars can be highly processed and contain a lot of fillers and nonsense to bind them together. Have you ever actually read the ingredients of say, a cliff bar or a quest bar? shudders

When I was in college, I used to eat a lot of nutrition bars- KIND bars in particular since it seemed healthier of the options. I just listened to the front label and never read the ingredients. So, I’d grab about 3 of them and call it a day. I’d always have bad indigestion and get bloated afterwards and couldn’t figure out why. It wasn’t until I brought this problem to a friend. She told me that they aren’t real food. I was baffled. “But they were marketed as that…and there are real ingredients in it…,” I said. My friend repeated herself. “It’s not real food”. It wasn’t until a few years later that I actually understood what she meant. It wasn’t a whole food- limitedly processed, free from crap, genuinely nutritious food. It was like the veil had been lifted from my eyes.

The Issue

I want to break this down for you. I obtained an ingredients list from an article on Self.com titled “The FDA Says KIND Bars Are Healthy Again“. It reads “the ingredients in KIND bars vary depending on the flavor, but an almond and coconut bar contains almonds, coconut, honey, glucose syrup, rice flour, soy lecithin, chicory root fiber, sugar, and sea salt—a relatively short list that leaves the bar with 190 calories, 12 grams of fat, and 12 grams of sugar.”

Yes, its a relatively short list. Yes, it doesn’t have many calories. BUT ITS PACKED WITH SUGAR! And not natural sugar. Honey, glucose syrup, and sugar. 3 of the 9 ingredients are sugar! Also, do you know anything about glucose syrup, soy lecithin, and chicory root fiber without looking it up? Neither do I.

Bars are advertised like they are some God-sent gift to humanity, but they really aren’t. As you can tell, I have a personal gripe with them.

The Solution

You’re better off getting a piece of fruit or unroasted, unsalted nuts. Other on the go snack ideas are grass-fed cheese sticks, grass-fed drinkable yogurt. Olive snack packs (only the Kalamata are free of crap). Popcorn (Boom Chicka Pop or Skinny Pop).

If you need bars in your life, I do recommend these two brands. They have all good stuff and actually taste pretty good:

LÄRABAR – they have only 6 ingredients in them and come in a variety of flavors. Dates make up the majority of these bars, however.

Perfect Bars – who doesn’t like peanut butter! (unless you’re allergic 😦 ) These bars are mixed with 20+ superfoods. I’d stick to the regular, peanut butter one. Just please, don’t try the brownie one. It’s a lie.

As with everything, make sure you read the ingredients on the back, and if you don’t know what something is, neither does your body. But if you eat unprocessed foods like fruits, veggies, rice. Etc, that becomes a non-issue!

Ze ❤

**Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with any links that I post. Any programs, products, sites, etc. I mention are for sharing purposes only.**

Mango Butter – Your New BFF

What is that, you ask? My latest obsession and your new cosmetic best friend.

Mango butter comes from the de-shelled kernel of the mango tree. It is a semi-solid butter and turns to liquid around 84°f. BUT it is malleable enough that it warms up in your hands. It’s super hydrating and not greasy, like coconut oil. Mango butter is packed with vitamins A and E, essential fatty acids, and natural antioxidants. All of these fancy things help prevent sun damage, wrinkles, pimples, and also helps to heal dry, damaged skin. The best part is it only has one ingredient: mango butter. None of that filler that is found in pretty much any body care product! I recommend reading this article on The Best Organic Skin Care for more information.

I use it as a face moisturizer AND a body lotion. Being prone to extremely dry skin, this has been the only thing I’ve discovered that nourishes it. Once I started using mango butter as a face moisturizer, my face got the hydration it needed and I had fewer pimples- since apparently dryness was the cause of them in the first place. Many articles on the topic mention that it is easily absorbed. I have found this to be true for the most part- definitely as a body lotion- but make sure you use a thinner layer if you’re using it as a face moisturizer.

There are tons of DIY recipes you can find to amp mango butter up as a hair mask or moisturizer. But honestly, it can be too much work. It works just fine as is. 😉

If you’re interested in trying this versatile product, I recommend these:

Remember, in any product, whether it be food, cleaning, or cosmetic, its important to know where it is coming from (i.e small business or big corporation) and how the products are sourced (ethically or unethically). It should be good for you and the environment!

-Ze ❤

**Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with any links that I post. Any programs, products, sites, etc. I mention are for sharing purposes only.**

Simple n’ Clean Cheap Eats – Plantains

“Simple n’ Clean Cheap Eats” is a series I am starting to share how you can eat well, simply, cleanly, and, cheaply.

I would like to start off by stating I do not care for cooking. I do not make meals that involve an oven, only a stove top. I am primarily vegetation (I’ll have meat if I’m craving it), but I’m totally content with eating loads of frozen veggies, fruits, and eggs. This all stems from me making quality things as simple as possible in my life. Not everyone is like this, I understand that. This post may be a good snack idea, rather than a meal, like I would make it.

Lately, I’ve been obsessed with plantains. At my local grocery store, they are only 66 cents per plantain. Plantains are a starchier, not-as-sweet banana that you cook. They are green when they are unripe, which is best for frying and yellow with black when they are ripe, which is best for boiling and grilling. To prepare them, all you can do is boil them for 11 minutes, let them cool and, then, voila! You’ve got some foods. A friend of mine suggested serving them with a bit of sour cream. If you add that, the plantains ends up tasting more like mashed potatoes.

Health benefits of plantains obtained from tonsoffacts.com:

-Plantains contain high levels of vitamin C, (helps to keep your immune system stimulated and producing white blood cells)
-Plantains contain high levels of dietary fiber, (helps to optimize digestion and improves the nutrient uptake efficiency and balancing the bacterial levels in the gut)
– Plantains are packed with magnesium, (increases release of tryptophan and serotonin in the body, which can help people relax and sleep)
-Plantains are high in iron, (essential for the production of red blood cells)
-Plantains are packed with vitamin A, (improves eye health)

Here is how I prepare plantains:

1. Rinse off the plantain and dry
2. Cut into slices with the skin on and put them into a pot with already boiling water
3. Set the timer to 13 minutes
4. After 13 minutes, set plantains on a plate to cool and set a timer for 3 minutes
5. Once cooled, cut off skin and enjoy

Cost of Simple n’ Clean Cheap Eat:

2 plantains – $1.32
Green Valley Organic sour cream – $3.99
Total cost: $5.31+taxes

I plan to do more of these posts as a series to give people, like me, who would rather not spend time cooking, easy-to-make and nutritious things to eat. Let me know what you think and please feel free to share any positive suggestions or comments with me!

-Ze ❤

**Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with any links that I post. Any programs, products, sites, etc. I mention are for sharing purposes only.**

Nutrition label hacks.

I would like to share a little bit of my journey toward health and wellness with you. I wasn’t really overweight growing up, because I was active. Regardless, I perceived that I was enormous because of societal standards, and not being happy with your appearance was the “normal” way to think. After the age of 13, I quit my 10-year dancing career. I thought that since I was entering high school, I was going to have all these friends and not have time for anything, but my social life. Long story short, I missed it very much and that’s how I started exercising. It was the easiest thing to bring into my life since I don’t like sitting still. Nutrition, however, was a whole other ballgame.

When I was younger, I did not eat well at all. I had cake and soda for breakfast and pretty much only consumed processed foods. It took a long time to get to where I am now- having a healthy relationship with food. I’ve come across articles that have stated the “recommended daily value” of vitamins and such is bogus, the “2000-calories-a-day” is a sham, and let’s not forget the “Oh, you thought this food was good for you? GUESS AGAIN!”. It’s no wonder how if you’re new to the world of eating better and leading a better life, you can get lost along the way. Everything seems so contradictory.

My goal here is to make people’s lives simpler and offer more palatable ways to incorporate wellness from a person who doesn’t like to go out that much or spend a lot of money. The nutrition knowledge I have is an accumulation of trial-and-error, sifting through loads of articles, things taught to me by YouTube fitness instructors, and more of the like. I’ve compiled a list of things that come to mind on a daily basis when picking out food.

1. Aim to eat foods with FIVE Ingredients or less.
2. Ingredients are listed from the most prominent ingredient first to the least.
3. If you don’t know what an ingredient is, neither does your body. (This one really resonates with me. It just makes so much sense!)
4. If food is processed, aim for less than 5 grams of sugar. If it’s a piece of fruit, don’t worry about it.
5. Sugar comes in a crap ton of different names: fructose, sucralose, maltose, just to name a few. Click here for a more comprehensive list.
6. Beware of serving sizes. Nutrition labels like to trick consumers by making it look like the information for the entire bag/package when it is really just for a portion.

These mostly apply to processed foods. Everything that comes in a package- even frozen veggies- has a nutrition label, but if you buy plain old frozen peas or frozen broccoli, it’s not much of a concern.

Everything that I share on Cottontail Living is what has work best for me, and I hope that, in the end, some of it may work well for you, too. If you would like to know more, please feel free to email me at ze.cottontailliving@yahoo.com or DM me on Instagram @cottontail_living

-Ze ❤

**Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with any links that I post. Any programs, products, sites, etc. I mention are for sharing purposes only.**