Is Your Skincare Routine Causing Your Food Allergies? How Can You Fix It?

Our health and wellness aren’t limited to the food we eat and the way we move our bodies. What we put on our bodies also affects us. By now, its not a shock to us that some facial scrubs use small plastic beads and that companies aren’t exactly 100% transparent with their ingredients. Things are changing for the better, however! People are becoming more and more conscious of what they are purchasing, and for that, companies giving into what their clientele desires. 


Skin is the largest human organ and one of our first defenses against foreign matter entering our body. If the products we use daily are laden with toxins and chemicals and repeatedly slathered all over us, its only natural that our bodies are going to react and shift our immune cell function. According to Tom Malterre, MS, CN, CFMP, a certified nutritionist, functional medicine practitioner and an educator for the Institute for Functional Medicine, the chemicals we put on our skin effect our microbiota- the bacteria living inside of us that help us function well. Depending on the severity, it can go as far as manifesting as food allergies. During an IIN Lecture, Malterre also states that “by changing your lotions, you can change your reactions to foods.” Jessica Migala of Everydayhealth, a website committed to providing real-world, evidence-based health information, seconds these concerns and more in her article “What Are ‘Natural’ Skin-Care Products, and Are They Better For You?“.  

It’s easy to go into a store and instantly be overwhelmed by the number of products available. And with companies getting smarted and employ “green-washing”- disinformation disseminated by an organization to present an environmentally responsible public image.- in their marketing, you may not be getting what you’re paying for. So, what can you do to better navigate through the endless brands? 

  1. Research, research, research! You could also go to your local beauty store, supermarket, or wherever you buy your products, and start seeing which products catch your eye. Whip out your phone and do a quick Google search on their ethics or take a picture of the brand to do some in-depth investigation at home! 

2. Read up on “Allergens in Cosmetics” listed by the FDA. This page list the names of common allergens natural rubber, fragrances, preservatives, dyes, and metals found in cosmetics. 

3. If you’re on Instagram, I recommend fellow IIN Health Coach Peggy. Both her Instagram handle and website name are called “Live Life Less Toxic”. Her mission is to give clean alternatives to conventional toxic products and ingredients we use in everyday life.

In the meantime, I have compiled a shortlist of a couple of my favorite skin-care brands to get you started. I use their products faithfully and honestly, anything they make is a win. My skin always feels clean and nourished no matter which one I choose to put on that day!

Mad Hippie was started by young, newlyweds Sam and Dana. They packed up their lives and moved to Central America where they were inspired by the simple life. Their skin, however, was not used to the sun and so they created “Mad Hippie” to remedy their new lifestyle and coincide with their beliefs.

As stated in their company mission, part of being a “Mad Hippie” goes beyond skin care, extending to all creatures and the planet. All of their products use bioresin sugarcane tubes. These tubes are free from petroleum ingredients, and are sourced from environmentally safe farms which reduces their carbon footprint. They are also fully recyclable through TerraCycle– a company that insures eco-friendly brands’ components are recycled properly.  To do this, simply sign up on the website and you’ll received a zero-waste, prepaid envelope to put your empty, cleaned out plastic packaging in. Just pop it in the mailbox and you’re all set!  Mad Hippie also uses soy inks on FSC certified paper (Forest Stewardship Council is makes sure paper has been harvested in a responsible manner) and $1 from every web sale goes to Save The Elephants, our Whole Planet Foundation, or NRDC– Natural Resources Defense Council which “works to safeguard the earth—its people, its plants and animals, and the natural systems on which all life depends.”

All of their products are free from parabens, synthetic fragrance, dyes, petrochemicals, PEGs, SLS, and other less-than-desirable additives making it one of the cleanest skin care lines out there. They’re packed with antioxidants, peptides, bioavailable vitamins, and alpha hydroxyl acids. Their website has a wealth of information from skin care routines, before/after photos, pro tips, and tons of press snippets- not to mention beautiful marketing!

True Moringa was started by co-founded by college students Kwami and Emily. These young, Boston-based adults traveled to Ghana together with MIT’s D-Lab, where students are afforded the opportunity to use their math, science, engineering, business, and social science skills to make a real impact on people living in poverty. There, they learned about the Moringa Tree also known as “the miracle tree.” According to their website, True Moringa, “the leaves, with more vitamin A than carrots, more protein than eggs, more calcium than milk and more iron than spinach have the potential to end malnutrition and provide a stable food source to farmers. The oil seeds, rich in anti-oxidants and moisturizing agents produce one of nature’s finest cosmetic oils for hair and skin care.” Thus “True Moringa” was born from the joint efforts from their Harvard economic and engineering background.

Co-founders Kwami and Emily

Not only does True Moringa support 5000 small farming families throughout Ghana to cultivate over two million moringa trees, but their recyclable tube packaging is made of 100% sugarcane bioplastic. In addition, they have planted over 2 million moringa trees combating deforestation and malnutrition locally in Ghana. With every order purchased from their website a tree is planted in your name. You can look up the information and see which small farmer benefits from your order.

Their 3-step skin care routine consisting of a cleanser, toner, and moisturizing oil, is one of the most nourishing lines around.

Magic Black Soap Cleanser:

Moringa Oil – Lightweight and easily absorbed, moringa oil is the ultimate superfood for skin. Its purifying effects are tough on impurities and gentle on the most sensitive skin. Bye bye, dull, dry skin – hello glow! 

African Black Soap – Used for centuries as traditional herbal remedy, African Black Soap is made with cocoa pod ash and natural oils to gently exfoliate, leaving skin looking bright and feeling fabulous 

Shea Butter – This decadent butter gives our Magic Black Soap Facial Cleanser its foamy feel and creamy texture – plus, it’s packed with antioxidants and fatty acids to leave skin looking and feeling radiant and healthy. 

Full Ingredients: BUTYROSPERMUM PARKII (SHEA BUTTER), AFRICAN BLACK SOAP (BUTYROSPERMUM PARKII (SHEA BUTTER), COCOS NUCIFERA (COCONUT OIL, COCOA POD ASH.), MORINGA OLEIFERA SEED OIL, MARANTA ARUNDINACEA ROOT (ARROWROOT) POWDER, CARTHAMUS TINCTORIUS (SAFFLOWER) OIL, PRUNUS AMYGDALUS DULCIS (SWEET ALMOND) OIL, TOCOPHEROL, MELALEUCA ALTERNIFOLIA (TEA TREE) ESSENTIAL OIL, CITRUS SINENSIS (SWEET ORANGE) ESSENTIAL OIL. LAVANDULA ANGUSTIFOLIA (LAVENDER) ESSENTIAL OIL, CITRUS AURANTIUM BERGAMIA (BERGAMOT) ESSENTIAL OIL.

Moringa Mist:

Tea Tree Water – Tightens and tones appearance of skin for a healthy, natural glow 

Eucalyptus Water – Awakens skin with cooling refreshment 

Moringa Leaf Water – Rich in micronutrients and unique plant hormones, moringa moisturizes for youthful, healthy-looking skin. 

Full Ingredients: MELALEUCA ALTERNIFOLIA (TEA TREE) LEAF WATER, (EUCALYPTUS) LEAF WATER, MORINGA OLEIFERA LEAF WATER, GLUCONOLACTONE (AND) SODIUM BENZOATE.

Face/Body/Hair Oil:

Full Ingredients: Cold Pressed Moringa Oleifera Seed Oil  

The face/body/hair oil can be used in 8 different ways: daily facial moisturizer, make-up remover, post shave, conditioner and detangler, scars and stretch marks, cuticle care, oil cleanser, and massage!

Remember, there will always be companies that are just in it for the money and will create products based on the latest trends and nothing else. We need to pay attention to what we apply topically as well as the food we put into our bodies. It is up to us to be informed shoppers and support the creators and brands who care not just about the environment, but our well-being as well!

Love and light, 

Ze

**Disclaimer: I am not associated with any links that I post. All programs, products, sites that I mention are for sharing purposes only. All images are from the Google search engine. Where applicable, consult with any physicians necessary before embarking on a fitness journey.**

Coronavirus – An Unpopular Opinion

By now, I’m sure you are well aware of what is going on in the world pertaining to health and wellness or lack thereof. The infamous “Covid-19” has plagued the planet and people are running scared, hoarding groceries, and filing for unemployment. And what are we to do you when the entire world is telling us we’re all sick? FEAR LIFE ITSELF, of course. Right? Absolutely wrong.

Just as day turns into night and one season changes into another, life is also a cycle filled with good things and bad things. It’s how we learn to appreciate what we have. Every generation seems to go through a monumental event in time- a war, an economic collapse, assassinations. The Coronavirus is serving as just that for this generation.

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The stillness that this has brought upon us has (hopefully) caused us to stop in our tracks and think. One thing you can count on in this world is change- transformation, evolution. Another thing you can count is that everything is a matter of perspective. Perspective during troubling times can either make or break us teaching us who we are in the process.
 

“Fear is just a prayer for something we don’t want.”

Dr. Debra Gambrell from Gaia’s “Real Immunity”

Ever hear someone say “stop worrying, you’ll make yourself sick?” There is truth in that. Fear, stress, and worry literally lower your immune system. They target your adrenals and thyroid glands which are your body’s way of handling stress. Don’t believe me? Check out these articles:

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“To conquer fear is to gain wisdom.”

Gaia’s “Real Immunity”

 Along with words like “Coronavirus” and “Covid-19”, the media is also throwing “social distancing” and “quarantine” our way. These have become synonymous with our current existence.

As we also know, the media is a fear-mongering mechanism that mostly shares the terribleness of what’s going on. I’m here to tell you that it is okay to step away from the news- from the chaos and the fear. You don’t have to watch it 24/7. Quoting a dear friend of mine, “you need to know what’s going on, but it gets to a point where watching the monkies dance just becomes depressing and you need to have some humor to balance it out.” This is also a fact. It’s scientifically proven that laughter boosts the immune system: “Stress relief from laughter? It’s no joke”  

Side note: If politicians and government have already known about the virus before it blew to the proportion that it has, how then, are you sure you can trust the very information they are shelling out on the media? Flipping the coin, it’s not worth it to cast blame. The point is that it is here now and the way you react sets a standard for yourself and others.    

tenor

Can we also please change the terminology that’s been springing up? It’s not a “disease” nor a “war”. It’s a virus and a new challenge to overcome with help from everyone around the world. Let us be thankful that here in America, it’s not an actual war where people are dying in the streets at the hand of another. With wording like this, we create resistance within ourselves. Resistance creates stress and as we know stress lowers the immune system.  

During the past 2 years, there has been an emphasis in health and wellness routines that encapsulate mind, body, and spirit- mostly confined to the “new age” community and millennials. The whole Corona Virus thing has just kicked all of that into high gear. Because of this, there is a good portion of people who are thrilled to have ample time for self-care, meditations, journaling, reading, etc. There is also a good portion of people who are asking themselves, “how do I even do that?”, “where do I start?”, or even “who am I without the people and things I’m used to being around?”  

Short story: There was a moment after a relationship had ended where I realized I didn’t know what to do when I was by myself. And at that moment, I vowed to change it and embarked on a journey of self-discovery That meant finding out what I enjoyed, what made me excited and becoming my own #1.  To begin walking this path and befriending yourself, here is a good list of questions to ask that I found on Instagram:    

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You can also ask yourself has there been a project you wanted to start or a skill you wanted to pick up? What about a book you’ve put off reading? Is there a place you always wanted to travel? Plan it out for the future! This isn’t going to last forever, you know (but a lot longer than 2-weeks). Find out what you’ve always wanted to do, learn, and aspire to be. Think about the steps you’ll take to get there. When you get sad, depressed, angry- whatever- feel it, express it healthily and move on.  

Another thing to think about is what this is teaching us as individuals and as a collective. A couple observations I’ve made are:  

1. It is teaching us how important self-care is. This is the time (always, but especially now more than ever) to take care of ourselves mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

2. It is also teaching us togetherness- yes, there are loads of people who are frantic and panicking that they will get sick and are in turn acting from a place fear, not putting their best selves forward, BUT that can’t be said for everyone. It is an active choice one makes to display compassion and kindness during times like these. Below are accounts and people who had made/make that choice:

Here are some more things to think about:

  1. You guys, SPRING IS HERE! Birds are chirping, bulb flowers have begun to awaken from their slumber, there are buds on trees and greener grass!
  2. With all of this mandated quarantine,  the earth gets to heal from all the nonsense we have wrought upon her. She gets to breathe again and breathe anew. That’s beautiful.
  3. There are so many people offering free services and classes right now. Look around the internet!
  4. People are becoming more conscious- more aware- of their thoughts and actions.
  5. Positive Pioneers! There have been loads of individuals stepping to the forefront to help society, both locally and abroad.
  6. Your body wants you to live. There are more forces working for you than against you. Trust that everything will be okay.
  7. For the love of all divine, please do not spend all of your time sedentary. It will drive you mad. There are lots of workouts being created daily and ones targeted to boost immunity specifically. Move your body! It will make you feel better.
  8. Take it day by day. Make a routine for yourself. Have a task list of all the things you want to accomplish. Stay focused and present.
  9. Please keep in mind small businesses- restaurants, convenience stores, specialty stores, hair salons, etc. If you have disposable income, buy from them. If their products are unattainable, buy a gift card. It’s the small businesses we want to see thrive and they actually need our help.

And if I may take a moment to share my feelings on this pandemic: *clears throat* I will no longer accept a negative mindset or shy away from my perspective. I am putting my foot down and choose to stand by the tools that have helped me overcome all the propaganda and collective social BS. Hope is not lost. Everything happens for a reason. Your truth is your truth and mine is mine, but mentality sets the stage for how you deal with this. Let’s all just respect that.  

Honestly, I hope that when we all is said and done, things won’t be as they were before. As this has all taught us, it can’t be. Think about how complacent our lives have pretty much been, expecting that we can just go to the movies, dine out at a restaurant, go to school, etc. Our society needed something to shake us out of our stupor and look at things with a new lens. The world needed to change. Have you noticed how we are all more of a global community? This is something that we are ALL going through and it is tremendous. And I for one, am really excited to see what the future holds. Like I said in the title, this is my unpopular opinion.   

Please remember, everything will always, always be okay. You are not alone. Our humanity is what unites us. We will adapt and overcome as we always have. That is what we as humans do. Stay present, take it moment by moment. This too shall pass and when it does, don’t forgo everything you’ve accomplished and acquired during your social isolation.

Do your part: sanitize things, wash your hands, respect social distancing (easy for most introverts, am I right? 😉) and breathe.  

Love and Light,

Ze ❤️

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**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.**

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Where Is My Mind?

Meditation has become more integrated into our current society. It is not all that uncommon to hear the word, how it has helped people, and how they have made it a part of their daily lives. But if you haven’t tried it or have tried and couldn’t get your mind to settle down, you may have already counted it out as unattainable. I’m here to try to convince you why you should give it a go.

Meditation
Dictionary.com

A lot of this world promotes being outside of yourself and gives you plenty of resources to do so- endless tv shows, social media, alcohol, drugs, etc. only to bait and hook you and your desires for more and more product consumption. And when it becomes socially acceptable to be mindlessly consumed by them, the only solution to become mindFUL. All of what you’re looking for is already present within you.

Silence

 

Learning how to cultivate peace and tranquility from within is something that takes time. It’s about learning how to step back and become aware of your thoughts rather than getting caught up in the story behind them. Adding a meditation regimen to your day is one of the most rewarding things you can do- I can personally attest to this.

Some back story: My mind always lived in the future. I was always thinking about what was going to happen next- next week, next month, next year. It got to the point where I didn’t even care to make friends because I didn’t plan on staying where I was. Life was passing on, but I was still just waiting for my “plan” to come to fruition. What happens when you live like that is you never appreciate what is right in front of you or how your actions and words affect others. Living with a future mindset also riddles you with anxiety since you’re always anticipating something. It’s not fun.

I had heard of meditation before, but it always seemed a little too “out there” for me. I was shy about it and felt self-conscious even trying to begin. When I became more dedicated to living a life of wellness, that was when I gave it a shot. I had already integrated things I loved to do into my day-to-day by starting with just 5 minutes. As “corpse pose” helps your body integrate everything you have done in your yoga practice, I decided to use meditation to integrate everything I do in the morning before I went into the world.

Through meditating, I have gained an awareness of my thoughts, actions, and interactions with all things around me. I learned (and am still learning) to take things day by day and not live in the next moment before it even happens. My anxiety has decreased significantly and I am aware of the things that trigger it which helps to prevent any attacks.

If you don’t believe me, believe science! Here are a few great articles about what meditation can do for you:

  1. Mindful.org’s “The Science of Meditation”
  2. Psychology Today’s “The Science of Meditation” (yes, both articles have the same title)
  3. Greater Good Magazine’s “The State of Mindfulness Science”.

I am sure that after all of that riveting information, you have been inspired to try it yourself! winking-face_1f609

zen-frog-22

 

How do you begin? By making it easy for yourself! Start out by doing it 2-3 times a week, 5 minutes a day for at least 3 weeks. If you are thinking that is too much, think about what else you may do for 5 minutes every day already *ahem* scroll through social media perhaps? You are most certainly capable of taking 5 minutes to do something good for yourself. Heads up though, doing something mindlessly for that amount of time versus mindfully will feel different. It may feel like an eternity in the beginning. Mindfulness and awareness are skills to be acquired, but in the process, you will learn more about yourself and navigate through this world with eyes wide open.

Sidenote: Anyone can do it! Unlike the “Dictionary.com” definition precariously suggests, meditating isn’t solely attached to any religious practices.

Did you know meditation doesn’t even have to be sitting cross-legged in silence? There are guided meditations (my personal favorite), mudras, chanting, and moving meditations. Here are some free tools to get you started:

  • Simple Habit: This app is my go-to after “Calm” became nearly subscription access only. Simple Habit is heading that way, BUT they still have free programs such as “Ease Your Fear and Anxiety”, “Foundations of Mindfulness”, and “Detox Your Thoughts”- and it is all guided. When a new program comes out, there is a free trial period. The great thing is that it will be available until it’s not- no payment required. Simple Habit also has an “On The Go” section where you choose what you are doing and the amount of time you have. And if you like pretty relaxing sounds, they have a “soundscape” section as well.

  • Daily Mudras: This app has a library of different mudras (hand positions). It gives you some background on their uses and benefits. Each mudra is typically held between 10-15 minutes and there are several background sounds/music you can choose from. While these meditations are not guided, they provide an alternative from the traditional. They also send notifications for their short and sweet blog posts about healthy living.  

As for moving meditations, I recommend Qi Gong and Yin Yoga with affirmations. Qi Gong focuses on breathing with intention as you release and guide energy in your body. Yin Yoga with affirmations focuses on static stretches while repeating a sentence over and over again while observing your inner reactions. Check out these YouTube channels and videos if you’re interested:

Qi Gong Channels: Yoqi Yoga and Qi Gong

Qi Gong Videos:

  1.  Qi Gong Full 20-Minute Daily Routine
  2.  QiGong For Beginners
  3. Daily QiGong Routine

Yin Yoga Channels: Yoga with Kassandra and Yoga with Heather

Yin Yoga Videos:

  1.  Yin Root Chakra
  2.  Yin Yoga with Affirmations for Self-Love & Healing
  3.  Yin Yoga with Affirmations for Peace & Guidance

P.S If you caught the song reference in the title, check out my favorite rendition here.

As always, I wish you all the best and if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to reach out!

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.**

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.**