Saturday, February 22, 2014

Vegetarian Chili

I realize it's a little late in the season to be posting a chili recipe (and I'd better not be jinxing Spring weather!), but this one is too good not to share! Who knows, maybe I have some readers south of the equator that are at the front end of their chilly/chili season :) This recipe is another winner from Gwyneth Paltrow's "My Father's Daughter" cookbook, and is the best I've ever made - Ed agreed and said it's way better than any meat chili he's eaten in the past. Easy and quick to make, which is a bonus with any great recipe - enjoy!


Vegetarian Chili
"My Father's Daughter" by Gwyneth Paltrow

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 large yellow onion, peeled and finely diced
1 large carrot, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice
1/2 large red bell pepper, seeds and ribs removed, cut into 1/4-inch dice
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
3/4 teaspoon mild chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon chipotle in adobo
1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes with their juice
1/2 cup de Puy lentils, rinsed and drained (I used plain ole lentils, nothing fancy…)
1 14-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 14-ounce can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
Big pinch coarse salt
3 tablespoons tomato paste

Instructions:
Heat the olive oil in a medium soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot, bell pepper, garlic, chili powder, cumin, and black pepper. Cook, stirring for 15 minutes, or until the vegetables are softened. Add the chipotle and stir to combine.

I halved the recipe, so yours will look like double this amount….
Turn the heat up to high, add the tomatoes and their juice, crushing them a bit with your wooden spoon, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 40 minutes.


Add the lentils and beans. Fill one 14-ounce can with water and add it to the pot, along with the salt. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer for 40 minutes.


Stir in the tomato paste and cook for 20 more minutes, or until the lentils are soft and the flavors are melded. I like to top with freshly chopped cilantro - DELISH!!!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Fluoride and the inconvenient tooth

“I am quite convinced that water fluoridation, in a not-too-distant future, will be consigned to medical history.”- Dr. Arvid Carlsson, Winner of the 2000 Nobel Prize for Medicine
I hope that someone can prove this post to be completely wrong and false, I really really do. The information I've learned about fluoride has me shaking my head - no, banging my head against a wall because it's is so ridiculously messed up. 

FACTS:

  • Fluoride is slightly less toxic than arsenic, but more toxic than lead. (Clinical Toxicology of Commercial Products, 1984). Fluorine is the most negatively charged and most chemically active of all elements on earth, which means it loves to combine and recombine with other elements in its path, ever looking for the strongest bond, and reeking havoc all along the way by creating even more toxic combinations.
  • "A seven ounce tube of toothpaste, theoretically at least, contains enough fluoride to kill a small child." (From Proctor & Gamble, quoted in Fluoride the Aging Factor, p 14). 
  • The fluoride that is added to our water is not pharmaceutical grade, like you would think but rather is a chemical byproduct of aluminum, steel, cement, phosphate, and nuclear weapons manufacturing. It is one of the most caustic of industrial chemicals and is the active toxin in rat poisons and roach powders.
  • Water fluoridation is a prime example of forced medication with no control over the dose or who gets it - it is not subject to any federal regulation.
A little history on fluoridation…

As I mentioned above fluoride is a by-product of the aluminum and phosphate fertilizer industries. It would cost these companies millions, possibly billions to store their toxic waste in Class 1 Hazardous Waste Sites. So in the 1940s top fluoride emitters such as the Aluminum Company of America (Alcoa) funded new research which claimed to show fluoride's supposed benefits. The US Military was producing excessive fluoride wastes from the Manhattan Project (the U.S. Military's program to create the first atomic bomb), so they were on board with this research. The plan to dump these toxic wastes in controlled doses into our drinking water was led by U.S. Public Health Services which, at the time was under the jurisdiction of Andrew Mellon (founder of Alcoa) and Oscar Ewing (a long time Alcoa lawyer). How convenient. They hired legendary spin doctor Edward Bernays, the "father of public relations" who had made smoking respectable for women, to convince Americans that fluoride was safe and necessary for dental health. 


I wish I was making this up and that Harvard was a shady source. 


Since the Public Health Service (PHS) endorsed fluoridation in 1950, over 2/3 of our nation's reservoirs have been fluoridated with sodium fluoride and hydrofluosilicic acid. These waste by-products are sold to communities at great profit and dumped into our drinking water. Since there is no regulatory oversight or standards for these products they often contain other wastes including radionuclides, cadmium, lead, arsenic, uranium and mercury. There have never been controlled clinical studies on how these fluoridating agents react in water systems (let alone in our bodies) despite the fact that fluoride is known for its ability to leach copper and lead from water pipes. 


The EPA sets the standards for drinking water. While fluoride is almost equal in toxicity to both lead and arsenic (worse than lead, a little better than arsenic) the Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) for fluoride is 4000 parts per billion (ppb) compared to 15 ppb for lead and 10 ppb for arsenic. So ranked in level of toxicity, does this make sense to you?

  1. Arsenic: 10 ppb
  2. Fluoride: 4000 ppb
  3. Lead: 15 ppb
It's been a long time since I've taken a math class, but shouldn't the fluoride MCL be more like 12.5, not 4000?!

Since its creation in 1972 the EPA has consistently ignored the mounting evidence against fluoridation even raising the MCL from 2000 ppb to 4000 ppb in 1985 after a PHS panel of experts recommended much lower doses because of their concerns about fluoride's effects on the bones of children, on the heart, on dental fluorosis and for the overall lack of scientific data. When a National Toxicology Program study was released in 1989 and showed a clear link between fluoridation and cancer, the PHS and EPA quickly formed a new commission to review the findings. The final report disregarded the study and Dr. William Marcus, then Senior Science Advisor and Toxicologist in the Office of Drinking Water blew the whistle and released the true findings. The EPA fired him. Dr. Marcus eventually won his suit against the EPA and was joined by the rest of his co-workers, chemists, toxicologists and science professionals at the EPA who came out against fluoridation in 1997. The EPA still continues to drag their feet in all matters concerning the safety of fluoridation.

"If you tell a big enough lie and tell it frequently enough, it will be believed." - Adolf Hitler 
Fluoride is linked to a slew of problems: weakened skeletal health, causes arthritis, toxic to the thyroid, calcifies the pineal gland, accelerates female puberty, harmful to male and female fertility, bad for kidney health, harmful to the cardiovascular system, and negative cognitive effects, to name a few. Most alarming to me is the association between fluoride exposure and reduced IQ. In a meta-analysis, researchers from Harvard School of Public Health and China Medical University in Shenyang, combined 27 studies and found strong indications that fluoride may adversely affect cognitive development in children. Scientist Anna L Choi concluded in the analysis "Thus, children in high fluoride areas had significantly lower IQ scores than those who lived in low fluoride areas."

But we need fluoride for healthy teeth, right?! Actually that is false propaganda too. In reality it causes dental fluorosis, which makes your teeth hard and brittle. You know those unsightly white streaks or spots that form on your teeth? Fluorosis. I used to think those white spots were from poor dental hygiene, but they're actually from drinking city water. I have a spot on one of my eye teeth, great. In more severe cases the teeth can become pitted and have brown, gray or black spots and the enamel can have an unusual shape. Dental fluorosis is a reflection of what's happening in our bones and is the first visible sign of fluoride poisoning. A 1995 study published in Pediatric Dentistry revealed that of 708 schoolchildren participating in the study in Asheville, NC 75% percent had fluorosis. A similar study published in Issue 20 of Pediatric Dentistry in 1998 showed that 69% of children in Boston had dental fluorosis ranging from mild to severe. "Common sense should tell us that if a poison circulating in a child's body can damage the tooth-forming cells, then other harm is also likely." Dr. John Colquhoun. 




The WHO (World Health Organization) plainly shows that countries with or without fluoride have the same deterioration rate of the teeth. “All of the recent large-scale studies on fluoridation and tooth decay show that fluoridation does not reduce tooth decay. Studies from New Zealand, Canada, Europe, and the US have confirmed no difference in decay rates for permanent teeth of residents of fluoridated vs. non-fluoridated communities.” (sourceDespite dental pressure, 98% of western continental Europe has rejected, banned, or stopped fluoridation due to environmental, health, legal or ethical concerns. The only holdouts are England with 10% fluoridation and Ireland with 73% fluoridated - both countries under strong American influence. In 1977 the Danish Minister of Environment recommended against fluoridation because "no adequate studies had been carried out on its long-term effects on human organ systems other than teeth and because not enough studies had been done on the effects of fluoride discharges on freshwater ecosystems." Holland banned fluoridation after a group of medical practitioners presented evidence that it caused reversible neuromuscular and gastrointestinal harm to some individuals int he population. In 1978 the West German Association of Gas & Water Experts rejected fluoridation for legal reasons and because 'the so-called optimal fluoride concentration of 1 mg per L is close to the dose at which long-term damage to the human body is to be expected.'" Israel most recently rejected fluoridation and will end the practice this year citing health concerns. To quote the Israeli Minister of Health Yael German "It must be known that fluoridation can cause harm to the health of the chronically ill, including people who suffer from thyroid problems."


For those of us in communities that still fluoridate, the only way to remove it from your water is with a reverse osmosis filter. Reverse-Osmosis filtration is a purification process in which pressurized water passes through a thin semi permeable membrane that strips out a wide array of contanimant and inorganic impurities. Unfortunately a Brita won't do the job. We just bought this one from Costco and until Feb. 28th there is a $40 off rebate. Its the best water I've ever tasted and the difference is unbelievable - I wish we would have bought it years ago! 




The good news for toothpaste is there is a natural sweetener called xylitol that prevents cavities. Xylitol stops bacteria in the mouth from emitting acid that causes tooth decay and cavities and makes it harder for bacteria to find shelter on the gums and teeth. We switched to Kiss My Face toothpaste, which is powered by xylitol and tea tree oil (also a powerful anti-bacterial). I highly recommend the "Amazing Mint Freshness" flavor and bought it at Whole Foods - we don't miss Crest one bit! For Olivia we have Tom's of Maine Children's "silly strawberry", but I am on the lookout for a replacement since it has sodium laurel sulfate as an ingredient.


I realize this post probably sounds like a crazy conspiracy theory and I wish it was. For me the evidence proves itself and credible resource after resource shares the same data - Harvard people, Harvard even says fluoride is dangerous! Please do a little research on your own and decide for yourself - here are some additional resources for you:
  • YouTube video of Dr. Bill Osmunson who promoted fluoridation for 25 years until his patients persuaded him to read the science "It was like a knee in the gut. Science has turned against fluoridation and we must stop adding fluoride to water."
  • Link to over 4,600 professionals (including 365 dentists and 566 MDs) urging that fluoridation be stopped because science shows fluoridation is ineffective and harmful.
  • Link to a Harvard study showing fluoridation lowers intelligence 7 IQ points.
  • Dentist Hardy Limeback, Ph.D, University of Toronto Professor and Head, Preventative Dentistry apologizes in this link for promoting fluoridation because toxicology research shows the purported benefits no longer outweigh the risks.
  • Link to the International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology (IAOMT) website, which is a network of dental, medical and research professionals which supports the effort to inform consumers about health risks from water fluoridation.
  • If you want highly researched details, facts, studies, historical proof the book The Fluoride Deception is for you. From an Amazon review:"The Fluoride Deception" is a scathing indictment of how the U.S. medical community, big corporations, and the federal government, misled the American public for decades about the dangers of fluoride. Filled with scientific studies and historical documents, all fully annotated, Bryson mounts a point by point attack on the flimsy, fallacious arguments of pro-fluoride advocates." 
  • Download a free copy of The Fluoride Debate - "we have juxtaposed the arguments presented by the American Dental Association with comments from many independent scientist who have examined the issue with an open mind."

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The list of bad ingredients

"Check the ingredients." "Read the label." Do you know what to look for? I knew to avoid parabens, sodium lauryl sulfate and fragrance but beyond that I wasn't really sure what was bad and what was good. I came across this great list (thank you Fiddlebumps Apothecary!) and hope it helps you sort out your skin care products. I have been replacing products with non-toxic options and am thrilled with my new routine (read more about the products I've switched to here and here).

Your skin is the largest organ and is very permeable, so whatever you put on it is absorbed right into your body. During a typical personal care regimen, the majority of us expose ourselves to more than 200 different chemicals - YIKES!!! Many of these ingredients are known cancer-causing agents and endocrine disrupters yet the beauty industry continues to use them. Why? Because they're cheaper and the FDA allows it These same ingredients are banned in the European Union, Ugh.

Just because a product says "all-natural" doesn't mean much - still check the ingredients!


THE LIST OF BAD INGREDIENTS
  • DEA (diethanolamine), MEA (monoethanolamine), and TEA (triethanolamine): These are hormone disrupting chemicals known to form cancer causing nitrates and nitrosamines. They are almost always in products that foam, including bubble baths, body washes, shampoos, soaps and facial cleaners. On "CBS This Morning," Dr. Samuel Epstein, professor of environmental health at the University of Illinois and author of "Toxic Beauty" stated "Repeated skin applications of DEA-based detergents resulted in a major increase of the incidence of two cancers - liver and kidney cancers." 
  • FD & C Color Pigments: These pigments cause skin sensitivity and irritation and have caused cancer in animal studies. The colors are used in foods, drugs and cosmetics and are made from coal tar.
  • Formaldehyde:  This cancer causing substance is in so many beauty products it's ridiculous. Research has shown that even low levels can irritate the eyes, nose and throat; cause skin problems and severe breathing problems. It sneaks into products under numerous aliases - look for the following: formalin, formic aldehyde, Paraformaldehyde, Benzylhemiformal, 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1, 3-diol, 5-bromo-5-nitro-1, 3-dioxane, Diazolidinyl urea, Quaternium-15, DMDM Hydantoin, Sodium hydroxymethyl, Glycinate, Methenamine, Oxomethane, Oxymethylene.
  • Fragrances/Phthalates: Fragrance is everywhere - deodorants, shampoos, sunscreens, baby products, skin care. "Fragrance on a label can indicate the presence of up to 4,000 separate ingredients. Most or all of them are synthetic. Symptoms reported to the FDA have included headaches, dizziness, rashes, skin discoloration, violent coughing and vomiting, and allergic skin irritation. Clinical observation by medical doctors has shown that exposure to fragrances can affect the central nervous system, causing depression, hyperactivity, irritability, inability to cope and other behavioral changes." (From "Home Safe Home" author Debra Lynn Dadd). Fragrance can also be disguised on the label as: DEHP, DBP, BBP, DINP, DIDP, DNOP. Even many products that say "fragrance free" will still have fragrance on their label as a way to hide other ingredients.
  • Hydroquinone - related to cancer, neurotoxicity, endocrine disruption and developmental and reproductive toxicity. It can be used as an active ingredient in over the counter products like skin lighteners, hair bleaches, concealers, facial cleansers and sunscreens with SPF 15 or higher. Can also look like this on a label: 1,4-Benzenediol, 1,4-Dihydroxybenzene, P-Diozybenzene, 4-Hydroxyphenol, P-Hydroxyphelol, 1,4 Benzenediol.
  • Mineral Oil/Petroleum: This is a new one for me and very disappointing. Mineral oil and petroleum actually coat the skin just like a plastic wrap, disrupting the skin's natural immune barrier and inhibiting its ability to breathe. Your skin is not able to release toxins so they accumulate in the body which can promote acne and other disorders. It also slows down skin function and normal cell development, which results in premature aging. Adios Aquaphor, I used to love you.
  • Mercury: Why, why, why is mercury still used in cosmetics or anything at all for that matter?! Still highly toxic at low levels, Mercury damages brain function and is still highly toxic at the lowest levels of exposure. It is used as a preservative and can be found in makeup removers, eye moisturizers, mascaras, soap-free cleansers, nose, ear and eye drops; eye ointments; topical medications and antiseptic sprays; cleaning fluids for contact lenses. It can be disguised on labels as: Thimerosal, Mercuochrome, Merthiolate, Merzonin, Sodium Ethylmercurithiosalicylate, Mertorgan, Merfamin, Thiomersalan, and Thiomersalate.
  • Parabens: Parabens are used in many skin care products as a preservative. Studies have shown they mimic the hormone estrogen in the body's cells which can cause infertility, disrupt endocrine function and cancer. They are a cheap way for manufacturer's to make products last longer and are found in lotion, shampoo, conditioners, sunscreens and deodorants. Stay away from the following ingredients: methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben, and benzylparaben. 
  • Phenoxyethanol: Is a preservative derived from coal tar that has been shown to slow down the central nervous system and cause skin and eye irritation. It is a popular in anti-bacterial products and bug repellants. Many "greenwashing" products that pretend to be natural use it as a preservative and note that it is derived from grapefruit. It is chemically known as ethylene glycol, phenyl ether, ethylene glycol, mono phenyl ether, phenoxyethanol. 
  • Polyethylene Glycol (PEG): PEGs are petroleum based compounds that are lined to liver abnormalities and kidney damage. They are the second most common ingredient in moisturizers aside from water and are used as thickeners, solvents and moisture carriers. PEGs can be found in sunscreens, moisturizers, baby lotion, antiperspirants, and shaving product. Beware of these aliases on a label: Propylene Glycol, Proptylene Glycol, 1,2-Propanediol.
  • Propylene Glycol (PG): When used as a surfactant, wetting agent or solvent, PG is actually the active component in antifreeze. Industry uses it to break down protein and cellular structure (which is what your skin is made of!) and the same exact ingredient is used in most forms of make-up, hair products, lotions, after shave, deodorants, mouthwashes and toothpastes. It is quickly penetrated into the skin and the EPA requires its workers to wear protective gloves, clothing and goggles when working with this toxic substance. Propylene Glycol has systemic consequences (meaning it affects your whole entire body)  such as brain, liver, and kidney abnormalities. Now don't you just want to rub it all over your body?
  • Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES): Are used as detergents and surfactants and are found in car wash soaps, garage floor cleaners, and engine degreasers. Tough stuff. They are even more widely used as major ingredients in cosmetics, toothpaste, hair conditioners and about 90% of all shampoos and products that foam.  "In tests, animals that were exposed to SLS experienced eye damage along with depression, labored breathing, diarrhea, severe skin irritation and corrosion." according to Mark Fearer of "Dangerous Beauty." Children's eye health is especially at risk and studies indicate that SLS kept young eyes from developing properly by possibly dissolving the proteins and not allowing for proper structural formation. SLS is one of the most dangerous of all ingredients in personal care products and research shows that "SLS combined with other chemicals can be transformed into nitrosamines, a potent class of carcinogens that cause the body to absorb nitrates at higher levels than eating nitrate-contaminated food." SLS can look like this on a label: Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Sodium Lauryl Ether Sulfate, Anhydrous Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Irium, SLS, SLES, MSDS, ALES, ALS.
  • Triethanolamine (TEA): Are chemicals used in cosmetics to adjust PH levels and are often the base for cleansers.  They are associated with allergic reactions and dryness of the skin and hair.
  • Triclosan: The EPA registers this chemical as a pesticide and has assigned it high scores as a risk to both human health and the environment. Linked to liver damage it is found in antibacterial products such as detergents, dish washing fluids, soaps, deodorants, cosmetics, lotions, creams, hand sanitizers, and toothpaste.
That's a hefty list. Just so you know what a label should look like, check this out: 
My body butter made by Ana's Corner which has Shea Butter, Kokum Butter, Coconut Oil, Almond Oil, Hemp Seed Oil, Calendula Oil, Lavendar Essential Oil, Tocotrienols (Natural Preservative). I could probably eat it if I wanted. I am crazy about this stuff and keep a tub in my purse so I'm never without it. Now compare that to the ingredients found in Lubriderm Intense Skin Repair:
No thank you! I used Lubriderm for over 20 years and replaced it immediately once I educated myself about the dangers of its ingredients. I urge you to take a look at the labels of all the products you use on yourself and your family. EWG's Skin Deep website is an amazing resource that will do the work for you, literally a life saver. Making the necessary changes is easy - please let me know if I can help!!

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Ed spills the beans


My husband Ed is a naturally talented cook and is really good at whipping something together with whatever is left in our fridge. He's a natural who never follows a recipe and spoils me rotten with his concoctions. One of his specialties is a plant based diet staple: beans (lucky me!). He perfected his technique during duck hunting trips with his buddies to Eastern North Carolina. It became a serious tradition to start up a big pot of pintos as soon as they arrived to their trailer (although now he doesn't use the fat-back or streak-o-lean as they called it). I so wish I had a picture of the guys cooking beans in a trailer in their camo gear...

Beans are seriously nutritious, packed with protein and super-fibrous. Adding a daily serving of beans to your diet will help improve your digestive health, reduce your cancer risk and help you lose weight by suppressing your appetite. One cup carries between 50 to 100 calories, only 1 gram of fat (the good kind!), a whopping 8 grams of protein, 119% of your daily recommended allowance of Vitamin C and 8% of your iron allowance. They can also help decrease your heart disease risk thanks to fiber with 1/2 cup of black beans containing 7 grams (women need 25 grams daily and men require 38). Eat plenty and don't worry about the Bean-O :)

The difference between canned beans and cooking dried ones is NIGHT AND DAY - they taste SO UNBELIEVABLY BETTER when you cook them yourself. Plus you eliminate exposure to BPA from the cans and save a good bit of $$$. Ed is spilling the beans and sharing his secrets - here are his fool proof steps for preparing dried beans:
  1. Rinse the beans really good and sift for rocks. Somehow little rice sized pebbles will sneak into your beans since the machines aren't able to sift them out - sure enough we find a pebble almost every time!
  2. Cover the beans and add an additional two inches of water. Add a pinch of salt and bring to a boil. (Don't watch or it will take longer).
  3. Once it comes to a nice roaring boil turn off the heat, put the lid on and let sit for about two hours. This step really helps speed up the soaking process. Option #2: let beans sit in a pot of water overnight, no need to boil.
  4. Rinse off the beans thoroughly and rinse the pot removing any gravy.
  5. Cover the beans with 2 inches of fresh water like in step #1 and bring to a boil again. Turn the heat down to a simmer and add 1 tsp of salt and 1 tsp of olive oil. Give a little stir and then cover with the lid. 
    My sweet husband trying not to pose
  6. Simmer until done, which is about 2 to 3 hours. Take a peek every once in a while to make sure the beans are still covered with water (add water if needed).
ENJOY!!! 

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Swiss Muesli for the cereal lover

My parents took me to Switzerland when I was little and I remember three things - the awesome fluffy feather beds, the Swatch watch I got duty free on the airplane and the muesli at the breakfast buffet. Muesli is a yummy combination of grains, dried fruit, nuts and seeds - just like granola except it's not baked. I've been a sucker for this Swiss breakfast favorite ever since and was excited to learn how easy it was to make. A few of the many benefits:
  • Raw: unprocessed and GMO-free (Kellogg's or General Mills certainly can't make that claim…). 
  • Fuel: a great source of sustainable energy from slow-burning, complex carbohydrates because of its whole grain and fruit - a perfect fuel for your workout!
  • Healthy fats: nuts and seeds provide healthy monounsaturated fats as well as heart and brain-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Walnuts, pecans and almonds contain powerful phytochemicals and antioxidants that protect against cancer and help protect the body from tissue damage.
  • Fiber: muesli is high in soluble fiber which can help control blood sugar, reduce cholesterol levels and aid in digestion.
  • Protein: start your day right with protein packed nuts and seeds

Muesli is a very "improvisational" cereal that you can tweak to your own taste bud's preferences. Pick your favorite dried fruits and nuts to make it your own. Just be careful to stick to portion control since dried fruits, nuts and seeds are high in calories. A bowl of muesli will keep me full and satisfied until lunch, so one bowl is all you need - can't say that about a bowl of processed Kellogg's. Basically you take the ingredients, toss them together in a bowl and transfer to an air tight container - I use a big glass mason jar that I found at TJ Maxx for $3. This is how I like my muesli:
  • 3 cups oats (if you can find rye flakes, wheat flakes, or triticale in the bulk bins at your health food store try them! I used to buy a blend at The Fresh Market but they no longer sell it, on the lookout)
  • 3/4 cup dried fruit (I like cherries which I cut into thirds, cranberries and raisins)
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1/4 cup flaxseed meal or wheat germ
Trader Joe's is THE place to buy your seeds and dried fruits. Costco can't be beat for their prices on nuts!



 Another very tropical combo that I really like is:



  •  3 cups of oats
  • 1 cup of flaked coconut (unsweetened is best)
  • 1/4 cup dried pineapple
  • 1/4 cup dried mango
  • 1/4 cup dried papaya
  • 1/2 cup chopped macadamia or cashew nuts
Top with a fresh banana - DELISH.


Muesli can be served as either a hot or cold cereal. You can prepare it just as you would oatmeal cooked in either water or almond milk, which I have never tried but sounds good. A more traditional, Swiss way of eating it is to add the milk the night before and let it soak in the refrigerator overnight which makes a rich and creamy "oat milk." Never tried that either but think I will! I just pour my almond milk on and top with fresh fruit. It's dryer than traditional cereal and your jaw has to work a little harder - you'll burn a few extra calories by chewing :)

Monday, February 3, 2014

Peek inside my makeup bag

This is just like Us Weekly Magazine (except I'm not a celebrity)…


Switching out my makeup for brands free of toxins has been my biggest hesitation to date and I was worried for absolutely nothing! I have been very brand loyal to Bobbi Brown and Shu Uemura for YEARS and breaking up with them wasn't easy. It took me a long time to find the perfect products for me, and I wasn't looking forward to starting that process again. Throwing them out was the hardest part and I haven't looked back since. I'm thrilled with the replacement products I've purchased so far and still have a little more cleaning up to do.


My friend Lisa introduced me to Tarte Cosmetics and I'm cautiously hooked. Trying makeup on at the store is a must for me and Tarte is sold at Sephora - SCORE! I ran out of my blush and bronzer (my neck is about 3 shades lighter than my face, very annoying…) so I checked them out. I really like the founder's "our philosophy" section of their website:
 Today tarte is a leader in healthy, eco-chic beauty, offering cruelty-free cosmetics infused with skinvigorating™ ingredients like superfruit and plant extracts, vitamins, minerals, essential oils and other naturally-derived ingredients. But it’s not just about what’s in our powerful formulas; it’s what’s not in them that really sets us apart! All of our products are formulated without parabens, mineral oil, phthalates, sodium lauryl sulfate, triclosan, synthetic fragrances and gluten, just to name a few. Ingredients are absolutely important to me, but so are formulas that perform. We call it tarte 12-hour power™, but you’ll just notice it lasts. Not to mention that we’ve got budgeproof, waterproof, sweatproof, SPF and formulas with truly compelling consumer panel claims.
When I checked them on EWG's Skindeep site they didn't score as low as I like. The lower the better and I am comfortable in the 0-2 green range. The "Amazonian Clay 12 Hour Blush" (which won an Allure "Best of Beauty" award) that I bought scored a "limited" 3, ugh. Still way better than what I had been been using, but not quite there yet. I really like it though, stays on and looks very natural. The bronzer was in the green range :) and I'm really pleased with it also.

I went through a mineral makeup phase several years back and it was great until I dropped a container of blush on the floor - was the biggest mess ever. Bare Minerals "Mineral Veil" was one of my favorite products and I was excited to see that it scored a "1" on Skin Deep. It is very light and leaves a really pretty finish to your skin - love it! Not all Bare Minerals products score in the Skin Deep green zone, so be sure to check before purchasing. Same with Tarte - some of their products are in the green zone and others are yellow.


I have worn the same two nail polishes on my toes since the early 2000s - my "signature shades." My Fall/Winter shade is Chanel "Vamp" and when the weather starts warming up I switch to "Orange Fizz." I've been wearing these two polishes for A LONG LONG TIME and I really love them. But I don't love their ingredients. 

Butter London was the first company to sell non-toxic nail polish in the United States and all their lacquers are "3 Free" - meaning they are formulated without formaldehyde (known carcinogen) , toluene, and DBP (both reproductive toxins). These three toxins were banned for use in cosmetics by the European Union in 2004. Sure will be nice when the United States decides to clean up our safety standards for personal care products… They have 116 GORGEOUS shades that you can buy at Nordstrom, Sephora or Ulta and cover beautifully. I found an almost identical matches to my "signature shades" and almost ventured out with a new color, baby steps! Hoping to be able to switch over to my Spring polish soon, so over this cold weather.


Jeffre Scott Apothecary in Charlotte is my favorite source for beauty products and expert advice. They carry an Italian line called Alison Raffaele Cosmetics that I'm loving. From her website:
"Being the daughter of a pharmacist, wellness has always been engrained in me, and when I became pregnant I realized the need to create products I could eventually trust on my own daughter's skin."
YES, I couldn't agree more! She adds her exclusive "Frutta di Vita" anti-aging, antioxidant complex which is made up of Goji Berry, Resveratrol (skin of grapes) and Pomegranate. You look beautiful AND the product is working to keep your skin healthy and youthful.

Since I've started washing my face with honey (I'm serious) my skin tone has never been better and I haven't been wearing a full face of makeup - just mascara and a little blush. On Sundays for church and date nights I'll spruce it up a bit and wear a foundation by Alison Raffaele. To make it last I start with her primer, which has a velvety smooth texture and gives natural SPF 15 protection. When Jeffre tested it on the back of my hand I was sold! Then I put on the foundation, which is light and gives medium coverage. She also has a powder, but I already had purchased the mineral veil. Since I only use it a couple times a week I'm hoping it will last a long time because Alison Raffaele is definitely a luxury purchase ($$$$). 


And this is what's left in my bag…. sigh. Next to go is my gel eyeliner which is really dried out and I'm going to check out Josie Maran and Jane Iredale options. I rarely wear eye shadow anymore, so there isn't much urgency in trading it out. The mascara is a problem for me. I love eyelashes, love them love them and I really like L'Oreal Voluminous Original formula. The Ava Anderson mascara I tried was like water, did absolutely nothing. I haven't tried any other options yet and am on the lookout. Poofy Organics has a mascara that I've heard good things about, but you have to order online and can't sample.