Hi, lovelies! The trees are blooming, the grass is green, the wind is insane--it's springtime in Kansas! I love this time of year. The days are longer, and the school year is coming to an end. Summer is so close, you can taste it. So, here are some things to keep you inspired, healthy, entertained and happy throughout the next couple of months. I always have a ton to share with you, so I will try to pick the best ones...
Snack: Rx Bars
I am not typically one to suggest a pre-packaged bar as a snack. I usually would say to myself, my children, or my clients, "eat real food". But, when you are in a pinch and need a little something to get you through until a meal, these RX Bars are pretty great, and they are comprised of real food ingredients. They tell you in big, bold writing on the front of the package what is in each one--a couple of dates, 3 egg whites, and some nuts. They even tell you how many of each nut is going into each bar! These babies have 12 grams of protein and about 5 or 6 grams of fiber, so they will definitely get you through a hunger crisis. So many protein bars on the market today have WAY too many ingredients and often ingredients I don't want in my body, like soy protein isolate, which is a highly processed form of soy. There are some that may be equivalent to a candy bar with respect to carbs, sugar, calories, etc. Just because it's in the protein bar aisle at the health food store doesn't mean it's not really cousin to a Twix, my friends. I am a minimalist when it comes to any food that comes in a package. I have said it before: it should ideally have five ingredients or less, and they all should be ingredients your body recognizes as food. Larabars fit the bill for sure, and they are a great vegan bar, but they are lacking the protein that RX Bars provide. So if you tolerate egg whites well, this is a pretty clean, straightforward protein bar to keep around when you need a boost. They come in a nice variety of flavors: Chocolate Sea Salt, Coconut Chocolate, Maple Sea Salt, Mint Chocolate, Peanut Butter, Blueberry, Coffee Chocolate, and Apple Cinnamon. They are gluten free, soy free, dairy free, and sugar free, as you could probably figure out, and they are around 200 calories. For the sake of full disclosure, some of them have some "flavors" on the ingredient list, like "natural maple flavor" for example, so if you are a total purist, that may turn you off. Nothing artificial, however, goes into these bars. And, in a perfect world, they would be organic and give me the little butterfly non-GMO project label, but I guess you can't have it all, right? Again, this is not a staple in my diet or something I eat every day. It's a good little emergency purse snack if you are craving something sweet. If you find yourself in a hunger crisis and you are restricting your carbs, I suggest beef or turkey jerky, but that's another blog post. You can find RX Bars at health food stores everywhere and online.
Book: You Have 4 Minutes to Change Your Life by Rebekah Borucki
Ok, I am going to rant about meditation again, but stay with me, because this is good stuff. Perhaps you hear the word meditation and your thoughts go to "I don't have time" or "that's too woo-woo for me" or "I don't know how". These are all valid concerns, and I hear you. However, this book will address those concerns and teach you how to take 4 minutes--ONLY FOUR MINUTES--to meditate on all kinds of issues. I think I can safely say that we all have four minutes to spare, right? Rebekah Borucki of Bexlife.com has written a little gem of a meditation guide here, my friends. This book is for EVERYONE. She guides you through some simple breathing and gives you mantras to repeat to yourself. These mantras cover everything from de-stressing your life, accepting your body, finding happiness, easing the pain of grief and loss, attracting healthy relationships, to manifesting courage, confidence and success. You will soon become a pro at these short meditations, and you will be coming up with your own mantras for whatever you need. For me, starting my day with some quiet, some breathing, and some positive mantras is incredibly powerful. There is even some imagery she explains that can help you defuse in a moment of intense stress--let's say your spouse says something hurtful to you or a coworker or boss makes a comment that sends you spinning. Rebekah gives you tools you will use for the rest of your life, people! I am going to create 4-minute meditations for my children based on what I think they need most. The idea of learning to meditate can be intimidating, but this book makes it easy. Check it out!
Oral Health--Brushing Rinse, Tooth & Gum Powder, and Smart Floss
Have you ever noticed the warning labels on traditional tubes of toothpaste? "If more than used for brushing is accidentally swallowed, call the poison control center immediately" or something close to that. I don't know about you, but I am hesitant to put anything in my mouth that is harmful if swallowed! I have been on a quest for oral health products that keep my teeth looking and feeling good, my gums healthy, and my breath fresh. I have suffered from sensitive teeth for a LONG time, mostly because I tend to clench my teeth at night. That causes movement, which causes recession of the gums, blah, blah, blah. So, I have tried EVERY toothpaste on the market targeted for sensitive teeth, and none of them seemed to work. I listened to a very interesting and informative podcast (On Air With Ella) interview that REALLY made me do a 360 with respect to my oral care. You should also check out this episode, which gives insight to the risk of mercury and root canals. I got all of my amalgam fillings removed, and I started using a tooth powder (pictured) that has ingredients I can understand and recognize: baking soda, xylitol, peppermint leaf extract, spearmint leaf extract, neem bark (an awesome natural ingredient for oral health), anise fruit oil, clove bud, calcium carbonate, sea salt, silica, stevia leaf extract, probiotics and vitamin D3 powder. It contains a totally safe and healthy stabilizer and foaming agent that checks out on the EWG Skin Deep website. It is sulfate free, flouride free, paraben free, gluten free, and free of artifical flavors and colors. I sprinkle a little on my toothbrush and use it just like toothpaste--it tastes great, makes my teeth feel clean, and I NO LONGER HAVE SENSITIVITY!!!! Clearly it was some chemical in conventional toothpaste that was causing the problem. It lasts a really, really long time, too. A little goes a long way. If you listen to the first podcast interview I mentioned, you will get ideas for making your own tooth powder if you want to go that route, but this one rocks. The Brushing Rinse pictured above is also fantastic. I use it mostly as a mouthwash, but the idea is to swish for 30-60 seconds, and with the rinse still in your mouth, brush your teeth with it. It is designed to be a mouthwash and tooth cleanser all-in-one. It makes your mouth feel incredibly clean, and it contains ZERO nasty ingredients: Deionized purified water, food-grade hydrogen peroxide, organic aloe vera, and organic essential oils. Add Dr. Tung's Smart Floss to your routine, and you will have the HEALTHIEST mouth. It's the best floss in the world, my friends. Did you know that the really slick flosses (you know...there's one with a slick name?) is actually coated with BPA? Yes, BPA, the plasticizer that also acts like synthetic estrogen in your body--no thank you! You can find all these products at Natural Grocers or on Amazon.
Musical Soundtrack: Dear Evan Hansen
If you are at all into Broadway musicals...er actually, if you are a living, breathing human, you need
to get acquainted with the soundtrack to Dear Evan Hansen. This show is fairly new to Broadway and stars Ben Platt, whom you may recognize from Pitch Perfect. He is phenomenal--his voice will melt you, and his vocal range will astound you. It's a story about a struggling high school student who feels alone, awkward and so desperate for love and belonging that he gets mixed up in a web of lies surrounding the suicide of another teen boy. It's a touching, timely story, and the music is seriously outstanding. My favorites: "If I Could Tell Her", "For Forever" "Waving Through A Window" "Requiem", "Only Us", and "You Will Be Found". You won't be able to get them out of your head, but it's worth it--trust me. This is at the top of my list of musicals to see when I can make it to the Big Apple. I need to see the original cast! This story provides hope for teenagers struggling with loneliness, depression, and the overwhelming need for acceptance. It's inspiring, and the music is incredible!
Chocolate: Cacao Brew & Lily's
I like to find any way to consume chocolate in all it's magical, rich, creamy deliciousness without
overdoing it. And, by overdoing it, I mean making my butt bigger and consuming too much sugar. Cacao is the name of the plant from which cocoa and chocolate come from. Cacao is actually super high in antioxidants--way more than blueberries! It is loaded with minerals, and studies have shown that it can even positively affect your mood and emotions by boosting your seratonin levels. Bring it on. Now, I should add that the more the cacao beans are processed, the less nutritious it gets, so that mini Snickers bar at your desk isn't going to do great things for you. Cacao Brew is ground, roasted cacao beans that you brew just like coffee. You get to enjoy all the richness and all the health benefits without the fat and calories of chocolate. I use a french press to brew this, and it is very similar to coffee. I add my homemade cashew milk, a few drops of liquid stevia, and I have a delicious morning cup of goodness. Sometimes, I do half coffee and half cacao, and it is SO good. If you are trying to wean yourself off of coffee, this is a great product to try. You can also brew it in a coffee maker. The grounds look like the picture below.
Lily's Sea Salt Dark Chocolate is my other guilt-free chocolate indulgence. It is gluten free, non GMO, dairy free, 70% dark chocolate, and it is sweetened with stevia!!!! It has less than 1 gram of sugar per serving, and a serving is half of a bar, so way too much to eat in one sitting. It has 25% fewer calories than sugar-sweetened chocolate, but it tastes DIVINE. Just a few little squares after dinner is all you need. It seems pretty sinful, but it's a great way to get your chocolate fix without overindulging. It comes in many flavors, but the blood orange, sea salt, and extra dark are the only ones that are dairy free. They also come in chocolate chip form, which is great for melting and adding to healthy muffins or cookies. Find them on line or at any health food market. The very best thing about this product is it's inspiration. Lily is a girl that has fought brain cancer twice, against many odds, and she is a thriving teenager today. A percentage of proceeds from each product sold goes to charities that help kids with cancer get the services and help they need. Check out their website for the full story!
Feminine Hygeine: LOLA
If you are a dude, skip this.
I have been searching for healthy products to take care of my monthly lady business for a long time. I have never loved the options at the health food stores, and I don't want to use the conventional drug store products that are made with bleached and chemically treated cotton. Our bodies are porous--definitely down there. We absorb what we put in and on our sweet bods, and cotton is one of the crops in this country that is HEAVILY sprayed with toxic pesticides. The conventional brands do not disclose their ingredients, and the lovely LOLA brand does: 100% Organic Cotton--no toxins, dyes or synthetic additives. This company was started by two smart gals who wanted better
products for women and an easy way to distribute them. The website is SO easy. You create an account and customize each box of tampons--you pick light, regular, super or super plus and how many you want of each. They deliver them right to your door every couple of months! They will send you an email before each shipment giving you a chance to adjust your subscription, add to your order, skip a shipment or cancel. I love having a full stash on hand at all times, and there is not a better product on the market. They have a plastic applicator, which may not be as environmentally friendly as some, but cardboard applicators are not easy to use and not comfortable. These are comfortable and easy. They also sell ultra-thin pads and pantiliners, and they have the most adorable "First Period Kit" for that young middle-schooler who wants to be ready when the time arrives. It also doesn't hurt that the packaging is super cute and sleek. New customers get a free box on the first shipment of a 2+ box subscription. And, in addition to the beautiful packaging and fabulous products, this company donates their products to homeless shelters all across the US. This is a company started by women, for women, and helping women in need. Right on! I have to give a huge shout-out to my amazing friend, Adriene, for introducing me to LOLA!
Recipe: Banana Soft Serve
This might be the easiest healthy ice cream replacement known to mankind. It baffles me that one
can take frozen bananas, put them in the food processor, and turn them into creamy, dreamy soft-serve-consistency ice cream, but it's true. This may be old news to some of you, because this trick has been out there for quite some time, but it if you don't know about this or haven't ever tried it, you MUST. No sweetener needed here. The bananas provide enough sweetness, and when frozen and processed until smooth, create a delicious frozen dessert. I like to add nut butter, but you can add cocoa powder, chocolate chips, little balls of cookie dough (okay--don't do that :), or whatever you want. If you want to turn it into a gut-healing, skin-improving dessert, add some collagen powder (see Winter blog post). Look up "Banana Soft Serve" on Pinterest, and watch your computer screen blossom with ideas!
Banana Soft Serve
3 sliced frozen bananas
1 heaping tablespoon nut butter of your choice (optional)
1. Place frozen bananas in food processor with any additions of your choice, and process until completely smooth.
2. Enjoy right away for best results or freeze in a container and enjoy later. It will darken a bit if you wait.
hair care: Beautycounter Daily Shampoo and Conditioner
"Safe and effective" is always my goal when it comes to beauty products. Our bodies absorb the
potions we slather and lather on our skin--including our scalp. When I find products that are safe for me and my family and perform exceptionally well, I get really excited. Beautycounter Daily Shampoo and Conditioner is PHENOMENAL, my friends. It is a completely different experience in the shower. It makes my hair feel healthier, softer, stronger and more nourished than anything I have ever used. I actually look forward to washing my hair. This stuff is amazing! It has a pleasant citrus scent, and a VERY small amount turns into a luxurious lather, so it lasts a long time. I have never loved a shampoo or conditioner this much in my entire life. Check out my website, and please keep in mind that they are soon lowering the price of the conditioner to match the price of the shampoo. You deserve this stuff, and your hair and body will thank you! This entire line of cosmetics and personal care products uses the highest safety standards in the industry. Check out all their safe and high-performing products.
Thanks for reading to the end! I love you all, and I wish you perfect spring days, picnics in the
park, the smell of freshly cut grass, dinners al fresco, happy graduations, lovely proms, and all the magic of springtime. I am going back to school next month--wish me luck. I am getting certified as a Nutritional Therapy Consultant through the NTA, and it's going to be nine months of intense study. If I don't come out with a summer edition, this is why! I will do my best. Take care of yourselves, and message me with any questions or feedback!