Delicious Legs 

Unfortunately ladies, until winter is in full swing, we have to shave our legs regularly. But there is a way to make it easier, more effective, and last longer!

Shaving is much better with exfoliated skin. When you shave without exfoliating, you’re simply shaving off a layer of dead skin rather than getting actual hair (this also causes ingrowns.) But if you exfoliate first and then shave, you get straight to the matter at hand, the hair, and the result is a super silky smooth “like a baby’s behind” leg. 

This easy DIY scrub takes to it a completely new level and is made with ingredients you have around the house. And it’s not just for women, men can absolutely benefit from soft exfoliated skin. 
 
Simply take 1 cup of sugar, 1/2 cup coconut oil, and the juice of one lemon and mix them together in a bowl. Scrub onto to your legs, shave, and rinse. For extra smoothness, apply scrub once more after shaving and your legs will be so slippery smooth you won’t even be able to cross them! Happy exfoliating! 

We be Gellin’…

  

Even though I have about a million bottles of nail polish in my arsenal, I always go back to my classic red nails and it’s usually OPI’s Big Apple Red. But lately I haven’t been happy with OPI and it’s such a pain to go to the trouble of painting your nails just to have them chipping and peeling a few days later. I know gel manicures are all the rage now but I just don’t have the time or money to go get my nails done on a regular basis. So when I saw this new Sally Hansen “Miracle Gel” polish, I had to give it a try!
I, of course, went for their reddest red, Red Eye    along with a bottle of the clear gel topcoat which is in a black bottle…maybe something to do with ultraviolet light or something? I don’t know Jim, I’m a girl not not a scientist! Ok, ok, calm down feminists, it was a harmless Star Trek joke, not a slur against women and their ability to be scientists.

Sally’s website gives these easy steps;

The ONLY TRUE 2-STEP GEL MANICURE with no light needed. Over 61 shades that wow! And it’s only from Sally Hansen. Leading the revolution in gel technology.

For Best Results: Make sure nails are clean and dry. Use nail polish remover to wipe away any residue on the nail.

Step 1: Apply 2 coats of Miracle Gel™ Color. Allow color to dry for 5 minutes

Step 2: Apply 1 coat of Miracle Gel™ Top Coat

OMGel! Let natural light do the rest!

I followed the easy instructions and the result was a beautifully shiny and strong manicure that dried remarkably fast as well! I took these pictures after seven days of wear, swimming, dish washing, etc, and they are still good as new, other than a little growth at the ends but even a $50 manicure can’t stop that! (Plus my nails grow very quickly, which I guess is a good thing, but super annoying.)  

(Don’t mind my cuticles, they’re pretty atrocious, I know.) Not a red person? Check out some of their other shades!

 So whichever color strikes your fancy, you should definitely give this gel polish a try, you’ll love it! 

 

vegan fiesta!!!

  
So yesterday I shared with you the story of the Sanibel Sprout and the delicious meal I had prepared by the chef & owner, Nikki. She told me that she is a firm believer in seasoning. I agreed with her wholeheartedly, I’ve always said I feel that anything can taste good as long as it is prepared and seasoned well. 

(Some people prefer a little too much seasoning, and salt my food right in front of me…eye roll…no comment…)

Nikki’s taco salad with walnut “taco meat” was so very flavorful that when you took a bite you tasted cumin, chili powder, and sea salt, not walnuts. It actually tasted like ground taco meat. But lighter and more heart healthy. But the cashew “queso” topping? That really blew my mind, I had no clue how it even existed and I decided I had to try making it for myself. I did a little research and experimenting and came up with my own concoctions for both. Unfortunately I didn’t take pictures as I went along, sorry, but trust me it’s really easy. But there are pictures of the finished product! 

First, the taco meat.

Ingredients

  • 2 C whole walnuts (if you only have chopped on hand that’s OK just don’t pulse them as much in the food processor so that they don’t get too fine…like Brad Pitt)
  • 3 teaspoons chili powder (all spices are to taste; you may want a little more or a little less…as I tasted I felt it couldn’t get enough cumin so I kept adding until the flavor was just right)
  • 4 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1 tb olive oil (I omitted this when making it for friends who are not eating any kind of oils, I just put a little water in instead, but I do think the oil is helpful in binding the mixture together and enhancing the flavor.)

Instructions

Combine all ingredients in a food processor, and pulse until it’s the consistency of ground meat.

Taste test, and add more spices if you’d like.

This is totally optional but I think totally a must to a) feel like you’re eating taco mea and b) completely fool your butcher husband…Heat mixture in a skillet over medium-low heat for about 5 minutes. Your house will smell like you’re having a fiesta!  

  
 
I love a colorful salad so I out all sorts of toppings out; black olives, red & yellow bell peppers, fresh diced tomatoes, shoestring carrots, seasoned kidney beans, sunflower seeds, organic blue corn tortilla chips, and, my personal favorite, big hunks of avocado!But the real star of the dish and the perfect finishing touch? The cashew queso! Which, by the way, also doubles as a dressing for the salad which was especially nice for our non oil eating amigos. I’m really getting into this fiesta thing now! 

Ingredients 

  • 1 cup cashews, soaked for at least 3 hours, drained, and rinsed.
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/3 cup nutritional yeast…(I had to go to the health food store to find this…it smells awful and I don’t know why it was necessary but it just was. Note to self: do more research on nutritional yeast and follow up with blog post about said ingredient) 
  • 1 cup water
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice

Instructions

Blend all of the ingredients together in a blender until smooth and queso like. Make sure to scrape down the sides and that it’s really blended all the way through, you don’t want any little cashew chunks.  This makes about 2 cups and the queso sauce will keep in the fridge for up to 5 days.

 You could just spoon the sauce over your salad but where’s  the fun in that?! Or….you could put sauce into a ziplock bag, snip the tip, and artfully pipe over your salad for a beautiful finish to the meal. There was plenty of queso left over too, so we took some of those beautiful organic blue corn tortilla chips and dipped them right in there. Take that nacho cheese!  

The butcher and I aren’t quite ready to go completely meatless or dairy free yet, but we are definitely cutting back and making better choices. This dish is so delicious it doesn’t even feel like a sacrifice! Taco salad for all!

   

Vegan Paradise 

As you know, I spent a lovely week with my mother in law on Sanibel Island recently. It was a much needed relaxing break. On Wednesday we went for massages, body treatments, and a little oxygen bar treatment at the Sanibel Day Spa. It was divine.  

After such a grueling (ha!) morning of pampering and detoxifying treatments, we wanted something light and healthy to fill our bellies. Since Yelp never lets me down when looking for local restaurants, off to Yelp I went, and came across a little vegan cafe, called the Sanibel Sprout. It had great reviews and the menu sounded fantastic. Five minutes later we were there.  

 I can never walk into any health food store without instantly thinking of my mother in law, even though this time she happened to be standing right next to me. The combined aromas of vitamins, essential oils, and patchouli fill the air and remind me of her. This was no different. We were instantly greeted by the most adorable little British woman with platinum hair, a hot pink shirt, and a warm smile.

After perusing the shop section of the store, filled with books, supplements, candles, and a plethora of all natural products, we wandered over to the cafe portion, oohing and ahhing over the vegan cheesecakes, mini vegan key lime pies, vitamin elixirs, and other goodies in the prepared food case. We grabbed a few vitamin elixirs (Ok Mom grabbed one, I’m still new with all this stuff) and took a seat to look at the menu. 

     
   
Mom decided on the vegan lasagna made with brown rice noodles, tomato sauce, and cashew cheese. I, because I’m special, ordered something that wasn’t on the menu but listed on the specials board behind the counter. It was a vegan taco salad. Sounds like an oxymoron right? Wrong! The “taco meat” is actually made with seasoned walnuts and the “cheese” is cashew queso. It was almost too pretty to eat. Almost

    
 It was delicious, filling, and if I hadn’t known, I would’ve thought I was eating ground beef. Seriously. In fact, I even found out later from the chef that recently a woman who had picked up a taco salad to go, had called later completely irate that there was meat in her vegan salad! There was no greater complement than that! We had to talk to the owner. I walked over to the aforementioned sweetheart who had welcomed us and found out her name was Edith. I gabbed to her a bit about how much I loved my food and asked her who owned this amazing little spot.

“I do. With my daughter, Nikki. She’s the chef” she said as she motioned toward a young woman working furiously behind the counter blending, chopping, and moving back and forth with grace and know how.

 I told Edith that I had a blog and would love to do a little write up about the Sanibel Sprout so perhaps I could ask her a few questions and take a photo of her. She kindly obliged but said she first had to check her lipstick. She was so adorable I couldn’t help but snap a photo of her as she did so. 

 Once she was fully primped, she positioned herself on a stool in front of the juice bar and smoothie station, took her glasses off, and smiled. 

“Is this alright?” she asked.

“Perfect” I said.

Edith is 89 years old and becoming a vegan literally saved her life. 

Three years ago she was diagnosed with stage one leukemia. Her daughter and natural chef, Nikki, moved from Miami to Sanibel to help her mother change her diet and hopefully prolong her life. Although Edith had been a vegetarian for many years, she was not as enthusiastic about going completely vegan. 

“If I have to give up chocolate and milk, I’d rather just die.” she candidly recanted. 

But Nikki assured her that she would never be hungry and that every day she would be showered with deliciously filling breakfasts, lunches, and dinners. And that she did. She never went hungry and was fully convinced. It has now become her lifestyle.

Edith’s sister, still living in England, was also diagnosed with leukemia. Sadly, she passed away soon after. The difference in their diets was undeniable and the results spoke for themselves. Three years later, Edith’s leukemia is still at stage one and, to the amazement of her doctors, has not moved or grown whatsoever. 

There may not yet be a cure for cancer out there, but a plant based diet, living on what God created, certainly seems to be effective in prevention and even treatment of disease. 

I could have sat and chatted with those two all day, but the beach was calling. I look forward to going back on our next visit, Edith will be 90 by then, and probably better than ever. 

As soon as I got home, I had to try to recreate Nikki’s delicious taco salad. Stay tuned tomorrow for the recipe! 

  

 
 

Salt, salt, salt! 

  Last week I did a post about natural Castile soap and it’s many uses. Although I am by no means a certified health expert or what I consider to be “granola” (I won’t be wearing Birkenstocks or using a crystal under my arms any time soon), I do appreciate using products that are good for my body and as natural as possible. I got a lot of positive feedback from the soap post so I decided to do a similar post today, but this time, about Epsom salt. 

Epsom salt is a major staple in my house. I keep a giant glass jar of it next to my bathtub and generously sprinkle it in the water every time I take a bath. I initially started doing it because I had heard that it helped soften the skin. Which it absolutely did. But I also noticed that it made my soaks so much more relaxing. Upon further examination, I discovered why. Magnesium! 

Let’s take a little detour to talk about magnesium and some of the things I’ve learned about it. Magnesium is the eighth most abundant mineral on earth, and the third most abundant in sea water. More importantly, it is the fourth most abundant mineral in the human body and it is necessary in over 300 reactions within the body. Translation? It’s pretty important and you are most likely deficient in magnesium. I certainly realized I was after discovering I have almost all of the following signs of a magnesium deficiency…

  • Inability to sleep or insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Sensitivity to noise
  • Mental disturbances
  • Anxiety, depression or restlessness
  • Muscle soreness or spasms
  • Infertility or PMS
  • High levels of stress
  • Headaches
  • Heart “flutters” or palpitations
  • Fatigue or unusual tiredness
  • Coldness or tingling in extremities
  • Fuzzy brain or difficulty concentrating
  • Allergies and sensitivities
  • Lack of appetite
  • Back pain
  • Body odor
  • Bad short term memory
  • Poor coordination
  • Insulin resistance
  • Carbohydrate cravings
  • Constipation
  • Frequent cavities or poor dental health (usually caused by frequent use of antibiotics which deplete magnesium from your body)
  • Gut disorders
  • Kidney stones
  • Thyroid problems

What are some factors that cause this depletion of magnesium?

  • Consumption of caffeine
  • Consumption of sugar (It takes 28 molecules of magnesium to metabolize a single glucose molecule! source)
  • Consumption of processed food
  • Consumption of alcohol
  • Consumption of produce from depleted soil
  • Drugs like birth control pills, hypertension medicine, diuretics, insulin, and certain antibiotics (among others) deplete magnesium levels. 
  • Sweating often from exercise or other causes can also deplete magnesium.

So now you know what it is, that you’re probably deficient in it, and how you got that way. But what does magnesium actually do, and why is it so good for you?

  • Gives rigidity AND flexibility to your bones (more important than Calcium in many cases)
  • Regulates and normalizes blood pressure
  • Prevents and reverses kidney stone formation
  • Promotes restful sleep
  • Helps prevent congestive heart failure
  • Eases muscle cramps and spasms.
  • Decreases insulin resistance
  • End cluster and migraine headaches
  • Enhances circulation
  • Relieves fibromyalgia and chronic pain
  • Treats asthma and emphysema
  • Encourages proper elimination (it helps you go poo)
  • Prevents osteoporosis
  • Proper Vitamin D absorption
  • Aids weight loss
  • Lessen or remove ADD or ADHD in children
  • Emerging evidence is showing a preventative role in many cancers

Man that sure is one helpful element off the periodic table! But how do we get more of it? Well unfortunately, magnesium is often not well absorbed by the digestive tract, and is even more difficult to absorb if you are deficient or are low in vitamin D, have poor gut bacteria or suffer from a number of other conditions. On top of that, most foods are depleted of their natural magnesium levels and the water supply is lacking also. But there are some things you can do…

  • Eat lots of leafy greens especially sea vegetables like kelp and nettles. 
  • Use a topical magnesium spray as it can more quickly enter the blood and tissues of the body since you don’t have to digest it.
  • Use Epsom salt, which is rich in magnesium! 

Whew, it was quite a detour but we made it back on course to our topic at hand, Epsom salt! Epsom salt, named for a bitter saline spring at Epsom in Surrey, England, is not actually salt but a naturally occurring pure mineral compound of magnesium and sulfate. Long known as a natural remedy for a number of ailments, it has numerous health benefits as well as many beauty, household and gardening-related uses. Studies have shown that magnesium and sulfate are both readily absorbed through the skin, making Epsom salt baths an easy and ideal way to enjoy the amazing health benefits. 

The wonders of Epsom salt have been well known for hundreds of years and unlike other salts, Epsom salt has beneficial properties that can soothe the body, mind and soul. Some of the countless health benefits include relaxing the nervous system, curing skin problems, soothing back pain and aching limbs, easing muscle strain, healing cuts, treating cold and congestion, and drawing toxins from the body. One of the simplest ways to ease stress and stress-related problems is to soak in a tub full of hot water with a few cups of Ultra Epsom Salt. 

Here are some great home uses I’ve tried (and a few I haven’t but I’m sure they’re effective)  for this magnificent “salt”…

  • Relax in the tub! Add at least 1 cup of epsom salt to a warm bath and soak for 20 minutes. This can help relieve sore muscles, soften skin, absorb magnesium unti skin, and encourage a good nights sleep. Try putting it in your child’s bath at night to relax them before bed. 
  • Splinter Removal- Soak in concentrated epsom salt water to pull out a splinter.
  • Better Vegetables- Add a tablespoon of epsom salt to the soil below a tomato plant to boost growth. (this is obviously one that I have NOT tried…sorry dad)
  • Heal minor cuts & infections- ever get an infected earlobe from a cheap earring? Soak a cotton ball in warm water and Epsom salt, hold it onto ear for several minutes, and voila! 
  • Facial Wash- Add a pinch of epsom salt to your usual face cleaner (or to your oil cleansing routine) for a skin exfoliating magnesium boost.
  • Tile/Grout Cleaner- Mix equal parts of liquid dish soap and epsom salts and use to scrub tile and grout. Rinse well for a streak free shine.
  • Homemade Sea Salt Spray- Make your own sea salt spray to add texture and volume to have “beach hair” whenever you want! 
  • Volumizing Hair Mask- Combine equal parts of conditioner and epsom salt and leave on hair for 20 minutes. Rinse well and let air dry for thicker hair. (Yeah my hair is thick enough but I’m sure this really works to add volume of you need that kind of thing!) 
  • Foot Soak- For a concentrated magnesium boost, add 1 cup of epsom salt to a hot foot soak and soak for 20 minutes. This works wonders on yucky calloused heels like mine! 
  • Laxative- For occasional constipation, a teaspoon of epsom salt dissolved in water can help. 
  • Headache relief- There is evidence that soaking in a soothing epsom salt bath may help relieve headache.
  • Smooth skin- Mix 1/2 cup epsom salt with 1/4 cup olive oil and scrub skin in the shower for healthy and smooth skin.
  • Itchy Skin or Bug Bites- Dissolve a tablespoon of epsom salt in to 1/2 cup of water and cool. Spritz on itchy skin or apply a wet compress to help relieve itching.
  • Minor Sunburn Relief- Use the same ratio in the itchy skin relief above and spritz on to minor sunburns to help soothe them.

So there you have it! If you don’t have any Epsom salt at home, go get some right away, it’s super inexpensive! 

Super Smooth Summer Legs

I have gotten so many comments and testimonies from my “Mascara Saver” post that I decided to do another beauty secret. In the summertime, whether we like it or not, we have to have freshly shaved legs at all times between shorts, capris, and the inevitable swimsuit. One thing that helps me bare my legs with confidence is making sure they’re tan using my favorite trusty self tanner (which I shall feature on the blog very soon). But self tanner can be tricky if your legs aren’t exfoliated properly, it will cling to every spot of dry skin or unshaven bit. In fact, shaving itself is better with exfoliated skin. When you shave without exfoliating, you’re simply shaving off a layer of dead skin rather than getting actual hair (this also causes ingrowns.) But if you exfoliate first and then shave, you get straight to the matter at hand, the hair, and the result is a super silky smooth “like a baby’s behind” leg. But this easy DIY scrub takes to it a completely new level and is made with ingredients you have around the house.

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Simply take 1 cup of sugar, 1/2 cup coconut oil, and the juice of one lemon and mix them together in a bowl. Scrub onto to your legs, shave, and rinse. Repeat once more and your legs will be so slippery smooth you won’t even be able to cross them!

Puppies love coconut oil too!

Day 3 of our “30 days of coconut oil” is all about puppies!

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Since coconut oil is so good for us humans, it’s only reasonable to conclude it’s healthy for our puppies too! Try putting a spoonful in your dog’s food; it will help them keep a healthy weight, aid with digestion, and give them the shiniest coat you’ll ever see! Raven loves it!

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