Month: September 2010

Top 12 to Buy Organic

In an ideal world, we could all afford to buy organic everything (if we so desired). Since most of us can’t, here is a list of the most important produce to buy organic, as well as the least important. According to the Environmental Working Group, consumers can reduce their pesticide exposure by 80% by going organic with “the dirty dozen” and sticking with conventional on the “the clean 15″. Let me say that one more time – 80%!! Great to know for the sake of your health and your wallet!

The Dirty Dozen:

  1. Celery
  2. Peaches
  3. Strawberries
  4. Apples
  5. Domestic blueberries
  6. Nectarines
  7. Sweet bell peppers
  8. Spinach
  9. Kale
  10. Cherries
  11. Potatoes
  12. Grapes (Imported)

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The Clean 15:

(Makes sense – notice how most of these have a protective outer layer minus the asparagus & cabbage)

  1. Onion
  2. Avocado
  3. Sweet corn
  4. Pineapple
  5. Mango
  6. Sweet peas
  7. Asparagus
  8. Kiwi
  9. Cabbage
  10. Eggplant
  11. Cantaloupe
  12. Watermelon
  13. Grapefruit
  14. Sweet potato
  15. Honeydew melon

Apple Ice Cubes

I recently came across this beauty tip from one of the masters of skincare, Ole Henrisken. You simply pour some apple juice in an ice cube tray and allow it to freeze. Then once you have frozen cubes, glide one over the surface of freshly cleansed skin for a minute or two. The frozen juice contains alpha hydroxy acid, which is naturally anti-aging and helps the skin’s renewal process.  Henriksen says, “it feels like a mini facelift!”

The cubes are also quite tasty to add to seltzer or to have on their own as a refreshing treat.

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Coziest Mugs/Bowls Ever!

Having a mug of tea is relaxing as it is, but the thought of drinking out of one of these buddha bowls just seriously upped the tranquility factor for me. Don’t these just look like the most cozy vessels you could possibly drink tea or coffee out of? I came across them while perusing one of my fav blogs – EXPRESS-O. Thanks Diana for another fun find! I definitely have a crush as well and can’t wait to have one of my own. Now I just have to decide which color…

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A few places to find them online:

VivaTerra

Flavor Design Studios

OCHELLY

uncommon goods

Naturally Clean: Club Soda

I’m sure you’ve probably heard of using club soda to get out tough stains on fabric (simply pour on club soda and scrub gently), but also try club soda…

  • To clean silver jewelry – place pieces in a glass of club soda and soak overnight
  • To clean glass surfaces
  • In  place of water – fill a spray bottle with club soda and use it to remove dirt more effectively from countertops, etc

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Tea Thyme

Thyme, either dried or fresh, contains a large amount of antimicrobial compounds that fight against colds and the flu. Thyme also has expectorant properties that can help calm a cough. Next time you’re feeling under the weather, try making some thyme tea.

THYME TEA

Combine:

  • 1 cup of boiling water
  • 2 teaspoons of dried thyme OR 3 teaspoons of fresh thyme.

You can drink 1-3 cups daily for cold, flu, or cough symptoms.

You can also gargle with the tea (once it has cooled down a bit) to help soothe a sore throat. I know it might not be so tasty, but it helps!

Seed Savers Exchange

I came across Seed Savers Exchange today and thought it was definitely something worth talking about… They are a non-profit, member supported organization that saves and shares heirloom seeds. It was founded in 1975 by Diane Ott Whealy and Kent Whealy to honor a tradition of preserving and sharing, which began when Diane’s terminally-ill grandfather gave them the seeds of two garden plants (Grandpa Ott’s Morning Glory and German Pink Tomato) that his parents brought from Bavaria when they immigrated to St. Lucas, Iowa in the 1870s. Their headquarters is a the 890-acre Heritage Farm in Decorah, Iowa where they permanently maintain more than 25,000 endangered vegetable varieties! Most of the vegetables were brought to North America by members’ ancestors who immigrated from Europe, the Middle East, Asia and other parts of the world.

Now it’s been almost 35 years since their founding and they have already distributed an estimated 1 million samples of rare garden seeds! The seeds are utilized by everyone from small farmers to chefs to home gardeners. The goal of Seed Savers is to maintain the diversity in our food supply, which is a very worthy goal. Why so worthy? Well unfortunately, the genetic diversity of crops worldwide is eroding at an extremely fast rate. The vegetables and fruits we’re losing are the result of thousands of years of adaptation and selection hence each variety is genetically unique and has developed resistance to the diseases and pests with which it evolved. Plant breeders use these old varieties to breed resistance to diseases and pests into our modern crops. So the bottom line: Less genetic diversity equals greater risk of epidemics and infestations in the world’s food production. Clearly, not a good thing.

You can help though by becoming a member (they are member supported) or perhaps giving the membership as a gift! You or the recipient receives access to the seeds of thousands of varietals of endangered fruits, veggies and flowers. Once I’m able to have a garden I definitely plan on joining. Without the efforts of the Seed Savers Exchange, many delicious, nutritious, and beautiful species might have already gone extinct. It makes me sad that we’ve lost so much diversity already, but efforts like this make me hopeful that we can directly help the problem and do it in our own backyards!

Tuna & White Bean Salad

My husband made this a few weeks ago and now it’s become a very frequent dish in our home. It’s such a well-rounded, nutrient-dense meal on its own (lots of protein, fiber & healthy fats) and perfect as a side dish with sandwiches and soups. I think this is one of the healthiest and most delicious, easy recipes ever. Let me know if you give it a try!

Tuna & White Bean Salad

Ingredients:
  • 2 cans tuna (I like tuna in olive oil, but in water works too)
  • 2 cans of cannellini beans
  • 1/2 cup diced onion (optional)
  • 2 stalks celery, leaves and all, chopped
  • half cup extra virgin olive oil
  • juice of 1-2 lemons to taste (we put 2)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • sea salt & fresh ground black pepper to taste
How to:
  1. Drain cans of tuna and beans, combine in large bowl
  2. Add chopped veggies, olive oil, lemon juice, zest, and olive oil
  3. Add salt & pepper
  4. Mix well
  5. Enjoy!

What’s the Deal with Antibacterial Products?

Over the last 20 years, antibacterial products have popped up in everything from soaps and toothpaste, to clothes and toys.  In soaps with antibacterial agents, the most common active ingredient is triclosan.  In hospitals, triclosan has been proven effective in preventing hospital-acquired infections – but at home? Many studies have found it works no better than basic soap and water.

Researchers have raised concerns about triclosan and its link to dioxins, which are highly carcinogenic chemicals that can cause severe health problems such as weakening of the immune system, decreased fertility, altered sex hormones and cancer.  Triclosan is also a likely endocrine disrupter that interferes with thyroid function. Lastly, recent studies have raised the concern that triclosan may promote the emergence of bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics – a real problem with people with comprised immune systems. {source}.

I really wanted to pass on this info from Healthy Bitch Daily. They explain perfectly why there is debate and concern over the widespread use of antibacterial products in homes today.

Looking for a company with natural yet really effective alternatives to antibacterial products containing triclosan? Check out CLEAN WELL. Target is even carrying it these days!

Black Tea & Your Feet

You or someone you know (or maybe even a four-legged friend) have issues with foot odor? You really don’t have to answer that, but here is a quick, natural remedy:

  • How to: Soak your feet in a bowl of very black tea* (like Lipton or Red Rose, etc) for about 5 minutes. *Make sure you really let the tea steep (get dark)

Why does this work? The tannins in the tea change the pH of your skin and should eliminate the odor!

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Healthy Cooking with Gwyneth Paltrow

I love this quote about cooking…

“Invest in what’s real. Clean as you go. Drink while you cook. Make it fun. It doesn’t have to be complicated. It will be what it will be.” ~Gwyneth Paltrow

Here’s Gwyneth making her quick roast chicken & potatoes recipe:

Quick Tip: Better Breath

Next time you’re out to eat, you might want to think twice about leaving that parsley on your plate. It’s not just a pointless garnish, eating it following a meal is actually the perfect way to freshen your breath sans a toothbrush. Thanks to parsley’s high chlorophyll content is is known to be a great natural cure for bad breath. The chlorophyll it contains is detoxifying, antibacterial, and deodorizing – quite the combination!

We had some friends over this weekend and I oddly offered them a glass of water and few sprigs of fresh parsley. I was just being silly, but they both ate all of the sprigs and even seemed to enjoy it to some degree. I think it definitely made their brief visit more memorable and now they’re in on this natural remedy, as are you!

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Rainbow Swiss Chard

I wasn’t really needing anything at the farmers market last night, but I spotted some rainbow chard so I had to stop. I’ve got it a few times this summer and it has just been so delicious every time. This bunch was no different. I simply sauteed it with a little olive oil, lots of chopped garlic, and a little sea salt then topped it off with a squeeze of fresh lemon – DELICIOUS. Granted I love vegetables, but this was especially tasty and of course, super healthy (see old post for specifics). Next week, I definitely need to buy two bunches at the very least!

Being Grateful

I just came across this article on gratitude and wanted to pass it on…

Hope you enjoy and have a great week!

Though there is no magic spell to keep stress, troubles, and the bumps of life from happening, there is evidence that bolstering feelings of gratitude can change the way you experience those events. By helping you navigate life’s storms with greater ease, more general happiness, and a brighter sense of optimism, giving thanks can become something to be thankful for. {full article}

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The Still Point

The Still Point holistic spa is a little haven of tranquility just 15 minutes from downtown DC in Takoma, Maryland. I hadn’t had a facial in over a year so I decided to go with their most “basic” signature facial ($90), which isn’t really basic at all. It involved black algae, a hydrating mask of local honey, extractions, as well as sonic dermabrasion (there was more, but these were my favorite aspects).

Wondering what sonic dermabrasion is? Unlike harsher micro dermabrasion, sonic dermabrasion consists of a 100% painless pulsating tool that gently glides across the surface of the face, using ultrasound to exfoliate, hydrate and lift the skin.  It removed all of the dead skin and left my face so, so smooth. I think I am now obsessed. I wish I had opened my eyes because I’m curious what the tool looked like exactly, but it was definitely very gentle and I loved the results.

As you can see from the pictures, the outside of the spa is just adorable while the inside is perfectly serene. Aside from all of the services offered, they also have a boutique with an array of  natural products from many unique and harder-to-find lines. Another cool aspect of the spa – they are 100% wind powered!

If you live anywhere in the DC metro area, The Still Point is definitely worth the short trip. I really want to go back for another facial and to try out acupuncture for the first time!

Dry skin?

A  really easy, natural mask for dry skin has just one ingredient: avocado.

  • Simply apply a mashed, ripe avocado to skin once a week. It’s that simple!

You’ll get even more benefits if you eat the leftovers so make some guacamole while you’re mashing or put a few slices on your next salad.

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Another option: apply a tablespoon of olive oil to your face instead of your usual night cream weekly (skip this one if you’re blemish-prone)


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If you’re currently experiencing dry skin, it’s a good idea to get a handle on it now before the cold weather comes in and that healthy glow becomes even more of a challenge!

Baked & Wired

I figured a post about a great source for caffeinated beverages would be quite fitting for this morning after the long weekend, don’t you agree? The source – Baked & Wired in Georgetown, which is definitely my favorite quirky coffee shop in the DC area. Their coffee and espresso are a mix of  Stumptown Coffee Roasters and Intelligentsia Coffee (2 great, high-quality brands) and they use only organic milk (from Trickling Springs Creamery in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania). All of their baked goods (minus the bagels)  are homemade too! They’re becoming quite acclaimed for their cupcakes, which come in so many fun flavors like Smurfette (= fresh blueberries baked into vanilla cake, topped with lemon buttercream).

My regular beverage favs include their oolong tea and soy lattes. Has anyone else been? If so, what are your favorite picks?

Photo Credit: Dylan Price

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