Natural Health

Internal Bug Repellent

Now that the bugs are biting again, it’s a good idea to have a natural bug repellent on hand, but there are also 2 things you can add to your diet to hopefully prevent the bugs from biting:

  1. APPLE CIDER VINEGAR: Add 1 – 2 tablespoons of organic apple cider vinegar to your daily diet (buy a good quality one like BRAGG). You can add the ACV to a glass of hot or cold water (quick but not the tastiest option), to homemade salad dressings in place of other vinegars, or to homemade soups (I do this for almost every soup I make).
  2. GARLIC: Eat more garlic each day. The list of meals you can add cooked or raw garlic to goes on and on, but some of my favorites include sauteed vegetables, pasta dishes, and baked fish.

acv&garlicphoto credit: branchandvinebeauty.com

I actually made a delicious homemade salad dressing last night that includes both of these mosquito-deterrents. Simply combine the following, mix well, and enjoy it on your next salad:

  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 garlic cloves finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

Makes about 8 servings and will last in the fridge up to 4 days. You can add more or less of any of the ingredients depending on your taste buds. I always adjust it a few times before I get it just right.

Hope the bugs leave you alone this 4th of July weekend!

 

New Name + New Look!

I’m really excited to reveal a new name and new look to the blog today. AllNaturalAnnie.com is now officially BranchandVineBeauty.com!

Back in September 2008, I began my blog, All Natural Annie, as an outlet for my passion for holistic health and beauty. Since then I have done a few major things on my life to-do list, which includes getting married, becoming a Certified Holistic Health Counselor, and starting my own holistic beauty line.  The line is called Branch + Vine and hence the new name of the blog!

My blogging will be similar to what it has been in the past, but with more of a focus on holistic and slow beauty, which will still include lots of product reviews and more spa reviews. My line is still in the early stages, but I will have an Etsy page up very soon. My products will all be extremely pure using only ingredients found in nature. Every product will work to improve your health and beauty on a holistic level. I’m really looking forward to sharing my products with you as I continue to develop and grow Branch + Vine.

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Whether you are new to my blog or a reader for years, thank you for your interest and support. What an amazing little world this whole blogging thing has become and I’m so grateful to be a part of it. Thank you again :) ~Annie

Healthy Redos: Medicine Cabinet

  • INSTEAD OF ANTACIDS: Try digestive enzymes. A cup of peppermint or ginger tea can also work wonders.  Personally, I love chewing on a tiny piece of fresh ginger.

{Yogi Ginger Tea}

  • INSTEAD OF IBUPROFEN: Bromelain (naturally found in pineapple) and curcumin (naturally found in turmeric) have powerful anti-inflammatory properties and are most helpful for chronic conditions. If you need pain relief from an acute condition, like a sore throat or headache, white willow bark can help.

Bromelain

{Jarrow Formulas Bromelain}

  • INSTEAD OF SLEEPING PILLS: Try herbs like passionflower, valerian or lemon balm. Many people also have success with supplements like melatonin, tryptophan and 5-HTP.

VALERIAN

{Herb Pharm Valerien Liquid Herbal Extract}

  • INSTEAD OF COUGH MEDICINE: Try a teaspoon of honey before bed. Honey has been shown in studies to be as effective as the cough suppressant dextromethorphan. My favorite cough and cold remedy from my mom is mixing the juice of a large lemon with about 2 tablespoons of honey and a splash of hot water and sipping on it slowly. Works like a charm.

Hope these suggestsions help you end 2013 and start 2014 on a naturally healthier note! :)

Smile to Relieve Pain

When you’re in pain – physically or mentally – there is something very simple you can do to help yourself and you can do it anywhere at anytime – SMILE!  Why is this helpful? Smiling releases endorphins and serotonin.  Endorphins are the body’s natural form of pain relief while serotonin is a type of neurotransmitter that can positively affect your mood.

I know it might sound too simple or too easy, but usually the easiest and simplest remedies are some of the best.  So don’t forget to smile more :)


Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”― Leo F. Buscaglia

Queen Bee of Green Tea

It always seems that the DC area gets its worst storm of the season right when we think winter is over. Our “worst storm” turned out to be a lot more bark (large snowflakes & wind) than bite (zero accumulation). I’m not complaining at all though. It gave me good reason to stay inside and cozy in my pajamas all day. It also lead to the creation of two firsts: (1) a matcha green tea face mask and (2) a matcha green tea latte. For those of you not familiar, matcha is a Japanese finely-milled green tea.

Matcha Face Mask:

  • 1 tsp matcha powder
  • 2 tsp rose water or good quality water (I used rose water)

How to:  Mix ingredients until you have a nice smooth paste. Apply to clean skin. Leave on for 10 minutes . Wash off gently with warm water. Pat (never rub!) skin dry. 

I noticed my skin was brighter and smoother right away. Such an antioxidant overload (in a good way) for your face! This mask is beneficial for all skin types.

Matcha Latte:

  • 12 – 16 oz unsweetened vanilla almond milk (I use Trader Joe’s) + a splash of organic whole milk (milk amount based on mug size)
  • 2 teaspoons of matcha powder (I got mine here)
  • honey to taste – I used 1 heaping teaspoon  (I’m currently using Trader Joe’s Organic Wild Collected Raw Honey, which has a very interesting nutty flavor)

How to:  Heat milk in a small pot on medium heat until nearly boiled. Add matcha and honey. Whisk vigorously until tea is frothy. 

I know I didn’t do this the 100% proper way (read here), but it turned out really great. Although, I think sifting the matcha first would have helped with not having left over matcha at bottom of the latte or maybe I just didn’t put enough elbow grease into the whisking :)

Healthy benefits: Matcha is believed to boost metabolism and  lower cholesterol levels when consumed on a regular basis. Matcha’s powerful punch can largely be attributed to the fact that the whole tea leaf is ingested. This means that it delivers a much higher potency of chlorophyll, catechinsand antioxidants.

The Story of Tea

As a lover of pretty much any and all teas, I really enjoyed coming across this infographic this morning and thought it was worth sharing!

Do you drink tea? If so, what’s your favorite?

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Food For Thought

Love this. It’s very similar to one of my all time favorites: “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food” ~Hippocrates.

Hope everyone has a happy long weekend :) Keep up the healthy eating so you can keep your immune system in tip top shape for this cold/flu season!

5 Natural Headache Helpers

Next time you have a headache and want to reach for pain killers, try out some of these natural remedies instead:

1. REMOVE ANY “HEADGEAR” – Take off your hat, headband, helmet, ponytail holder, goggles, glasses, or anything else you might have on your head. These items can cause external compression headaches and often the headache will go away shortly after removing the offending item. I find this to be true quite often when I have my hair up too tightly.

2.  TRY ACUPRESSURE – Apply pressure to the acupressure point in the webbing between your thumb and index finger to help ease the pain of a headache (*this is not an acupressure point that pregnant women should press*). Also, gently pressing the back of your neck with three fingers on each side can also help relieve muscle tension in your neck that might be causing the headache (it’s very common for neck tension to cause headaches). I also love using an acupressure mat as both a preventative and treatment tool for headaches

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3.  APPLY A COLD COMPRESS – to your forehead and/or the back of your neck. Any cold compress will be helpful, but if you add 3-5 drops of peppermint oil to a damp washcloth and put it in the freezer for a few minutes, you’ll get the benefits of the cold plus the relaxing and uplifting aromatherapy benefits of the peppermint. The scent of peppermint is well known for providing headache relief. Leave the compress on for about ten minutes while lying down. At $6-$8 per bottle, peppermint oil is a non expensive natural remedy to keep on hand.

{Aura Cacia Peppermint Essential Oil}

4.  DRINK SOME H20 – A very common cause of headaches is dehydration. Drink water throughout the day and make sure to go to bed well hydrated so you don’t wake up with a headache. Also, I have found it very helpful to drink a glass of water first thing in the morning to start the day off in a good hydrated state.

5.  RELAX – We often hold a lot of tension in our jaws so unclench your jaw and relax your face… Now relax the rest of your body while you’re at it and take some nice deep breaths. Let the tension melt away.

Sun + Perfume Don’t Mix

It’s best to avoid wearing perfume or cologne when you’re going to be in the sun for a prolonged period of time. Perfumes and colognes, especially those that contain oils from musk, sandalwood, citrus, bergamot, and vanilla, can actually be chemically changed by the sun. This chemical change can trigger an allergic reaction in the skin and increase the chance of hyper-pigmentation (age spots).  Yikes! But prevention is easy – the next time you’re headed to the beach don’t forget to use a healthy, natural sunscreen and skip the fragrance!

{via}

The Water Method

If you’re a lover of avocados then you’ll appreciate learning (or being reminded) that cold water can help keep avocados from turning brown!

So whether you’re making guacamole or just slicing up the delicious fruit to eat by itself, once you cut the avocado in half either immediately immerse it in ice cold water or run it under the faucet. This method keeps oxygen out and hence prevents that yucky browning that naturally occurs.

For All iPhone Owners

I’m loving this Soft Touch Pong Case my husband just got last week. This case protects both your phone and your health —  it’s been proven by Federal Communications Commission (FCC) certified laboratories to protect users from cell phone radiation while optimizing phone performance. It reduces cell phone radiation (SAR) up to 95% below FCC limits.

This case is compatible with AT&T, Sprint and Verizon iPhone 4/4S’s as well as iPhone 4/4S’s operating on international carrier networks.

A Very Healthy Vinegar

Here are 10 reasons why you might want to incorporate apple cider vinegar into your diet. My favorite use for ACV is in homemade salad dressings. It’s actually the only vinegar I keep in the house these days. Are you a fan?

{via}

Perfect Warm Weather Snack

I love this tip from Healing Lifestyles & Spas (1 of my favorite sources for natural health and beauty info):

Snack on Watermelon after a Meal. The amino acid arginine can optimize oxidation of fat and glucose and pump up some lean muscle. The water will also help you feel full, making it less likely you’ll snack unnecessarily after a meal. 

{via}

Just in case watermelon’s deliciousness wasn’t enough of a reason to include it in your diet, now you know it can also up the slim factor!

Pink or White?

While grapefruit of any color is a healthy addition to your diet, if you opt for pink or red grapefruit over white then you will consume a significant amount more vitamin A  – about 26 times more! Vitamin A is essential to vision, immune function and cell growth. In addition, red and pink grapefruit contain lycopene, which has anti-tumor properties.

VS.


Personally, I love pink grapefruit and always choose it over white. What about you? I also keep pink grapefruit juice in the house instead of orange juice because I find it to be more refreshing and I also like that it has 7 grams less sugar per serving.

A Tip “You’ve Never Heard Of”

After my previous post on not fearing fat, I smiled to myself this weekend when I came across the following article in June’s InStyle  — “3 Take-It-Off Tips You’ve Never Heard Of” with the 2nd tip being:

DON’T SKIM THE FAT – Pour some whole milk into your A.M. coffee, and slip your spoon into 2 percent Greek yogurt instead of fat-free. “The extra fat actually slows the absorption of sugar into your blood, which helps prevent it from being stored as fat,” says Slayton. “Plus, it’s more satiating.”

I guess this tip is unfortunately one that many have never heard of, but it makes sense.  The fat slows the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream, which can help to stabilize blood sugar levels. In addition, it can help you to have a more satisfied yet thinner tummy (when combined with an overall healthy diet and exercise, of course). I’m happy to see that mainstream media is starting to spread the healthier word on this topic!

What’s the Beef?

A healthy FYI for all of you meat eaters: When buying beef, it’s best to buy grass-fed since it contains more beneficial omega-3s and CLA (conjugated linoleic acid), but less saturated fat and calories than grain-fed beef. If you opt for organic then the beef should also be free of antibiotics, hormones, nitrates, and other harmful additives.  Wondering what CLA is good for? CLA is believed to improve heart health, reduce cancer risk and increase lean muscle mass.

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Omega-3 fatty acids, like those found in grass-fed meat and dairy, are changing the way we think about fat. More and more science is showing the benefits of certain fats and the low-fat craze isn’t as crazy as it once was, but you can definitely still see remnants of this craze left and right when you look at common misconceptions still affecting store shelves and consumer choices today.  There was a point in time when it was being portrayed as if every fat was bad for us – no egg yolks, no butter, etc . Interestingly enough, we have we seen a dramatic increase in obesity with the increase of low-fat and non-fat products.

So I have to break the news – the healthy, slender people of the world are not living on sugar-free, diet, non-fat, low-fat, reduced-fat, low-sodium processed foods. You’ll find that the healthiest and happiest among us tend to have a diet of mainly whole foods. Those flavorful, nutrient-dense, wonderful foods in their original form. Yes, whole foods not only taste better, but are far more satisfying than their processed versions. In addition, you are much less likely to overeat when you’re eating whole foods.

Think about it: You have that 50 calorie yogurt that has no fat yet it has artificial flavors, colors and 30 grams of sugar.  Does that sound healthy? Does that sound like something your body will easily know how to process? NO and NO!

We need fat because fats provide us with a concentrated source of energy. Not to mention, they are the main material for cell membranes and various hormones. Without fat in your diet it is extremely hard to feel satiated and if you don’t feel satiated then you are going to keep eating… Is anyone getting skinnier with that equation? Nope.  The low-fat craze demonized all fats and neglected to inform consumers of the fact that fat has healthy forms and fat has a good and essential place in our diets!

So if you want to consume a healthy, balanced diet, you have to include the right fats. These good fats are found in a wide range of foods like fish, meat, milk, cheese, nuts, and olives. Even butter – yes, the real deal golden bar (again, organic grass-fed is best and the yellower it is the more nutritious it is) – is actually beneficial in small amounts and when eaten with something like steamed broccoli, it helps your body absorb the broccoli’s nutrients. Also, butter is much better for you than margarine – that scary  man-made, chemically altered fat.

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So remember that not all fats are the enemy and there are many sources of healthy fat, which should be included on a daily basis in a well-balanced diet!