Natural Beauty Essentials We Love

Beauty Essentials We Love

In our journey to living more naturally, we’ve found that some of the hardest changes can be in with finding alternatives to our old school beauty products. As children of the ’80s and ’90s, natural wasn’t really a mainstream thang that we’ve since been figuring out along the way. While natural beauty products are more readily available, it can still be challenging to find replacements or even find natural beauty essentials that aren’t ridiculously overpriced. But that doesn’t stop us from searching and testing until we find the right natural beauty essentials, that dare we say it, are better than those overproduced sistahs?! Not convinced? Check out some of our recent faves and be sure to add some of your favorite natural beauty essentials to the mix in the comments section.

Natural Beauty Essentials We Love

1. Thesis Face Wash

Despite trying to eat as healthy as possible, our skin can sometimes be finicky a.k.a break out in zits! To help with that, we’ve starting to mimize the use of harsh ingredients by using the Thesis Balancing Daily Harmony Face Wash. Formulated with an incredible list of good-for-you ingredients like organic Tea Tree, Geranium, Petitgrain, Peppermint and Eucalyptus (tell us more!), we just love how gentle this formula is as it works (over time) to reduce blemishes. Major bonus: it won’t dry out your skin!

2. Savon by Olivia Care Soap

A recent find at Target (all hail the white bullseye), this natural and cruelty-free (hooray!) soap is formulated with natural olive oil to essentially just clean without stripping our skin. Olivia Care has tons of other natural products that you should also be checking out, including their awesome face and body line.

3. Aura Cacia Sweet Almond Oil

Another Target find, this oil has been incredible savior of sorts for those ‘serenity now’ evenings. We also love the light scent of the oil that’s especially awesome to apply post-shower. It’s also a definite must to squash winter dryness.

4. The Gnarly Whale Body Spray

Brooklyn-based Gnarly Whale (represent!) is one of our favorites when it comes to natural body sprays. Featuring flavors like Vanilla Chai, Pumpkin, Lumberjack, Fresh Snow and more, their body sprays are alcohol-free and won’t dry out your skin, or alternatively cause you to break out into hives. We also love the light and subtle scent that has moisturizing additives to leave your skin soft and smooth! Oh, yea!

5. Stress Less Organic Lavender Sugar Scrub

Washing our cares away has never been better thanks to the Organic Lavender Sugar Scrub from Organic Bath Co. This Stress Less formula (yes, please!) is formulated with almond, apricot, sunflower and calming lavender oils that really works to make our skin super soft! Cool fact – this brand makes their products in small batches!

6. Tartan + Twine Bag

And to hold all of these natural beauty essentials, we have been housing them in the ever stylish Tartan+Twine cosmetic bags. We are all about the Elysian Grey Beauty Case that contains one large compartment for your makeup and natural beauty goodies. Perfect for travel or storage, the case is gorgeously constructed, sturdy and cute! What else do you need in a cosmetic bag?!

We were given some samples for review purposes.

 

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DIY Pumpkin Beauty Recipes

Happy T.G.I.F, y’all! The workweek can be crazy where we love to check-in with ourselves and loved ones, shut off the phones, and show our selves some love – whether that be eating better or giving your skin some attention via a mask. To help you out in the skincare category, we are excited to share Cecila Wong‘s awesome (and yummy sounding) DIY pumpkin recipes, including a pumpkin mask, scrub, and even a yummy smoothie. Read on and be sure to check out Cecilia’s line when you get whip up these DIY pumpkin recipes.

DIY Pumpkin Beauty Recipes

DIY pumpkin recipes
DIY pumpkin recipes by celeb facialist, Cecila Wong

Pumpkin Spice Latte Face Scrub

3 Tablespoons Raw Brown Sugar
1 Tablespoon Pumpkin Pie Spice
2 Teaspoons Cinnamon
2 Teaspoons Organic Coffee
2 Drops Organic Vanilla Extract
¼ Cup Pumpkin Seed Oil

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix thoroughly. Massage onto face in a light, circular motion for 5 minutes. Rinse with tepid water.

Pumpkin Face Mask

2 Tablespoons Pumpkin Puree
A pinch of Cinnamon
A pinch of Pumpkin Pie Spice
A pinch of Vitamin C Powder
2 Tablespoons Cecilia Wong Rose Serum Spray

Blend all ingredients together. Massage into skin for 60 seconds. Leave on for 15 minutes. Rinse with tepid water.

Beautifying Pumpkin Smoothie

1 Cup Plant-based Milk of your choice
3/4 Cup Pumpkin Puree
1 Frozen Banana (cut into smaller pieces prior to freezing)
A pinch of Cinnamon
A pinch of Pumpkin Spice
1 Tablespoon Chia Seeds

Blend all ingredients together in blender until mixture reaches desired consistency. Feel free to adjust texture by adding ice or water to customize thickness. Add a straw & enjoy!

For more info, please visit: https://ceciliawongskincare.com

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Taco Night Rebooted with a Killer Guacamole Recipe

We never meet a taco night that we didn’t love. Really, how could you not love a tortilla-filled meal that’s filled with cheese, beans, meat, and really anything that you want stuff all up in there?! But the issue, as with many of our favorite themed-meals, is that tacos, burritos and so on can be laded with unecessary ingredients – not to mention added calories and fats (and not the good kind). But since there’s no way that we are giving up on taco night (#tacostrong), we’ve found a way to swap out some of those not-so-great ingredients for better ones. Check out our recap (below) of some of our favorite taco night essentials and a killer guacamole recipe, if we do say so ourselves. Also, be sure to share some of your insider taco night tips on how make this dish healthier.

taco night rebooted with guacamole

Killer Guacamole Recipe…in a Good Way

Serves 4 or so…depending on the hunger factor

Ingredients:

4 ripe avocados
1 tomato
1 garlic, crushed
1/2 red onion, cut up
1 lemon
1 lime
salt and pepper

Directions:

Cut open the avocados and slice them into three sections and then diagonally into another three sections. Scoop out the avocados and place them in a bowl. Cut up the garlic, onions, tomatoes, lemon and lime and place them all in a place. Mix and mash the ingredients together – don’t overthink this part, it’s just guac. Add some salt and pepper. Taste. You may need to add more salt, pepper, lemon or lime, depending on your preferences. Devour!

taco night chopping it up
New (and amazing!) Orbit Rolling Herb Cutter for guacamole chopping (not pictured).

Handy Kitchen Helper: Taco Night and Beyond

For this guacamole recipe chopping, we used our new Orbit Rolling Herb Cutter, a genius kitchen gadget that makes it easier to chop up herbs in a flash. We used it to chop up our garlic, tomatoes, and onion and were equally happy with the quick results. For the garlic, which as we all know is annoying to chop, we thought it was pretty awesome that we could hold this leverage handle as it worked its magic to roll and cut up our garlic, cutting with precision and definition as it chopped  (quite literally) our cutting time in half. Hooray! Another bonus: this handy dandy gadget is dishwasher-friendly AND folds up so you can shove it away with ease when you’re not in chopping mode. Which might be never for some of us.

taco night made healthy

Healthy Essentials for Taco Night

Organic black or pinto beans
Quinoa
Avocados
Organic shredded cheese
Organic sour cream
Whole grain torilla
Sweet potato or pumpkin
Kale or spinach
Corn
Peppers
Lime
Lemon
Garlic
Lean proteins like chicken or fish
Salt and pepper

taco night: chips we love

Bonus essential for taco night: Chips!

Another ingredient that we can’t get enough of for taco night is chips and we just discovered the very best with the Sweet Potato Chips from Way Better Snacks. These crunchtastic chips are literally the best tortilla chips we have tried in a long time! Why? Well, they are packed with good-for-you stuff like chia seeds and sprouted grains that combined with sweet potatoes tastes amazing! Seriously, you won’t be able to stop eating these healthy chips and that’s a-okay!

We were given a sample for review purposes but these are own opinions.

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Golden Milk: Does it Live Up to the Hype?

golden milk

You may have seen some pictures of golden milk floating around your Pinterest boards or circulating on Instagram. A concoction of turmeric, coconut milk, coconut oil, and ginger, this power blend is believed to have anti-inflammatory properties that’s also high in antioxidants. With all of that goodness, you can clearly see where the ‘golden’ part comes from. Since we are always looking for alternatives for our mid-day coffee, we thought it was time to try out a hearty cup of golden milk to see what it’s all about. Read on to check out our recipe and to see if we think it lives up to the hype.

golden milk prep

Golden Milk Recipe

Ingredients:

Serves 1
2 cups of coconut milk
1 tablespoon of coconut manna or coconut oil
1 tablespoon of turmeric
1 tablespoon of chia seeds
A few shavings of fresh ginger
2-3 tablespoons of honey or maple syrup

Directions:
Add the coconut milk into a medium-sized pot. Add in the chia seeds, turmeric, ginger and your sweeter. Stir and let simmer. Add your coconut oil or manna to a cup. In a few minutes, add the blend to your cup and stir. Drink right away.

So, does golden milk live up to the hype?

Well, taste-wise the drink is very earthy and slightly bitter. We didn’t want to add in that much sweeter but found that it needed a little more to balance out the turmeric. Overall, though, we found it pretty enjoyable and something we could savor as opposed to something we would mindlessly drink, like with our lattes. It was a slower, more methodical mid-day drink that also happens to be bursting with nutrients, which is a serious win-win in our book. Also, there are several alternative recipes out there where you can use black pepper, almond milk and others without ginger or chia seeds. The best part of all, it is really, really easy to make and it’s also vegan and gluten-free.

Happy healthy drinking!

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Some Ways to Give Back on Giving Tuesday

Giving Tuesday Donation Ideas

Before you are barely stuffed from Thanksgiving the slew of Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Totally Annoying Tuesday have probably been starting to bombard you. Personally, we hate the consumerism and commercialization of the holidays but there is little to stop the buy this, get this world that we live in. That is except for Giving Tuesday.

As a global day started by the Belfer Center for Innovation & Social Impact at the 92nd Street Y that’s fueled by social media, community, individuals, collaboration and various organizations to give celebrate and encourage giving back. Sounds awesome, right?! So, how do you get involved?  It’s quite simple, actually. Read on to check out some ways that you can get involved in the Giving Tuesday movement on the 29th and beyond:

Giving Back this Giving Tuesday

  1. Check out their directory: Giving Tuesday created an awesome directory via their ‘What’s Happening Near Me?’ section where you will find of local organizations, charities, events, and more so that you can give back in your very own community. And this doesn’t mean donating a huge chunk of your money. Many people get thrown off my charitable contributions if they don’t have that much money themselves. If you are tight on cash (we are, too!), simply give what you can or even volunteer your time
  2. Take an #UNselfie: Share how you are giving back by posting your #UNselfie on your social media channels.  They also have an #UNselfie sign and toolkit that has everything you need to get you started.
  3. Donate your paycheck: Check with your company about how you can donate a part of your paycheck to a local charitable organization.
  4. Go pro bono: Use your skills to help local non-profit organizations.
  5. Share your #MyGivingStory: Share your story and why you are giving back on the Giving Tuesday Facebook page.

For more information on Giving Tuesday and ways to give back, please visit: https://www.givingtuesday.org

 

 

 

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Homemade Chicken Soup

Chicken Soup Recipe

Winter is known for its comfort foods, which we will happily be indulging in next week with Thanksgiving. But this time of year is also know for its more methodical and slower recipes that take time to create as they nourish the mind, body and soul. One of our favorites is a homemade chicken soup.

For this recipe, we made our own broth using wholesome ingredients, like chicken that was naturally flavored with carrots, celery, dill, parsley, and parsnip. The simplicity of this chicken soup recipe has made it an instant favorite for years that we happily make any chance that we get. For this recipe, we didn’t have egg noodles so bowties won out, but other than that we stayed true to the classic, that with the sudden cold over in New York, we are sure that we will be making again very soon.

Chicken Soup Recipe

Chicken Soup Recipe

Ingredients:

6-8 cups of water
1 whole chicken, organic (if possible)
4 carrots, chopped
4 stalks of celery, chopped
2-3 parsnips, chopped
1 package or handful of fresh dill
1 package or handful of fresh parsley
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
salt and pepper
1 package of pasta or egg noodles, optional

Directions:

Boil water on medium heat. Wash and chop up the onions, carrots, celery, and parsnips. Remove the packaging of the chicken and wash it throughly. Remove packaging in the chicken and place it in the pot. Add in the dill, parsley, salt and pepper and let cook. The soup/broth will take approximately two hours to cook. Check on it periodically. Make your noodles, as directed, when the soup is almost done.

What’s your go-to winter comfort food?

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The Lewa Series: Photography that Gives Back

The Lewa Series

The Lewa Series

Looking for a gift idea that gives back this holiday season? Then you’ve got to check out The Lewa Series, an incredible photography series that was created to bring global awareness to threatened wildlife.

This collection of 21 black-and-white fine art images by film photographer, conservationist, and explorer KT Merry to bring global awareness to promote conservation and stop extinction. This photography series was made in partnership with the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, a non-profit whose work protects threatened wildlife, including 11% of Kenya’s rhinos, endangered Grevy’s zebra, and over 70 other mammal species including elephant, lion, giraffe, leopard, cheetah and buffalo.

The Lewa Series: A Labor of Love

The Lewa Series

KT Merry premiered her first-edition photographs called Render Loyalty, in New York City where she shared art with meaning through exquisite fine art photographs benefitting some of our most threatened species.

The Lewa Series

A self-funded project, all of the fine art photographic prints, which are available in an array of sizes and options for framing, will benefit the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy. Through this truly unique and beautiful collaboration, KT hopes it will further ignite conversations on how people and threatened species can coexist while also creating an active community in support of saving animals.

For more information, please visit: https://www.renderloyalty.com

 

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Expanded ‘2017 National Green Pages’ is an Awesome Holiday Gift Guide and Resource

New and Expanded ‘2017 National Green Pages’ is an Awesome Holiday Gift Guide and Resource

We just finished reading the National Green Pages, an incredible guidebook for socially responsible shopping, living, and tons more! With the holidays coming, you’ll find tons of useful information on the greenest businesses in the country and more you’ll discover an extensive range of ideas for greening your lives, work, and community.

What You’ll Find in the National Green Pages:

Featuring thousands of socially and environmentally responsible businesses, the 2017 National Green Pages is a great resource for those who wish to create a safe and healthy home, promote peace and justice, protect the environment, and support a living wage for workers.

We also loved reading all of the informative articles such as how to shop for organic clothing, a product comparison to help you decide to buy green or make cleaning products on your own, eco-friendly body care, green remodeling, eco-travel, responsible banking and investing, and much more.

Another cool aspect about the companies featured in the 2017 National Green Pages is that they have to go through a careful certification process to ensure that their environmental and social responsibility claims are accurate. These businesses are certified by Green America for their social and environmental impacts, so you can rest assured that they actually back their claims. In addition to providing information on specific companies, the 2017 National Green Pages details the types of green businesses “you need in your life,” as well as the types of business “sucking the life out of your community,” and helps readers avoid greenwashing.

Hard copies of this year’s National Green Pages can be ordered for $12.45 per copy including shipping at http://www.greenamerica.org/pubs/order/ or by calling 1-800-58-GREEN. Green America members also receive the National Green Pages for free. Membership is available starting at $20 at: http://bit.ly/2fi0YUR. Information about companies certified by Green America can be accessed online at www.greenpages.org, which includes a search feature to find green, healthy, and ethical products and services.

Enjoy and happy green shopping!

 

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No Bake Coconut and Peanut Butter Bites

No Bake Coconut and Peanut Butter Bites

We love to snack. Cause, really there’s no way we are going to make it from lunch to dinner without a nibble (or two). And you shouldn’t either, especially since you should be feeding your body with healthy and wholesome foods throughout the day to sustain your blood sugar levels so that you don’t devour the bread basket the section that it hits the table. One of our favorite healthy snacks is the simple homemade Coconut and Peanut Butter Bites.

We love this snack for many reasons, but the main part is that it is a no bake treat that’s packed with protein and low in sugar! They’re also uber portable and fills us up when we need the energy the most. Read on to check out our recipe for the ever delicious Coconut and Peanut Butter Snack Bites! Happy snacking!

No Bake Coconut and Peanut Butter Bites

No Bake Coconut and Peanut Butter Bites

Ingredients:

2 cups of dry oatmeal
2/3 cup toasted coconut flakes
1 cup of creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup ground flax seed
1/2 cup ground chia seeds
1/2 coconut oil
1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
1/3 cup honey or agave nectar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
dash of cinnamon

Directions:

Mix all the oatmeal, coconut flakes, coconut oil and peanut butter into a large bowl. Stir everything together. Add in the chia and flax seeds and mix. Add in the honey, vanilla, cinnamon and chips and continue to mix together. Once together, cool in the fridge for 5-7 hours. This allows the blend to mold together. Then, use your hands to create mini bites (makes around 20) and chill again. They’ll be ready to be devoured the next day! Enjoy.

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How to Partially Go Off Sugar (Without Going Insane)

The power of Sugar
Photo by Thomas Kelley via unsplash

Sugar. A modern drug of choice that many of us grew up with never thinking that it would lead to serious health issues, like heart disease, diabetes, cancer, addiction, among others. You would think that the list of how harmful sugar is would be enough to scare anyone off, but as a powerful food, it certainly has it’s control over what’s in our food to what we prefer to eat. And to put it quite simple, it’s delicious and should be a part of your life…but, the rub, dear reader, is sugar really should be special and not part of our daily lives. The problem for many (and us!) is the daily consumption of sugar where we mindlessly place heaping spoonfuls of sugar in our coffee, mindlessly nibble on it in our muffins or sneak it for a mid-day treat. While we don’t think sugar should be completely eliminated, it should be greatly reduced where it’s basically only consumed for special occasions. Sound impossible? We promise you it’s not! Going off sugar is a process that doesn’t happen overnight. To help you gradually reduce sugar in your life, we’re sharing 12 tips that have worked for us in the past. Remember, going off sugar doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Give yourself time as you get sugar out of your life and don’t beat yourself up if you have an so-called ‘bad day.’ Sugar is a powerful bitch.

How to Partially Go Off Sugar

  1. Stop adding it in your coffee: We used to pile the sugar into our coffee. But it was brown sugar, so we thought we were ok. Not so much! By mid-morning, we were crashing hard and already consumed half of our sugar for the day. Start your week by adding the amount that you normal do, and gradually add less and less until you have no sugar in your coffee. Experience what it’s like to have no sugar in your coffee. What does it taste like? Do you hate it? Do you feel better? We love adding cinnamon to our coffee that offers a sweet taste without the sugar.
  2. Be aware of processed foods: Processed foods are sneaky bastards. Often loaded with sugar, processed foods are convenient but usually not the best option when you’re going off sugar. Read the labels, be informed and cook and eat fresh, homemade food whenever possible.
  3. Stay away from sugary drinks: This is an obvious one but might also take time if you have soda, juice, smoothie habit. Look at the pattern of how many sugary drinks you have in one day and reduce that number everyday until you drinking no drinks with added sweeteners.
  4. Avoid granola bars: We used to be granola bar addicts. Granola=oats and grains so they have to be good for you, right? Well, partially but today’s granola bars are often packed with sugar. Watch the labels and stash a bag of nuts in your bag to encourage healthy snacking as much as possible.
  5. Stop eating carb sweets: We are all about those crazy carbs, but after we eat a buttery, sweet croissant/muffin/scone (not all at once!) we are still hungry! Why the heck is that? These simple carbs mess with our blood sugar, giving us an instant fix that doesn’t last and also doesn’t provide our bodies with the nutrients that it so needs.
  6. Amp up the protein: One way to help quite those sugar cravings is to eat more protein-rich a.k.a filling foods. We aren’t talking about a steak but plant-based proteins to keep you revived up throughout the day like eggs, cheese, beans, nuts, avocados, or a protein drink, like the yummy Whole Food Protein Drink by Dr. Mark Hyman.
  7. Enhance your food with flavors: In addition to adding cinnamon to your morning cup of Joe, you can also add lemon to your water and enhance your food with coconut oil, vanilla, chicory, ginger, nutmeg, turmeric, and more. Experiment and have fun with new recipes as you figure out the best sugar substitutes.
  8. Satisfy your sweet tooth: By now you know how powerful that sweet tooth of yours is. It’s still going to want to have its needs feed, just be sure that you’re eating the right sweets like whole fruits. Try to avoid dried fruit since they are often packed with sugar.
  9. Write down your plan:  Make your plan real by both writing down your goals and your meal plan for the week. This can also be a good place to chart any pitfalls (it’s ok!) and moments of weakness so that you can better understand what trigged the sugar binge and what you need to do next time to ensure that you’re both mentally and physically prepared.
  10. Have healthy food on hand: One of the easiest ways people revert to a sugar binge is because they have it on hand. As an occasional treat, enjoy sugar at birthday parties, over the holidays, or for a summer ice cream sundae, but don’t keep it around your house for everyday consumption. Stock up your fridge with fruits, whole grains, vegetables and you’ll be amazed at how easy it is for you to make the right decision when it isn’t around.
  11. Eat regularly: As basic as it sounds, your body needs food to sustain throughout the day. If you’re skipping meals or opting for a low-cal life, you’re not only depriving your mind and body of what it needs, you’re setting yourself up for a serious crash. Stick to healthy fats, wholesome and protein-rich as a source of your daily sustenance.
  12. Drink tons of water: Water is pretty awesome. Some sugar cravings might actually mean you’re dehydrated. Grab a huge glass of water with lemon and see how you feel afterwards.
  13. Bonus: Re-train your brain: For many, sugar has a mental hold on us. In order to combat that control, we have to mentally change the way we eat and think. This is also about making smarter, healthier choices, that over time, will have you craving that green juice over a milkshake. Time is on your side.

What are your go-to methods to stop eating too much sugar?

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