Naturally Dyed Easter Eggs

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Are you planning on dyeing some Easter Eggs this year? I’ve found several sites that show how you can use natural ingredients as dyes for your eggs–fruits, veggies, herbs, and spices like blueberries, oranges, red and yellow onions, paprika, and much more! I … Continue reading

Rejuvenating Bath Oil Blend

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I know a little about some of the health benefits of essential oils, so I was really interested in reviewing a new book called The Complete Aromatherapy and Essential Oils Handbook for Everyday Wellness (Robert Rose, softcover). As the book mentions, essential oils … Continue reading

7 Anti-Aging Foods

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I saw an article at Sharecare.com about seven foods they refer to as “anti-aging powerhouses.” These foods may also help cut your risk of heart disease and cancer when incorporated into a healthy diet. So if you’re interested, here’s a condensed list of the seven foods–you can … Continue reading

Exercise Your Face: Tips from The 5-Minute Facial Workout

lrbkcoverWe all hear a lot about how important it is to get enough exercise, right? But I hadn’t heard much about the idea of exercising your face, which is also referred to as Facial Gymnastics. Now I know much more, thanks to the review copy I received of  The 5-Minute Facial Workout by Catherine Pez. The book explains that there are more than 50 muscles that make up the structure of your face and you can tone these muscles just as you tone other muscles in your body. Facial exercises can benefit both women and men, and this book says you can see improvements just by doing them 5 minutes a day. Another nice thing is that no special equipment is needed and you can do these exercises anywhere and anytime (although you probably won’t want to do them in public!) :D

Here’s some interesting info about Facial Gymnastics:

  • Working the muscles in your lower face helps lift your features, refine your skin, sculpt your cheeks, plump up your lips, and firm the skin around your neck.
  • Exercising muscles in the middle of your face improves facial structure, pulls up the cheekbones, rounds out the cheeks, and prevents the formation of crow’s feet and nasolabial folds (also called “laugh lines”).
  • Working on the upper face helps to relax your eyelids, prevent frown lines, and support the skin of your forehead and temples, which is essential to maintaining muscle tone in all of your features.

There are 30 facial exercises in The 5-Minute Facial Workout, each with clear instructions and color photographs demonstrating the movement, so it’s very easy to follow. I received permission from the publisher to share two exercises from the book, one for lips and one for the forehead, so here they are!

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Images courtesy of The 5-Minute Facial Workout: 30 Exercises for a Naturally Beautiful Face by Catherine Pez, 2014 © www.robertrose.ca Reprinted with publisher permission.

 

It certainly makes sense that if you tone your facial muscles it will help improve those wrinkles! Have you ever tried doing facial exercises? Is it something you may start doing?

 

Black Bean Hummus Bagel Thins® Bagel and a Gift Card & Coupon Giveaway!

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I’m such a bread lover–I love all kinds of breads, rolls, bagels–you name it. But I’ve found that I really have to watch how much bread I eat because it tends to want to stick with me–can you relate? :)  So when I was asked if I’d like to try out some Sandwich Thins®, Pocket Thins®, and Bagel Thins®, I was definitely interested! Especially when I found out they are endorsed by Weight Watchers®, and are just 110 calories each or less. I received coupons for free product, product information, and a gift card to cover the cost of my recipe ingredients, courtesy of Sandwich Thins®, Pocket Thins®, and Bagel Thins®. I tried out some recipes, like the one shown in the photo above, plus a few others. I’ll share these with you, and then I’ll tell you more about my Gift Card and Coupon giveaway at the end of the post!

ncThinkThin1If you’re not familiar with these Thomas’® and Arnold®, Brownberry®, and Oroweat® products, which all have a Weight Watchers® 3 PointsPlus VALUE®, here’s a little info about them:

  • The Sandwich Thins® Rolls have zero grams of Trans Fat, no high fructose corn syrup, are cholesterol free, and come in 100% Whole Wheat, Multi-Grain, Honey Wheat, and Flax & Fiber.
  • The Pocket Thins® Flatbreads also have zero grams of Trans Fat, no high fructose corn syrup, are cholesterol free, and come in 8 Grain, 100% Whole Wheat, and Italian Herb.
  • The Bagel Thins® Bagels have zero grams of Trans Fat, are low in fat, cholesterol free, and come in 100% Whole Wheat, Plain, Cinnamon Raisin, and Everything.

Here are the recipes I made with them…

BLACK BEAN HUMMUS BAGEL THINS® BAGEL adapted from Thomas’®

Makes 1 serving

  • 1 Thomas® 100% Whole Wheat Bagel Thins® bagel (Weight Watchers® 3 PointsPlus)
  • 4 Tablespoons black bean hummus (I used my own Black Bean Hummus recipe, but there’s also an easy one you can make from the original recipe here)
  • 2 Tablespoons plain Greek yogurt or low-fat sour cream
  • 2 Tablespoons of your favorite salsa
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 Tablespoons sliced black olives
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Start out by spreading on the hummus and Greek yogurt…then add the rest of the toppings!

Separate and toast a bagel. Place bagel down open-faced and top each half with 2 Tablespoons of black bean hummus, 1 Tablespoon of plain Greek yogurt (or low-fat sour cream), 1 Tablespoon salsa, 1/2 Tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro, and 1 Tablespoon sliced black olives. Serve immediately. For more servings, just multiply the ingredients by the number of servings you want to make.

ncChickCaesarnmCHICKEN CAESAR POCKET adapted from Thomas’®

Makes 1 pocket sandwich

  • 1 Oroweat® Italian Herb Pocket Thins® flatbread (Weight Watchers® 3 PointsPlus)
  • 2/3 cup Romaine lettuce leaves, chopped into small pieces (or use a Romaine lettuce mix)
  • 3 slices thin-sliced deli chicken, chopped into small pieces
  • 1/2 heaping Tablespoon shredded or shaved Parmesan cheese
  • 1 to 1 1/2 Tablespoons non-fat Caesar salad dressing

Toss chopped lettuce leaves, chicken, Parmesan cheese, and Caesar dressing together in small bowl. Fill Italian Herb Pocket Thin® with lettuce mixture and serve.

ncTomatoBrushettanmGRAPE TOMATO BRUSCHETTA adapted from Arnold® Bread

Makes 2 slices of bruschetta

  • 1 Arnold® Sandwich Thins® Honey Wheat roll, separated (Weight Watchers® 3 PointsPlus)
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, sliced in half lengthwise (be sure to slice them lengthwise–I sliced mine the wrong way and they didn’t lay on the roll as well!)
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 Tablespoon olive oil or garlic-infused olive oil
  • 3 large fresh basil leaves
  • 1 teaspoon shredded Parmesan cheese, for garnish

Toast the separated Sandwich Thins® rolls to a light golden brown. In a bowl, mix sliced grape tomatoes with the balsamic vinegar and olive oil.

Stack basil leaves and roll them in the shape of a log. Horizontally slice the rolled basil, making ribbons. Toss most of the cut basil with the tomatoes, reserving a little for garnish.

Spoon dressed tomatoes on top of each toasted Sandwich Thins® half and garnish with the remaining basil ribbons and shredded Parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.

Hope you enjoy trying these recipes out! :)

THE GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED–Winning comment is #18!

Now for the Giveaway–a $25 Visa gift card and coupon for free product! If you’d like to enter to win a $25 Visa gift card, plus a coupon for free product shown in this post (Sandwich Thins®, Pocket Thins®, or Bagel Thins), leave a comment on this blog post between now and Sunday, March 30 at 8 p.m. (CST)–the random drawing will be made from the comments on this post only! The winner will be chosen randomly via Random.org and announced on Sunday evening, March 30. Winner will be notified via email (if winner does not respond in 3 days, I’ll do another drawing). Giveaway is limited to readers in the Continental U.S. and Canada.

First entry: Leave a comment on this post–it would be great to hear what your favorite healthy sandwich is!

Bonus entry: If you are a new or existing follower or subscriber, you can leave one extra comment telling me the way (or ways) you are following.

Note: If your comment doesn’t show up right away, it just means I need to click on it to approve it before it’s visible–I do this because of spam comments that sometimes come through!

 

 

Mango-Jalapeno Salsa from The Daniel Plan Cookbook

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Now that the weather is warming up, I’ve been eating more fruit–there’s something about the warmer weather that makes me crave it more! I love all kinds of fruit and that’s what I like about this Mango-Jalapeno Salsa–there’s a nice … Continue reading

Rejuvenating Beet Smoothie (Non-Dairy)

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There sure are a lot of big food-related holidays and events during the winter. There’s Christmas, New Year’s Eve and Day, Superbowl Sunday, Valentine’s Day, and St. Patrick’s Day–no wonder it’s so hard to diet this time of year! If you feel like you’re needing a little dose of something healthy, this is just the thing. I was inspired by this Beet Rejuvenator at New Nostalgia and decided that yes, I did need some rejuvenating! :) I don’t eat a lot of beets, but I know how good they are for you. This smoothie is supposed to be super cleansing–it also has carrots, cucumber, lemon, and ginger root in it, so I’m sure it is! I made a few changes, using a whole (small) beet instead of half, and using the juice from one lemon. I also added some honey, so I’m not sure if or how that affects the cleansing qualities of the smoothie. I thought the blend of the veggies with the lemon juice and ginger was good, but I liked having the smoothie a little sweeter. I used raw honey, which has more nutrients than the processed kind.

Also, I used a blender, so I cut my veggies into chunks for easier blending. If you’re using a juicer, you won’t need to do that. If you use a blender, you’ll probably have to stop and stir the ingredients a few times to help blend it, and you’ll have a thicker smoothie. Be sure to use organic veggies if you can! This smoothie does make you feel like you’re getting a little healthy boost, so if you’re in an unhealthy food rut, try this out for a refreshing change!

REJUVENATING BEET SMOOTHIE by NancyCreative, adapted from New Nostalgia

Makes about 2 servings (16 ounces)

  • 3/4 cup sliced carrots (about 1 large or 2 small carrots)
  • 1 medium-size cucumber, cut into slices or chunks
  • Juice from 1 large Lemon
  • 1-inch piece of Ginger Root, cut into small chunks
  • 1 small Beet Root, cut into chunks
  • 2 Tablespoons raw honey

Put all ingredients in your blender or juicer, and blend till smooth (if using a blender, you may have to stop it and stir to help the mixture along). Pour into 2 glasses and serve.

Have you ever made a smoothie with beets? What other healthy kinds of smoothies do you like to make?

Three Green Tea Toners

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We’ve all heard how healthy green tea is, with all those antioxidants! So I’ve been drinking it more. But I didn’t realize until lately that it’s also good for your skin, since it has vitamins C and E in it, and makes a great skin toner. I’ve tried making it several different ways, and they’ve all worked well for me. My skin tends to be on dry side, so if you have very oily skin, I’m not sure how well these recipes would work for you. But it’s worth a try–the cost is so minimal to make these, you really don’t have anything to lose! And I like the idea of making my own natural, chemical-free, preservative-free skin care products when I can.

You do have to keep the toner refrigerated, and you can use it for up to 7 days before you need to toss any that’s leftover and make a new batch. That may sound like some extra work, but green tea toner is so easy to make, it’s really no trouble at all! These recipes call for 1/4 cup water, which may not seem like much, but it’s always been more than enough toner for me for one week. You can always double the recipe if you think you’ll need a little more toner. Also, the toner will look cloudy once it’s refrigerated, but that’s just what the tea does–it’s fine to use!

I keep the toner I make in a small (4-oz.) brown glass bottle that used to have Vanilla Extract in it–I saved the bottle and removed the label, and it’s the perfect size for my toner! Even a 2-oz. bottle would probably be big enough. My 4-oz. bottle takes up very little room in the refrigerator and it’s a very handy size to hold as I’m applying the toner.

Here are the three green tea toner recipes…

BASIC GREEN TEA TONER by NancyCreative, adapted from howstuffworks.com 

  • 1/4 cup water (use filtered if you have it)
  • 1 green tea bag, preferably organic (or 1 teaspoon organic green tea leaves)

Bring water to a boil (I just boil it in the microwave in a microwave-safe measuring cup–that makes it easier to pour the toner into the bottle I store it in). Remove from heat.

Place the tea bag or tea leaves in the boiling water, and steep for 5 to 10 minutes, then remove tea bag (or leaves) and let tea cool.

Pour the tea into a small bottle with a tight-fitting cap or lid, or pour into a small spray bottle (if you want to use it as a spritzer). Refrigerate until ready to use.

To use, wash your face with your favorite cleanser and pat dry. Apply green tea toner generously on your face with a cotton ball, or spritz it on. Let the toner dry on your face–don’t rinse off. Follow with your favorite moisturizer.

Use morning and night. Keep toner refrigerated and use for up to 7 days before making a new batch.

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GREEN TEA LEMON TONER by NancyCreative, adapted from justapinch.com

The lemon juice and witch hazel make this good for oily skin

  • 1 organic green tea bag (or 1 teaspoon organic green tea leaves)
  • 1/4 cup boiling water (you can use filtered water or mineral water if you have it)
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons freshly-squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons witch hazel (optional–this is good to add if you have oily skin)

Bring water to a boil, and remove from heat.

Place the tea bag or tea leaves in the boiling water, and steep for 5 to 10 minutes, then remove tea bag (or leaves) and let tea cool.

After tea has cooled, add the lemon juice (and witch hazel, if using), and mix ingredients together.

Pour the tea mixture into a small bottle with a tight-fitting cap or lid, or pour into a small spray bottle (if you want to use it as a spritzer). Refrigerate until ready to use.

To use, wash your face with your favorite cleanser and pat dry. Apply green tea toner generously on your face with a cotton ball, or spritz it on. Let the toner dry on your face–don’t rinse off. Follow with your favorite moisturizer.

Use morning and night. Keep toner refrigerated and use for up to 7 days before making a new batch.

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TEA TREE AND VITAMIN E GREEN TEA TONER by NancyCreative, adapted from glowingskintips.com

The tea tree and vitamin E oils make this good for dry skin. You’ll need an eyedropper for adding the oils to the toner.

  • 1 organic green tea bag (or 1 teaspoon organic green tea leaves)
  • 1/4 cup boiling water
  • 2 drops tea tree oil
  • 1 drop vitamin E oil

Bring water to a boil, and remove from heat.

Place the tea bag or tea leaves in the boiling water, and steep for 5 to 10 minutes, then remove tea bag (or leaves) and let tea cool.

After tea has cooled, add the tea tree and vitamin E oils. Mix ingredients together well.

Pour the tea mixture into a small bottle with a tight-fitting cap or lid. Refrigerate until ready to use.

To use, wash your face with your favorite cleanser and pat dry. Apply green tea toner generously on your face with a cotton ball (shake bottle slightly before using). Let the toner dry on your face–don’t rinse off. Follow with your favorite moisturizer.

Use morning and night. Keep toner refrigerated and use for up to 7 days before making a new batch.

Have you made your own toner before? Do you have a favorite recipe for it?

Apple Cinnamon Ginger Water

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I like making my own flavored water, and now that it’s autumn, I thought I’d try a water recipe with the flavors of fall. I was inspired by a recipe for apple-cinnamon water at Sarah’s Cool Stuff–apples and cinnamon are such a classic fall flavor combination. There are sliced apples and cinnamon sticks in this, and I added some slices of fresh ginger root for a little extra mild spice. It’s really refreshing!

You can also add some ground cinnamon if you like, for a stronger cinnamon flavor, but it will color the water more brownish and it tends to clump up in the water when refrigerated. I recommend just adding 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon to your water if you decide to try that, and mix it in before you add the apple slices and other ingredients.

Make this in the evening, refrigerate overnight, and it will be ready to drink the next day. The water does get a little cloudy as it refrigerates. The apples will start to brown a little the next day, but the water is still good to drink for a day or two after you make it. To help prevent the apples from turning brown, you can squeeze fresh lemon juice on the slices as you’re slicing the apples.

I sliced up 2 different kinds of apples for my water to add extra color–a Gala apple and a Granny Smith apple–use whatever types of apples you like best! Although I used a tart Granny Smith apple in this batch of water, I recommend using sweeter apples–I really liked the slightly sweet flavor of the water when I made it another time with 2 Gala apples.

APPLE CINNAMON GINGER WATER by NancyCreative, adapted from Sarah’s Cool Stuff

Makes a large pitcher (half-gallon) of flavored water

  • 8 cups of water
  • 2 medium organic apples (sweet apples work best–Fuji apples are a good choice), cut into thin slices (if you don’t use organic, peel your apples so you don’t get the pesticides from the skins in your water)
  • 4 to 6 cinnamon sticks
  • 6 thin slices of peeled fresh ginger root

Fill pitcher with 8 cups of water. Slice apples, putting the slices in the water right away (this helps prevent the slices from browning too soon). Add cinnamon sticks and ginger root, and stir all ingredients together in the pitcher. Refrigerate overnight before serving. When ready to serve, add ice cubes to pitcher and stir right before serving or add ice to individual serving glasses and pour your flavored water over the ice.

If you prefer a fizzy water drink, you can use Seltzer water instead of regular water (Club Soda is high in sodium and Tonic Water is sweetened with high fructose corn syrup, so Seltzer water is best).

Note: This water has a very light, mild flavor–if you want a stronger apple flavor, you could also mix in some unsweetened apple juice to taste.

If you’re wondering what you can do with the fruit when you’re done drinking the water, here are some ideas: If the apple slices are still crunchy and just slightly brown, I eat them-or I eat them as I’m drinking up the water. You can also put the apple slices, ginger root slices, and cinnamon sticks in your compost pile.

What fruits do you like to use to flavor your water?

Orange Vanilla Coconut Scrub

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I love orangey-scented things, so I thought I’d try making a scrub with epsom salt. Not long ago, I did a post on Peppermint Tea Tree Bath Salts and mentioned some of the health benefits of epsom salt. I thought they would be great to use in a body scrub, too. This scrub is thick, like a paste, and is scented with orange essential oil and pure vanilla extract. It smells so good and makes your skin really nice and soft!

ORANGE VANILLA COCONUT SCRUB by NancyCreative

  • 1 cup Epsom Salt
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil
  • 8 to 10 drops Orange essential oil
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

In a small or medium-size bowl or other clean container, combine Epsom Salts with coconut oil using a spoon or spatula (Note: If the coconut oil gets much above 76˚ it can turn into liquid form–so if yours is liquidy, refrigerate your coconut oil until it solidifies). Add orange essential oil a few drops at a time, stirring after each addition. Add the vanilla extract last and blend everything well. Store in a shallow jar or container with a tight-fitting lid. You don’t need to refrigerate this scrub unless the temperature in your home gets much higher than 76˚ (or when you notice the coconut oil turning to liquid form), because then the mixture will be more runny. You can use this scrub 1 to 2  times a week to keep extra dry or rough skin areas smooth and soft.

When using, wet your skin all over in the shower and massage the scrub into your skin. You don’t need to use a lot–just pinch up about 1/2 teaspoon at a time from your jar or container–a little goes a long way! This is great for rough skin areas like knees and elbows. Don’t use on face or other sensitive areas. Also, be careful when using, because the oil from the scrub can make your shower or tub a little slippery. If you want to use this on your feet as a foot scrub, it would probably be safest to give your feet a separate foot scrub/bath while you’re sitting down using a small plastic tub; that way, you don’t have to worry about slipping in your bathroom tub or shower.

It’s fun making your own bath and skin care products, and so much cheaper, too! I think they work just as well as any you can buy. Have you tried making any for yourself?

Lemon Mint Cucumber Water (aka Detox Water)

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Now that the warm weather is here, I’m craving some flavored water! Not the sweet, artificially flavored kind you buy, but naturally flavored with fruits and herbs. I have some recipes for flavored water here, but I found another water recipe I wanted to try that I found on a site called The Denver Housewife. It’s supposed to be good for hydrating and detoxing (or removing impurities from) the body. The lemon-mint-cucumber combination cleanses, aids in digestion, and rehydrates. I added an extra lemon because I love the lemon flavor (it does make the water pretty tart and lemony, so try it with two lemons first), and a little more cucumber. I already had mint growing in a large container on my patio, so it was so convenient to just snip some fresh mint right from the pot!

If you don’t have a really large pitcher–a gallon-size pitcher would be best–you can make a half batch of this in a smaller pitcher. Or make the whole batch, split up into 2 smaller pitchers. This water would be great to bring to the office…you could make it in the evening and take it to work the next day!

NoteIf you are wanting to use this flavored water as part of a diet, you should always check with your doctor first! This water recipe is mainly a way to make drinking water more enjoyable with healthy natural flavorings for those who don’t like to drink plain water. If you have further questions about this water, please see The Denver Housewife’s post–she has a Q&A section there that you might find helpful.

Here’s how you make it…

LEMON MINT CUCUMBER WATER slightly adapted from The Denver Housewife

Makes 1 gallon-size pitcher

  • 12 cups of water (3 quarts)
  • 2 to 3 lemons, thinly sliced (you can also substitute limes or mix it up…use a lemon/lime combination–using organic lemons or limes is best)
  • 1 small cucumber or 1/2 of a medium to large cucumber, preferably organic, thinly sliced
  • 10 to 15 mint leaves. preferably organic

Rinse lemons and cucumbers very well before slicing; slice thinly. Add lemons, cucumber, and mint to pitcher. Cover with water and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight (the flavor will be stronger if you refrigerate overnight, but I like the lighter flavor, too). Pour in a large glass over some ice…it’s very refreshing! This water tastes best the day or day after you make it.

Another flavored water I’ve made is Apple Cinnamon Ginger Water, so you may want to take a look at that recipe! What’s your favorite way to flavor water?

Linked to Create and Inspire.