Here comes the sun

We have all covered our bodies in lotions and oils to enhance a tan or avoid a burn.

Admittedly, I used to grease up in baby oil and plop myself on a reflecting blanket to really maximize my sun-exposure. What was I thinking? Literally one step away from cooking my flesh.

Our global world is as small as the smart-phone in our hands. We can see images of the majestic mountains, limitless space and the deep blue sea from our cozy couches.

We also see is the impact humans have on their environment. Both positive and negative.

Traditional sun care products that are formulated with oxybenzone are linked to the death and decline of coral reefs. You can read more about the nitty-gritty science details here in this paper from the Government Office of Sweden’s Ministry of Environment and Energy.

We know that certain rays from the sun are harmful. No one is disputing that. Sun exposure is also beneficial in healthy growth and development with vitamin D. How do we safely juggle protecting our skin and the planet at the same time?

Avoid any sunscreen product that contains Oxybenzone or Octinoxate Look for non-nano particle size too. Does size really matter? This is one of those times where, yes, size does matter! When particles are small enough, they can be ingested by the coral and lead to death.

Thankfully, more beaches are enforcing the use of environmentally safe sunscreens.

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Beautycounter has created a sunscreen that dots all the I’s and crosses all the T’s when it comes to your sun protection and keeping the marine world safe.

 

 

 

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Your biggest organ is showing

Back in grade school, it was great fun to say to someone that their epidermis was showing. If they didn’t know the word, they were in a panic trying to cover up whatever had come uncovered. Aahhh, good memories.

We all know that our skin is our largest organ. It is our first line of defence against environmental attacks and also is a barometer of our overall health.

Think of your outer wrapping as a revolving door. What you put in your body eventually works its way out to your skin. What you put on your body is transported into your system.

Caring for your skin starts before you are even able to voice your opinion on the matter. Think of the years of potentially harmful chemicals that you have used in your lifetime. You were likely slathered in all kinds of ‘baby-fresh’ scented soaps, shampoos, powders and lotions. Babies do not need added scents, they smell just fine on their own.

The word ‘fragrance’ is considered a proprietary secret and therefore, manufacturers DO NOT have to disclose the ingredients used to create their scent. Now, I love me a good secret, but I am not okay with being denied knowing what I am applying to my body.

ProtestFlag_LendYourVoice

We, as consumers, must advocate for our rights to know what is in our products. It is up to us to read our labels, do our homework and vet out the companies who are creating products that are safer to use.

I’m tired of being a lab rat for the big companies that are making products with ingredients that are known to be harmful to human health. My health, the health of my family and friends is worth more than the shampoo and lipstick deal at the department or dollar store.

 

Dammit Jim, I’m not a doctor!

Disclaimer right there.

Any health based things I am posting, unless I am attaching cited medical documentation, is 100% MY PERSONAL THOUGHTS.

Goodness knows I have a ton of thoughts, opinions and musings on things to do with health and wellness. Some of it is based on science, some is based on personal experience. Best part about advice is that it is free and you do not have to take it.

With that out of the way, let’s chat about your body.

Do you wish your body came with a check engine light like your vehicle?

You actually do but you may not be aware your dash-light is flashing at you. Your body lets you know it is in a state of distress through digestive issues, inability to fight off colds and flus readily, lethargy, brain-fog, breakouts and an entire laundry-list of things that make you generally feel less than your best self.

Your food affects your health. Your movement affects your health. Your products affect your health. Your environment affects your health.

Your body has to last you a lifetime. Why not make it a great place to live?

How? Read your labels. Know what you are putting in and on your body.

Invest in yourself like you do an RRSP. Small investments daily will add up to great rewards.

Getting back to the page

I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who steps away from the keyboard for extended periods of time. It isn’t that I don’t have anything to say, I just find myself saying things on different platforms.

The time-wasting lure of all things social media can really drag you down the rabbit hole. Just a few more scrolls, swipes and likes and I’ll stop. The next thing you know, it is time for dinner, work, bed or something else.

Ya feel me?

Then comes the self-flagellation for NOT writing. That day turns into a week then a month and then, well, a year has passed since more formalized thoughts are put out.

Forgiving ourselves and being able to carry on and hold our heads high instead of wallowing in guilt and embarrassment for things that have slid by us in the past is sometimes hard to do.

It takes a certain amount of courage to show up after an absence so I return to you, with a few new focal points and I hope you stick around a little longer.

 

Sunday self care thoughts

Current view.

That polish? Definitely NOT a clean beauty product. I use it, however, less than two months a year so I don’t lose too much sleep over it.

In a reflective moment, I sat back and thought about all the products I personally use in a typical day. Only two (three if you count floss) are not from Beautycounter. I make my own deodorant/antiperspirant from Beautycounter Body Wash and baking soda. This polish in glorious cyanotic blue-green and a hair gum/paste are my only products with questionable ingredients.

Transparency matters to me. I read every label on every food package I pick up. These days, food in a package is very seldom found in my cart. I prefer to eat the ingredients. This transparency matters so much, I bought a 1/4 of a grass-fed cow and half a pastured pig from a friend who happens to be a farmer. I buy organic produce when possible. It depends on availability, price, appearance, budget etc.

Naturally, the desire for knowing what I’m eating spilled over to my products. This is where Beautycounter came into my life.

The impact of safer ingredients in personal care products and cosmetics is far grander than we really comprehend. We use our products. Our health is impacted. We wash off our products. Where do you think that water winds up eventually? Our aquatic life is one group that is paying that cost.

We want to look good but our health should not be paying the price. We also want high performing products without remortgaging our homes. We want safe but we don’t want our makeup to look like Alice Cooper after an hour.

Yes, Beautycounter products are more expensive than what you buy at the drugstore or grocery store. The products are on par price-wise with a lot of items at Sephora, but that is where the similarities stop.

Why would you want to spend more on something that seems similar at first glance?

🚫 no fillers, you use less of each product so a little goes a long way

🚫 no phthalates to affect your hormones or your kids hormones. The hormone fairy has a tough enough job, let’s not make it harder

🚫 no parabens, which are plasticizers to help your body absorb the harmful ingredients

🚫 never any animal testing, ever

🚫 no micro beads in any product to harm our aquatic life. Where did you think the stuff we rinse down the drain winds up?

✅ 60 day money back guarantee on everything. Your purchase is literally risk-free

✅ transparency in every aspect of the products and company

✅ nourishes your skin while making you look and feel good

✅ batch tested by an independent company for heavy metals

✅ Beautycounter puts the planet and people ahead of profit

Want to learn more? Click here.

#ThisTimeItsPersonal

Grab your coffee, tea, water or wine and let’s chat a bit about our rights as consumers and human beings in general.

We read our packaged food labels so we know what we are about to put in our bodies. Yet, many reach for the cheapest shampoo and body wash. Why would you want to pay a higher price for something that will literally GO DOWN THE DRAIN when you can buy a similar item at the dollar store? I’ll tell you why you should rethink about what you use on your outer covering.

“Flavour” as an ingredient can mean almost anything. I can make my decision to eat or not eat that item after reading the label. “Fragrance” as a product ingredient can also mean almost anything, and by law, the manufacturer does not need to disclose what they use. The beauty industry is not regulated. Let that sink in a moment. You do not know what you are putting on your body. Kinda makes you feel like a lab rat doesn’t it?

Most of us are using soap, body wash, shampoo, conditioner, hair styling products, deodorant or antiperspirant every day. Some of us also use targeted products to battle wrinkles and age spots and some are battling acne with topical products. Then, there is the moisturizer, concealer, foundation, powder, eyeliner, mascara, eyeshadow, blush or highlighter, lipstick or lipgloss. Whew! The sunny months find us layering on sunscreen too. That’s a lot for you and your skin to absorb. That potentially toxic load is being delivered EVERY DAY. We literally, wash all those chemicals down the drain and into our marine ecosystem. Our poor oceans. Hawaii recently banned sunscreens that contain oxybenzone as it has been linked to the death of coral reefs. A step in the right direction.

We aren’t surprised when someone develops lung cancer when they smoke. Liver disease in those who drink to excess isn’t shocking either. Yet, how many people do you know who have had their lives touched by severe, life-threatening allergies, infertility issues, miscarriages, non-hereditary cancers, childhood cancers, auto-immune diseases and on and on? We all do. These things used to be rare. These increases can be partially attributed to the daily assault of potentially harmful and toxic ingredients we are using on ourselves and families without a second thought. Our bodies are being hit with so many different chemicals and ingredients that we do not fully understand how they interact with, and affect our delicate hormonal balance, or the cumulative effect of this onslaught over years and years.

Detoxes are really popular these days. We jump on a 7 – 14 – 21 – 30 day detox to help our systems reset and lose our affinity for sugar. Yet, for some, they still are not feeling any better despite cleaning up their nutritional intake. Time to look at what you are using on the outside.

Enter the movement started by Beautycounter. Their mission is to get safer products into the hands of everyone. That doesn’t necessarily mean, everyone has to buy their products. This movement is about changing the laws that govern these products. Beautycounter is working to educate the public on the lack of regulations in the beauty industry. These Consultants are women and men who are reaching out to elected officials and demanding better laws and safer ingredients. I am proud to lend my voice to this movement. As a collective group, we are making a difference. We are speaking out on behalf of all consumers.

We demand better. We deserve safer. Don’t you?

 

 

Well, now, that was a bit of a break

Perspective. We all have it and sometimes we need to shift our own to stay motivated to keep doing what we do.

I was absent from the page because the food creating part of my brain felt burned out. Making things and trying to create recipes can get expensive. Especially when it doesn’t quite turn out the way you had hoped. Then, you get angry at yourself for wasting all that grass-fed beef, pastured pork, grass-fed butter, organic produce etc. I have mentioned how much I hate wasting food and money. I was mentally flogging myself for not slaving away in the kitchen on my days off. This led to more resentment about being in the kitchen when I wanted to sit and eat all the bon-bons. Ok, I wasn’t really eating bon-bons, but, you get the idea. So, less time was spent cooking, more time binge-watching Netflix and accruing lots of cuddles with one of the cats. Need shows to watch? I have a laundry list of stuff I crushed in a two day stretch.

Grace, permission and forgiveness. Three words that are getting a lot of vocalization these days. They sound kinda airy and artsy and full of silly fluffy things but, when applied to your life, they can be the hardest-hitting, life-changing clouts you could have ever needed.

You see, life is about choices. We make choices every day. We choose to get up and go to school or work. We choose to eat and to clean ourselves. We choose to move our bodies daily. Or not. Sometimes, those choices leave us feeling full, but not in a good way. I’m talking about that big “muffin” from Costco. Really, that thing is way too big to eat at one go and it is one layer of frosting away from being a cake. Those blueberries aren’t fooling anyone.

When we choose things that leave us full of regret, forgiveness floats to the surface. Cut yourself some slack. Yes, you ate the muffin. Yes, you feel sick from all the refined sugar and all the other less than ideal ingredients. Get over it already. Donate the rest of the muffins to the office or staff table. Forgive yourself that lapse and plan for the next time you find yourself in a similar situation. Simple solution. Shop on a full stomach. Many self-help programs have a mantra the reminds us to focus on each day as it comes. Seems overly simple, yet effective. Did you eat or do something you feel poorly about? Don’t wallow in it. Move on. You know you can do better tomorrow. No exercise today? Park at the end of the aisle instead as close to the door as you can get. Make a trip with each grocery bag instead of trying to haul it all in in one trip. My maternal grandmother was the queen at that. She would put upwards of 5 bags on each wrist, gasping for breath the entire time, stumble and sway her way to the front door from the car while my grandfather sauntered to the door with one small paper bag from the liquor store in his hand.

Back to the here and now.

Moving forward, I will still have posts pertaining to food and recipes. Ways to make things easier. Shortcuts and hacks. (Frags are still so much of how my brain works. I still write like I talk.) There will be posts on mindset. Our brains are so under-utilized in our modern society. There will be posts on self-care and kindness. As I’m navigating the second half of my first century, I’m realizing how important kindness to ones self really is.

I hope you stay.

Year end reflections in February

2017 was a big and busy year for me.

I turned 50 on paper, yet, mentally never really got past 17.

I travelled over 3,000 kilometres by myself to Austin Texas to attend PaleoFx. Not only did I embark on this journey solo, I met and stayed with a friend I had made online. Yes, I literally travelled across North America to meet and stay with a stranger in an AirBnB. Exactly the type of thing we caution our children not to do.

I met many of my food, nutrition and sciencey-type experts in Texas at book signings held during the event. It felt good to be able to thank them in person for all the work they share freely. Even experts deserve a thank you and a pat on the back. Those five days, the people, the food and the coffee are all memories I shall treasure for the rest of my time topside on the blue marble we call home.

In moments of self-reflection, I’ve learned I am sporadically creative. I have many passions and grand ideas and am working to create something from them.

When I get going, I get going like a high-speed bullet train. I am capable of doing and creating from the moment I open my eyes to the point I drop into bed mentally and physically drained. Those days, seriously, DO NOT come into the kitchen. You probably wouldn’t want to wander in as the music is guaranteed to be very loud and possibly highly inappropriate. I have extreme organized chaos under control and like a triage station, it all gets done.

Other days find me conjoined to my comfy chair, cat installed in my lap, coffee in hand and the last thing I feel like doing is making recipes or food prep hacking in any form. I will go for walks to the beach and stand and think about how the view changes yet remains the same. Time and tide, the two constants in our lives.

Then, there is this. And you. The reader. These posts are an extension of my mind, my thoughts. Some days I feel I was, perhaps, from a different period. A time when stories were passed from generation to generation while sitting round the communal fire. A raconteur of sorts. I treasure the way we can span time and space via the written word. You may read this the day I post or it may be dug up years from now. That connection we share is the same. Those who read this so I am not just a voice quacking in the void, “Thank you”.  This has helped me walk the walk and talk the talk about the importance of food, nutrition, food-like products, mindset, movement, personal grace and memories.  This is a commitment, yet not one, at the same time. My mind, like the tide, ebbs and flows at it’s own rate and I have learned to be ok with that.

I’ve learned to be kinder to myself.  If a recipe post didn’t come to me every week, I used to mentally beat myself up over it. This caused a spiral effect in which my sleep was affected and I would get short with people. I realized that putting that pressure on myself was not healthy. I no longer self-flagellate over a pause in food and recipe development.

If something comes to me, rest assured, I’ll share it. If we hit a dry patch, well, I hope to entertain you, at the very least, until the next post.

 

 

 

 

Reflections on Christmases past

Holidays mean different things to different people.

You may be a part of the camp that cannot wait to have every relative you know (and a few you never knew you had) under your roof to take part in food and conversation for days on end. Your home is decorated from top to bottom before December starts and you may have eggnog pulsing through your veins.

You may be in the camp that these festive times cause you great stress and feelings of inadequacy because you aren’t decorated like Martha Stewart and goodness knows your family situation is nothing Norman Rockwellesque at all and you would prefer to just be left alone until December 26th, pleaseandthankyouverymuch.

Is either one right? Is either one wrong? Can you belong to both camps?

Growing up, I recall putting our tree up on Christmas Eve while listening to either Nana Mouskouri or Elvis Presley. We would watch Alastair Sim in A Christmas Carol and head to bed not long after that movie ended. As the old handmade ornaments came out of storage and found a spot on the tree, the stories filled the room. I always wondered why my parents never threw away the styrofoam ball covered in green glitter and stabbed  mercilessly with toothpicks. It resembled a crude sputnik.

My grandmother would be in baking mode for weeks, maybe even months, before Christmas, making sausage rolls, meat pies, nuts n bolts snack mixes, rum balls and so on. All these baked goods were off limits until all the relatives were under our roof. Truthfully, I was not a fan of the meat pies or the sausage rolls, but because they were a limited run, they were somehow more desirable and I would stuff them in like they were providing me with life itself.

My parents gave us a beautiful tree the year we were married. It was 7′ tall and so full, I could not wrap my arms around it’s circumference. I used to decorate our tree in different styles every year when my kids were young. One year, it was wrapped in wide ribbons. One year, it was done up with only lights. There was probably close to 1500 lights on it. Yes, it gave off warmth because this was pre-LED bulb days. One year, I made chocolate chip cookies and hung them on the tree. As guests came over, they were to remove a cooky on their way home, thus helping me undecorate. No lights were turned on that year, as they melted the chocolate chips (lesson learned the hard way).

Many cats later, my tree has seen better days. No, they did not pee on it or the skirt, but they did find themselves up inside the tree, bending the support branches. My majestic 7′ tree, which used to fill a room, now resembles a Dr. Suess tree, as almost all the branches are in a downward sweep with visible bald spots.

As the ornaments get hauled out, we too share the memories of the toddler fashioned decorations. The first year we had a child-made decoration for our tree, I got it. I understood why my folks did not chuck out the green glittered sputnik or any of the other things my brother and I had made. These signified milestones in our lives. Looking at the toilet roll Christmas cracker that is covered in scrap pieces of foiled paper and fruit-smelly markers, I recall the teacher they had and the friends that were a part of our lives that year. These associations are not unlike the ones an archeologist makes when unearthing  traces of civilizations. I don’t know of anyone who doesn’t have at least one glitter macaroni ornament or a paper Santa on their tree.

In my gluten-filled days, I baked like a fiend. I was often up until the wee hours of the morning, washing dishes, making dough, decorating snowmen and all kinds of other stuff. It was common for me to make 10-12 different types of cookies and gift them to friends, everyone getting a variety of each type. I made sugar cookies, gingerbread dudes, candy cane twists, fudge, pfeffernuise, rum balls, snowballs, lumps of coal and on and on. I would buy New Year’s Eve party hats, line them with parchment paper and fill them, cone-style, with treats for the kids who lived on our street. Each kid got their own cone of cookies, so no one had to share their goodies with their mom or dad.

I would spend hours and days shopping at the malls finding lots of things for everyone on my list. I was there on Boxing Day, getting a jumpstart on the next year’s shopping requirements. I never dared tally my spending as I knew it was ridiculous. Wrapping the presents took me days. Each wrapped gift was a work of art. I didn’t like to use the same paper on any two gifts. Everything was wrapped in a box. Sometimes, a box within a box. I used to made custom bows for each package, a lesson from one of my many awesome aunts. I was supporting our economy almost single-handedly.

My gifts have shifted to ways to share time and memories instead of something from a store. My baking template has also changed. I no longer do these things in excess because it is expected of me. I’d rather spend that time reminiscing with family over a coffee, wine or kombucha. Wrappings are trappings and we are better off without them.

Perhaps that ol’ Grinch knew something after all.

 

 

 

 

Because who doesn’t want another cooky recipe?

Are you part of Team Pumpkin Spice Everything? Or do you give it a wide berth?

Pumpkin Spicers.

They are a breed of their own. Those who support pumpkin spice this and that are like people and certain actors. I think you know what I’m talking about here. Take Adam Sandler for example. You either love him and his movies or you can’t stand him. The same goes with Andy Samberg. It’s love or hate. Hey! I just noticed they have the same initials. Hmmm, coincidence? Me, I am not a Tom Cruise fan. I enjoyed his character in Tropic Thunder, but that is one of the few roles I can think of that I liked. But, this isn’t about actors I like, this is about the Great Pumpkin debate Charlie Brown.

I’ve made pumpkin soup. I’ve made pumpkin spice chia pudding. I’ve made pumpkin spice fat bombs. I’ve made pumpkin spice bread. I’ve made pumpkin spice coffee. You get the idea. I am a card-carrying member of Team Pumpkin Spice.

From my sugar consuming past, you know that I love me a cooky. Armed now with a bit of understanding of how refined sugar is processed by the body, if I can make said cooky  with stuff that is better for me, well, that is a win. Enter these pumpkin spice macaroons. There are almost as many variations of said pumpkin spice blends as there are pumpkin spice goods. All you have to do is google it to see what I mean. Find a combo you like and make your own. Then you are free to sprinkle that magic dust into everything.

At first, I thought, hmmm, coconut and pumpkin spice? How will this pan out? Will there be too many conflicting tastes? So as with most things, once the house was empty, I started pulling stuff out of the pantry and went to work. If they didn’t turn out, only the compost bin and I would be any the wiser. Seeing as I have this post, you know these did not disappoint. They are not sweet, but they do hit the spot when “a little something” is needed. Those tiny chips do the trick.

Pumpkin spice chocolate chip macaroons:

  • 1 cup unsweetened pumpkin puree (not pie filling)
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  • 1/3 cup full fat coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup melted coconut oil
  • 4 cups shredded, unsweetened coconut
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons honey, pure maple syrup or molasses (molasses will make for a darker cooky as pictured above)
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice blend
  • 1/4 cup mini chocolate chips ( I use Enjoy Life but cacao nibs would also be amazing)

Preheat the oven to 350.

In a medium mixing bowl, mix the spices into the coconut shreds. Stir the melted coconut oil into the shreds and set aside.

Process the pumpkin, chia seeds, coconut milk, honey (or maple syrup/molasses) and vanilla in a blender until everything is well incorporated. Add to the coconut mixture and stir well. Mix the chocolate chips in last to minimize any potential melting or smearing of chocolate.

Line a cooky sheet with either parchment paper or a silicone mat. I use my trusty 1/4 cup cooky scoop and pack the “dough” well. If you don’t pack them tightly, they are likely to fall apart on you either during the baking or removing from pan step. These do not spread out at all during baking so you can place them as close together as you like.

Bake 22-25 minutes. Let them cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then move to a wire rack (carefully!) to let them finish cooling completely. They are very fragile at first, but firm up more once fully cooled. Again, this is why it is important to really pack the dough.

I get 12 big cookys, (because that is how I like my cookys – BIG!) but feel free to make them whatever size you like and adjust baking times accordingly.