I Tried Huel, the Future of Food, and You Should Too

My fight against low energy rages on. I’m pretty sure the key to feeling energized isn’t in the massive amount of coffee I drink (what a wonderful world that would be). The key to getting your groove back is in a balanced diet, staying hydrated, and exercising. We’ve all gotten that memo. When I’m eating right, drinking lots of water, and exercising regularly, my body just feels better, ya know? I am absolutely determined to find that fountain of youth, y’all. As always, ambition gets the best of me, and I go totally extreme in my efforts. So this happened. I spent a long 5 days on a liquid diet, and maybe after you read this you will too. Hear me out.

I should tell you again that I’m not one of those people that lives to eat. I’m more like one of those people that eats to live. The idea of meal replacement shakes doesn’t send me running for the hills, though I tend to avoid them because of all the toxic additives that many of them contain. Then I discovered Huel. Huel is a nutritionally complete powdered food that contains all 26 essential vitamins and minerals, proteins, essential fats, carbs, fiber, and phytonutrients without all the chemical additives. I mean, they bill themselves as the future of food. Lofty claim, right? But hey, it’s vegan, it’s sustainable, it’s cost effective, it’s time saving, and you get a free t-shirt with your first order. So I thought, why not give this stuff a try.

I’m an all or nothing kind of lady. I figured if I was gonna try Huel, I was gonna try Huel, straight up, no chaser. I mixed the powder with nothing but water for the first 3 days and ate nothing else. Seeing is how I’m one of those people that eats to live I figured I wouldn’t miss food all that much. I was wrong. I’m gonna be bluntly honest here. Huel tastes like…well, imagine this: you take food, then you subtract flavor, texture, and go ahead and get rid of all that makes food indulgent or delicious in any way until you’re left with nothing but science. Then you’ve got Huel.

Ok, so I’m totally exaggerating, but if you’re expecting the future of food, think again. I will admit, however, that the taste isn’t offensive at all (it actually has a kind of oat taste to it) and the texture isn’t so bad either, but I did find myself missing food. As for my energy level, to be honest, I felt really good. I haven’t felt hungry at all and I was able to keep up with my daily yoga without feeling overly tired or strained. Full disclosure: I abandoned the whole just water thing after the first 3 days, and opted for breakfast smoothies with Huel. Best decision ever. These smoothies have been down right tasty. You can even cook with Huel, baking it into a healthy cookie recipe, or even a savory stove top dish. The website offers a variety of recipes that include Huel, so there’s that. Anyway, Huel is definitely worth a try. If you’re looking to improve your diet, increase your energy level, maintain a healthy weight, or even drop a few pounds you should give Huel a go.

Check out the video below for a look at a fabulous kitchen, a beautiful man, and some tips on using Huel.

Spa Oasis: The 4 Best Shower Plants To Add to Your Bathroom + A Nifty Idea for the Commitment-Phobic Plant Lover

This summer I went to Stockholm and got to see Scandinavian design first hand. Ikea definitely rules the city, but one thing that I hadn’t really noticed before my visit was this new trend that’s sweeping across the internet: shower plants. I stayed at this cute little air bnb and the bathroom was full of potted plants. I absolutely loved it. The shower stall had hanging plants creeping down the side of the wall and the tub was adorned with beautiful potted plants. It made for the most relaxing spa shower I’ve had in a long time.

As soon as I got back to the states, I knew I just had to add a little green to my shower. I did some investigating and soon discovered that Swedes might be on to something here. Not only are potted plants in the bathroom totally beautiful, but they also serve the function of purifying the air of bacteria and humidity. Perfect for a bathroom! It’s no secret how much I love houseplants. Even though I have the worst luck in keeping plants alive, I’ve found some houseplants that totally thrive even when they are in the care of an herbicidal maniac like me. Finding houseplants for your shower is no different. These plants are totally well suited for a bathroom’s humid environment and are all seriously low maintenance. Check it out!

Air Plants

These amazing little guys are really making the rounds on Pinterest lately. Practically impossible to kill, they add a touch of elegance without all of the fuss. They don’t need soil and when stored in a bathroom, they get most of their water from the air. Just perfect!

Ferns

An oldie, but goodie. Ferns never lose their charm. They require little maintenance and are super prolific. they don’t need direct sunlight and your shower will feel like a rainforest. These look amazing on a vanity, on the lip of a tub, or on a shelf above the toilet.

Spider Plants

Spider plants serve double duty by adding a beautiful touch of low maintenance green to your loo, while at the same time purifying the air. They don’t need much light and they really do well in the humid environment provided by a bathroom.

Eternity Plant

So aptly named, the eternity plant is virtually impossible to kill. Seriously, I tried. I am horrible at taking care of plants, but this one here doesn’t mind the fact that I, ahem, never water it, never talk to it (aren’t you supposed to talk to plants?), and have only indirect sunlight in my bathroom. Forget about marriage, this guy will never give up on his relationship with you.

Nifty Idea: Bath Bouquets

Ok. So what if you’re not willing to even attempt to care for a plant, no matter how low maintenance it is? I totally understand. I have a guest bathroom that I seriously never use. I only go in there to wipe it down from time to time when I know I’m going to have company. Not an ideal place for indoor plants that rely, even just a little bit, on human interaction.

For that bathroom, I like to put together a bouquet of eucalyptus, mint, lavender, rosemary, or lemongrass stems that i tie up with natural twine (find it here) and hang from the shower curtain. These ‘bouquets’ last for weeks and release the most beautiful fragrances when in an enclosed space. When and if you do use the shower, the bouquet reacts to the steam and creates an amazing aromatherapy shower. Such a cool little idea! You can avoid commitment, but still enjoy the benefits of bringing the outside in!

Your Beauty Diet: The Very Best Skin-Nourishing Foods

You guys!!! I’ve been so busy since I got back from Europe. The new school year is starting, so I’ve been helping my sister set up her classroom down in Philadelphia. I’m always amazed at how much work teachers have to do and how many classroom resources they have to pay for themselves. Shout out to all the educators out there! Side bar: if you want to donate to her classroom, please don’t hesitate! You can donate here and if you’d like to know a little more about her classroom check out this link.

Anyway, I’m just getting back into the swing of things since the trip. I came down with a horrible cold as soon as I got back, and that really took the wind out of my sails. If you’ve been following for a while you know that I rarely, and I do mean rarely, get sick. I’m totally married to taking preventative measures against cold and flu season, and on the rare occasion that I do get sick, I’m all about those quick, natural remedies. All this travel had my immune system in a tailspin though, and what’s worse is that all that sick and tired started to surface on my skin. You know that weary-eyed, dull look you get when you’re sick? Well let’s just say that cold added about 20 years to my Gesicht. Not cool.

Beauty is only skin deep, right? Meh. Not always. The foods we eat definitely impact our beauty from the inside out. We are what we eat for real! So when trying to bring your sexy back, diet is a key component. Here is a list of the best beauty foods to incorporate into your lifestyle.

THE BEST BEAUTY FOODS

  1. Lacto-fermented foods are excellent for improving digestion as they are predigested by bacteria so nutrients are more available for the body to use. The process also creates natural probiotics, key for good gut health. Studies also show that lack of certain acids such as hydrochloric acid in the gut contributes to skin problems from rosacea to acne.Lactic acid bacteria can help increase these acids. Other important beauty foods to eat are prebiotic foods such as Jerusalem artichoke, bananas, green veggies, asparagus, onions and garlic that feed the good bacteria in your gut. Foods rich in digestive enzymes such as papaya and pineapple can also help nourish gut and skin health.
  2. Anti-inflammatory foods. Inflammation contributes to a host of skin problems including dryness, pimples and loss of skin tone, as it breaks down essential collagen. Anti-inflammatory foods include lacto-fermented foods and those rich in antioxidants and omega-3s. Grain-fed meats contain inflammatory fats whereas grass-fed meats are rich in CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) and omega -3s. For beauty and health, avoid highly processed foods, sugar, alcohol, pasteurized dairy and gluten that can all contribute to inflammation.
  3. Alkalising foods. Many naturopaths believe that too much acid in the body may lead to skin and health issues from arthritis to eczema. The modern diet is full of acidic foods such as red meat, alcohol, refined grains and sugar. To see and feel the benefits, reduce these and eat lots of alkalising foods: lemons, green leafy veg, fruit, herbs, spices, herbal teas.
  4. Antioxidant-rich foods have anti-inflammatory properties and help protect the skin from free radical damage that ages it prematurely. Free radicals are unstable molecules that naturally roam our bodies looking to partner up with healthy cells, which they then damage. Antioxidant-rich foods include fruits, veggies, spices, green tea and legumes. While oxidation is a normal part of our body’s processes, it is exacerbated by exposure to toxins and pollution, eating processed foods, stress, cigarettes and alcohol so try to cut down on these for your health, and your complexion.
  5. Vitamin C-rich foods. Vitamin C helps support collagen production and boost the skin’s immunity. Lemons, camu camu (a cherry-like fruit), acerola cherry, green leafy veggies, berries, papaya, kiwi fruit, broccoli and cabbage should all be on your shopping list if you want a beautiful complexion.
  6. Vitamin A. Beta-carotene or pro-vitamin A helps rejuvenate the skin and promotes cell turnover, improving dry flaky skin. Carrots, sweet potato, leafy greens and seaweeds are rich in vitamin A. Cod liver oil is another great source and also contains skin-loving vitamin D.
  7. Spark up your skin. Minerals are key catalysts for many biochemical reactions, helping to make enzymes, antioxidants and hormones. They are essential for skin’s hydration, resilience and overall texture and health. Oats, buckwheat and chickpeas contain silica, for example, which can help to promote skin elasticity. Zinc in pepitas is another anti-inflammatory helpful in repairing and building the skin, particularly if you are prone to acne or oily skin. Soak grains, seeds and legumes to reduce anti-nutrients, aid their digestibility and unleash their goodness.
  8. Support the liver. Foods that support the liver are very important to wellness and beauty because this organ is involved in every metabolic process. Max sulphur-rich foods, including those from the brassica family – cabbage, broccoli, kale – in your diet and enjoy nourishing, slow-cooked bone broths.
  9. Eat liver-supporting herbs such as milk thistle, rosemary, fennel, dandelion and burdock root.
  10. Eat fat. Eat essential fatty acids. The ideal ratio is 1:1 – 5:1 of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids, but in the Western world it looks more like 20:1 – 50:1. While omega-6s are essential, their dominance causes inflammation in the body, so avoid processed packaged foods and refined vegetable, seed and nut oils.Eat fresh seeds and nuts for omega-6s and dose up on omega-3s by eating fresh fish (especially cold-water fish), flaxseeds and chia seeds. Be sure to eat freshly ground flaxseeds and chia seeds as they oxidise very easily. Krill oil is also a great omega-3-rich supplement. Other skin-boosting unsaturated fats are olive oil – avoid heating it as it oxidises – and the fats in avocado.Cook with saturated fats such as red palm oil and coconut oil: these are stable and rich in medium-chain fatty acids, which are great for digestion, brain and skin health.
  11. Eat protein. Insufficient protein in the diet can lead to sallow-looking skin and lack of muscle tone. Protein is vital for collagen synthesis, tissue growth and repair. It’s important for balancing blood-sugar levels and it builds muscle, increasing basal metabolic rate or the rate at which you burn fat. Good protein sources are fish, grass-fed meats, fresh nuts and seeds and cultured dairy.

Your body will thank you for introducing all of these cleansing foods into your diet. I’ve been really good about changing the way I think about and choose the foods I eat. The payoff is immediate. More energy, a total relief from abdominal discomfort, and now that I think of it, I’ve also been less stressed out and anxious than I’ve been in years. Cherry on top? A youthful glow to my skin. What more could a lady ask for?!

Source: The Beauty Chef

2 Homemade Allergy Remedies That Go Beyond Just Local Honey

You really don’t realize how often people mow lawns until you suffer from allergies. Over the years, my allergy symptoms kept getting worse. I went from itchy eyes and an itchy throat to full blown cold symptoms in less than two allergy seasons. It sucks. Spring and Summer are rough for sure, and a couple of years ago I started taking spoonfuls of local honey to relieve my allergy symptoms. It worked for a little bit, but soon the allergy gods began mocking my futile efforts toward wellness. Sigh. I had to up my game.

The power of nature never ceases to amaze me. Nature contains both the poison and the remedy simultaneously  like some kind of cosmic contradiction. That’s pretty profound. I’m mad philosophical when I’ve been sneezing. Anyway, I’ve found some pretty awesome remedies that not only relieve my allergy symptoms, but also have some behind the scenes health benefits too. Yesterday was warm and sunny and full of pollen, so I had to think fast and whip up some relief before my allergies took complete control.

Citrus Allergy Relief Tonic

Ingredients

  • 1/2 fresh lemon
  • 2 fresh oranges
  • 1-2 tbsp raw local honey

Directions

  • squeeze the juice from the lemon and oranges
  • allow them to chill in a sealed glass container in your refrigerator
  • when you’re ready to drink, mix in the honey
  • drink daily for maximum effect

How it Works

The jury is still out on whether or not there’s any science behind the effectiveness of local honey on allergies. The theory is that eating local honey will help your body gradually adapt to the allergens specific to your particular region. The Vitamin C in citrus, however, is a proven and effective natural antihistamine. All in all, this tonic helps to relieve your symptoms by aiding your already struggling immune system in fighting off allergens.

Apple Walnut Trail Mix

Ingredients

  • 1/2 to 1 cup of walnuts
  • 1 apple

Directions

  • core and cut apple into medium sized chunks
  • chop the walnuts
  • mix these together and feel free to add other tasty things like dried cranberries, dried cherries, raisins, pecans, or sunflower seeds or all of the above!

How it Works

Walnuts are high in magnesium and Vitamin E. They naturally relieve symptoms like wheezing and coughing. Apples contain quercetin, a strong antioxidant, that inhibits the release of histamine in the body. Because it can be a little difficult to consume the amount of quercetin necessary to relieve extreme allergy symptoms, you can also try to incorporate a quercetin dietary supplement.

***Of course, there are some honorable mentions that didn’t quite make the cut for my top two: Drinking a daily tonic of 1 tsp apple cider vinegar in 8 oz of water really helps to relieve symptoms. Local bee pollen granules can help, but start small. Dissolve a couple of granules under your tongue at first and then move your way up to sprinkling it on your morning oatmeal, or on your yogurt. Mmmm!

Homemade Switchel---The Home Remedy Tonic You've Never Heard Of

Homemade Switchel—The Home Remedy Tonic You’ve Never Heard Of

I’m kind of a history nerd. I love stories about tradition. How was this thing used or how did this thing get it’s name? That’s exciting stuff. So when I read a brief history of switchel, or haymaker’s punch, I was totally fascinated. Switchel is a traditional drink popularized in colonial New England. It was often given to farmers to quench their thirst during harvesting time, hence the nickname, haymaker’s punch. I totally geeked out over that story, and when I saw the recipe I was completely sold on trying it out for myself.

Homemade Switchel

Switchel is probably the best kept herbal remedy secret I’ve seen in years. This homemade tonic is an immune system-boosting, probiotics boasting, electrolyte-replenishing powerhouse of a drink! This is the perfect home remedy to alleviate the symptoms of anything from acid reflux to the flu. You probably have all of the ingredients you need right now! Check it out!

Homemade Switchel

Homemade Switchel

Ingredients

  • 1 (4 inch) piece of ginger, grated
  • 2 tbsp raw honey
  • 1/3 c apple cider vinegar
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 4 c filtered water

Directions

  • combine all ingredients in a glass carafe
  • let stand overnight at room temperature
  • serve hot, or at room temperature, or over ice, or add some seltzer water!

Image Credit: StephaniePollard