Wednesday, February 22, 2012

First Day of Lent

I want to write up a quick post about my first day of Lent, because I am off to such a good start!

Breakfast: Applesauce and black coffee.

Lunch:  salad I had brought from home, made with romaine, cucumbers, sweet peppers, and black bean/corn salsa. I also made a delicious balsamic vinaigrette last night to go with it. I seriously felt like a bar of gold the rest of my work day.

Dinner: Spinach and Scallion pancakes from the Everyday Happy Herbivore cook book. They were absolutely delicious, and so easy to make! They were spicy and savory, and the corn meal in them reminded me of the corn fritters my mom used to make me. I was actually disappointed that I didn't think of adding corn into the recipe. I will definitely be making these again!

I am so wrapping these babies up in foil so that I can throw them in the toaster oven at work for lunch tomorrow.

Have a good night!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

After Mardi Gras

Today is Mardi Gras, which translates to "Fat Tuesday". This "holiday" was originally started so that people could eat up all of the stuff you couldn't eat during Lent, and essentially just have one big party before we buckle down.

Lent, for those that don't know, is the period between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday. It is a time where people reflect and fast. Even if you aren't Catholic, or religious, I feel that this time of fasting and reflecting is important. Even as a person who struggles with faith, I will always have a spot in my life for this period of reflecting and rebirth.

It is because of Lent that I have decided to go Vegan. So, until Easter Sunday, I will be abstaining from eating meat and meat products, including dairy. On Easter Sunday, I hope that my spirit will be reborn which coincides with what the holiday is all about.

Here is where I am going to urge everyone, regardless of religion, to take the time to reflect about our lives, to try to change the things we can, and to consciously try to be better people, no matter what form. Then on Easter, we can celebrate our rebirth as better people, and hopefully we will learn more about ourselves.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Why I Love Raw Milk

Why I Love Raw Milk:
  1. The taste is superior. I was never a milk drinker until I came upon raw milk. It tastes clean, crisp, and a little sweet. It is really creamy, and I like that I can skim the cream off of the top if I wanted to.
  2. In New York State, if you want to buy raw milk you have to purchase it directly from the farm it comes from. This means that I can see the conditions of the farm, and I can meet the cows that give me my milk, if I so desired. I know that the cows are living happy, healthy lives. They aren't living on top of each other in a factory farm, and therefore I am not inadvertently consuming antibiotics because the cows don't need a daily dose to make sure they don't get sick. 
  3. I get to support my local farmers, by getting my milk directly from them. My farm store also sells beef, veal, chicken, eggs, yogurt, and the best cheese I have ever had. These farmers are passionate about what they do, and it really shows in the quality of the food they produce.
  4. It has a plethora of vitamins and minerals, naturally. These vitamins and minerals are killed when the milk is pasteurized. Raw milk also has an enzyme in it that aids your body in digestion, so those who are lactose intolerant can usually drink raw milk. There are people out there who say that the only beings that should be drinking milk are baby cows, but I politely disagree when it comes to raw milk. In its natural state, it is a perfect, healthy food.
This is just a short list of the many reasons why I love raw milk. Personally, I like to know where my food comes from. I like to feed my body with foods that are as close to it's natural state as possible. I believe that when you process milk, you are breaking down the things that make it a perfect food. If you can get raw milk where you are, I think you should give it a try, even if it's only to support your local farmers.

Natural Joy Beauty Giveaway!!!

I would love to introduce you to one of my favorite online stores, and give you an opportunity to try some natural products out for yourself!

Natural Joy Beauty does the research for you, and when you buy from them, you know you are buying something of quality, and most importantly ALL NATURAL.The products they carry have:

  • NO Phenoxyethanol (a.k.a. Optiphen)
  • NO Parabens, Germall or Germaben
  • NO Japanese Honeysuckle (preservative form)
  • NO FD&C Colorants or Synthetic Fragrance
  • NO Toulene, Formaldehyde or Phthalates
  • NO Propylene Glycol, Dimethicone or Diazolidinyl Urea
  • NO Talc, Nano-Particles or Aluminum
  • NO Bismuth Oxychloride, Titanium Dioxide (loose form)
  • NO Petroleum, Mineral Oil or Paraffin
  • NO Triclosan or Sodium Lauryl/Laureth Sulfates
  • NO Animal Testing 
What I really love about Natural Joy Beauty is that they offer samples for really cheap. This, to me, is what sets them apart from other online natural beauty retailers, and really, most any retailer. I'm not going to lie, switching to a more natural life (when it comes to beauty and personal care products) isn't always cheap, and you don't want it to be. It's really nice to be able to sample products before you commit to a full size. I cannot tell you how many natural deodorants I bought before finding one that worked with my body chemistry. Natural Joy Beauty actually saved me from smelling like Jasmine and Taco's when I found their site, and ordered a sample of Salubritas Pina Colada Deodorant Balm!

Because I love this company so much, if I get 100 fans on Facebook before March 1st, 2012, I will give away a $25 gift certificate to Natural Joy Beauty. I am also able to give away one of my favorite products! Here is what you need to do:

February 29, 2012 is the deadline for all entries. If I get 100 fans, I will announce a winner for the $25 gift certificate, and a winner for my favorite product (to be announced), worth $10. If you win either prize, you will have one week to claim it. If the prize is not claimed by March 8, 2012, I will pick a new winner.

If you do the extra credit to gain entries, you must leave a comment below telling me what you did, so that I can keep track. If you share my page with your friends, be sure to let them know that they must tag you in the wall post, or the extra entries for you will not count.

Good luck! And while you're at it, make sure that you go over to Natural Joy Beauty, like their page, and show some love from me!!!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Ways to Boost Your Immune System Naturally

Personally, I never get a flu shot. First of all, I don't like needles. Secondly, it seems that most people get sick after getting the flu shot, and this is because while your body is making antibodies so that you don't get the dreaded flu later in the season, your immune system is lowered which makes you susceptible to other illnesses. And last but not least, I really don't trust a vaccine that is marketed and handed out on the cheap at your local big box store.

I'm not saying that you shouldn't get one. If you work with the public, are older, have a weakened immune system, or have children, you should do what is best for you and your family. And even if you do get a flu shot, these tips can help you when your immune system is lowered while your body is busy making those anti-bodies.

Ways to Boost your Immune System Naturally:
  1. Eat foods that are known to help your body. These foods include:
    1. High Quality Proteins (both plant and animal based)
    2. Healthy Fats (Olive Oil, Coconut Oil, Fish Oil...) 
    3. Yogurt with Live Cultures. 
    4. Fresh fruits and Vegetables!!!
  2.  Exercise for 30 minutes a few times a week. Light exercise makes your white blood cells more active and healthy.
  3. Reduce the stress in your life. Stress definitely weakens your immune system... I recommend doing some deep breathing exercising, or yoga, even drinking a cup of tea can make you less stressed out. There are also herbs you can take, like kava kava, passion fruit, Valerian root, that are all good at relieving stress naturally. 
  4. Get enough sleep. Reducing stress and getting enough sleep go hand in hand. You need to make sure that you are getting the amount of sleep that makes you feel good, because resting allows you to produce more white blood cells that fight off the nasties!
  5. Avoid Toxins. Toxins are everywhere, in the food we eat (from pesticides), to the air we breathe. It's so important to avoid the toxins you can control, like eating organically grown foods, and using natural products. 
  6. Treat infections right away. Echinecea and garlic are both helpful in treating infection. I would only go on an antibiotic if treating your infection naturally with herbs is unsuccessful. We have all heard the dangers of these super bugs that are resistant to antibiotics, because they are over used... So try to treat infections first naturally, and if it doesn't get better in a few days, then definitely go to your doctor and get something stronger. 
A Few Readily Available Herbs that Boost Your Immune System:
  1. Ginseng Root is awesome for preventing upper respiratory infections, so if you find you are prone to them, I would add Ginseng into your daily vitamins and supplements. If you do get one, it is recommended that you stop taking Ginseng until you are better.
  2. Echinacea is a wonder herb when it comes to preventing colds and making you feel better if you are already sick. There are many ways to take Echinacea, but it should be taken frequently at the first sign of illness, and then you should continue to take it frequently until you feel better. Echinacea stimulates your bodies infection fighting cells, and it increases production of other immunity cells. Echinacea comes in many different forms. There is a liquid extract, capsules, it even comes in tea. I find that the capsules work best for me, because I can just take around 600-800 MG every two hours until I feel better, and I don't have to worry about preparing a ton of tea or measuring out the extract. 
  3. Elderberries are these dark blue/black berries that are known for their ability to take over viruses and make them beg for mercy. Elderberry extract or syrup is the way to go, if you take it for prevention you can take 1/2-1 teaspoon twice a day. If you are sick, take 1-2 teaspoons up to four times a day. If you have an elderberry tree, you can make the syrup yourself pretty easily.
  4. Garlic is an awesome healer, and it has been known as such for thousands of years. Garlic was used before the discovery of penicillin. The enzyme (alliin) is sulfur based, and it has antimicrobial properties. The enzyme comes out when garlic is chopped, crushed, or chewed, but cooking destroys it. When I think I am getting an ear infection, I let garlic steep in some olive oil for a while, strain the garlic out, and then drop 8-10 drops in my ear. It offers relief right away and keeps me out of the doctors office. It's excellent for infections like pneumonia, bronchitis, tuberculosis, and dysentery. You can buy garlic supplements now, and a typical dose is 600-900mg a day if powdered, and 10mg if it is in garlic oil. A medium sized clove of garlic will also do the trick, but remember cooking it kills the active enzyme, so if you are going to add it into food, do it at the end, after you have finished cooking your meal.
There is tons of research about boosting your immune system naturally, and this post just briefly sweeps the surface. A majority of the time, heeding these steps will keep you healthy, and get you better faster. If you find that your illness is lingering, or if you are getting worse, go see your doctor!!!

Here are some more websites that offer advice on this topic:

If you have any other advice to add, or if you have any questions or anything please ask in the comments below, or on my Facebook page and I will be happy to answer them to the best of my knowledge.

    Monday, February 13, 2012

    Living Consciously

    Being conscious, by definition, means to have an awareness of one's own environment, and one's own existence, sensations, thoughts. This blog will be a culmination of the things I discover, and my journey to live a simpler life. If someone else benefits from this, no matter how big or small, I will feel pretty accomplished.

    Here are some things you can expect from this blog:

    1. Reviews from a whole range of products, from books to beauty, apps and software, new technologies and old ones. 
    2. Recipes from beauty to cleaning products, and most importantly food.
    3. Growing a garden, and preserving food.
    4. Keeping an herb garden, for culinary and medicinal purposes.
    5. Tutorials/How To's.
    6. Random musings.
    7. My journey as I adopt whole, natural, good for you foods while not depriving myself from any cravings... And making my favorite foods healthier.
    Above is just a starting point. I'm sure as I get the hang of this blog, it will evolve and grow just as we all evolve and grow as time goes on. The constant in all of this randomness is I will always make conscious decisions to be a better person, to create a better existence for myself, those around me, and the future. 

    I also want this blog to be interactive, so if you have any questions, or requests, let me know and I will do my best to please. Thanks for taking the time to read!