Friday, 18 May 2012

Review: GOOP Gluten Free Paleo Bread

I love Gwyneth Paltrow- I think she's beautiful and classy and I love that she seems family orientated and into good health, but in the same way I am- with a glass of wine on the side. :)

So I subscribe to her blog Goop, which sends out newsletters once a week or so on various topics- health, beauty, food, travel, etc. One recent newsletter caught my eye- A Better Breakfast, and especially the Paleo Bread recipe. Being a recent gluten free convert, I thought this easy and tasty sounding recipe sounded perfect to try, so I gave it a go. However as I couldn't find all the ingredients, I made some substitutions, but in my opinion (and my family's!) the bread came out tasting beautifully.

This is how I made it:

1 3/4 cup LSA (Linseed, sunflower seed and almond)

2 tablespoons coconut flour

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

5 eggs

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon honey

1 tablespoon Braggs Apple Cider Vinegar

I blended all the ingredients in a food processor, poured the mixture in a paper lined lasagna tray and cooked for 40 minutes at 350 degrees. 

This is what the bread on the Goop website looked like:

This is what my bread looked like (iPhone):

I think not bad! 

I'm assuming because I used unrefined LSA, and not blanched almond flour that is why my bread was darker in color. And it didn't rise as much as Gwyneth's bread, but I was quite satisfied! I ate it hot out of the oven with soup for dinner, and then with Manuka honey for breakfast the next day. I even toasted it on the third day and it was still good!

If you love wholesome, tasty bread I suggest you give this ridiculously easy and totally delicious bread a try. 

Happy baking!

M. :)

I'm back! An update :)

Hello again!

Well I know that I have not posted in a while, but the past weeks have been crazy! (Prepare for a myriad of excuses :P)

My bf and I went to New Zealand for 16 days, which was totally amazing! However as it always is with holidays, the weeks leading up to them are crazy at work. Crazy busy at work - 2 weeks of relaxing on vacation - Crazy busy at work again. Sometimes you wonder if it's worth it (let me tell you, New Zealand was!!!) As my bf has most of the photo's from our trip (he is the snap happy one with the SLR and the skills!), here is a crappy iPhone photo that doesn't do this beautiful country justice:

Then the week after our return was equally crazy- I found out my beloved cat of almost 12 years had been fatally run over. This was way before her time was due to come, and it hit me really hard. 

Some people might say 'they are only animals', but our pets become part of our family. 

May she rest in peace. 

Then it was my birthday which was made special by my lovely friends and family, especially my bf who spoiled me rotten with flowers, jewelry, perfume, champagne, French food and gluten free almond and orange birthday cake (warning, crappy iPhone pic):

Which leads me to my next bit of news- 

I have gone gluten free! 

I was not medically diagnosed by a doctor, however based on my own research and my own body, I felt like it was a step I wanted to take. I did the same a few years ago when I stopped eating most dairy- a doctor hadn't diagnosed me, however I listened to my own body and how it responded to food, and decided to give it up. It was definitely the right thing to do for me, and now I want to see if going gluten free will also improve my health. I'll keep you updated!

I'm really excited and happy to be back to blogging- it is a creative outlet that I don't think I have anywhere else in my life and I love sharing things with others, just as everyone shares things with me. :)

I have tried quite a few new products over the past months, so I have a heap of product reviews that I will be doing, as well as gluten free recipes I will try. I better get to it!

M. :)

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Skin and health benefits of drinking lemon juice daily- no sugar!

I am a big believer of what you put in your body comes out in your skin. 

Dermatologists always say that diet doesn't affect your skin. I believe that is RUBBISH. Why? Because I see it every day with my own body. 

Eating a fresh, varied and where possible, organic, diet full of tonnes of colorful vegetables and fruit is so good for your health, and can give you energy, improve your immune system and even heal your body.

It is another benefit of healthy eating that you will have glowing, clear, healthy skin- and drinking lemon juice every day is a great start and a great way to keep you on track throughout the day.

Lemon juice is full of Vitamin C, citric acid, calcium, magnesium and very importantly, works as a natural digestive.  

When our bodies are clogged up with fast food, sugar, alcohol and other nasties this is reflected in our skin-  our skin could become dull, lifeless or broken out in spots or even rashes.  

Lemon juice works to flush out and cleanse all the toxins from your insides, as well as having an antibacterial effect. 

Along with a balanced diet, this not only results in you feeling lighter and less lethargic, but your skin should be glowing with health- from the inside

Furthermore, I don't know about everyone, but there are moments throughout the day when I struggle to stay on my healthy eating path- I'm looking at you 

"10.30am morning tea time can I have a muffin and pretend it's not really a cake" and
"3.30pm do I really have another 1 1/2 hours of work can I please have a chocolate bar, please!"

But I find continually drinking lemon juice throughout the day (equal to about 2 small lemons) diluted in purified water, helps to keep me motivated to stay on track and decreases my sugar cravings. For me, this is a massive bonus!

Lemon juice is the original, cheap, healthy, natural, no gimmick detox- try it!

M. :)

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Product Review: Aura Cacia Argan Oil

Price: US$9.89

Size: 1oz/30mL

Packaging: Approx. 4.5 in/11cm tall, clear brown glass bottle with black pump lid. You could travel with it if you use the plastic cap that fits over the lid. Don't throw this out!

Ingredients: Organic Argan (Argania Spinosa) Kernel Oil

Product: Argan oil seems to be 'the' oil of the moment, and for good reason. This super oil is full of Vitamin E, antioxidants and plumping fatty acids like omega 6 and 9 that can heal scarring and hyperpigmentation, neutralize free radical damage caused by sun and pollution exposure, reduce inflammation, moisturize dry skin and reduce wrinkles. 

What can't it do?!

Being in my 20s I can't speak for wrinkles, but the skin under my eyes is now so, so plump and any fine lines are completely gone. I was using rosehip oil previously for my eyes and this beats it hands down in results- also it is a lot less 'oily'. As you will see below, I was initially overusing it, but have now worked out the best way my skin can get results. Of an evening I massage three pumps all over my face for 2 minutes, including eyes, and then gently remove with a warm, wet washcloth. This removes all my makeup and leaves my skin baby soft- the way I like it!

Pros: Despite being an oil, this does not make my skin oily at all, but rather soft, smooth and plump.  Some scarring and inflammation is decreased and it keeps the eczema on my forehead under control.

Cons: I find when I use this in excess, it can cause some breakouts. I initially used it as both a makeup remover, cleanser in the morning and as a serum over my toner at night, but now just stick with using it as a makeup remover. 

Also this wonder oil comes at a price! When I decided I wanted to hop on the argan oil bandwagon, I initially looked at the Kahina Giving Beauty version. However because of the hefty price tag of $36 for the same quantity (and my volatile skin :-S) I thought I'd try Aura Cacia's cheaper version first. After a successful trial I will definitely try Kahina's next time, but if you want to give argan oil a go and are on a budget, I would definitely recommend Aura Cacia.

Verdict:  The best pure oil on the market for sensitive, dehydrated skin that is prone to breakouts. An elegant product that was made to be used cosmetically- you won't find this in your pantry or use it to fry your chicken!- and makes you feel like you are using an expensive luxurious face cream and not an oil. 

Buy it: I bought it here from Vitacost. (Which is also where I buy all my supplements from- I'll do another post soon on my favorite vitamins for skin. :) )

Don't let the thought of putting oil on oily skin (or any skin for that matter) put you off- using oils on your face is probably one of the best things you can do for your skin. 

M. :)

Friday, 13 April 2012

Product Review: Farmaesthetics Pure Complexion Tonic

Image courtesy of Macy's
Price: US$28

Size: 4oz/118mL

Packaging: Approx. 6 in/16cm tall, cobalt blue glass bottle with a screw top lid and about a 1/2 inch opening. I love glass packaging!

Ingredients: Witch Hazel, Rose Otto, Chamomile and Lavender Essential Oils, Glycerin  (Yes, that's it!)

Product: This toner is a clear liquid (looks like water) and smells like roses- just lovely! I use a cotton pad to cover the opening and tip the bottle upside down quickly. I usually do this twice and it is enough product to cover my whole face. I anticipate the bottle to last me about 3 months. 

Pros: This beautiful, simple toner is perfect for my sensitive skin. Toners are something I have really struggled to find over the years as they are usually waaay too harsh.  Upon application my skin feels and looks smoothed and hydrated. After 3 weeks my skin tone is more even and my skin is softer and smoother. It has not aggravated my eczema on my forehead. 

Cons: I can only order it online, but as I order so many products online, I have gotten used to anticipating when I'm going to run out of a product! Also, I was using this twice a day, which I think caused slight irritation. I would stick to once in the evening to remove any grime from the daily grind in the city!

Verdict:  This is a great toner for those with sensitive skin, especially those prone to congestion! It uses natural, proven ingredients to GENTLY tone and soften (Read: no alcohol, no salicylic acid, no AHA, no BHA!) The Witch Hazel is FULL of antioxidants and together with the Lavender works to purify the skin, while the Rose Otto softens and calms and the glycerin holds it all together! I also love this company's concept of only using a few ingredients- I will be trying their cleanser next and will definitely review it also!

Buy it: I bought it here from Future Natural

Wake up and smell the roses everyone! 

M. :)

DIY Natural Skincare

Image courtesy of Getty Images

Buying skincare products is fun- trawling through blogs for recommendations, critically reading hundreds of reviews,  that heart wrenching thrill when you press 'Checkout' feeling like you have definitely found 'THE ONE', that perfect, life changing product!!!!!

Oh wait, is that just me? ;)

Anyway, as fun as that is, something just as fun is making natural, gentle and economical skincare from products from our own pantry or fridge. And so below is a list of some of my favorite DIY skincare- 

Raw Sugar and Oil Face Scrub 

Ingredients: 2 teaspoons of raw sugar, 3 teaspoons of oil (I like Olive Oil, or you could use Coconut Oil as well)
Method: Mix together in a small bowl. Adjust ingredients as necessary. Take a warm (not hot) face towel and sit it over your skin for a minute to open pores. Repeat. Then scoop up the scrub and slowly massage it over your face for a minute, avoiding the eye area. Do not use quick or rough movements, as this will be too abrasive for your skin. Rinse the scrub off your face with warm water. You may find you do not need your usual moisturizer/oil. You might like a few swipes of toner if you like that fresh feeling.
Results: Your skin should be baby soft and glowing! The sugar will exfoliate and the oil is full of skin loving vitamins! If you have particularly sensitive skin, you could use bicarbonate soda/baking soda as an alternative to the sugar. I recommend skin patch testing this scrub on a part of your neck or your inner wrist first to test for any allergies/reactions.

Full Fat Greek Yogurt Face Mask

Ingredients: 2 tablespoons of Full Fat Greek Yogurt, 1 tablespoon of Manuka or Organic regular honey
Method: Mix together in a small bowl. After cleansing, apply a thin layer of the mixture over your face., avoiding your eye area. Let it set for 45 mins-1 hour. Remove with warm water and tone as usual. 
Results: Your skin should be plump, clear and glowing due to the gentle lactic acid found in yogurt! Plus the honey has soothing and antibacterial properties, so can help to calm irritated or broken out skin.  Do not use if you are lactose intolerant and always patch test first. :)

Braggs Apple Cider Vinegar Toner

Ingredients: 1 teaspoon of Braggs Apple Cider Vinegar, 4 teaspoons water
Method: Mix together in a small bowl. After cleansing, take a cotton pad, dip it in the bowl, and swipe over your skin. Let it dry and then follow with your usual moisturizer/oil. 
Results: ACV has antibacterial properties, so can assist with clearing breakouts. It also can assist with bringing your skin's acid mantle back to its normal PH level. Make sure you get the ACV with 'The Mother'- do not get a refined ACV, as it doesn't have all the nutrients. As always, patch test for reactions or if you have sensitive skin, start with 1/2 teaspoons of ACV.

And of course, you can eat most of those foods for inside health benefits as well!

M. :)

Friday, 6 April 2012

Acids in Skincare: What, why, where and natural alternatives

These days anything that has 'Rejuvenating', 'Revealing', or 'Repairing' in its Product Description probably has some sort of acid in the ingredients list. So what are these acids and why are they so commonly used in skincare?

Acid's, when used properly, can heal, repair and protect the skin's acid mantle. The acid mantle is a film that sits on top of your skin, is made up of oil and sweat (sounds gross, right?) and has a PH Level of about 4.5-5.5, which is quite acidic. The skin needs to stay around this PH level. To put this into perspective, sea water (which dries my skin out like crazy!) has a PH of around 8 and regular soap has a PH of about 12! Using soap, or products with a high PH strip the skin of its natural oils and make it dry and tight. 

Not all acid products are created equal!  

A good product depends on the PH level, the other ingredients, which acid is actually used and the % at which its used. Then of course there is your skin type- someone with sensitive skin probably can't tolerate an acid that someone with normal skin could. Although I haven't listed every acid under the sun, I hope the following will assist you in choosing the right acid for you and remember:  

All acids make the skin sensitive to sunlight so ALWAYS wear an SPF of at least 30.

Alpha Hydroxy Acids

Glycolic Acid: A strong exfoliant which renews the skin layers, fades discolorations and reveals the fresh, new skin underneath. In my experience this is one of the harshest acids. In my pre-natural days I tried it in a 10% strength and it completely irritated my skin. Naturally found in sugar cane. Make: Raw sugar and oil face scrub.

Lactic Acid: Found in yogurt and sour milk, lactic acid is a gentle exfoliant. Good for those with sensitive skin. Make: Full fat greek yogurt face mask or Buy: Amala Rejuvenating Serum

Citric Acid: A powerful acid that can be used to fade marks or discolorations, stimulate collagen and provide antioxidants to the skin. As I always find, the more powerful an ingredient, the more likely it is to irritate sensitive skin, so always patch test first. Although it may be tempting, I would not apply lemon juice to the skin. Buy: Ila Rainforest Renew Face Serum

Malic Acid: An acid that is only recently being used more due to its very gentle exfoliation properties. Found in apples and bananas. Make: Braggs Apple Cider Vinegar Toner

Beta Hydroxy Acids

Salicylic Acid: Primarily used for the treatment of breakouts. Usually found at concentrations of 1-2%. Synthetic salicylic acid is most commonly used in drugstore products, which can lead to irritation. When used in its most natural form as Willow Bark Extract, it can be used to clear up breakouts and renew cell turnover without irritating sensitive skins. Buy: Amala Purifying Blemish Treatment

Fatty Acids

Lauric Acid: Found in coconut oil, this naturally occuring acid has antibacterial properties so is good for breakouts, as well as being able to protect skin against free radicals. Helps sooth the skin of eczema sufferers (like me!) Use: Coconut Oil as a moisturizer

Which acids have you found most beneficial? What are your favorite products or natural remedies with acid?

M. :)