Reversing the Wintry Bluster.

•February 22, 2013 • 2 Comments

*Apologies for posting this twice but it appears that the entire post was deleted.  Here it is again.

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I took advantage of growing up in Florida.  All of the things I loathed about Florida are actually what I long for these days.  I, surprisingly, miss the humidity to keep my hair healthy and my skin naturally moisturized all year round (come summertime I know I’ll be cursing the thought of stepping out into the scorching heat and humidity, but for now, I miss it).  The endless amount of sun (hello, Vitamin D) always kept me happy with a perfect glow to my skin; now my see-through skin craves every ray of sun/heat that peaks through the wintry skies.  No amount of hot tea or vitamin D packed foods can substitute 15-minutes of Southwest Florida sun!

So what am I getting at?  This winter weather has left me knee-deep in empty bottles of Aveeno lotion while sporting one dead head of hair.  My curls are lifeless – they’ve lost their spunk, their bounce, their shine and their vibrancy.   If you don’t believe me just check out the photos below.

One would think I should go to a salon and get a hydrating mask or some sort of treatment done to my hair, however, A. I can’t imagine spending that kind of money on a treatment for my head; B. there are a million excuses for not going; C. the truth is I refuse to put those chemicals on my head.  Those treatments essentially strip away the residue and grime of the winter environment.  Just check out any marketing ploy, they will straight up tell you that the treatment will “strip away the things that have left your hair feeling dry and frizzy and give your hair the boost it needs.”  I won’t fall for that.  I also don’t need any more chemicals in my body or want to pay that kind of money, so I created an at-home, do it yourself, all-natural revitalizing hair treatment that will “strip away” the unwanted damage to your locks and leave you feeling better than ever with a healthy and shiny mane!

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Moisturizing Hair Treatment

For Dull/Frizzy/Damaged Hair:

1/2 Avocado
1/2 banana
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp sour cream or yogurt (I used yogurt)
1 egg yolk
 
– Blend avocado, banana and olive oil. 
– By hand mix in yogurt and egg yolk.
-Apply to hair – add heavily to ends and midsection to ensure the oils and moisturizing agents rejuvenate the dullest areas of your hair.  But do not forget the top of your head, as the scalp benefits tremendously.
– Let sit for 20-30 min with heated towel.  Using a heated hand towel, loosely wrap your hair in the warm towel.  This will ensure/ aid in the penetration of nutrients into your scalp.  To heat your towel soak it in warm water then toss it in the microwave for about 30 seconds, depending on thickness.
– Rinse your head in coldish water and style normally.
*Your hair may feel/look a bit waxy the following day.  Not to worry though because just give it another rinse as normal and you’re good to go!
 
Benefits of each ingredient:
Avocado – Oils add shine and restores health to hair with vitamins and essentially fatty acids
Banana – Amino acids help to protect hair from being damaged from the environment (hello dry wintry blustery air)
Olive Oil – Great for extremely dry, brittle hair (perfect for curly hair ends that don’t get the moisture required); also helps to ensure protection after treatment
Sour Cream/ Yogurt – Moisturizes scalp to prevent flaking; helps add life to roots again.
Egg Yolk – proteins help nourish hair and repair damaged cuticles and brittle strands.
 
 

Thin Mints.

•February 14, 2013 • 3 Comments

Thin Mints.  Oh Thin Mints, how I love thee.  Unfortunately all my favorite Girl Scout cookies (Tag-A-Longs, Trefoils, Thin Mints, etc) contain milk.  Bummer.  However, I’m determined to make my own and I did just that with Thin Mints.  I’ve been on a Coconut Oil kick recently and these were no exception.

They are simple to make and just as delicious to eat.  I made them during the snow storm last week and they were the perfect addition to curling up with a cup of tea (or hot chocolate) in front of the fireplace.  They are also a quick and easy last minute valentines treat – make them in 15 minutes and let them set while you get ready.  It’s the perfect combination!

Thin Mints
Makes About 3 dozen Cookies

What You’ll Need:

40 Ritz Crackers (surprisingly vegan and I promise you can’t taste the Ritz Crackers)
1 tbsp Coconut Oil
1 C Dark Chocolate Chips (Carob Chips or Vegan Chocolate)
3/4 tsp Peppermint Extract (Peppermint extract is much more potent than vanilla so just be cautious when adding a little extra flavor)
 

– Line a piece of wax paper across your kitchen counter
– Melt, on low heat, the Coconut Oil and Dark Chocolate together in a small-medium sized sauté pan stirring constantly
– Add the peppermint extract
– Remove from heat
– Coat each Ritz cracker with chocolate mixture – it is easiest to lay the crackers in the pan then flip them over to coat the other side
– Using a fork, scoop the crackers out of the pan individually and place on the parchment paper.  Make sure to allow the excess chocolate to drip off
– Continue the process until you run out of chocolate.  *If the chocolate starts to harden back up, just place the pan back over low heat until re-melted – no biggie!
– Place the wax paper in the fridge to cool.  After an hour (give or take a few minutes) you can begin to eat them.  I made sure to only snag a few as I put them in a zip lock baggie.

These must stay refrigerated (or in the freezer!) or else the chocolate will melt off.  You technically can leave them in the freezer for a couple months, but that would be such a shame.

It Affects Nearly 5 Million Women in the US.

•February 11, 2013 • 1 Comment

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PCOS.  What the heck is it?  How do you get it?  What are the challenges associated with it?  Is it a terminal thing?  What does it stand for?  I’ve never heard of it, why?  The list of questions goes on and on – trust me, about a zillion questions whizzed through my brain at rapid fire when I first heard the doctor utter those words as I sat there pulling the medical “robe” tighter across my freezing body wearing nothing but a pair of socks.  It’s not something anyone expects to hear; it’s not an STD but rather a hormonal issue that affects somewhere around 1 in 15 women across the US, according to US Department of Health and Human Services on Women’s Health.

I always knew something was “abnormal” with my body, but the physicians I had previously seen couldn’t find anything, so I stopped asking questions because I made myself believe my “normal” was just a bit different than everyone else’s.  When I moved to New York City and found a new doctor he discovered what I thought was a death sentence – Polycystic Ovary Syndrome.  He offered no comforting advice, just a pamphlet and a picture of my oh-so-pretty string of pearls.  Thanks to a co-worker, who I found out had been living with PCOS for years, I was able to talk to someone who was also struggling and that alone provided reassurance I could not get anywhere else!

Disclaimer: The following contains facts and figures obtained from the website of the US Department of Health and Human Services on Women’s Health as well as knowledge I have gained over the course of the past year or so in dealing with how to navigate life with PCOS.  I am NOT a doctor so please do not take this as medical advice or as a diagnosis.  Please consult your own physician should you feel PCOS may affect you personally.  If you have any questions relevant to coping with or living a healthy lifestyle while affected by PCOS, feel free to ask! 

So what is PCOS?  It’s a health condition that affects women’s androgen level production (a male hormone that females also produce, but in much smaller quantities).  Women who are affected by PCOS produce excess androgen hormones which in turn create missed periods, fertility issues, difficulty with weight, potential insulin resistance problems, and/or as the name would suggest small cysts on the ovaries among other things.  As mentioned above, I have what is known as “string of pearls” which is literally a chain of small cysts that dot the circumference of your ovary, hence the name string of pearls because that is exactly what it looks like.  Cool, huh?  No, not really but at least it takes away the typical stark reality of medical related issues.  The syndrome is a hormonal imbalance that can cause many issues to arise; however, there is no direct treatment for PCOS.  Because there are a variety of symptoms that can easily point to other health issues, PCOS is difficult to diagnose.

So I mentioned there is no treatment, right?  Well, there is no cure for PCOS but it can be “managed.”  Depending on your symptoms (not every person affected by PCOS has the same symptoms…another reason it is hard to detect), you can manage the condition with contraceptives, diabetes medication and a lifestyle modification.  Exercise and eating right can help tremendously!  I cannot stress that enough – it is very simple to put on the weight, but for a woman with PCOS it is much more difficult to get the weight to come off.  Even the slightest bit of weight can have a tremendous impact on not only your appearance but your health, your confidence and the symptoms associated with PCOS.

That is A LOT of information to digest so I’ll leave it right there…for now.  Be on the lookout for how I manage my lifestyle.  Hint: it’s lots of organics (I don’t need any extra hormones raging through my body), healthy eating, portion control (self restraint is so hard), daily exercise, and a trusty book that I keep close by for reference.  What works for me doesn’t work for everyone and I have been struggling for quite some time to find a balance but so far I think I’ve discovered a pretty decent system.

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