How To Tuesday: Make Your Own Healthy, Travel-Friendly Coffee Creamer

Happy December Lovelies!

Today we’re talking about one my favorite things in this whole wide world: coffee. During the colder months I like to change up my morning coffee routine and add some creamer. There is just something so comforting about a hot, creamy cup of coffee on a chilly winter morning.  Usually I like to add almond, soy, or coconut milk as my creamer but I have been traveling a lot lately and it’s not easy to constantly have one of those on hand.

 So, I did some experimenting and found a way to create my own healthy travel-friendly dry coffee creamer. I know many people will be traveling for the holidays so I thought I would share this quick little “How To” in case you want to try it for your next trip.

I actually made this specific batch last week when I was traveling to a tiny town in Mississippi and I knew my options would be limited. I packed it beside the baggie of stevia packets that permanently lives in my purse.

What You Need:
~1-2 Scoops protein powder. Mine is the Vanilla Nutribiotic
~1-2 Packets of Stevia
~ 1 tbsp. Unsweetened Cocoa Powder (You can add more or less depending on what you prefer)

 
 
You just pour the ingredients into a travel size baggie and shake, shake, SHAKE! Make sure it’s  closed all the way before shaking. I learned the hard way.
 
It should look something like this:
 
 
 
Tip: I have found the best way to mix this into coffee is to add the creamer to your cup first with a little bit of coffee. Then, with a fork mix in the creamer really well. Add the rest of your coffee to the cup and enjoy! If you are at a coffee shop you can also ask the barista to add a splash of soy milk, which will help the creamer more easily blend.
 
Essentially the protein powder and stevia are the base for your creamer but you can add in whatever flavorings your like.

 
Here are some other flavor combinations I want to try:
 
Peppermint Mocha: Chocolate protein powder, stevia, cocoa, crushed all-natural peppermint sticks.
Flavor Of Fall: Vanilla protein powder, stevia, nutmeg, and cinnamon
Chai: Vanilla protein powder, cinnamon, allspice, and clove.
White Chocolate Mocha: Protein powder, cocoa, stevia, natural white chocolate chips (I found some at Trader Joe’s)
Peanut Butter Cup: Chocolate protein powder, cocoa,  stevia, and PB2
 
Let me know if you have any other flavor ideas in the comments below or tweet me @imperfectperla
 
 
Have a great day!
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

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How To Tuesday: All Natural Nourishing Face Spray

Sometimes the best things in life are the most simple. Today’s post is inspired by that concept. Each year, as winter approaches my skin tends to get dry and lifeless. Now, I could run out to the store and pick up an expensive, chemical laced product and just call it a day but I prefer to see what I can make myself with pure, simple ingredients.

I actually made this spray last Thursday and I have been using it twice a day everyday as a test  before writing this post. So far I am very pleased with the results. My skin feels softer and looks brighter.  In case you are wondering I have combination skin which tends to lean more on the dry side, especially in the winter. This spray will work on all skin types but if you have particularly oily skin you might add a few drops of Witch Hazel.

What You Need:
~1 cup of filtered water
~Pure Vitamin E oil
~The petals from 2 Roses OR pure rose essential oil drops. (Make sure the type of oil you use is safe to be applied onto skin. Do not use aromatherapy oils)
~Small spray bottle.
Optional: Witch Hazel if you have oily skin.

Directions:

Bring the 1 cup of filtered water to a rolling boil and then place your rose petals into the water. Reduce heat to medium and let the petals boil for about 2-4 minutes. Then remove the pot from the heat and let it stand until cool.

 

Once the water is cool fill your spray bottle about 3/4 full with the rose infused water. Add  2-3 drops of Vitamin E oil to the bottle. If you want a more moisturizing spray add a few more drops of the oil.
If you have oily skin you can add a little witch hazel to create a gentle toner for your skin.

Shake the bottle vigorously and hold it about 6-8 inches from your face. After you have cleansed your face, close your eyes, and spray the rose infusion all over your face. Let the mist dry and then apply your regular moisturizer or serum.

Enjoy and I hope you all have a beautiful day!

Peace,

C

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Essential Health Foods For Just $1.

Today I wanted to share with you some of the health foods I have found and frequently purchase at my local Dollar Tree store. One reason people give for not eating healthy is that health foods are just too expensive. That can be true if you don’t know where to shop. I found these items particularly helpful when I was in college and money was very tight.  
There are some health foods you can’t get very thrifty with like specialty foods and organic produce. So my thinking is to save where you can so you can spend more on those specialty foods. I know there are Dollar Tree stores in the US and Canada but I’m not sure about the rest of the world.  I’ve been to similar stores in the UK so I encourage everyone to look for these items in their local “dollar” store. 
I chose these items based on ingredients and overall nutritional value. 
1. Flax Seed.
2. Quick Oats.
3. Tea bags. My favorite kind is by the brand Queen’s Choice. 
4. Sugar In The Raw. 
5. Dry black beans. I’ve also seen dried kidney and pinto beans but it seems to depend on the store. 
6. Brown rice. 
7. Organic Soy Milk. 
8. Luna and Cliff Bars
9. Sea Salt
10. Seasonings. (Cinnamon, garlic, cayenne,etc. )
11. Frozen white fish. Not all Dollar Tree stores have a frozen section but the ones that do have a pretty good selection.
12. Frozen veggies and fruit. 
13. Canola spray for cooking
14. Rice cakes
15. Nuts, seeds, and dried fruit. 
16. Tuna in water. A nutritionist once told me to limit canned or pre-packaged tuna to 1-2 times per week but, if you’re in a hurry or on a budget it’s a much better option than the dollar menu. 
Aside from food products I have also found some personal health products which I buy on occasion. 
1. Vitamins. You should check the ingredients for each type though. I like the Vitamin E and Gingko Biloba.  
2. Antacids
3. Epsom salt for soaking sore muscles. 
4. Intimate cleansing wipes. Is that TMI, ladies? Sorry!
5. Toothpaste and toothbrushes 
Alternatively there are things I absolutely stay away from at these types of stores because of the dangerous chemicals they can contain.
~Body lotion- Holy parabens!
~Cookies, candy, chips- Sucralose. 
~Juice-100% sugar water
~Coconut water- This is a tricky one. It seems healthy but if you look at the ingredients they add a 
bunch of extra sugar. 
~FullBar- This looks like an innocent granola bar that is supposed to suppress your appetite but it’s loaded with chemicals. 
As always you should look at the ingredients of each individual item because some products can vary from store to store. 
Let me know if you have visited a similar “dollar” store and what items you’ve found! I love being healthy and I love a deal. 
Have a fabulous day!
Peace, 
Courtney
  
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How To Tuesday: Gluten-Free Chips

Good Evening! For some of you this will be more of a “How To Wednesday” since I’m posting it so late on Tuesday. Sorry about that. I’ve been feeling sick with a bad cold.

This past weekend I made a trip to Trader Joe’s while I was in the DC area and I picked up one of my favorite items to make my own chips. These brown rice tortillas cost $1.99 for a pack of 6 tortillas. They are wheat and gluten free so your tummy will stay happy while you enjoy this snack.

 

You can also use this same process with any tortillas you like. I find these chips are great on their own or with hummus. Enjoy!

What You Need:

~Tortillas
~Sharp knife
~Cutting board
~Olive oil
~Sea salt or your favorite spice
~Vented pizza pan or baking sheet

Steps:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Using a sharp knife lay one tortilla on the cutting board and cut into bit-sized pieces.

 


3. Next place your tortilla pieces onto the pizza pan or baking sheet. If you use a baking sheet make sure to spray it with a little cooking spray.

 

4. Combine a little olive oil and sea salt into a small dish. You can also add in garlic, cayenne, or any spice you like.

5. Using a pastry brush or the back of a spoon lightly spread a little of the oil and spice mixture on the tortilla pieces. If you are using the Trader Joe’s brown rice tortillas you need only a very little amount. If you use too much the chips will burn.

6. Bake the chips at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes or until they are golden brown. If you are using a baking sheet flip the chips half way through the baking time to brown both sides.

Here is the finished product:

These were so delicious I may or may not have eaten all of these in one sitting. Opps!

I hope you all are having a fabulous day and if you have any other suggestions for How To Tuesday please comment below!

Peace,

C

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How To Tuesday: Make Your Own Kombucha

Hello lovelies.

Today I am sharing my method for making Kombucha. Kombucha is a probiotic tea made from a mushroom culture. If you’ve never seen a Kombucha culture it may look a bit scary, like something from a science lab, but it is completely safe. Drinking Kombucha regularly helps balance the PH in your body. This is especially important if you consume alcohol or coffee. Kombucha also aids in digestion, is high in antioxidants, and boosts energy levels. It has also been said that Kombucha prevents grey hair and helps relieve depression, but those statements have not been evaluated but any medical organization. If you have serious health concerns or are pregnant you should consult your doctor before drinking Kombucha.

I started drinking Kombucha because I was experiencing mysterious stomachaches that not even my doctor could figure out. I tried over the counter medicine and nothing worked so I decided to search for a natural remedy.  I’ve found drinking Kombucha has really helped regulate my digestive system. I rarely have those horrible stomach pains or cramps anymore.  I also notice a definite increase in energy and an elevated mood when I drink Kombucha.

What You Need to Get Started: 
1 Gallon glass jar or container. Never use plastic to brew Kombucha.
32 oz of filtered water
Extra filtered water to top off brew
4-7 tea bags. Organic non-flavored tea is best. I like to use black tea. It is best to only use one type of tea per SCOBY. You can always add flavors in the second fermentation.
1 cup of sugar
Dish towel or cloth
Rubberband
Kombucha SCOBY (the culture)
1 cup starter tea. Usually cultures will come packaged in this liquid. If you get a SCOBY from a friend just ask them to include some of the tea.
Vinegar for sanitizing Kombucha container

Steps for Successful Brewing: 

1. Sanitize the glass container with vinegar. Do not use soap as it will kill the Kombucha culture.

2. Bring 32 oz of water to a boil and add your tea bags. Let the tea brew for about 10 min. Remove pot from heat.

3. Stir in the 1 cup of sugar.

4. Let the tea cool slightly and then add it to your glass jar or container.

5. Gently place your SCOBY into the tea mixture along with about 1 cup of the starter tea.

6. Add cold filtered water on top, leaving about 1-2 inches of room.

7. Place the cloth over the opening of the jar and secure it with a rubber band.

8. Sit the jar in a dark, warm place in your home.

9. Check your brew everyday for signs of mold. Mold is uncommon but if your culture develops mold you have to throw the whole brew out and start over with a new culture.

10. After 7 days taste the Kombucha. If your brew is too sweet let it brew for a few more days. If it is too tart decrease your brew time in the next batch. For too tart or vinegary tasting batches you can add some fruit juice to them to even out the taste.  A good brew will be slightly carbonated and you will be able to see strands of yeast developing.

This is the basic recipe for making Kombucha. After you have brewed the Kombucha you can put it in separate glass jars or bottles for a second fermentation. Simply add fruit and let it ferment for 24-48 hours.  My favorite fruits to add are pineapple, strawberries, and blueberries. You could also add a little 100% natural fruit juice as a flavoring.

If you need a starter SCOBY let me know in the comments section as I always have extra cultures and I would be happy to send you one.

Happy Brewing!

C

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How To Tuesday: Cure A Stomach Ache Fast!

Hello Friends.

Today I wanted to share with you a really easy, yet effective way to cure a stomach ache. My stomach has been bothering me lately and I find this little concoction works really well.

As you can see there is a bottle of the obvious generic antacid tablets which I always keep on hand. They work well to cure a minor upset stomach but for a more serious stomach situation I turn to my spice pantry.

If you don’t already have crushed mint in your spice collection I highly recommend it. When my stomach starts getting sassy with me I like to add 1/2 tbsp-1tbsp of crushed mint to 16-20 oz of green tea. This Green Tea Kombucha by Yogi Teas is a particular favorite of mine and the Kombucha adds extra digestive benefits.

If your stomach is feeling especially icky you can also add a sliver of fresh ginger to the tea.

Side Note: I have seen peppermint and ginger oils sold in health food stores. Adding 1 drop of each the peppermint and ginger oil in your tea or hot water will provide the same relief. You need to make sure you are purchasing oils meant for consumption and not aromatherapy oils.

The Science Behind It All

This combination of ingredients is no accident of experimentation. All three have very specific properties which promote stomach ache relief and digestive health.

Peppermint is a natural carminative which stops bloating and gas. It can also relieve indigestion by calming any excess of acid in the stomach.

Ginger contains ginergols and shogoals which relax intestines, eliminating nausea and cramps. It is also a mild anti-inflammatory and promotes healthy circulation within the body.

Kombucha is an ancient remedy but has recently gained popularity for its probiotic benefits. Kombucha contains good bacteria which helps your stomach more easily breakdown hard to digest foods and harmful yeast. The carbonation can have a similar effect to drinking a Sprite for a stomach ache, but without all the nasty chemicals and sugar.

The next time your stomach starts aching, fear not. The cure is right in your cupboard.

Be Well,

C

Sources:
http://health.howstuffworks.com/wellness/natural-medicine/herbal-remedies/peppermint-herbal-remedies.htm

http://health.howstuffworks.com/wellness/natural-medicine/herbal-remedies/using-ginger-to-treat-upset-stomach.htm

http://www.foodrenegade.com/kombucha-health-benefits/

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How to Tuesday: Bad to Better

Hello lovelies!

Today I wanted to share with you a little baking “How To” since my last two Tuesday posts were beauty related.

Recently I was cleaning out my cabinets and I found a random blueberry muffin mix. It wasn’t an extremely unhealthy mix but it wasn’t exactly nutrient rich either.  I thought about donating it to a local women’s shelter but when donating food I have one strict rule of thumb: never donate something you wouldn’t want to eat.

Instead of tossing it completely I decided to take the mix and see what I could do to make it a little more nutritious.

 To bring down the glycemic index and add extra protein I added one scoop of NutriBiotic Vanilla Brown Rice Protein powder to the muffin mix.



In place of the milk the recipe called for I added half organic plain yogurt and half water. I find that adding yogurt helped balance the protein powder, which can sometimes dry out your batter or leave a chalky taste. Luckily I have never really noticed a chalky after taste with the NutriBiotic protein powders. The yogurt also added protein and calcium to the muffins.

For another boost of nutrients I added about 2 tbsp. of sesame seeds to the mix. Sesame seeds are a great source of copper, zinc, magnesium, calcium, and iron.You could also add chia seeds, chopped almonds, or walnuts.

I then mixed it all together with a wire whisk. I find using a whisk is the easiest way to mix protein powder into batter.



I decided to make mini muffins for a little built-in portion control.
 Using a measuring spoon I scooped in 1 Tbsp. of batter to each mini muffin mold.

I then followed the baking instructions on the packet, checking the muffins every 5 minutes.
Ta da! Bad to better.


 I did end up taking some of the muffins into a women’s shelter and they went over great!


Try this yourself with that muffin or cake mix you have sitting in the back of your cabinet. I would love to know what you added or changed to make the mix more healthy. Let me know in the comments below!

Also, check out this website I found that has nutritional information for all your favorite healthy foods. I literally just spent an hour browsing this site. Love it!
http://www.whfoods.com

Peace, love, and baking!

C

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Body Reboot: Homemade Juice Cleanse

A few weeks ago my husband and I bought a juicer with a gift card someone gave us for our wedding. I have wanted a juicer for a long time so I was beyond excited to juice everything in sight. Over the past two years I have developed a greater focus on nutrition and in doing so I learned that fresh juices can be a great way to get a large amount of vital nutrients without eating pounds of fruits and vegetables. I have also read about juice cleanses where you replace solid foods with nutrient-dense juices for 1-7 days. The goal of a juice cleanse is to rid your body of toxins and give your digestive system a little break.

The reason I wanted to try a cleanse is because I had been so busy with work and traveling I felt I wasn’t getting a good dose of the essential nutrients my body needed. I was seeing evidence of this in my skin. I don’t normally have break-outs but all of the sudden my skin seemed to be reverting back to its teenage self. I was also feeling very tired and just generally blah.

 I have looked online and in-store at a couple different juice cleanses but one thing always stands out to me: they are so freaking expensive! The average cost per juice is about $7-10. Most cleanses contain 5-6 juices so you’re looking at about $60 for one day. Spending that kind of money is just not in my food budget at the moment so I decided to do some detailed research and make my own juice cleanse at a lower cost.

I thought I would share with you how I made the cleanse, how it went for me, and my impression of it overall. Since I have never done a juice cleanse before I chose to just make a one day cleanse to give my body a little reboot.

Disclaimer:  I am not a registered dietitian,  doctor, or nutritionist so you should definitely consult your physician before starting anything like this.

OK, I just wanted to get that out of the way in case someone reading this decides to juice an octopus or something, gets sick, and then says “Hey, that one blog lady made me do it!” Please don’t do that. 🙂

On to the cleanse!

To start this juicing journey it is best to choose organic fruits and vegetables. This will provide you the most amount of nutrients with the least amount of, if any, pesticides. There is a small farmer’s market near my home once a week so I chose to get the majority of my fruits and vegetables from there. This is also a great idea because you are supporting your local farmers and that, in my opinion, is just swell!  The rest of the things I needed I bought at a local grocery store and I managed to get everything organic except for the lemons and the beet. In total I spent about $30 on all my fruits and vegetables. After making my cleanse juices I still had a lot of vegetables left over. I estimate each juice cost me $2-3. Of course this may be different for you depending on where you buy your fruits and vegetables.

Next, you will need some glass bottles or mason jars. Most cleansing juices I have found in grocery stores are about 12-16 oz. I am a frequent GTS Kombucha drinker and bottle hoarder so I used 6 empty kombucha bottles to store my cleanse. These bottles just happen to hold exactly 16 ounces.

Now, it’s time to get to juicing. Along with your juicer you will need a cutting board and a sharp knife.   Cutting up the fruits and vegetables can help extract the juice more easily. I chose to clean and set out only the items I needed for one juice at a time in order to reduce error in juicing the wrong things. Like I said earlier, I was very excited to be juicing and I tend to get carried away with other things in my life so there was a strong possibility I would just juice whatever was in front of me in a fury of juicing excitement.

The Juices:

I based these juices on a few different cleanses so I am not claiming these are my original recipes. I just looked up a few different cleanses and what each juice contained and then juiced those things myself. Another reason I wanted to make my own cleanse is because I am allergic to kiwi and many store bought juices contain kiwi.

Juice #1
1-2 Apples
6 Stalks of celery
1/2 Cucumber
3 Collard green leaves
Spinach (About 1 cup)
Kale (About 1 1/2 cup)
A sprinkle of mint

Juice #2
4 1/5 Large carrots
1 Orange
1 1/2 Apples
2 Slices Pineapple OR 1/2 Grapefruit
1/2 Lemon
A dash of Turmeric

Juice #3
3 Large carrots
1 Apple
3 Celery Stalks
1/2 Cucumber
1/2 Beet
1/2 Lemon

Juice #4
2 Apples
A LOT of kale
1/2 Lemon

Juice #5
2 Apples
1/2 Lemon
1/2 Cucumber
4 Celery stalks
A handful of Spinach
A handful of Kale
2 Collard green leaves
A pinch of ginger

Juice/Drink #6
10 oz Unsweet vanilla almond milk
1 tsp Honey (Real honey. No honey-like syrups)
A handful of cherries OR 1/2 grapefruit
A pinch of cinnamon
1Tbsp of coconut oil
* For this drink you will mix all ingredients in a blender instead of using the juicer.

The Cleanse

To prepare for a cleanse I read it is suggested you cut out caffeine. I read this the night before the cleanse so this was simply not possible for me. Yes, I am a caffeine addict. When caffeine addicts cut out all caffeine suddenly it can result in a horrendous headache and complete loss of life. OK, that last part is a lie. The headache part is real though and I have felt the rage of a caffeine withdrawal headache before. It is not pretty so I decided to allow myself 1 cup of black coffee in the morning.

I woke up the day of the cleanse at 9am and after my one cup of coffee I drank my first juice. I felt great! The juice tasted great and I had a sudden burst of energy. I happily got ready for the day and started some work. At around 11am I had my second juice. I drank this juice through a straw because the strong taste of carrots was not my favorite but still it didn’t taste horrible. After doing some more work I could tell my mood was noticeably elevated. I had some errands to run so I packed my 3rd juice in aluminum foil and headed out the door.
One of my errands took me into the mall where I faced my Goliath: Auntie Anne’s pretzels. The smell of warm dough and sugar was like a siren song calling to me. I was strong though and grabbed a cup of hot mint tea at the coffee stand directly across from Auntie Anne’s. I win, Auntie.
As soon as I left the mall I opened up the 3rd juice and about 1/4 of the way through I started to feel very full. I had taken in a lot of liquids that day. It took me about an hour to finish the 3rd juice. When I arrived home I got into the zone working and doing some chores around the house. I felt very focused.  At around 6pm I started drinking the 4th juice. After this juice I was feeling thirsty so I drank a glass of water and watched some TV. Suddenly I didn’t feel hungry or thirsty. At 8pm I tried to drink the 5th juice but my stomach still felt full and I couldn’t seem to force myself to drink it. I ended my night with 2 juices left in the fridge.

At first I felt bad like I had failed the cleanse but then I settled on the fact that I should listen to my body and my body was telling me it was full.

I got ready for bed feeling rejuvenated and cleansed. Then at 10:30pm my husband came home from work and popped a goat cheese pesto pizza in the oven. As the smells of garlic and cheese wafted into our bedroom I felt many emotions: anger, resentment, and longing. I turned on the fan, closed my eyes, and went to sleep.

My Overall Impression

My experience overall was great. I would definitely recommend this type of cleanse for someone looking to improve their energy levels.The days following the cleanse I still felt good. I had more energy and my breakout started to clear up. Looking back I think I couldn’t finish those last two juices for a couple of reasons. I should have chosen a day where my schedule started earlier say, around 7am. I also think if I had been more physically active that day I might have used up more energy and needed those last two juices. Regardless I feel it was a success and I will surely try this again in the future.

If you try a juice cleanse I would love to hear about your experience. Let me know in the comments below,  on my Instagram-liveloveandtiu, or on twitter @imperfectperla.

Have a great day!

C








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