Coconut oil is so great that you can literally make dozens of different personal care products with it. If you are willing to try it out, here’s an easy-to-make DIY recipe for a coconut oil liquid hand soap.
Making your own liquid soap has two great advantages. First, you can be 100 percent sure there are no iffy ingredients in a product that you and your family will be applying to your hands and skin on a daily basis. Second, you can save money, as making your own natural liquid hand soap is actually cheaper than buying conventional soaps.
All you need is a jar of coconut oil, one natural unscented soap bar, essential oils (your choice), a cheese grater, and a large pot for water and soap. You will also need liquid soap dispensers and a large mason jar for refills.
Here’s how to make your coconut liquid soap, step by step.
1. Grate the entire bar of soap with your cheese grater and put it in a pot. Add 10 cups of water over the grated soap and two tablespoons of coconut oil.
2. Heat the soap, coconut oil and water on medium heat until all the soap and coconut oil have dissolved. Remove the pot from the heat and let it cool.
3. This part is optional. If you want to have unscented soap, jump to step 4. If you want to add essential oils for fragrance, add between 20 to 25 drops of your favorite essential oil into the mixture.
4. Let it sit and cool. Stir every hour and you may add an extra cup of water to improve consistency. After five hours, the soap should be ready!
5. Pour the soap into the dispenser and you can start using it right away. You may try different essential oils for new scents every time you make new soap.
Close your eyes and try to imagine what it feels like to enter your favorite yoga studio. You might picture the way sunlight cascades in through the windows during your class or the calm energy you experience when you first sit and focus your breathing. After thinking about how the studio looks, try and think about how it smells. Most yoga studios take advantage of using essential oils during classes in order to help participants feel relaxed, focused, and ready to get to work.
Whether you practice yoga in a studio with other people or you are someone who likes to experience the activity alone at home (1), adding essential oils into the mix can transform the way you feel throughout. Check out these interesting ways essential oils can boost your yoga practice.
1. Improve Breathing
Breath is a crucial part of yoga. In fact, most meditative practices and exercises will ask you to try to slow your breathing and focus on how it feels to inhale and exhale. The more you focus on your breath, the easier it becomes to lose yourself in the rhythm of movements yoga involves. You might have heard instructors mention the word “prana” before (2). This word loosely translates from Sanskrit to mean “vital life force.” Since breathing is a vital action, discovering essential oils to help improve the quality of your breath can be a great find.
Peppermint should be at the top of your list when you are aiming to use essential oils in your yoga practice. According to several studies (3), using peppermint essential oils while exercising can improve how your body takes in oxygen. Additional studies reveal that peppermint can give your mind a boost as well. Getting into the habit of using peppermint will make yoga a more calming and rewarding experience in no time.
2. Sharpen Focus
Clearing your mind is another important aspect of practicing yoga. You want to free yourself of the thoughts that tend to plague the mind throughout the day while practicing. Of course, this is easier said than done. As much as you might try to keep yourself focused, you may discover you can’t get a certain tune out of your head or you keep going back to a mistake you made at work the previous day. To err is human and to go back to that same error in your mind time and time again is just as human.
To keep your spirits high and your mind focused while going through each movement, you might want to try cinnamon. Cinnamon essential oil has been shown to have a number of key benefits for those who use it (4). In fact, there has been a ton of research centered on how much of a medicinal punch cinnamon tends to pack. To keep the mood light and your energy positive during your practice, check out what cinnamon has to offer.
3. Clean the Air
If you have frequented a yoga studio or two in your day, then you most likely know how gross a studio can become. People can become sweaty, sticky, and smelly when they are putting their bodies through intense physical movements. There is no shame in what your body is attempting to cleanse through your skin, though you might not want to smell what is pouring out of everyone’s sweat. To keep a room clean and fresh, essential oils are definitely the way to go.
Classic scents like lemon can be a perfect fit, but you might feel like you want to try something a bit more adventurous. Tea tree oil has been a popular choice in recent years for people who want to give their homes and businesses deep cleans without relying on harsh chemicals (5). Mixing some of this oil with water in a spray bottle and using it to wet and wipe down surfaces will help rid the air of toxins and prevent the smells of the human body from lingering in your space for too long.
4. Fight Stress
Finally, having a solid spiritual center is another key part of engaging with yoga. You want to focus your mind, body, and spirit through your movements, and the spirit can often prove to be the most challenging. Unlike the body and the mind, the spirit tends to be the hardest concept to nail down. Focusing on essential oils that aid in calming anxiety can often prove to be invaluable when it comes to discovering your own spiritual core.
Essential oils like bergamot might be what you need (6). In various research studies, bergamot was shown to have a positive impact on psychological stress. If you find that you are unable to keep yourself calm or spiritually focused, this oil might be a useful tool in getting back on the right track.
There are countless options for you to consider when it comes to improving your yoga experience with essential oils. All you need to do is find the scent that works best for your goals.
Filed Under: Recipes
at 3:40 pm | By: Madeline Reiss
Those following a ketogenic (or generally low-carb) diet can rest easy knowing they can still indulge in pizza! This recipe features delicious, crispy, guilt-free, easy-to-make pizza crust made from cauliflower!
Recipe Source: Ourbestbites.com
2 1/2 cups grated or ground cauliflower (use a food processor or cheese grater)
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup mozzarella cheese
1 egg, slightly beaten
- Preheat oven to 425.
- Place cauliflower in a heat-safe bowl and cover with plastic wrap with a few holes to vent. Microwave for 4 minutes, remove plastic and stir to cool it off a little.
- Place cauliflower in a fine mesh strainer and use a rubber spatula to press cauliflower against strainer, pushing out any liquid.
- Use several paper towels and press down to absorb more liquid. You could also ring it out in a clean, dry tea towel.
- Place cauliflower in a bowl and fluff with a fork. Add basil, oregano, garlic, Parmesan, and mozzarella. Add salt to taste. Add egg and stir to blend completely.
- Press mixture out onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper that’s been sprayed with non-stick spray. Press mixture out to about 1/4 inch or slightly thicker circle.
- Place pan in oven and bake until golden brown. Pizzas tend to vary in cooking time, so sight is the best indicator. Generally, 15-20 minutes is a good time frame.
- Remove from oven, top with desired toppings and return to oven to melt cheese. Let rest for a couple of minutes and then slice and serve.
Essential oils have been used medicinally for years. These amazing products contain potent medicinal and cosmetic properties and can be used as an alternative to over-the-counter medication. Essential oils stimulate the body’s natural responses as well as its healing system. So, let’s check out 6 healing essential oils to keep in your medicine cabinet.
The most well-known of the essential oils, lavender contains antiviral and antibacterial properties and can be applied directly onto the skin to heal scrapes, bites and stings. Plus, lavender can help promote relaxation and improve sleep.
Often used in shampoos and lotions, calendula has anti-inflammatory properties due to its high level of flavonoids—plant-based antioxidants that help protect cells from free radical damage. One of the best essential oils for scars, calendula also works great to heal many inflammatory conditions, including dermatitis and diaper rash.
Peppermint can be used as a cooling oil to treat fever as well as sore muscles. You need to mix peppermint with a carrier oil first, and then apply the solution to your back, neck and chest for an instant cooling effect.
A powerful antispasmodic, antiviral and antibacterial oil, eucalyptus oil can be a natural alternative to treat coughs and colds. Just add a few drops to a basin of steaming water to inhale, or a vaporizer, as it can help disinfect and clear both the nasal passages and lungs.
5. Tea Tree
One of the most popular essential oils, tea tree is a powerful antibacterial, antifungal and antiseptic oil. It can be used to treat cuts, fungal infections, and insect bites. Plus, tea tree oil is used in multiple lotions and creams to help treat acne.
Lemon essential oil contains high amounts of vitamin C and antibacterial properties. It can help minimize acne breakouts and prevent future scars. Its vitamin C content helps trigger the production of collagen, which keeps the skin firm and encourages the formation of new skin cells.
Life can be messy sometimes. OK, honestly, life can be a real prankster. You think you’re on the right path and suddenly you get hit with a reminder of all of the responsibilities you have swirling around in the back of your mind. This can be a real obstacle and can even prevent you from taking care of business in the same effortless way you usually do. Getting your life together can often feel like a full-time job with absolutely terrible pay and confusing benefits.
Discovering a way to break free of the chains of your own mind is no easy goal. Still, there are some fun and challenging ways to push yourself to the limits of your own understanding and emerge a more adept and self-aware human. The best way to get this started? Grab a pen and a journal and get to writing. It might seem like too simple of a fix for many of the complex problems that come about in life, but there are some wonderful ways journaling can help you to grow.
Use “Busy” Less
You probably use the excuse “I’m busy” quite often. It is totally fine if you do—most people wind up pulling out this phrase when they are presented with making plans with friends or being asked to take on some extra work around the office. Though saying “I’m busy” is a commonplace response in the modern age, studies have shown a vast majority of humans say that they are busy when they really have more than enough time to get things done (1). The truth is most people do not actually “see” how much free time they actually have.
When you are not actively confronting big problems in your life like a heavy workload or intense family dramas, they are going to start to grow in size in your imagination. Dedicating time to getting your thoughts on paper at the end of the day can allow you a moment to actually assess the responsibilities in your life in a more logical manner. The more you write, the more you will see you are not as busy as you had initially thought and can start to improve upon your personal connections.
Go for Gold
As life begins blindsiding you with all kinds of minor troubles and lasting anxieties, it can cloud your reason. Your own personal goals and intentions can easily fall to the wayside when you have more pressing problems making your life difficult (2). By getting into the habit of journaling, you are going to be able to clear the air and make a bit more sense out of your personal ambitions. A great activity involved with journaling is writing out your hopes for the future.
Once you have put pen to paper, you can let your thoughts inform each and every stroke. Start to write about your visions of the future, what you want your life to look like in a year, and what you think you are going to need to do to get to that place. The more you write out your ideas, the easier it is going to become for you to create a tangible plan for arriving at your preferred destination down the line.
Exercise Your Imagination
Hitting the gym a few times a week to exercise your body is probably already a part of your routine. Unfortunately, most people forget they need to exercise their minds as often as their muscles. Dedicating time to journaling might seem like a small action, but there are studies suggesting it can actually do wonders with how you process information. Writing strengthens your imagination, allowing you the chance to get more imaginative with your problem-solving skills. Some professionals even argue that journaling is a surefire way to boost your I.Q., which can be a nice improvement to make (3).
When you sit down to write, you do not need to worry about whether it is any “good.” You are not trying to write Shakespeare under the table, you simply need to do it for yourself. The more you practice this activity, the better you are going to get at sorting through the madness of your own life to find a sense of clarity and stability once more.
This post was provided by our friends at Shire City Herbals, makers of Fire Cider.
For centuries, New Englanders have taken a daily spoonful of Apple Cider Vinegar and Honey. You only need a tablespoon a day to benefit from the power of Fire Cider, but if you’re like us, we are more generous and take a whole shot as well as work it into our beverages, marinades, sauces, dressings, dips, etc. The list goes on and on.
Our flavor-packed Fire Cider is based on traditional family recipe and ideas that harness the exquisite flavors and power of raw apple cider vinegar infused with roots, fruits and spices. Specifically, apple cider vinegar, honey, oranges, lemons, onions, ginger, horseradish, garlic, turmeric, habanero pepper, and black pepper, all of which are USDA certified organic. We invite you to explore our three different flavors—Original, Honey-Free, and African Bronze—to see which is your favorite and to get adventurous with incorporating Fire Cider into your beverages and recipes.
We created Fire Cider for anyone and everyone interested in a more of-the-earth, connected way of living and in challenging convention. For those who don’t settle. For those who know that healthy equals happy, and happy equals healthy.
At Shire City Herbals, we celebrate harmony, health and happiness. Our certified organic, sustainably sourced apple cider vinegar blend is meant to be incorporated in your daily wellness routine. When you feel great on the inside, it’s amazing how that radiates outward to everything around you!
We recently added black pepper to our recipe. Black pepper is known to increase the bioavailability of turmeric in your body. This means more of the curcumin (the active ingredient in turmeric) can get absorbed into your bloodstream!
It can be difficult to ignore the state of the environment these days. Each news cycle brings about staggering information on the direction the planet is headed (1). While action is being taken across the globe to counteract the damage that has been done, much more needs to happen to create a lasting difference (2, 3). The best way to show Mother Earth a little bit of TLC is by taking action yourself. Saving the world might seem like an insurmountable task, but real change can come about when individuals decide to step up and take a swing.
You don’t necessarily need to rush off to a snowy tundra to save the polar bears. Instead, you can find ways to create lasting change right in your own community. Start a ripple effect by exploring these ideas and see how you can get started with improving the environment.
1. Ride Your Bike
Instead of driving your car everywhere, ride your bike! This might sound simple but it can lead to big results. In recent years, several studies have been conducted on how using bicycles instead of motor vehicles can reduce harmful vehicle emissions and lower the overall pollution in an area. For instance, a 2010 study on the impact of bikes on local air quality in Wisconsin estimated a 57,405-ton reduction in carbon dioxide emissions if 20 percent of short car trips were replaced by bicycle trips in Milwaukee and Madison (4).
For some of us, foregoing the car for a bike can be a bit more of a challenge. If you live in an area where getting around requires an automobile, then you might have limited options. When a bicycle isn’t the most sensible mode of travel, take public transportation. These vehicles are already running, and taking advantage of them can still assist with reducing carbon dioxide emissions, especially in regions where “green” initiatives are enforced with public vehicles (5).
2. Reduce Food Waste
Wasting food is, not surprisingly, another big issue when it comes to environmental sustainability. While you are probably not trying to actively throw away perfectly decent food, you might also not know what to do with leftovers when they are sitting in your fridge. The easiest way to keep your conscience clear is by learning how to use your leftovers to make healthy new meals.
Another great way to cut back on how much food your household is wasting is by being a more mindful shopper. Many people go to the grocery store without any kind of real plan. This leads to items being purchased that are never actually used and get thrown away months down the line when they are discovered in the back of dark pantries and cabinets. A simple way to avoid this is by shopping for specific items and ingredients online. This step requires you to be a bit more focused and take a more active part in selecting what will fill your cupboards.
Donating food to local charities and food kitchens can be another great idea when you want to make a positive change in your community.
3. Use Eco-Friendly Cleaners
Some people love cleaning their homes. Whether you are the type who relishes when spring cleaning comes around or you only break out the supplies once every few months, it can be wise to think about how you are going about this task. Many household cleaning products are packed with dangerous chemicals. Though these chemicals are not always outright harmful to you and your family members, disposing of these bottles can lead to dangerous substances leaking into the ground, water supplies, and more (6).
Buying eco-friendly cleaning products can be a great idea when you want to do your part to keep toxins out of the air and sea. Some people also suggest making your own cleaning supplies! There are some great ideas out there to help you create natural cleaners and still allow your home to sparkle the way you’d like it to.
Taking action in small ways might not seem like much, but it is often all we can do to make real change happen.
Whether you’re trying to eat more veggies (and, let’s face it, we all probably should), or you’ve got a few extra carrots hanging around in the fridge, it’s natural to wonder if it’s safe to share a few of your favorite vegetables with your four-legged bestie.
Fortunately, there are a number of safe vegetables for dogs. Learn more about the health benefits of vegetables for dogs and how to serve them, below.
Vegetables for Dogs: Green Beans
Full of fiber and low in calories, green beans make a great, vitamin-packed snack for dogs, says Dr. Antje Joslin, veterinarian at Dogtopia daycare in Phoenix.
Green beans are an excellent source of vitamin A, vitamin C, B vitamins, iron, magnesium and potassium, adds Dr. Jennifer Coates, author of “Dictionary of Veterinary Terms: Vet-speak Deciphered for the Non-Veterinarian.” She recommends keeping a bag of green beans in your freezer for a crunchy treat.
They can also be served to dogs chopped, steamed, raw or straight from a can, Joslin says. Just be sure to get no-sodium beans if you go the canned route.
Vegetables for Dogs: Spinach
Spinach contains large amounts of vitamins A, B, C and K, as well as iron, antioxidants, beta-carotene and roughage (which is great for stimulating your dog’s digestive track), Joslin says.
As with humans, vitamin A is important for vision and immune system function, while vitamin K helps blood to clot and antioxidants help prevent cancer and other types of cellular damage to the body’s tissues, says Dr. Jennifer L. Summerfield, certified dog trainer and author of “Train Your Dog Now!”
Joslin suggests chopping and steaming spinach first before serving it to your dog.
Vegetables for Dogs: Sweet Potatoes
Loaded with vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium and dietary fiber, sweet potatoes are a dog-safe vegetable. They should be pureed in a blender or juicer for best nutrient absorption.
“Dogs have a shorter digestive tract than humans, and don’t digest plant material very efficiently,” Summerfield says. She adds that, in general, vegetables should be given to dogs in small amounts or as a supplement to their regular diet. They should make up no more than 10 percent of your dog’s overall diet.
Vegetables for Dogs: Asparagus
Another low-calorie treat, asparagus provides vitamin K, vitamin A and vitamin C, which helps build and maintain connective tissue in the body, such as skin, bones and blood vessels, Summerfield says. Asparagus also has folic acid and dietary fiber.
Like sweet potato, asparagus should be pureed before serving it to your dog, she adds.
Vegetables for Dogs: Brussels Sprouts
Believe it or not, Brussels sprouts aren’t exclusively reserved for food bloggers and trendy restaurants.
“Loaded with nutrients and antioxidants, these little power balls are great snacks for dogs,” Joslin says. “The best way to serve Brussels sprouts to your pup is by steaming, boiling or microwaving them. Don’t serve them raw, as they will be too hard for your dog to digest.”
Vegetables for Dogs: Broccoli
Broccoli is another dog-safe vegetable that is high in fiber, which is important for regular bowel movements and can help dogs feel more satisfied after eating, Summerfield says.
Broccoli should be served to dogs in small quantities and broken down into bite-sized pieces, either raw or cooked. As with all vegetables, broccoli should be served plain, without any added seasonings or oils.
Vegetables for Dogs: Carrots
Carrots make a great, crunchy snack that can help keep your dog’s teeth clean and can lower the risk of heart disease, Joslin says.
Carrots are also high in beta-carotene, which is converted to vitamin A in the body after consumption, Summerfield says.
Before adding any vegetables to your dog’s meals, speak with your veterinarian about which vegetables are safe to add to her diet. And remember, onions, garlic and chives are toxic to dogs and should never be given to them.
We micro-manage our pets’ diets almost as much as our own, and it can be confusing to determine which foods are safe for dogs to eat. Sure, it’s common knowledge that chocolate is a no-go, but what about fruit?
Fortunately, there are a variety of fruits that are perfectly safe to share with your dog—and make a healthy, nutritious snack for you both. These are our favorite fruits for dogs:
Fruits for Dogs: Cantaloupe
This sweet summertime fruit is loaded with vitamin K, vitamin A, magnesium, beta-carotene and folic acid, says Dr. Jennifer L. Summerfield, certified professional dog trainer and author of “Train Your Dog Now!” As in people, vitamin A is important for vision and immune system function in dogs, while vitamin K helps blood clot, Summerfield says.
Cantaloupe can be cut into small pieces and given to your dog as a treat (just make sure to remove the rind first). In general, fruits should be given to dogs in small amounts as a treat or supplement to their regular diet, she adds. Fruit should make up no more than 10 percent of your dog’s overall diet.
Fruits for Dogs: Apples
Packed with antioxidants and dietary fiber, apples are another fruit that’s safe for dogs.
“Dietary fiber is important for regular bowel movements and can also help dogs (like humans!) to feel ‘full’ or satisfied after eating,” Summerfield says. “Antioxidants are beneficial because they help to scavenge free radicals in the body and prevent cancer and other types of cellular damage to the body’s tissues.”
In addition, apples have both phytonutrients and flavonoids, two plant-specific types of antioxidants that serve as anti-inflammatories and help boost the immune system, Summerfield says.
Like cantaloupe, apples can be cut into small pieces (without seeds or core) and fed raw as a treat.
Fruits for Dogs: Watermelon
Your perfect warm-weather snack also happens to be a great choice for dogs too.
“[Watermelon] contains more water than do some other fruits and so can help prevent dehydration,” says Dr. Jennifer Coates, author of “Dictionary of Veterinary Terms: Vet-speak Deciphered for the Non-Veterinarian.” “It’s also a good source of potassium, which may improve recovery from exercise.”
In other words, feel free to share a few bite-sized pieces of cold watermelon on a hot day—bonus points if it’s after a trip to the beach.
Fruits for Dogs: Pumpkin
Yes, pumpkin is a fruit. And a dog-safe fruit, at that!
“If your dog could stand to lose a little weight or has certain types of digestive problems, adding pumpkin to the diet might help,” Coates says. “Pumpkin’s high fiber content makes dogs feel full without adding many calories and can also be used to treat constipation, diarrhea, and anal sac problems.”
Pumpkin also contains beta-carotene, vitamin A, iron and potassium, says Dr. Antje Joslin, a veterinarian at Dogtopia daycare in Phoenix, and its nutrients can help add moisture to a dog’s skin and fur.
Consider adding a scoop of canned pumpkin (just pumpkin—no seasonings) to your dog’s meals and be sure to talk to your veterinarian if you have concerns about your dog’s digestion.
Fruits for Dogs: Blueberries
High in fiber, blueberries help control blood sugar, support healthy digestion and prevent cell damage, Joslin says. They can be fed to dogs raw or frozen as a treat or snack.
“Blueberries are a wonderful treat for dogs,” Coates says. “They contain a lot of vitamin C and manganese, both of which help the immune system function properly. Also, flavonoids, the compounds that make blueberries blue, are excellent antioxidants.”
Many other berries can be given to dogs in moderation, including strawberries and cranberries, Summerfield says. These have similar health benefits as the other fruits on this list.
Finally, keep in mind that grapes and raisins are toxic to dogs and should never be given to them.
Filed Under: Health Foods
at 4:00 pm | By: Mauricio Matusiak, Senior Editor
If you still haven’t tried coconut water, it might be the right time to do it. This incredible beverage is packed with nutrients that can provide multiple health benefits. Extracted from young coconuts, coconut water is 95 percent water and contains a ton of nutrients. Still not sure? Let’s look at five reasons to drink coconut water.
A great source of nutrients, coconut water is rich in natural vitamins, minerals, amino acids, enzymes, antioxidants and phytonutrients. Coconut water is a source of five important minerals: potassium, magnesium, calcium, sodium and phosphorus. Plus, it contains a lot of B vitamins, and trace elements, such as zinc, selenium, iodine and sulfur.
Coconut water is high in potassium and can help prevent dehydration. One cup of this tropical drink has 295 milligrams of potassium—that’s more than a banana. The human body uses potassium to maintain membrane potential, which is the electrolyte balance your cells need to function properly. Additionally, coconut water can be a great low-sugar alternative to sports drinks, as it contains only about 4.5 percent carbohydrates while other sports drinks can contain 6 to 8 percent.
Coconut water is considered a good digestive tonic that can treat different ailments, including stomach flu, dysentery, constipation, and parasites. It helps with food absorption and improves digestion via its bioactive enzyme.
Coconut water boosts the immune system and helps fight infections, as it contains lauric acid. This medium-chain fatty acid contains antifungal, antiviral and antibacterial properties and it has been found to be effective in treating candida, fungal infections, and hepatitis C.
5. Low Calorie
Coconut water is a great low-calorie beverage, as its 40 calories per cup are well below the amount of some other fruit juices. However, some coconut drinks may have sugar added to them, so make sure to double check if you are trying to minimize sugar intake.
The changing season is a perfect time to take a look at our lives and evaluate what is and isn’t serving us. While there are worse offenses than a messy closet or junk drawer, excess household clutter can actually have negative effects on your mental and physical wellbeing.
We asked our ND, Dr. Jeremy Wolf, about the effects untidiness can have on our lives. “Clutter can become so overwhelming that it becomes a distraction,” Dr. Wolf says. “A recent study revealed that cluttered homes can affect individuals socially and in their careers (1). We can become so overwhelmed with our possessions that the rest of our lives fall by the wayside.”
Unsure if clutter is holding you back? If you’re struggling in any of these areas of life, chances are it might be time to tidy up!
Diminished Productivity and Focus
“Clutter creates chaotic environments that cause stress (2),” Dr. Wolf says. Crowded countertops, unattended piles of junk mail and even the steady stream of notifications on your phone all compete for your attention. These tiny distractions add up throughout the day and lead to feeling overwhelmed and stressed, which can erode your ability to focus.
Solution: Start in your most cluttered room first and tackle it in pieces. For example, take 15 minutes to completely clean out and reorganize the junk drawer in your kitchen or your desk. Consider what documents can live in a digital space instead of camping out on your desk. Making sure every item has a home will make tidying up in the future that much easier. Challenge yourself to declutter for 15 minutes a day to help reclaim your focus and productivity!
Unhealthy Eating Habits
When it comes to eating healthy, Dr. Wolf says, “Research shows a messy kitchen can make you feel out of control, and what you see is ultimately what you’ll eat (3). Meaning, you’ll reach for the cookies if they’re sitting out on the counter before rummaging through the fridge for something healthy.” If your cooking supplies are a jumbled mess, the less likely you are to prepare a healthy meal.
Solution: Reorganize your pantry shelves and cabinets so healthier options are visible and easy to access. Take the time to recycle old, ineffective kitchen supplies and organize the usable ones. Keeping fruit out on the counter instead of buried in the fridge will make you more likely to eat it!
Worsening Allergies and Asthma
Did you ever consider what’s living among your clutter? Excess dust, mold and animal dander can collect in all the extra nooks and crannies—the more items lying about, the harder it is to keep them all clean. This can aggravate allergies and asthma, create a breeding ground for germs and attract disease-carrying critters into your home. (Eek!)
Solution: Aim to keep the knickknacks on your surfaces as minimal as possible—the fewer items to collect dust and germs, the better. Display only what you know you’ll get around to cleaning regularly. As a bonus, add plants to your decor to improve the air quality in your home!
Low Energy and Trouble Sleeping
Researchers have found that people with messy bedrooms had worse sleep quality than those with tidier spaces. “When there are multiple visual stimuli competing for your attention, you have a hard time narrowing your focus,” Dr. Wolf explains. “This also applies when getting a good night’s rest.” Sleep requires a Zen state of mind. A messy room can leave you feeling unsettled and anxious, painfully aware of the daunting cleaning task surrounding you.
Solution: Try to make it a part of your nighttime ritual to ensure dirty clothes are in the hamper, your desk is organized and your vanity is tidied and ready for the morning. You’ll sleep with a clearer head, and your morning routine will be a breeze.
You don’t have to be held back by clutter! Use these tips when tackling your spring cleaning to help you feel refreshed and renewed for the season ahead.
Grains like quinoa, teff, barley, millet, and brown rice are my jam─they are the base of what I eat. Breakfast might be a little rice pudding with honey and blueberries, or quinoa with apples and cinnamon. Lunch and dinner usually have a cup of whole grain on the side, or incorporated into the main dish. Even though cauliflower rice sounded interesting, it has taken me a long time to try it. I finally did.
I like cruciferous veggies, but I was prepared to be underwhelmed with cauliflower’s ability to hold up to ultra-versatile rice. (I like my rice.)
I set out to make a Colombian-inspired recipe. I have a friend from South America who told me about a dish like this one, and it has sat in the back of my mind for years. The way he told it to me, it sounded like a good everyday type of thing that you could have alongside a heavy protein or add the protein right into it another day. You could put a sauce over it, or even enjoy it alone as a snack.
Colombian-Inspired Cauliflower Rice
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 10 minutes
1/2 regular to large cauliflower, broken into florets
1 large clove garlic, chopped
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2/3 Cup broth (could be vegetable, chicken, or bone broth.)
Salt and pepper to taste
- Trim away the stem and leaves from a head of cauliflower and slice in half.
- Break up the half of cauliflower into florets and reserve the other half for another use.
- Place the florets into a blender and pulse until crumbled. (About 10 seconds if using a high-powered blender.)
- Place the oil into a pan over medium heat.
- Add the chopped garlic and sauté for a minute.
- Add the crumbled cauliflower, parsley, broth, salt, and pepper.
- Cook until the liquid has evaporated and the vegetables are cooked through. Approximately 7 minutes.
I figured this idea was simple enough to test a vegetable’s ability to hold up to a time-tested grain. My cauliflower seemed big, so I sliced it in two to start. If you have a whole family to feed, or love leftovers, you could easily double the recipe and use the entire head.
The blender could probably chop up the half intact, but I didn’t want to potentially have a broken blade or something, so I broke it up into florets.
The first thing I was surprised about was how crazy fast the florets crumbled into rice-sized bits in the blender. It was fairly instant.
Like, six seconds of holding the pulse button and florets turned into grainy bits. A hand blender would definitely take a bit more time but probably do the job.
The second surprise was also about speed. I only sautéed a clove of chopped garlic in olive oil for less than a minute, added the rest of the ingredients, and literally, it was done in under 10 minutes. I didn’t have to continuously stir either.
I like bland food with subtle flavors. If you like spices, it would probably work nicely with a bit more herb, like tarragon, or a little jalapeño.
The third surprise was the biggest. I paired my new dish with a salad just like I would have if it were an actual whole grain. I wasn’t expecting to feel full or satisfied. I mean, cauliflower is a vegetable, so essentially I was just adding a hot salad on the side of a cold one, right? OK, yeah, I felt a little lighter than usual, but not hungry. Cauliflower rice kind of won me over. My skepticism dissolved. I liked it a lot.
Since I had the other half of cauliflower to use, I did a fried rice dish. You know what happened with that don’t you? I liked it even better. This idea had way more flavor and was just as fast. The fried rice idea is another super speedy dish to make, and the best part is, it’s a one-pan complete meal.
Cauliflower Fried Rice
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 10 minutes
1/2 large cauliflower, pulsed into grain-sized bits
1/4 large onion, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
1/4 cup petit frozen peas (just because they are sweeter; use any peas or green beans)
8-9 small leaves of Chinese cabbage, chopped
1-2 eggs, whisked or 1/4-1/2 block of tofu
2 Tablespoons olive oil (or sesame oil for a more authentic flavor)
Tamari (soy sauce) to taste
Black pepper to taste
- Heat a pan over medium heat and add the oil.
- Sauté the onion for one minute and then add the carrots, cauliflower, and cabbage pieces. Depending on your pan, you may need to turn the heat to low. Cook for 2-5 minutes.
- Stir in the remaining ingredients and cook for a few minutes more, for everything to cook through and incorporate the flavors.
The cleanup on both dishes might be enough reason to repeat these recipes again and again. Actual grains can be sticky and require scrubbing to get the pans clean. Nothing stuck here. Even that blender with bits wedged in under the blade came clean in less than two minutes. I’ll definitely be buying more cauliflower.
If you have symptoms like exhaustion, body aches, depression, irritability, dizziness, and poor concentration, a controversial condition called adrenal fatigue could be to blame.
Your adrenal glands are small, triangular-shaped glands located on top of each kidney. They produce hormones that control your immune system and regulate metabolism and blood pressure. The adrenal glands also secrete cortisol (the stress hormone) and regulate the stress response (1).
Natural health practitioners believe that chronic stress taxes the adrenal glands, rendering them unable to keep up with a constant state of fight-or-flight (2). In 1998, chiropractor and naturopath James L. Wilson coined the term “adrenal fatigue” to describe the stress-induced condition (3).
There are no blood tests to confirm adrenal fatigue—proponents argue that standard blood work is too insensitive to detect small declines in adrenal function. Naturopaths take saliva samples to test cortisol levels.
Without a definitive blood test, conventional medicine does not support adrenal fatigue as a medical diagnosis. A 2016 meta-analysis claimed that “adrenal fatigue does not exist” and highlighted several studies with inconsistent or unfounded claims (4).
Natural health practitioners disagree. Online support groups with thousands of members who have been diagnosed with adrenal fatigue (or who suspect they have the condition) are looking for answers and embracing strategies to feel better.
Here are four strategies to help heal adrenal fatigue:
The foods you eat are believed to play an integral role in alleviating adrenal fatigue. The recommended diet for adrenal fatigue includes a combination of fat, protein, and complex carbohydrates to avoid dips in blood sugar and provide energy throughout the day (5). The American Association of Naturopathic Physicians also suggests a diet rich in B vitamins, vitamin C, zinc, and magnesium to help with adrenal fatigue (6). Processed foods are best avoided (7).
Your naturopath might recommend a combination of supplements to boost energy and ease exhaustion. Research shows that ginseng regulates the immune and hormonal responses to stress and controls hormones in the adrenal gland (8). Additional research found that ginkgo biloba had a similar effect on cortisol (9). Another study reveals that a botanical called Rhodiola rosea has been linked with lower levels of stress-induced fatigue (10).
Because chronic stress triggers adrenal fatigue, stress management is essential. A 2017 study published in Frontiers of Human Neuroscience reported that practicing yoga and meditation had positive effects on stress resilience (11). Deep breathing exercises and journaling can also help keep stress in check (12, 13).
Both stress and adrenal function can take their toll on sleep. If you struggle with insomnia or feel exhausted throughout the day, establishing regular sleep and wake times can be helpful. Avoid staying up too late at night or waking up too early in the morning and steer clear of caffeine, sugar, and alcohol (14).
As the controversy about adrenal fatigue rages on, it’s important to remember that whether you believe the condition exists or not, these are all science-backed, common sense strategies for healthier living that are beneficial regardless of the status of your adrenal system.
You can’t count how many times you have struggled to zip up your skinny jeans or caught a glimpse of your four-month-pregnant-looking belly in the mirror. Blame bloat.
Digestive bloating is caused by air, fluid or gas in the digestive tract. It makes your belly look and feel swollen or tight. While bloating is normal, it can also be uncomfortable.
Whether it happens occasionally or every month during your period, follow these seven tips to prevent stomach bloating and improve digestion.
Regular exercise can help keep you regular. One study found that physical activity helped participants move gas and ease their symptoms (1).
Remember, “Movement of the body is good for movement of the bowels,” notes dietitian Lona Sandon, an assistant professor of clinical nutrition at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.
Dehydration is a common cause of constipation, which worsens gas and bloating. Drink plenty of water each day to help keep your stool soft and easier to pass through the colon, Sandon advises.
Steer Clear of Artificial Sweeteners
Certain artificial sweeteners, including high fructose corn syrup, sorbitol and xylitol, are linked with bloating. “Artificial sweeteners are poorly absorbed in the intestines,” explains Dr. Jacqueline Wolf, a physician at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston and author of A Woman’s Guide to a Healthy Stomach. “If you’re having increased bloating, check food labels for artificial sweeteners.”
The faster you eat, the more air you swallow (and the more gas you create). If you struggle with bloating, Wolf suggests slowing down during mealtimes. Eating more frequent, smaller meals may also help.
“A larger meal will take longer to empty out of your stomach and that can leave you feeling bloated,” says Wolf, who is also an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.
Avoid Carbonated Drinks
The fizz in your favorite drinks can cause bubbles to build up in your belly. “Carbonated beverages are a huge trigger for bloat,” Wolf warns. Instead of soda or seltzer, choose flavored water or green tea. A 2016 study also found that peppermint helped alleviate bloating (2).
Focus on Fiber
Foods high in fiber and sulfur like apples, broccoli, cauliflower, beans, onions and garlic are harder for your gut bacteria to break down, according to Sandon. These are also really nutritious foods, so you don’t want to cut them from your diet. In fact, Sandon notes, “The more you eat them, the better your bacteria are likely to get at breaking them down.”
Cook fruits and vegetables to soften them. (Your gut has to work harder to digest raw fruits and veggies). Sandon also suggests switching to canned fruits packed in their own juices or water, or applesauce if eating raw fruit triggers bloating.
Get OTC Relief
Although diet and lifestyle changes can reduce digestive bloating, you may need to reach for an over-the-counter remedy for immediate gas relief. Your doctor may also recommend supplements to improve digestion, such as probiotics or digestive enzymes.
With the right lifestyle changes, you can beat bloat and start feeling better.
You might think trying to kick coffee—or at least drinking less coffee—is a tougher task than scaling Everest. After all, coffee isn’t just a drink that gives many of us a much-needed morning boost. It’s also a genuine cultural moment, whether you’re sipping some coffee in a Middle Eastern cafe, enjoying an espresso in Italy, or grabbing a tall double-caf soy nonfat latte on any corner in any American city.
“Besides the fact that it tastes and smells good, coffee plays an important social role in our lives,” says Joan Salge Blake, a clinical associate professor of nutrition at Boston University. “There’s a lot going on besides the caffeine that makes people want to drink it. If you’re meeting with someone after 5 p.m., it’s usually for drinks, but before that, it’s coffee. It’s how we do business, relax, socialize.”
But it’s easy to become enamored of caffeine and its ability to jolt us awake and get us through the day with the energy needed to accomplish often superhuman amounts of work. While a dependence on caffeine can be problematic (e.g., sleep problems, headaches), coffee has been proven to benefit your health in several notable ways.
“There are some healthy things about coffee—polyphenols, antioxidants that can be quite good for you,” Salge Blake says. “It’s been shown that moderate consumers of coffee could lower their risk of Type 2 diabetes, stroke, heart disease, and Parkinson’s, among other diseases.”
So perhaps the instinct to give up coffee completely isn’t quite right. Instead, you may want to consider how to give up caffeine. It’s fairly straightforward, even if it’s not always easy. Follow these three steps to quit caffeine without quitting coffee altogether.
Cycle off the Caffeine Slowly
When decaffeinated coffee hit the scene about a century ago, it was a dreadful concoction, Salge Blake says. Today, it’s as good as its “regular” counterpart, and decaf carries with it many of the same health-boosting properties as caffeinated coffee.
The best way to switch from regular to decaf coffee is to cycle off the caffeine gradually. “Start with 75 percent caffeinated and 25 percent decaf, and stick with that for a week,” Salge Blake recommends. “This will prevent you from developing headaches and some of the other physical and mental side effects that occur when people quit abruptly.”
After the first week, Salge Blake says you can reduce your caffeine intake further with a 50-50 caf-decaf mix. The next week, move to 25 percent caffeinated, 75 percent decaf. Your body should then be ready for you to quit caffeine completely. (Just make sure you don’t disrupt this plan by drinking other caffeinated beverages, like soda or certain teas, during this period.)
Feed Your Brain
So you’re off caffeine, but you’re struggling to get going in the morning. Remember the old saying that breakfast is the most important meal of the day? It’s true.
“Good food does the same thing to your brain that caffeine does,” Salge Blake says. “If you get up in the morning and don’t eat breakfast—or if you spend the morning eating junk—you’re going to reach for something caffeinated by noon.”
That, in turn, can disrupt you throughout the rest of the day and into the night, causing you to repeat this cycle of bad eating and exhaustion the next day.
Break the cycle with some high-quality carbohydrates, Salge Blake suggests. “That’s what your brain loves the most—grains, fruits and veggies.” Start your day with healthy foods and snacks and keep feeding your body this way, especially if you start to drag.
Practice Good Sleep Hygiene
For all the brain food you eat over the course of a day, jumpstarting your morning really begins the night before.
“Sleep hygiene is the idea that we’re setting ourselves up for consistent, high-quality sleep every night,” Salge Blake says. “Not many people do it. They think they can’t afford it because their waking lives demand more time, but they’ll find their productivity improve if they give their bodies and minds the sleep they need.”
Eight hours of sleep is the mark you should shoot for every night. Start going to bed and waking up at roughly the same time each day, and say “goodnight” to your electronics about an hour before you plan to hit the hay. The blue light emitted by smartphones and other digital devices is a major sleep quality disruptor. If you plan to use your phone as an alarm, put it in a drawer near the bed.