Monday, October 10, 2011

Beauty Scoop: Almay Liquid Eyeliner Pen

This new eyeliner pen by Almay is my new favorite.
$7.50  Almay Liquid Eyeliner Pen

Honestly, I haven't had the best of luck with eyeliner pens in the past, so I was skeptical about this one.

I'm so glad I wasn't disappointed! This pen is SO easy to use. You can easily create winged liner or cat eyes with this and it is water resistant so there is no need to worry about it fading throughout the day.  Almay claims it lasts 16 hours.

I'd definitely recommend the black pen: it has a high quality, pigmented shade. The brown on the other hand is not very pigmented. I have not tried black brown so I cannot give you my opinion on that shade.

Bottom line: this liner is easy to use and rivals brands four times it's price! Definitely give it a try.

Money Saving Tip:
If you have a CVS card and are in the beauty club, then there was a coupon this week for $5.00 off Almay products when you buy two. It's very easy to save money at CVS if you have patience.  When I bought these liners (and some other stuff) I only paid $9 for over $40 of stuff because I saved my extra bucks and saved up my beauty coupons. When you get a CVS card, you are not automatically signed up for beauty savings. To get more of those coupons, sign up at the register! And if you want even more savings, give them your e-mail at the register and they will send you an extra coupon every week or so.  It's an amazingly easy way to save money if your a drugstore beauty junkie like me!

What's your favorite eyeliner and why? Tell me below!

♥ Danielle

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Beauty Scoop: E.L.F. Studio Tone Correcting Powder

Back in June I purchased a few E.L.F. products at Target and the Studio Tone Correcting Powder was among them.  This face powder is only $3.00 and has been my powder of choice for at least two months.

Here are the ingredients:
Talc, Mica, Magnesium Stearate, Polymethyl Methacrylate, Nylon-12, Titanium Dioxide, Octyldodecanol, Dimethicone, Aluminum Starch Octenylsuccinate, Silica, Sodium Dehydroacetate, Boron Nitride.

When I looked at these ingredients, I was sure this face powder would break me out--namely the Talc, Dimethicone and Silica. I bought it anyway. As far as I can tell, this powder is paraben free. They list parabens in some of their other products, so I'm assuming if it's not listed here, there are none.  Long story short, this does not break me out. Cue applause.

Even though it has ingredients I would normally avoid, I will be re-pucrhasing this today. It controls shine and oil better than any powder I've tried and works perfectly with my Make Up Forever mat velvet foundation. I've seen other reviews that this powder can be chalky, so if you have darker skin this might happen to you. I definitely think it's suited towards fair skin tones and is not necessarily translucent. If you do have oily skin, I'd just give it a try despite your skin tone. It's great for makeup touch-ups throughout the day and doesn't cake like other powders I've tried. It's three bucks, so you won't have buyer's guilt if the color isn't right for you.

Takeaway: Love this powder! I definitely recommend it.

Thanks for reading! ♥ Danielle

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Beauty Scoop: Tarte Neutral Eyes II Palette Review

I purchased this at Sephora for $44, which is the price it goes for everywhere else as well.

Tarte neutralEYES natural eye palette volumer ll
Quicktake: I've used this everyday for a month--so I think it's safe to say I like it a lot. With these ten colors, you can achieve great natural looks. With only two shades that are highly pigmented, however, I would say this palette is best reserved for daytime use.

As you can see from the swatches, the first three matte colors are extremely nude and hardly show up in the picture--they do show on on your eyes though, they are just not heavily pigmented.
I really love the consistency of Tarte shadows.  They go on smooth and even without creasing and I think this palette has colors that would be flattering on any skin tone. They also go together nicely and I've been able to do both very simple day looks and smokey night looks.  The double ended brush that comes in the palette is probably the best brush I've ever gotten with a palette, but I don't use it as much as my other brushes. The double ended brush is better than drugstore quality, but Sephora brushes are definitely better, in my opinion.

I wanted to love this eyeliner because it's so deeply pigmented and it's brown (usually my preference over black for daytime looks). Unfortunately it is pretty hard to work with.  Sometimes it will go on smoother if I use my angled eyeliner brush, but it definitely shouldn't be in a pencil form. If this came in a pot like other gel liners, I think I would be able to work with it easier.

Not photographed is the sample size of Tarte's Lifted Natural Eye Primer. Overall, I was not impressed by this eye primer. It seemed like it was already dried out by the time I bought it so that was kind of a bummer. I found my Lorac eye primer works much better with these shadows.

Overall, I like this palette for light daytime looks and I would recommend it for that purpose, but not over Urban Decay's Naked. Basically I'd say buy this for the shadows, not for the extras. Another cool thing about this palette (and Tarte in general) is the products are formulated without parabens, phthalates, mineral oil, and sodium lauryl sulfates. Also, Tarte palettes usually come in cute packaging which is a nice touch!

Thanks for reading ♥ Danielle

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Beauty Scoop: Pangea Organics #2 Facial Mask Review

This is part two in my Pangea Organics review series. Click HERE for part one.
Japense Matcha Tea with Acai and Goji Berry

On the front of the bottle, it reads that the Acai revitalizes and is an antioxidant, while the Goji Berry has anti-aging properties. Honestly, I'd believe what it says.  This mask is amazing -- it exfoliates my skin, making it soft and smooth, and it firms my skin for a freaking awesome glow.  Now, the glow doesn't necessary last and last, but whenever I use this mask I am amazed at how great my skin looks after I've washed it off.  I really need to start using this in the mornings! But the only time I ever remember to use masks is at night. I'm not sure if it does anything for breakouts. If you want a mask to clear breakouts, try Queen Helene's Mint Julep Masque. QH isn't paraben-free, but it works too amazing on acne to be ignored!

This actually came free with my purchase on the Pangea Organics website (if you spend a certain amount, you get a product for free). I did look around, and it seems to be the case again that there are quite a few places selling the product for way less than PO. Definitely shop around! I know I'll be purchasing this again.

Takeaway: Go try this mask! It is simply amazing and should be in even girl (and guy's) bathroom. Oh hey, and it's organic so there's no scary chemicals!

Thanks for reading! Have a fabulous weekend! 

♡ Danielle

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Beauty Scoop: Bobbi Brown Skin Foundation

Coverage: light but buildable to medium coverage.
Skin Type: good for normal or dry skin. Not recommended for oily skin.
My shade: Alabaster 00

I picked this foundation up about a year ago after I'd tried Bobbi Brown's cream concealer.  This foundation stays true to it's name, it looks like skin! With the added SPF 15, I really like to use this on days when I do not feel like wearing makeup.  When I apply it lightly, it doesn't feel like I'm wearing anything at all, but I do need to set it with a powder.  Unfortunately, for the summer months I do not prefer to use this in my T-zone because it does nothing for oil control.  Makeupforever is still my favorite foundation for oil control. I do get dry skin along my jaw line and temple during the summer so I like to apply this in those areas to even out my skin tone. This foundation doesn't necessarily cause me to be more oily, but I do need to blot more with it than with matte foundations.

EDIT: I just remembered something about this foundation that I really like! I have used this as a base for lipstick and I believe it has the best consistency out of all of my other foundations for this use.  Since it doesn't dry completely matte, but also isn't greasy, it is really great for lip prep. If you're ever able to try a sample of this I think you'll see right away what I mean.

Overall, I do think this is a good lightweight foundation and I would definitely recommend this to anyone without oily skin. Since it is a bit on the pricey side, and I don't use it on my T-zone, I probably won't be repurchasing this when it runs out. A little of this product goes a long way. It's been a year and I still have half of the bottle left!

Thanks for reading! I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday weekend!

♥ Danielle

Friday, June 24, 2011

Beauty Scoop: Drugstore Oil Blotting Sheets

E.l.f. Essential Shine Eraser $1
I use blotting sheets everyday.  If I forget to bring a pack of them in my purse, I get all stressed out, haha. Not all blotting sheets work the same, but if you use enough of them they seem to get the job done. But I do wonder one thing: why do so many contain mineral oil? If anyone knows the answer to this, I would love to know!

I don't know if I am using these wrong or what, because I have read quite a number of positive reviews on this.  I honesty think that tissue paper would work better than these sheets.  I do like that these papers are only rice paper and green tea (unlike the chemicals in other brands). Since I bought four of them at Target, I'm going to continue to give these a try and hopefully figure out whatever trick these people who love them use. Obviously, they fit in my purse better than tissue paper, haha! As for now, I'd recommend spending a few more dollars on another brand.
CVS Oil Absorbing Sheets $5 -- Neutrogena Shine-Control $7 -- Clean & Clear Oil Absorbing Sheets $6
These three I find comparable in performance, with Neutrogena coming out slightly on top. If they're available or on sale I like to get the Neutrogena, though I honestly have no idea why these ones work slightly better. They all have very similar active ingredients and no parabens as far as I can tell. Neutrogena does come with 60 sheets, whereas Clean and Clear and CVS come with 50. So even though they are a couple of dollars more, I hardly ever need more than one sheet, and they have the added bonus of ten more sheets. Lately, Neutrogena has been harder to find. I don't believe CVS carries them anymore (the blotting sheets) but I do believe Walmart and Target may still have them. Since it's been a few months since I've seen Neutrogena at CVS--where I most frequently shop for these types of things--I have been alternating between the CVS and Clean and Clear brands.  Despite the mineral oil in all three, I do not believe they break me out. However, I am thinking of using the e.l.f. sheets for a while to see if this is the reason my skin isn't completely clear. I'm sure I'll go through those fast as one sheet of e.l.f. is hardly comparable to any of the above three.

TGIF! I hope everybody has an amazing Friday and fantastic weekend! Thanks for reading!

♥ Danielle

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Food Scoop: Homemade Spinach Dip

July 4th is coming up in two weeks so I thought I would share with you all my mother's recipe for Spinach Dip. It is a fantastic appetizer or finger food for a July 4th BBQ or any friends and family get-together. 

What you need:

(1) 10 oz. package of frozen chopped spinach
(1) 16 oz container of sour cream (I use Daisy)
(1) cup of Mayonnaise (I use light mayo)
(1) package of Knorr POTATO LEEK recipe mix
(1) 8 oz can of water chestnuts
(3) green onions, chopped
(1) loaf of sourdough bread

This is the same recipe on the back of the Knorr Vegetable Recipe mix with the exception that Knorr calls for the Vegetable mix, not the Potato Leek mix. According to my mom, the recipe was originally on the back of the Potato Leek recipe mix, but sometime during my childhood they came out with the Vegetable recipe mix and put the recipe on that mix instead.  Both my mom and I have tried this same recipe with the Vegetable mix (I tried it because I didn't believe her when she said it was gross ha ha) and it tastes a thousand times better when using the Potato Leek mix.

The first thing you're going to do is defrost and cook the 10 oz of frozen chopped spinach. There is typically a microwavable time on the bag, but I usually empty the spinach into a glass bowl, add about a tablespoon of water and then cook it completely frozen in the microwave for four minutes.  Once that is done, you'll need to let it cool, then strain it to get rid of the moisture (the dip will be plenty moist without it and can get runny if you do not get all that pesky water out).

While the spinach is cooling, open your can of water chestnuts and drain it. You can leave them whole or chop them into smaller pieces. Personally, I like to quarter them. Next you're going to rinse and chop up your green onions.  I use all three green onions in my dip because I think green onions are one the greatest tasting foods in the world ha ha. If you find all three too strong you can alter this to your taste preference, but I really think green onions are necessary to give this dip the extra kick that is often lacking in store bought spinach dip.

In a glass bowl that preferably has a lid for refrigeration (you could also use plastic wrap), mix the container of sour cream, mayonnaise and contents of the Potato Leek mix. Once the spinach has cooled and you have strained it, add that along with the water chestnuts and onions.  Refrigerate for at least two hours (the more the better) before serving. This way all those fantastic flavors will come together.

Slice up some sourdough bread into bite sized pieces, dip, and enjoy!

♥ Danielle

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Scoop on Healthy Living: Daily Moderate Exercise

To become and stay healthy we need to eat a well-balanced diet and exercise on a regular basis. As we age, the more exercise we need to maintain or lose weight because we were naturally more active in our youth.  If you think about it, "exercise" as a child consisted of playing tag outside with your friends or riding your bike down to 7/11 for slurpees, or even running drills at practice (if you played a sport).  As adults, we typically work 40+ hour work weeks and spend much of those 40+ hours sitting in an office. 

The USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans now include an estimated amount of daily exercise needed in order to reduce the risk of chronic disease and to manage body weight.
To prevent chronic disease, engage in moderate exercise for at least 30 minutes every day. Moderate exercise means maintaining an elevated heart rate, but not so intense that you cannot hold a steady conversation. If your goal is to prevent weight gain in adulthood, it is recommended to do 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise most days of the week. When engaging in vigorous activity, you should definitely break a sweat and find it more difficult to maintain a conversation. Lastly, in order to achieve sustainable weight loss in adulthood, the USDA recommend 60 to 90 minutes of moderate exercise on most days of the week. You would choose one of these three options according to what your goals are.

Moderate Exercise
Walking is an excellent form of moderate exercise, as long as you walk quick enough to get that heart rate up! You can walk the dog/push a stroller, do yoga or pilates (both can be tailored to more vigorous workouts as well), chores like washing your car inside and out, cleaning the house etc. Basically anything that gets your heart rate up.

Vigorous Exercise
Slightly more intense, this includes running, biking, swimming, weight training/lifting, taking an exercise class, bikram yoga, and playing football, volleyball, basketball, soccer, etc.

You can switch it up throughout the week as well.  Maybe on the weekends and two/three days a week you engage in moderate exercise for 30 to 60 minutes (like go for a walk), and then for two days out of the week you do a vigorous activity for 30-60 minutes (like go to the gym). 

If you follow me on Twitter, you might already know that my favorite form of exercise is walking. I'm lucky enough to have a lake a couple of blocks from my house and the ocean just a few miles away. Last night was a beach night and I took my landlady's dog along.

I'm not sure, but it might be cheating that I prefer to walk on the "hard" sand :). Soft sand definitely works the gluts a lot more!
This is where the dog gets her exercise, she likes to go for a swim here where there is barely any water movement. The ocean tide on the other side freaks her out!

Takeaway: Exercise doesn't need to be something you constantly think about and can be an activity you enjoy. For me, I enjoy long walks, while my brother enjoys a pickup game of basketball with his friends. Just keep in mind that exercise is something that is added to your daily routine. For an example, if you already clean the house every day and are still gaining weight you will need to add an activity like a brisk walk or something more intense if you're looking to lose weight.  If you have specific questions about weight loss and exercises, your doctor or a Registered Dietician (nutritionist) will be full of helpful information tailored to your physique and current health.

♥ Danielle

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Beauty Scoop: Cover Girl Natureluxe Review

I recently picked up the Natureluxe ($10 at CVS) foundation. Cover Girl made a paraben free foundation! Isn't that fantastic? Hopefully it will catch on. I tend to like Cover Girl make up--I don't love ALL of their makeup, but I have tried quite a bit of their line. If you read one of my very first blogs, you'll already know that their Oil Control foundation is pretty much the best drugstore foundation for oily skin, in my opinion. So here's the thing: this foundation would probably not suit anyone with oily skin. Every now and then, though quite rarely, I get dry skin on my face.  This is probably the only time I will be able to use this foundation. It is extremely moisturizing! However, if you have oily skin like me, then the fact that it never quite settles into the skin may annoy you. It has medium to full coverage and I think it matches my skin tone quite well--I have the 305 shade. Even though it is oil-free, this foundation unfortunately does nothing for oil control. I had to blot much more with this on. I really like how it feels though, it's moussey and so moisturizing, I would definitely recommend this to people with dry skin or even normal skin. I would imagine this giving those with normal skin a dewy finish.

Takeaway: Paraben-free drugstore foundation for only $10. Suitable for dry skin, but not oily skin.

♥ Danielle

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Beauty Scoop: Pangea Organics #1 Facial Scrub Review

I recently purchased quite a few of the Pangea Organics skin care line. I picked out the ones that were geared towards people with oily skin because that is my skin type. I decided to give their line a try because I am hoping I will benefit from their natural ingredients as an alternative to chemical based products. I don't really expect much from products for my oil control, because I honesty think that has more to do with how I eat and hormones, etc. If you know anything about the causes of oily skin, I'd love to hear about it. I do expect products that I invest in to improve my overall skin tone and texture. I'm going to review a few of the products individually as I figure out my opinion of them and later I will do an overview of how I think Pangea Organics did or did not work for me.

The first product I want to review is the Facial Scrub. I actually paid $32 for this from the Pangea Organics website, but I just found that if you search a bit on the internet, you can get it as low as $21. I'm mostly mentioning this because it's true for many of their other products and if you want to try them out, you definitely want to pay the lowest possible price! Shame on me for not bargain shopping haha.
Pros: It is completely natural and organic, with no added fragrances and no irritants. Using this simply as a cleanser is probably it's best use. This scrub feels nice on the skin and I did not have any bad skin reactions after using it.

I do not think this is the best scrub I've ever tried, nor do I think it comes close to the St. Ives scrubs. There are very few exfoliates in this scrub when compared to other scrubs I've tried (i.e. Clean and Clear, St. Ives, Neutrogena etc.).  I would not recommend this to someone if they were looking for a scrub. It's difficult to exfoliate when pushing only a few beads around your face. 

I won't be purchasing this again. I will stick with St. Ives for now--they're not organic but they have no parabens.  I liked that this was completely natural, but when paying over $30 for a scrub, I expect to be able to exfoliate my face. If you're looking for a good organic cleanser, and are willing to spend $21, then you could definitely give this a try.

♥ Daniele

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Beauty Scoop: DIY Hair Dying Disaster

Accidentally Brunette

Before swatch of my permanent dyed blonde hair
I am the queen of DIY hair disasters.

It took me a while to get the hang of it, to learn about the different kinds of hair dyes, and how to pick colors that can be done realistically at home. Since I did not go to beauty school, it was really a trial and error process for me. The best advice I can give you is to follow the directions! Not following the directions can result in some pretty big surprises like dark brown instead of light brown hair!

The moment of the disaster took place a couple of weeks ago when I noticed that my roots were getting a bit ridiculous. I didn't have time to go to a salon, so I decided to do a demi permanent dye at home to go a few weeks longer before getting it done.

Ion Demi Permanent Color Brilliance in 9NG $4,
 Sensitive Scalp Developer in 10 2$

Tools: Either a plastic mixing bowl and application brush or a application bottle with a precision tip for mixing hair dye and developer. I usually use the brush and bowl when I need to touch up my roots and use application bottles when doing my whole head. Gloves are a must. You can use whatever ones you want, but they should fit your hands and not be too big. If you get dye from the drugstore, the kits come with them inside. If you buy dye at a beauty supply then you need to purchase them separately. You'll want a shower cap to keep dye from getting on your stuff while it's processing. I wear an old shirt, but if you're worried about spillage or dye getting all of the place, you can cut the bottom off of a trash bag and wear it K$sha style to keep the dye off your clothing. I used to do this because I was much messier when I started out. And of course, you will need dye and developer. Drugstore hair dye comes with both inside but you'll need to purchase them separately at a beauty supply. If you're a first time beauty supply buyer, it's best to ask someone to help you pick out your dye/developer. That way you'll know you got the right level developer. 

I used Ion demi-permanent dye in 9NG and a 10 developer. (for permanent blond color, you would typically use a level 30 or 40 developer, demi-permanent cannot lift color so you only need level 10).
I purchased my hair dye/developer at Sally Beauty Supply.

For a couple of great DIY videos, you can check out Kandee Johnson's "How to Color (dye) Your Hair like in a Salon at Home!" video on Youtube or Anna Saccone's video on The Style Diet channel "How to Dye Your Hair At Home" . They show two different methods and they're both great.

Below is a swatch after going one shade darker.

Level 9 Natural/Golden
So even though going a little darker evened out my hair and made my roots look better, about a week later I decided I wanted to try a red blond and used Ion's 6WR Dark Warm Red Blonde. 

This is where I went wrong--
I decided to dye my hair after work and make dinner while my dye processed because I was starving. I used the same brand, so I knew the instructions and even read them again, which makes it all the more embarrassing.

By the way, I do recommend the Ion brand! They are not expensive and as long as you follow the instructions, you're hair should come out fine.  It is important to keep in mind that demi permanent hair color does tend to come out a shade or two darker in general, but since it washes out completely [unlike permanent hair dye], after a couple of showers your hair should technically be at the color you wanted.  However, I left the dye in for about 10+ minutes longer then I was supposed to because I lost track of time and it came out a kazillion shades darker. I would have never intentionally gone so much darker (at home) with permanent blonde dye as my base, and I'm honestly surprised the color came out as nice as it did.
Here's my hair today: 
Bottom Line: Don't do anything DISTRACTING while dying your hair. ALWAYS set a timer with an alarm (like your cell phone).  ALWAYS follow the instructions and ask the beauty techy in your life what to do if something goes wrong. Luckily my cousin went to beauty school and told me the quickest way to fade / strip my demi-permanent hair color is to wash hair with dandruff shampoo or laundry detergent. It's a much warmer auburn color today than it was a week ago when I first dyed it (it was pretty close to black).

I hope you all can learn from my mistakes. It was really just me being silly and forgetting to set the timer, but I also didn't think leaving dye in for a couple of minutes longer would matter. Now that I know what a huge difference 10 minutes make, I'll definitely be doing a strand test from now on and following the directions (should be a no brainer, right? haha).  I actually like the color a lot now that I'm used to it and think I'll keep it for the summer. May be it was meant to be. 

If you have any DIY beauty tricks, feel free to leave them below or post a link to your blog.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Beauty Scoop: Jason Tea Tree Scalp Normalizing Shampoo and Conditioner

Quicktake: won't be purchasing again. Shampoo wasn't that bad, but the conditioner definitely didn't work for me.
This was the first Tea Tree Shampoo and Conditioner set that I've tried. Ever since I began dying my hair blond (at a salon with bleach and all that jazz) a few years ago, I started to experience scalp sensitivities. I was using dandruff shampoos for a while, but I don't actually have dandruff (I don't have flakes) so I kind of felt like I was putting these synthetic chemicals on my scalp for nothing.  It's more of an irritation than anything but the dandruff shampoos did sometimes sooth my scalp. I have sensitive skin in general--especially my face--so I just needed something soothing and conditioning for my scalp to be happy.

By the way, if you follow me on Twitter, you'll have heard I accidentally dyed my hair dark brown last week, haha, if you guys want a "what not to do when dying you're hair at home" blog let me know. It looks pretty good, now that I'm used to it, but if you're a blonde who has gone dark before (and I did this on purpose in high school) then you know that the initial shock takes a few days to get over. Anyway, I used demi-permanent dye, and it didn't irritate my scalp at all--just FYI for those of you in the same boat as me scalp-wise.

I had some "extra bucks" so I thought I'd splurge on a new shampoo and conditioner at CVS, which is where I bought this set a couple weeks ago. This brand is paraben-free and uses a combination of natural and organic ingredients.

For those of you who don't know, Tea Tree oil has anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory and disinfectant properties and unlike many substances, it can actually penetrate the lower skin layers for maximum effectiveness. Aside from shampoos, it has also been used as an ingredient in acne treatments and I'm sure there are many other uses for it.

I was much more excited to try the conditioner. The shampoo bottle seemed to have a pretty common description on the back, a little information on tea tree oil and how it was going to help normalize the scalp. The conditioner on the other hand claimed it would sooth an irritated scalp, hydrate and "plump up hair fiber to protect against heat styling", etc.

I liked the shampoo a lot. I am planning on trying another brand next, however, just to see what else is out there. My Belegenza GrowOut Shampoo is still my favorite for the moment. The conditioner, unfortunately, was a flop.  As far as conditioning it's pretty much the worst one out there. My hair felt as dry as if I had just shampooed my hair.  I'm planning on keeping it around until it's gone. I'm mixing it with the shampoo when washing my hair because I do like the added soothing ingredients like Aloe Vera. So I would cautiously recommend the shampoo as I have no other Tea Tree shampoo to compare it to, but would say steer clear of the conditioner.

Have you tried any products with tea tree oil or extract in them? I'd love to hear what they were and what you thought of them.

♥ Danielle

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Beauty Scoop: St. Ives Purify Exfoliating Body Wash

This new St. Ives Purifying Exfoliating Body Wash is so amazing. It's probably not new, but it's new for me since I just started using it. Here's what it looks like:
St. Ives Purify Exfoliating Body Wash, $3
This body wash is only $3.00 at Walgreens! If you have tried Philosophy's Microdelivery Exfoliating Wash, $25, then this would be a fantastic drugstore alternative. I personally think it's better because my skin isn't left feeling as dry. Either way, it's always a good idea to moisturize after exfoliating. It has very fine exfoliating beads, but unlike many exfoliating body washes, it has thousands of little beads so you don't have to waste a bunch of the product to get enough of those little guys to exfoliate. 

My skin felt so soft and clean after using this. Even though I just started using it, I already know I will be purchasing it again when it runs out. Also it is all natural and paraben free! I'm declaring this my Holy Grail body wash. Love it! Pick it up if you have a chance.

Now if I can just find a store that carries the Collagen Elastin line by St. Ives so I can try it out, I would be so happy!

♥ Danielle

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Beauty Scoop: Dermalogica Oily Skin kit Review

I'm just going to jump right in and say I was deeply disappointed with this line. If you were thinking of trying this, you're going to be depressed (or relieved you didn't risk the $) after reading this. I had high hopes for it and I probably expected way too much from this kit. Now I really wish I would have just saved my money for Pangea. Thank goodness I got the trial sizes and not the full sizes or I would have been out more than $40.
From left to right: Dermal Clay Cleanser,
Multi-Active Toner, Oil Control Lotion,
Skin Prep Scrub, Climate Control Lip Treatment

It comes in this zipper mesh bag (which I actually really like, haha, I've been using it to hold my everyday make-up in). It also came with two packet samples of the Soothing Eye Make Up Remover and the Skin Refining Mask--both of which did not have nearly enough for me to do a review on.

Here is the order I used these products:

The Dermal Clay Cleanser (1.7 oz*) is a kaolin clay cleanser and I thought it would really lift impurities from my skin (see my post on KAOLIN CLAY MASKS). It's supposed to sooth and revitalize skin. Instead it really didn't feel like it did much of anything. It left a bit of a grimy feel on my face, which the Skin Prep Scrub took off in the next step.

Skin Prep Scrub (0.75 oz*): WOW was I disappointed when I saw how tiny this was.  This is probably the best product of the bunch. It really did leave my skin quite smooth, but I don't think it's much better than my St. Ives scrub, no harsh chemicals and under $2, or Philosophy's Microdelivery ($15 for 4 oz) which I also really like, but is too expensive for me to replace constantly. I just don't think the Skin Prep Scrub is the perfect scrub for oily skin, but this is really the only product from the kit I may consider purchasing in the future.

After I pat my face dry, I moved on to the next step and used the Multi-Active Toner (1.7 oz*). I tried using this several ways: by spraying it on my face, rubbing it in, spraying it on my hands and rubbing it on my face, applying it with cotton swab to my face, spraying it on my face and not rubbing it in, etc. I really tried to give this a fair shot because I think toners are one of the more important steps in oil control. Unfortunately I really did NOT like this toner. It left a weird residue on my face and made my skin feel dirty.

Once my face air dried from the toner, I applied the Oil Control Lotion (0.75 oz*), the most disappointing product of all. Even the first time I tried this and my face felt gross and dirty, I was still excited about it because it seemed to hydrate and stop oil at the same time. However, an hour or so after applying it, my skin seemed even more oily than normal.  It didn't work any better than a primer in that aspect and at least a primer allows my makeup to go on over an even base. On top of that, I could feel it sitting on my skin (and let me tell you, barely any is needed to cover the entire face).

I was really hoping this kit would work out. I used this day and night hoping that maybe time made it more effective. It didn't. If you tried this kit and did something different that made it work wonderfully, please e-mail me what you did because I just can't get over how much this kit did not work.

I got this kit a month ago and I used it regularly for four weeks. In retrospect, I should have given up on it after the first week because then I wouldn't have had to deal with the breakouts and overly oily skin that resulted from it. I feel like I researched this really well before I tried it and there were tons of positive reviews. I'm not here to call the other reviewers liars, but I will say that this just shows how products work very differently for different people.

I will mention that I really liked the Climate Control Lip Treatment (0.75 oz -- a fancy name for lip balm) and use it everyday. It works really well over lipstick to give it a nice sheen, but not as glossy as a lip gloss. It is super hydrating, but it does require constant reapplying. I'm pretty sure this comes in all of their kits, but on it's own it is $8.

Thanks for taking the time out of your day to read my rant.

* Oz for trial sizes, not for full size products.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Scoop on Healthy Living: The Dirty Dozen and Clean 15

I began talking about organic products on May 22nd in the post "What Does Organic Mean?"

Today I want to talk about organic fruits and vegetables.  I think one of the reasons people become discouraged about buying organic all the time is the higher price tag. The good news is not every piece of produce you buy has to be organic. In fact, some non-organic fruits and vegetables--the "Clean 15"--are almost as clean as their organic alternatives. On the other end of the spectrum, there is what we call the "Dirty Dozen". These non-organic fruits and vegetables absorb more chemicals from the pesticides and fertilizers used to grow them than others. When possible, you should always buy the organic version of the "Dirty Dozen".

Clean 15: The produce that let us skip the higher price tag!
The product that is practically always free of pesticides, organic or not, is the onion. The rest on this list have detectable pesticides on them, but much less than the Dirty Dozen. The Clean 15 include the following:

→Sweet Corn
→Sweet peas
→Sweet Potatoes

Dirty Dozen: Buying these fruits and vegetables organic will help drastically lower your exposure to pesticides (by up to 90%).
The dirtiest of the Dirty Dozen is the peach due to it's super soft and absorbent skin. From most pesticides to least, here are the Dirty Dozen:

→Sweet bell peppers
→Imported Grapes

The remaining veggies and fruits fall in between the two lists. You can always buy the organic version if you're not sure about whether the product would be closer to the dirty or clean lists. If you'd like to see a full list, check out Food News.

Takeaway: If you want to start eating more organic produce, think about what your favorite fruits and veggies are and where they fall on this list.  You can keep a list in your wallet of the the ones you love that fall on the Dirty Dozen list in order to remind you when to buy organic.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Beauty Scoop: Belegenza Hair Care

I've been using the Belegenza Growout Package (purcahsed from Hautelook) for a few weeks now. I have no idea if this has helped my hair grow (or if it's even possible for a product to do so).  Belegenza products are silicone-free, mineral oil-free, petrolatum-free, paraben-free, SLS-free, phthalate-free, & urea-free, which is the main reason I decided to buy this package.  
Belegenza GrowOut Package
A. GrowOut Shampoo and Strengthener $25: I liked the Shampoo. It makes my hair and scalp feel very clean and doesn't leave residue after being washed out. This is one of my favorite shampoos I've tried thus far. However, it also carries a pretty steep retail price so I'm not sure I'll be replacing it when it's gone.

B. DraMatic Daily Volumizing Conditioner $20: This definitely increases volume better than any other volume conditioner I've tried. Also, it smells AMAZING. It's scented from rosebuds (which I've never really been drawn too before).  It's seriously one of the prettiest and most feminine scents I've ever used. I want it in a perfume! However, it leaves buildup in my hair and makes it very difficult to go more than a day without shampooing (esp. since when growing out you're hair your supposed to try to go longer between shampoos). However, for days I want to style my hair, this is definitely a good choice. I just don't prefer to use it every time I wash my hair.

C. Romance Deep Conditioning Treatment $32: This has the same amazing smell, but also leaves buildup. Even though it's a conditioner, I've used it as a styling cream and found that it's good at taming fly-aways. Sometimes I just open it to smell it--I know that sounds insane, but seriously, these conditioners smell like heaven. If they have this in a lotion I'm going to be all over it.

D. PerForm Control Styling Gel $17 and E. Taffy Styling Cream $22: I haven't had the opportunity to use these very much. I used them one day when curling my hair. Normally my hair doesn't hold a curl for more than a few hours, but with these, they lasted all day. I definitely had to wash my hair the next morning due to all the product buildup, but that happens with most styling products.

In case you're curious, the "growout package" I got was $39 and came with full sizes of the shampoo, conditioner, and styling gel, and trial/travel sizes of the deep conditioner and taffy. 

Takeaway: I think Belegenza has some great products. They're also formulated without harsh chemicals, which is an added bonus.  I'm not sure I'm sold on the fact these products are supposed to help my hair remain undamaged for longer so it can grow. I won't be purchasing a package from them again, but I may try some more of their individual products. The salon prices may keep me from trying very many though. ← carries all of the products mentioned in today's blog.

♥ Danielle

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Scoop on Healthy Living: What Does Organic Mean?

Whether you've been grocery shopping for years or just starting out after living under your parents' roof your entire life, knowing more about how to read the labels on the food your buying is important. In today's blog I wanted to talk about what things you should consider when buying organic products.

First of all, how do you know the food you're buying is completely organic?

By U.S. law, companies have to label their products in accordance to the following guidelines:
→ If all of the ingredients in a product are organic, then the label will read "100% Organic"
→ If at least 95% of the ingredients are organic, then the label will simply read "Organic"
→ If at least 70% of the ingredients are organic, then it will say "Made with Organic Ingredients"

You should keep in mind that when a label claims to be "all natural", that doesn't mean it is organic. In fact, I doubt any company is going to hide the fact their product is organic, so it will say so on the package. The only time you'll have to ask is at the Farmer's Market. At the Farmer's Market, you'll want to ask how their food was grown to avoid any confusion--i.e. with or without pesticide, etc. (as compared to simply asking if the food is organic).

What's the difference between organic and non-organic?

→ Organic meat means the animal was raised on 100% organic food. The animal was also never given growth hormones, antibiotics or any other type of drug. The meat was also never irradiated which means it wasn't exposed to radiation in processing in order to kill bacteria, germs, etc. (Don't worry, the process of cooking your meat actually takes care of this just fine.) All organically raised animals have access to the outdoors, but there is no minimum time requirement nor a space requirement.

→ Milk and eggs are organic when the animal was raised with 100% organic food and never given growth hormones or antibiotics.

→ Organic Fruits and vegetables were grown without chemicals like synthetic pesticides and fertilizers. They were not genetically engineered (which has been done in areas of the U.S. with corn, tomatoes, rice, etc.) or grown near sewage.

→ Also note there is no such thing as organic seafood. One thing you may want to ask about seafood is whether it was wild or farm-raised.

→ Another side note: irradiation is hardly ever used in Europe. They have stricter (better) safety guidelines than the U.S. and typically only use irradiation on certain spices and herbs. The main use of irradiation in the U.S. is on red meat (which I don't eat anyway, but I wanted to mention it for those of you who do) and that's due to the fact it's not always cooked "well done"; but irradiation is certainly not limited to that industry.

I hope you feel more informed about organic products. If you'd like more blogs like this, please let me know below.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Beauty Scoop: Mary Kay Satin Hands

I got the Mary Kay Satin Hands kit as a gift from my landlady, she's so sweet!
[From Left to Right]
Extra Emollient Night Cream;
Satin Smoothie Hand Scrub;
Hand Cream
I honestly never realized how rough my hands were until I started using this a few days ago. They are much smoother since I've been using this. This kit runs around $30 depending on where you get it.  Maybe you're local Mary Kay girl can give you a deal! The scrub smells so peachy and yummy.  The other two don't really have a scent, as far as I can tell, but the scrub certainly makes up for it.

How I used it:
First i applied the emollient cream all over my hands and let it sit for a few minutes. I later saw the main ingredient in the emollient is petrolatum and research suggests that petrolatum may not be as safe as we once thought (it's probably a carcinogen, yikes!).  The next two times I used it, I skipped the first step and it worked just as great.  

Next, I used the scrub over the emollient. I massaged it over my hands for a minute or two and then I rinsed it off in the sink.  I followed with the hand cream and was left with smooth looking and silky feeling hands. Overall I really love this product and I'll definitely be using the scrub and the hand cream regularly! My favorite item from this kit is the scrub.

Also, even though it says it's for "satin hands", there's no rule that says you can't use it on your feet too. It's great for manicure or pedicure prep and has that perfect summery scent!

Takeaway: If you have dry hands/feet, I would definitely make a scrub and cream combination a part of your daily routine.

Other options:
If this price is a little steep for you, then you have other options. Check out The Body Shop for one of their fruity scrubs and use whatever hand cream you have on hand. Don't care for fruity scents? DIY with some brown sugar, honey and olive oil! [CLICK HERE for some great DIY scrub recipes!] You can even use some olive oil as an "emollient" for a minute or two before applying the scrub.

I'd love to hear what your solutions for dry hands are, or if you have any DIY scrub recipes that you've tried. Feel free to comment them below, or post a link to your video if you're a Youtuber.

Thanks for reading! Have a wonderful day <3

Monday, May 09, 2011

Food Scoop: Yummy Spring Juice Recipe

Now that it's Spring and almost Summer, I've been craving more fruit based juices. This recipe is a blend of fresh and hydrating fruits and veggies. Even if you're a first time juicer I'm sure you'll enjoy it.

What you'll need:
3-4 Medium carrots
3-4 Celery sticks
1 Peach
1 Asian Pear

Rinse all fruits and veggies and scrub the carrots. No need to peel, but if you're a first time juicer and want to avoid the bitterness found in the skin, this is an option.  Just remember, there are tons of nutrients in the skin, so if you can it's best to leave it on.

If you didn't buy organic, you're going to need to skin the carrots and Asian pear (if you know how to peel a peach without boiling it then feel free to do this as well). Peeling non-organic fruits and veggies is how we avoid ingesting pesticides.  I usually cut off the top root area off of the carrot.  Depending on the size of your juicer's mouth, you may need to cut the fruit into smaller sections.  I cut the peach in half and the pear into quarters. Make sure you cut out the pit of the peach, and if you think you're juicer needs it, then slice out of the core of the pear as well.  I usually just get the seeds of the pear and leave in the rest.

Get your juicer ready, put your cup beneath the spout and start juicing. The juice should be bright orange and you should have around 16 oz. The color may change if you plan to keep it an hour or longer in the fridge. If you want the juice to maintain its color longer, then squeeze a little bit of fresh lemon juice on top and stir it in.

What's your favorite fresh juice? Let me know in the comments below.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Happy Cinco de Mayo!!

Cooling off before frosting
Today I'm making Mexican Chocolate Cupcakes from Amanda's Cookin' on blogspot. Definitely check out her blog for the recipe and other great recipes and food ideas! I found everything I needed for this recipe at my local Vons.  The Abuelita Mexican Chocolate and the Nestle Dulce de Leche were in the Hispanic/Asian aisle, and the rest in baking. The only ingredient I couldn't find for this recipe was the Breakstone sour cream she used, but I subbed with Daisy sour cream so I'm sure it will be fine. I'm also not going to use the little silver balls. These cupcakes are for a Cinco de Mayo potluck at a friend's house so there's no need for me to get fancy. Here is the before picture with all of the ingredients:

finished product
Oh my goodness, this cake batter was so light and fluffy, and it tasted good too ;) which must be why i ended up with 23 cupcakes instead of 24, whoops! The frosting was also good. I usually find frosting too rich, but vanilla frosting mixed with the caramel was so light and perfect.

Obviously I had to try one before the potluck, and it was so delicious. It's not as sweet as other cupcakes, because the spices compliment the sweetness so well and tone it down. This recipe really makes a great tasting cupcake!  Thanks Amanda's Cookin'!

Thanks for reading! I hope every one has a fun Cinco De Mayo! Remember to subscribe/follow at the top left of the page.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Beauty Scoop: Liquid Foundations for Oily Skin

If you've read 'The Facts' page above, then you know I have fair, combination skin. My T-zone gets very oily throughout the day, while the rest of my skin is normal, or even dry at times. I have tried SO many liquid foundations and honestly, if I could, I would forgo them all together and just use a powder or mineral foundation. But, I have redness around my nose and chin areas so I do need some sort of foundation or concealer to take care of that. 

As far as primers go, most of them are too thick for my sensitive skin and make me break out.   Primers can make my makeup look great for the first hour, but after that, my skin tends to feel irritated and gets oily. I do use an eye primer, but that's completely different.

The foundations I do like to use for oily skin are the Mat Velvet + Matifying Foundation by Make up For Ever and Clean Liquid Makeup Oil Control by Covergirl.

My color: No. 15 Alabaster
Make Up For Ever Mat Velvet $34
This is by far my favorite foundation I have ever used.  I will say however, if you have dry skin, you'll probably hate it. For those of you with oily skin or normal skin, you'll love it! I first heard about this on MakeupByTiffanyD's Youtube channel when she was discussing her foundation routine. She also has an oily T-zone and she raved about it, so I decided to try it. I'm so glad I did!

It matches my skin perfectly, which is so rare for me. This foundation also has really good staying power and it covers imperfections pretty well. I do still need concealer on the corners of my nose and under my eyes, as this doesn't correct those areas for me.  It is supposed to be a full coverage foundation, but I find it looks pretty natural. 

I like to apply a thin layer with my fingers and gently pat it into my skin.  I haven't tried building it for more coverage, because I generally don't like how that feels, but for a night out it would be possible. So far, I haven't noticed this foundation causing me to breakout. It definitely matifies, but I like to set it with my Bares Essentials Mineral Veil. It doesn't stop oil production (because that would take a miracle), but my skin seems much better with it on and I need to blot less throughout the day. It's a pricey foundation for me, but a little goes a long way--and like I said, I only apply a thin layer and it does the trick! I'm not sure how I feel about the bottle it comes in. I don't like pump bottles, but sometimes it's hard to get the amount I want out of this small tube spout.

Takeaway: Must have for those with oily skin. Dry Skin types may want to pass. Good shade selection and a little bit goes a long way with this product.

Drugstore Alternative:
CG Clean Liquid Makeup, 
Oil Control $6
My Shade: 505

This is the foundation I used before Make Up For Ever. It is a good foundation for under ten dollars, but the problem I have with many liquid foundations is how they darken awhile after they has been applied.  When I first apply this shade, it looks flawless and matches my skin perfectly. However, within a hour or so, it darkens to a shade or two darker.  I have this issue with a lot of brands because of my oily skin.  The skin's natural oils can react with the foundation, causing it to become a more orange pigment or in my case, a darker pigment. This can happen with anyone, but obviously more oil means it is more likely to happen.  I don't have this problem with Make Up For Ever.

If you want to try this CG foundation, try a shade lighter than you normally would to avoid the darkening--unless you're like me and the lightest shade will be too dark once oxidation sets in. This foundation doesn't matify like Make Up For Ever, but for a drugstore foundation, it is the best I've tried for oil control. I used a thin layer of this for a more natural look--using too much can cause it to cake, but a thin layer seems to be the perfect consistency for me. It sets well with a powder on top, and if it only came in a lighter shade I would love this foundation. I do have to blot throughout the day with this foundation, but much less so than with other drugstore foundations I've tried. I find it's good with sensitive skin because my skin feels comfortable with it on and it didn't cause me to breakout.

Takeaway: If you're looking for a cheaper alternative for oil control, try this one.  Consider buying a lighter shade than you normally would, especially if you have oily skin.

What's your go-to foundation? Share it with me on Twitter @danielle0900

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Beauty Scoop: Kaolin Clay Masks

Clay masks. What girl doesn’t love them? They can be the perfect way to pamper stressed-out skin at the end of the day, and they are a must have in any home spa.

Kaolin clay is used in many masks because it is the mildest of all clays used in beauty products and considered suitable for all skin types. Kaolin clay exfoliates, cleanses and increases circulation. It also draws out the impurities from skin without removing natural oils.

Sounds fantastic, right? It’s no wonder we’re drawn to them. So where can you get your hands on the best Kaolin Clay masks on the market?

Start at the Drugstore 

Drugstore Kaolin Clay masks tend to be less concentrated, gentler, and can be used more often. Still, I wouldn’t recommend more than twice a week to avoid drying out your skin. St. Ives Mineral Clay Firming Mask dries in about five minutes, so I love to apply it before I get in the shower in the morning to help with oil control. If I’m going to use it more than once a week, I’ll apply it only the T-zone. This one also tightens as it dries on the face, but not as vigorously as the Michael Todd mask (a much pricier alternative).

I’ve never had any redness with this product and I’ve been using it for about five years, may be even more. Unfortunately, I used up the remainder of my tube a week ago and forgot to jot down the ingredients before tossing it. However, I know all of St. Ives products are formulated without parabens and phthalates, which is pretty rare for an inexpensive drugstore brand.

Bottom Line: Gentle enough for regular use. Tightens and firms skin. Drugstore, yes; but no parabens & phthalates! If you aren’t ready to spend big bucks on a luxury mask, chances are you’ll be happy with St. Ives.

I’ve seen quite a few Youtubers post positive reviews of this mask so I thought I’d give it a try. It comes in a huge 8oz tube which I thought that was pretty cool. The description on the bottle says that it helps dry up pimples, rinse away blackheads, and shrink enlarged pores. I have only been able to find this at Walgreens.

This mask goes on thick and creamy. It actually tingled and stung for the first few seconds so I was relieved when that subsided. I was nervous I might have had a reaction. Like it says in the title, it smells like mint. It tightened and dried like the other clay masks, but it wasn’t tight to the point where I couldn’t move my face.

It washed off easily, turning back into its creamy consistency under the hot water. Overall, my skin felt clean and smooth, and not as dry as the other two masks. But when I was looking at the ingredients, it did list Methylparaben, which I am not a fan of. But hey, I can’t expect everyone to jump on the paraben-free bandwagon.

Bottom Line: Less than $3.00 for 8 oz tube. Skin doesn’t feel as tight and dry after, but it definitely feels like it’s been deep cleaned. NOT paraben-free. I like it, but I think I like St. Ives better (this could my paraben bias talking).

Do you have a favorite face mask? Send me the link on Twitter @danielle0090.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Food Scoop: Cooking with a Chicken Substitute

First of all, I wanted to give you guys some tips on how to switch to a chicken substitute after eating the real thing your entire life:

1. The first time you use it, do NOT try it as part of your favorite meat recipes. It will not taste the same, and the texture will be different. Chances are you won't like it because it won't taste how you expected.

OR even better, the first time you cook it, try it in a completely new recipe so the taste expectation isn't even there. (If you're planning on switching permanently to a meat substitute, you will eventually be able to use your favorite recipes. You just want to make sure you've gotten used to the new texture and taste of the substitute before you do this.)

2. Don't think of it as "chicken". If that's too obscure, then think of it as chicken that was ground and then mixed with a bunch of beans and veggies before being formed into a patty. Still expect a chicken taste to be there…but along with the taste of vegetables.

This recipe is measured for a dinner for two and uses the Gardein Chick'n Scallopini. Gardein is actually the only brand I've like so far because I find it's very simple and easy to use--and they have a bunch of recipes on their website. This is a modified version of a "Dinner Idea" I found on the back of my Gardein bag.

Chick’n Scallopini in a White Wine & Lemon Sauce
For a dinner for two, you will need (~approximately):
2 Chick’n Scallopini patties*
1 to 2 tablespoons of whole wheat flour
~2 tablespoons of your preferred cooking oil
~1½ cups of white wine
A pinch of basil
~1 tsp of dry rosemary
1 tablespoon of butter
~2 tsp of lemon juice

What to do:
  • Dust Chick’n with whole wheat flour.  Pour the oil in your skillet and heat it up.
  • Add Chick’n to pan and cook both sides for 2 to 3 minutes without overcooking. Remove Chick’n from pan and put on a plate.
  • Add white wine to pan and bring to a boil. Toss in the basil and rosemary. Simmer for about 3 to 5 minutes until the wine is reduced by half.
  • Add the tablespoon of butter and cook until completely melted.  Add 1 to 2 tsp of lemon juice--I used fresh squeezed--Cook for another 30 seconds.
  • Turn off heat. Add Chick’n back to pan. Let Chick’n sit for one minute.
  • Serve Chick’n with preferred side dish.  I like to steam some carrots and broccili and then pour some of the sauce on them. Definitely drizzle some of the remaining sauce on top of the chick’n too. Some other meal combination ideas with this recipe would be pasta, couscous, brown rice, white rice or quinoa. I think an Italian vinaigrette or Mediterranean salad would go great with this.
* Gardein Chick’n can go directly from the freezer to the pan, no need to defrost.

I hope some of you will try this! At the very least you'll be able to impress the vegetarian in your life. Let me know what you think below or if you have any questions. Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Friday, April 29, 2011

Food Scoop: Spring Spinach Salad

I was making one of my favorite lunches today and I thought I would share the recipe as my first Food Scoop! I used to buy a very similar salad from the Vons deli, but it is a lot cheaper if you make it yourself.

Ingredients you will need: Baby spinach leaves, a raspberry vinaigrette dressing, walnuts, a pear, and feta cheese. Optional: small red onion. If you're not a vegetarian, you could also prepare some grilled chicken to add to this.

I usually eyeball this to my personal taste, but here are some approx. mesaurements:
~5 oz of Baby Spinach (half of a 10oz bag)
~1/4 cup Walnuts 
~1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
1 Lg Pear
~2 TBSP Raspberry vinaigrette
OPT: 1/2 small red onion

For a less fat version (kind use reduced fat cheese and less dressing.

I usually buy the triple-washed organic baby spinach bag from Trader Joe's. It's always a good idea to rinse it once more in case they missed any dirt, and definitely rinse if you did not buy a pre-washed bag. Core the pear and cut up into small squares. To add an extra kick, cut a small red onion in half, then chop one half up into smaller pieces (I'm not a huge onion lover so sometimes I'll only use a quarter of a small onion, chopped).  Toss spinach, walnuts, onion and pear pieces together.  Drizzle with raspberry vinaigrette--and if using a bowl with a lid, attach lid and shake until ingredients are well coated.  If you prepared grilled chicken, you could add this now. Throw in some crumbled feta cheese on top and enjoy!

Substitutions to customize: if you're not a fan of spinach--personally I think spinach tastes amazing with a raspberry vinaigrette--then choose whatever your favorite salad leaf is; you could also do a strawberry or a berry mix vinaigrette; when I don't have walnuts, I use almonds or cashews; you could sub an apple for the pear, just keep in mind that apples brown once cut and exposed to oxygen, but they're still yummy; if you like a stronger cheese, then you can sub for blue cheese and if you prefer a milder cheese, you could sub for Parmesan, or no cheese at all. Also, if you have some fresh berries laying around, throw them in for extra sweetness.

There's quite a few variations of this out in cyberspace if you're looking for something slightly different.
And just so you know, I usually make big salads because I'm either really hungry or want some leftover to eat with dinner.  Just try to eyeball the ingredients to whatever personal serving size you want if this is too much. I hope you enjoyed this! Happy eating!

Friday, April 22, 2011

The Scoop on Healthy Living: Juicing

Quick take: Americans need to eat more fruits and vegetables. Juicing is one way to accomplish this!

Johns Hopkins School of Public Health completed a study on America's eating habits from 1988 to 2002. They found that less than a third of American adults consume the USDA recommended serving amounts of fruits and vegetables per day.  In fact, a forth of the participants in this study reported they do not eat ANY fruits or vegetables at all. Maybe you are part of that third that does eat their fruits and veggies or maybe you are looking for a way to incorporate more of them into your diet. Either way, I can't stress enough how important this food group is.

First of all, how many servings should you have? The USDA provides a Fruit & Vegetable Calculator to help you determine the minimum amount of servings you should consume a day based on your age and activity level. For a 20 year old female who is active 30 to 60 minutes per day, they recommend 2 cups of fruit and 3 cups of vegetables. Click here to see what constitutes as a cup. Remember, this is the minimum needed to maintain a healthy diet, which is why you may see other nutritional resources recommending more servings.

Juicing is a fast and easy way to get the much needed nutrients that our bodies crave. Juicing is also a great way to increase the amounts of raw food in your diet. Raw fruits and vegetables are loaded with antioxidants, enzymes, minerals, vitamins and other great nutrients.  Do you hate the taste of raw vegetables? Juicing fruits and vegetables together is a great way to enjoy your vegetables because the sweetness of the fruits often cover the bitterness found in your darker greens. One thing to keep in mind is that the process of juicing pretty much removes any fiber content from the fruits and vegetables you juiced, since it remains in the pulp.  The great thing about pulp is that it can be added to a soup or if you're adventurous, it can be used in various recipes. If you'd rather not eat the pulp, you could also use it to make compost or throw it out.  This site  has some fun ideas and resources for juice pulp.

Juicers: how to pick the best one. Personally, I started off with a pretty cheap juicer when I first began juicing. It was a $50 model by Waring Pro that I got off of Amazon.

If I had done research on Juicers before buying this juicer, I would have saved for a nicer one.  This juicer works fine for a beginner, and since I didn't know any better, I used it pretty religiously everyday for about two months.  Unfortunately, this little guy takes a lot of effort to clean.  There is no pulp extractor, which means the entire bucket on the top half of the device is covered in pulp once you go to clean it.  Some of you may not mind this, if you have a good garbage disposal.  If you don't however, it is pretty difficult to clean. When I grew tired of cleaning it, I stopped juicing.

Now I have the Omega Big Mouth Juicer 330, and I will do a review on it once I've had it for a while.  The bottom line is, if you really want to incorporate juicing into your life, you don't want to skimp on the juicer.  This doesn't mean you need to get a $600 Breville or Omega juicer.  It really is up to you.  For me, a quick juicer that  requires little prep and is easy to clean is what I need to consistently juice. If you're looking for recommendations on a great juicer Best Juicer Extractor Reviews is one of many great resources. RawFoods and other Youtube users allow you to see them in action and taken apart as well.

Takeaway: Eat around 5 cups of fruits of vegetables per day! If you're going to invest in a juicer, buy one that you will love to use, or you won't use it.

Eating or drinking more fruits and veggies is the first step towards a healthier you! Thanks for reading, and feel free to ask any questions. Of course, you'll want to consume these as part of a balanced diet. If you're not sure what that means for you, the USDA released new Dietary Guidelines for Americans this past January.