LORAC Lovin’

Which Mini Palette Is "Right" for You?

Which Mini Palette Is “Right” for You?

I’ve resisted joining the whole eyeshadow palette craze. Sure I’ve been tempted by the latest, most buzzed about launches (my obsession with YouTube beauty vloggers doesn’t help with the temptation). More than once I’ve found myself drawn like a moth to the flame of the glitzy displays for the newest Urban Decay, Tarte or Anastasia palettes. I can’t seem to resist sticking my fingers into those glistening powders and swatching them on my hand or wrist (side note – that can’t be very hygienic for folks who actually test those display shadows on their eyes. I’m sure I’m not the only one sticking my fingers in those things!).

Anyway, a few years ago I tried dipping my toes into the palette waters when I blind-purchased the first Naked Basics palette, basically an all-matte baby version (containing 6 shades vs. the 12 shadows in Urban Decay’s original Naked). After all the buzz surrounding UD’s Nakeds, I was really eager to try out the formula, but I was – quite frankly – disappointed. Based on Sephora’s reviews this product (which convinced me to buy Basics in the first place), it appears I’m the only person who doesn’t love this little guy. I was super excited when I received my Basics palette, expecting to fall in love. I tried to love it. I honestly did. I applied the shadows over a varied assortment of different shadow primers and with the best brushes I could afford. At one point of desperation, I tried applying the shadows with my fingers, thinking that was perhaps the key to achieving better color payoff and blending. It wasn’t. Regardless of application method and the primer underneath, I still have trouble building up any noticeable color with the Basics shadows. On my skin, the colors are beyond “naked.” They’re more like invisible. So, my Naked Basics experience left me a bit palette-shy and unwilling to drop even more money. Plus, the idea of spending upwards of $50 for eyeshadow just seems ridiculous to me, especially if there’s a chance I won’t like it. All that to say I haven’t purchased any shadow palettes….until recently.

A few days ago, I was minding my own business, leisurely wandering through my local ULTA when I stumbled upon a great big shiny display of LORAC Pro palettes (BTW did you know LORAC = Carol spelled backwards, named for the brand’s founder, Carol Shaw). There they were – 3 different curated sets of mostly neutral shadows all lined up, just begging to be swatched (like in this pretty pic from mary82martin on ULTA’s page for this product:

LORAC Pro Palettes 1-3 As pictured by mary82martin

LORAC Pro Palettes 1-3
As pictured by mary82martin

They’re beautiful aren’t they? The display beckoned to me, and I figured no harm in playing around with the shadows. After all, some earnest ULTA staffer had taken the time to set up this appealing display. The least I could do is check it out, right? Holy mackerel! I was blown away. The color payoff was amazing, especially for the metallic shades. The shimmery shades felt incredibly creamy to the touch and left a nearly opaque swatch with just one swipe. Because we’re currently saving up for Baby Girl’s first birthday party, I fought the urge to grab one of the LORAC palettes and tossing that bad boy into my giant ULTA bag (also TBH I couldn’t decide which iteration of Pro Palette I preferred, so that sort of discouraged me from purchasing one as well).

After several minutes spent playing with the beautiful shadows, I finally tore myself away and continued my stroll through the designer makeup section. Just a few minutes later I (somehow) found myself facing the main LORAC section and discovered this little beauty:

LORAC Pocket Pro

LORAC Pocket Pro

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These shadows are VERY pigmented, so I buffed and blended out the final look to make it more daytime-appropriate.

“It’s so cute,” I exclaimed as I immediately began sticking my fingers into the 3 buttery soft, glistening powders. Just as soft and pigmented as the full-sized palette and only $18! I thought. “I HAVE to get this,” I explained to my husband (who was, to his chagrin accompanying on this ULTA safari). He nodded, recognizing it was futile to argue. I think he was just relieved that I didn’t try to justify spending the $44 for one of the full-sized Pro palettes. The next morning I awoke excited to try out my new shadows. I was then and am still very pleased with my $18 purchase. I definitely got my money’s worth. I easily achieved a nice daytime look with these 3 nicely-sized pans of taupe shades, and I snapped this pic of my eyes a few hours after application.

Each of these 3 shadows in LORAC’s Pro Basics have varying levels of shimmer, but they’re creamy, not glittery or chunky. I was pleased that the shimmer is easily muted and appropriate for daytime wear. And the pigmentation is outstanding! A note about my application “technique” – I freely admit that I’m no makeup artist. I’m still trying to learn the right shadow application technique. Don’t come to me looking for a tutorial on a 5-minute cut crease application. I’ll point you in the direction of some actual makeup artists. God knows there’s a ton of ’em on YouTube these days! I’m just a regular makeup geek searching for the best colors and formulations for my skin tone/type and the most flattering products for my facial features. I imagine I’m not the only woman who loves  makeup despite lacking a professional makeup artist’s skill set. So when I find an easy-to-use makeup product that allows me (and my novice-level skills) to achieve an attractive finished look, I feel it’s my duty to share with others.

So, if you haven’t tried LORAC’s shadow palettes, you’re in the market for an everyday, high-quality shadow palette or are in the market for something new but you can’t afford the standard $45+ per price tag, I encourage you to give these Pocket Pros a whirl. Two color/shade options are available. The one I have is cooler, more taupe-colored with nearly purple undertones. The Pocket Pro 2 is warmer with golden and red undertones. So, there’s a color option for all skin tones. They’re both highly pigments with varying amounts of shimmer. I think you’ll be pleased on the return for your $18 investment.

Beauty Resource of the Day:
Do you love Naked Basics and completely disagree with my review? Hey that’s cool. Lots of people love it, including the adorable and fabulously authentic Serein Wu of Dress Yourself Happy. In the following video she provides individual reviews and recommendations for each of UD’s now 6 Nakeds palettes. If you are or have considered purchasing one of these phenomenally successful palettes but are unsure about which one to get (or which one to buy next – no judgement) please watch this video. Her recommendations are super helpful and could save you some money. She could have saved me some money if I’d watched this before purchasing the Basics palette, I’d have saved my money for a full-sized Naked Smokey palette. Oh well. Live and learn, and buy more makeup!

Wisdom for the Day:
“Without advice plans go wrong, but with many advisers they succeed.” ~Proverbs 15:22 (God’s Word Translation)
Read more here.

Disclaimer: This is a personal blog and I do not receive monetary compensation for any of my product reviews. All reviews are based on my own opinion, personal use and results.

Super Simple & Sumptuous Sweet Potatoes #Whole30 #Vegan #Paleo

#WHOLE30 #Paleo #Vegan #Grainfree #Dairyfree #Sugarfree

Simple and Sumptuous Sweet Potatoes

Simple and Sumptuous Sweet Potatoes

I’ve been posting a series of recipes featuring the ingredients identified by a recent HealthGrove study as the best foods for beautiful skin and hair. If you’ve missed any of the previous recipes in this series, check out the list and links below. Number 1 on that list is – the deliciously healthy and beautifully utilitarian SWEET POTATO! Sweet potatoes are a tremendous source of Vitamins C and A (in the form of beta carotene) and also earn high marks for potassium content as well as fullness or satiety. Check out this nutrition summary from the folks at HealthGrove. Sweet potatoes are also an inexpensive, unprocessed and grain-free source of complex carbohydrates, making them favorites among #WHOLE30-ers, #Paleo types and staunch vegans alike.

Check out to learn more about the amazing health-promoting benefits of sweet potatoes!

Sweet Potatoes 101: Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits

The Lovely & Talented Sweet Potato

The Lovely & Talented Sweet Potato

The following sweet potato recipe is perfect for anyone needing a quick and easy weeknight side dish. Weeknights are hectic, especially for working folks and families. It’s also an especially dangerous time for those actively doing #WHOLE30 because (in the US at least) it’s the time we tend to eat our largest meal. I find it helps tremendously to have a few simple, no-brainer type recipes on stand-by to expedite the weeknight dinner-making process. This delicious and simple side dish is one of our family’s favorites, and it’s super easy for Mommy (me) to make while attending to other tasks. After making it several times, I’ve found that I can now prepare it quickly and with almost no thought. That’s really helpful on nights when we have a lot going on and other things to attend to (like our constantly in-motion little girl). Most importantly, this dish is really yummy and works well with a wide variety of entrees. This recipe is fully #WHOLE30-compliant and #Paleo-correct. It’s free of grains, gluten and sugars. And if prepared with coconut oil, it’s also #vegan, dairy-free and suitable for folks with virtually nearly any food allergies, with the exception of tree nuts. However, you could easily substitute sunflower seeds for pecans or leave out the nuts altogether to accommodate. As listed, it’s a yummy mix of sweet, warm and salty. Buttery and tender with a bit of crunch, it’s sure to satisfy your whole family and keep you on your #WHOLE30 progress. It’s a winner all the way around.
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Ingredients:
• 2 large or 3 medium-sized whole sweet potatoes
• 1/2 cup no sugar added 100% pure apple, pineapple or prune juice (I used pineapple)
• ¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
• 1 tsp. Celtic sea salt
• 2 Tbsp. coconut oil or clarified butter (i.e. Ghee), divided
• 2 tsp. Celtic sea salt, divided
• dash each ground ginger, ground cloves, and/or allspice
• 1 cup diced fresh pineapple or 2 organic apples or peaches, sliced (optional)
• 1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
• 1/2 cup chopped pecans

Hardware:
• Microwave
• Vegetable Peeler
• Chef’s Knife + Cutting Board
• Large Microwave-Safe Bowl
• Measuring Cups + Spoons

If you're the type to do your weekly meal prep on the weekends, consider peeling and slicing a few sweet potatoes. They store nicely in a freezer bag for up to 3 days in the refrigerator.

If you’re the type to do your weekly meal prep on the weekends, consider peeling and slicing a few sweet potatoes. They store nicely in a freezer bag for up to 3 days in the refrigerator.

Process:
1. Wash and peel sweet potatoes. Then slice sweet potatoes into 1/8” thick slices, and cut those slices in half. It goes faster if you stack the slices when cutting in half.
2. Pour 1 Tbsp. oil or butter into a microwave-safe bowl. Then transfer sweet potato slices to same bowl.
3. Sprinkle salt and seasonings over sweet potato slices and toss gently to distribute seasonings.
4. Pour ½ cup juice and remaining 1 Tbsp. oil over seasoned sweet potatoes and toss gently to combine.

Don't mock my dirty microwave. I told you it's hectic around our house!

Don’t mock my dirty microwave. I told you it’s hectic around our house!

5. Place bowl into microwave and cover with a paper towel. Microwave on HIGH for 8 minutes.
6. Carefully take bowl out of the microwave. Remove paper towel (watch out for steam). Stir well. If you’re using to add fruit, do so now.
7. Return bowl to microwave and replace paper towel over the bowl. Microwave again on HIGH for another 8-12 minutes, depending on size/strength of you microwave. (As an example, we have a pretty strong microwave that has 1800W. So I microwave for 8 minutes the first time, and another 11 minutes after stirring.)
8. Carefully take bowl from the microwave. Remove paper towel (again, watch out for steam). Test one sweet potato slice for doneness. The goal is a tender not toothsome texture. (In my experience, it takes longer than you expect to cook all the sweet potatoes). You may need to microwave a bit longer (say 3-5 minutes on HIGH) to fully cook to tender.
9. Just before serving, sprinkle sweet potatoes with balsamic vinegar and pecans. Then stir once more before serving.
~ Makes about 4 generous side dish servings.

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Super Simple & Sumptuous Sweet Potatoes along side #Paleo Turkey Roulades, and a tossed green salad, with WHOLE30 Peachy Lime Vinaigrette.

Wisdom for the Day:
With perfect peace you will protect those whose minds cannot be changed, because they trust you. ~Isaiah 26:3 (God’s Word Translation)
Read more here.
Praying that your evenings are full of “perfect peace” and trust in God! ~KG

Check Out These Great Recipes from the (HealthGrove) Top 30 Foods for Beauty Series:
Stupid Easy Paleo Cran-Cherry Sauce #WHOLE30 #Vegan #Raw
QUICK & EASY BEAUTIFYING PAPAYA SALAD #WHOLE30 #PALEO #VEGAN
Presto Peachy Lime Vinaigrette #WHOLE30-compliant #Vegan #Paleo #Raw
Split Second Strawberry Vinaigrette #WHOLE30 Compliant (#raw, #paleo & #vegan)
Fix-It-And-Forget-It: Simply Beautiful Southern Greens Crockpot #WHOLE30 Compliant
Quick & Easy Paleo Lemon Garlic Salad Dressing #WHOLE30 Compliant
Chicken Tri-Almandine Casserole
WHOLE30 Stuffed Zucchini 2 Ways
Easy Cheezy Chicken & Broccoli Soup with Crispy Potato Croutons

Super Simple & Sumptuous Sweet Potatoes

Super Simple & Sumptuous Sweet Potatoes

#Paleo Perfect Chocolate Chip Nut Butter Bars

Mmmmm. Cookies!

Mmmmm. Cookies!

For the past few weeks, I’ve found myself really craving sweets – specifically chocolate chip cookies. I believe (that is, I’m telling myself) it’s because I’m burning more calories. I spend several hours each day chasing our daughter through the house. And lemme tell you, crawling around after her is the ultimate functional workout! Here she is causing havoc on the dog’s bed.

SMH! How can you scold that little face?

SMH! How can you scold that little face?

But I digress, the point is I’ve been craving chocolate chip cookies. Since we’re not actively doing #WHOLE30, cookies are (currently) an acceptable indulgence. But not wanting to throw away all the progress we’ve made since transitioning to a more #WHOLE30 Lifestyle, I set out to create a #paleo-correct version without grains or dairy.

I’ve successfully made grain-free gluten-free cookies before and found that unsweetened applesauce was a great addition to the recipe, providing moistness without extra fat or sugars. So, I had it in my mind to use applesauce in this recipe if possible. But I’ve never made cookies with nut flour or tapioca starch (which are considered #paleo-correct baking options). I worried these tricky ingredients may result in a tougher or overly dense cookie, so I consulted the all-knowing Internet for guidance. As I researched paleo-correct chocolate chip cookies, I encountered several chocolate chip + pumpkin recipes, so I figured I might substitute applesauce for the pumpkin. But I found that the pumpkin versions looked pretty yummy too!
IMG_4218So I tried this recipe both ways. I admit that I prefer the applesauce version. But if you’re into pumpkin + chocolate chips, go for it! If you do go with pumpkin, make sure you’re not accidentally purchase (or use) canned pumpkin pie mix which has additional (not very healthy) ingredients. You want pure pumpkin. And you may want to add some pumpkin pie spice (say 1/4 tsp.) to the dry ingredients before you sift, just to really enhance that warm pumpkin-y flavor. With either version, you may also consider adding 1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts along with the chocolate chips for a truly decadent (and I might add, deeply satisfying) chocolate chip cookie experience.

The recipe below produced the best cookie I’ve had in years. Hubs even said these were as good as and nearly identical in texture to “The Chewy” from Alton Brown of Good Eats fame. High praise from Hubs since Chewies are his all-time fav cookies! I hope you and your family enjoy these little treats as much as we are enjoying them.
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Ingredients:
• ½ cup paleo-correct almond butter I like this one from Maranatha brand)
• 1/3 cup organic no-sugar-added applesauce or canned pure pumpkin (NOT pumpkin pie mix)
• 1 cup coconut sugar
• 1/4 tsp. pure stevia extract, e.g. this one from Sweetleaf
• 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
• 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
• 3/4 cup almond or coconut flour (I recommend Bob’s Red Mill Coconut Flour or Bob’s Red Mill Almond Flour)
• 1/4 cup tapioca flour/starch
• 1 tsp. baking soda (not baking powder)
• 1 tsp. Celtic sea salt
• 1 – 1.5 cups dairy-free chocolate chips (I like these Enjoy Life Dark Chocolate Mini Morsels)

Hardware:
• Measuring cups + spoons
• Large + small mixing bowls
• Sifter
• 13 X 9″ baking pan
• Nonstick spray or coconut oil (if using aluminum foil to line baking pan)
• Aluminum foil or parchment paper
• Electric hand or stand-up mixer
• Silicone spatula

Process:
1. Preheat oven to 375° Fahrenheit (177° Celsius). Line a 13″ X 9″ baking pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil. If you use aluminum foil, spray the foil-lined pan with nonstick spray or wipe it down with coconut oil to prevent cookies from sticking.
2. Combine first 5 ingredients in a large mixing bowl and stir well (mixture will still be lumpy). I use a fork for this initial combining.
3. Then using an electric hand or stand-up mixer, beat wet mixture on MEDIUM setting for a couple minutes to thoroughly combine and produce a smooth batter without lumps. Set mixture aside.
4. In a separate smaller mixing bowl, sift together dry ingredients (protein powder, almond flour, sugar, baking soda and salt). This step can be completed quickly by using food processor to sift. It’s quicker and less messy than traditional sifters. Plus, Alton Brown recommends it as seen in this discussion here.
3. Add sifted dry ingredients to wet mixture in 2 separate additions, again using electric hand mixer or stand-up mixer on MEDIUM setting to blend mixtures together. Remember to scrape down the sides of the bowl with spatula after each addition.
4. When batter is smooth with no visible lumps, stir in chocolate chips by hand.
5. Pour batter into prepared baking pan and using the same spatula, spread mixture evenly in the pan.
6. Bake cookie bars in preheated oven for 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into cookies comes out clean. In my oven, the cookies required 19 minutes bake time. But times will vary based on your oven.

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For best results allow cookies to cool at least 30 minutes in the pan before cutting or removing. Enjoy with a cold glass of almond milk.

Wisdom for the Day:
On this mountain the Lord of Armies will prepare for all people a feast with the best foods, a banquet with aged wines, with the best foods and the finest wines.
~Isaiah 25:6 (God’s Word Translation) Read more here.

The Amazing Anti-Aging Power of Collagen Part 2 – Beautifying Beverage Recipes

I recently posted a lengthy article on the evidence supporting supplementation with hydrolyzed collagen + hyaluronic acid (HA) + Vitamin C – a combo of supplements that when taken together have been proven to reduce skin wrinkling, improve skin elasticity and increase skin’s overall hydration (think plumping) levels. You can check out that post here. The basic idea is that several studies have proven that consumption of a hydrolyzed collagen powder in conjunction with daily hyaluronic acid and Vitamin C supplementation can significantly increase your skin’s hydration levels, improve its elasticity and decrease wrinkles. Pretty exciting stuff! Check that post for full research detail and product recommendations.

A Bevy of Beautifying Collagens

A Bevy of Beautifying Collagens + Great Lakes Pure Unflavored Gelatin

There are a number of quality hydrolyzed collagen products available nowadays. The 3 I like best are California Gold Nutrition CollagenUp; NeoCell’s Super Collagen; and Great Lakes Gelatin brand Collagen Hydrolysate Kosher Unflavored Beef powderGreat Lakes Gelatin brand also produces 2 other collagen supplement options – these awesome Collagen Hydrolysate Convenience Packs and these nifty little Collagen Endurance Plus packets. The latter product includes 100% of RDA for all B Vitamins as well as 100mg. of Vitamin C per serving (packet). However,  the Collagen Endurance Plus products do have some added sucrose, so this option would not be appropriate for folks actively doing #WHOLE30.

The following recipes combine hydrolyzed collagen and other superfood ingredients into enjoyable, yummy-tasting beverages. I try to drink 2-3 collagen beverages per day. Experiment with these recipes and let me know (in the comments) if you have other collagen recipes you love!

1. Get Glowing Green Tea
I’ve written previously about green tea and the evidence supporting its status as a superfood. I was recently alerted to this fantastic, and quite compelling article detailing the 15 health benefits of green tea and the science behind them. So if you (like me) enjoy geeking out on the science of nutraceuticals and health foods, be sure to check it out!

This recipe is really tasty and helps ensure I meet my daily green tea quota. The secret is the cranberry juice and added super fruit powder (in this case Navitas Naturals Organic Pomegranate Powder) which provide both a sweet-tart flavor and added Vitamin C which, along with supplemental hyaluronic acid, are key to helping your body assimilate the collagen. Think of them as a power booster for the collagen protein, and they happen to taste great.

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Ingredients:
• 1 sachet plain or fruit-flavored green tea + 8oz. pure filtered or distilled water
• 1 scoop (about 1 Tbsp.) hydrolyzed collagen supplement (see this list for recommended hydrolyzed collagen options)*
• 1-3 tsp. powdered super fruit Vitamin C supplement (I used about 2 tsp. Navitas Naturals Organic Pomegranate Powder) or preferred capsule Vitamin C. (I like Pure Radiance C Veggie Caps .)
• Cinnamon stick for garnish

Hardware:
• Microwave or tea pot
• Measuring cups + spoons
• Mug

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Makes 1 yummy serving.

Process:
1. Brew tea using 6 oz. filtered or distilled water per sachet. Allow tea to steep at least 5 minutes before removing sachet.
2. At this point, I like to reheat the tea for a few seconds on HIGH in my microwave because I dislike lukewarm tea, but that’s totally optional. Remove and discard green tea sachet.
3. Stir 1 scoop (Tbsp.) hydrolyzed collagen into hot tea. Continue stirring gently until collagen is completely dissolved.
4. Add desired amount (I recommend 1/2 cup) of pure unsweetened cranberry juice, powdered fruit supplement and garnish with a cinnamon stick if desired. You can add sweetener to this tea, but I find it doesn’t need it with the fruit juice and pomegranate powder. You could add a pinch of stevia if you want it a bit sweeter. But stevia is not permitted during #whole30.*** (See comment below.)

***Stevia and all other natural or artificial sweeteners (with the exception of pure, no-sugar-added juice) are not permitted during #WHOLE30. For a complete list of #WHOLE30 program do’s and don’ts as well as answers to just about any and all #WHOLE30 questions you may have, I highly recommend you check out the program rules here and other resources available at WHOLE30’s website to educate yourself prior to beginning your own WHOLE30 journey or anytime you have questions or need some support (the Facebook and Twitter feeds are tremendous sources of encouragement and support).

2. Prettier Me Mocha
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This recipe is essentially my #WHOLE30 Bullet-Proof Coffee with collagen. It’s also very similar to the original recipe from The Coconut Mama, located here. But lately, I’ve been really enjoying the deliciously creamy and #WHOLE30 approved Nut Pods Original Unsweetened Coffee Creamer. BTW, I’ve also tried their Unsweetened French Vanilla-flavored Coffee Creamer and love it too! Nut Pods are great for those times when I need some coffee but don’t wanna risk waking the baby by running the Nutribullet. I highly recommend Nut Pods!

Ingredients:
• 8 oz. freshly brewed black coffee, preferably organic
• 1-2 scoops (1-2 Tbsp.) powdered hydrolyzed collagen + Hyaluronic acid + Vitamin C (e.g. California Gold Nutrition CollagenUp)
• 1-2 Tbsp. pure (unsweetened) cocoa/cacao powder (I like this one from Nativas Naturals)
• 1 Tbsp. extra virgin coconut oil or 2 Tbsp. Nut Pods Original Unsweetened Dairy-free Coffee Creamer
• dash cinnamon or nutmeg (if desired)
• pinch pure Stevia (optional, don’t use if doing #WHOLE30, see comment above)***

Hardware:
• Blender
• Mug
• Measuring spoons

Process:
1. Brew coffee using 6-8 oz. filtered or distilled water.
2. While coffee is still very hot, carefully pour into blender canister along with all other ingredients and stir briefly until collagen is dissolved. Place canister on blender base and cover with lid.
IMG_2172 3. Blend mixture for a few seconds on HIGH until frothy.
4. Pour into a large mug. Adjust seasoning/sweeteners to taste if desired. But remember, sweeteners of all kinds (including naturally-derived ones like Stevia, maple syrup and honey) are not permitted during #WHOLE30. For a complete list of #WHOLE30 program rules, check out the program rules here and resource links listed in comment above.***
N.B. This recipe can be made without use of blender if using Nut Pods Creamer instead of coconut oil. But even when using Nut Pods creamer, I still like to give my collagen coffee beverages a quick whir in the blender to ensure everything is well-combined and frothy.
Makes 1 Serving.

3. Skin-Loving Bone Broth Beverage

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This warm, savory drink is incredibly soothing and satisfying. It’s a terrific afternoon pick-me-up for tired mommies (like me)! The protein helps tide me over until dinner and the vegetable juice provides some extra Vitamin C + Potassium. You could use store-bought broth, provided it doesn’t contain any sulfites, MSG or other nasty additives. If you’re new to making bone broth, you can read up on the process and find some easy+delicious recipes from Paleo Leap here and The Wellness Mama here.
V8 Bone Broth Beverage Ingredients with CommentIngredients:
• 1 cup homemade bone broth
• 2 scoops (about 2 Tbsp.) hydrolyzed collagen + Hyaluronic acid + Vitamin C (e.g. (e.g. California Gold Nutrition CollagenUp or your preferred hydrolyzed collagen powder + Vitamin C + Hyaluronic Acid supplements) or 2 scoops (2 Tbsp.) of Great Lakes Gelatin brand Collagen Hydrolysate (be sure to take your daily hyaluronic acid supplement and at least 100mg. Vitamin C along with this broth)
• ½ cup unsweetened, low sodium tomato juice cocktail (e.g. V8 Original Low Sodium Vegetable Juice)
• 1 Tbsp. freshly-squeezed lemon juice (optional)
• 1 tsp. hydrolyzed gelatin (optional)
• Salt & pepper to taste

Hardware:
• Microwave
• Measuring cups
• Large Mug

Process:
1. Gently heat bone broth in microwave or on stovetop until a little hotter than desired temperature.
2. Remove from heat, and gently stir in 1 scoop hydrolyzed collagen and 1 tsp. gelatin (if using), continuing to stir until collagen + gelatin are completely dissolved.
3. Next carefully pour broth mixture into large mug. Then add the vegetable juice and (if desired) lemon juice.
4. Taste for seasonings, adjusting as needed.
Makes 1 Serving.

4. Make Me Younger Choco-Almond Smoothie

Thick, creamy and full of chocolatey, nutty deliciousness - this shake is my favorite way to enjoy collagen and satisfy my sweet tooth (teeth)

Thick, creamy and full of chocolatey, nutty deliciousness – this smoothie is my favorite way to enjoy collagen and satisfy my sweet tooth (ok my sweet teeth)

This is my current favorite lunch. I can make it quickly and drink it while chasing after my 9-month old daughter who is now constantly in motion. Containing several super star foods from the HealthGrove list of top 30 foods for beautiful skin and hair, this shake is thick, creamy and delicious! The spinach provides a hefty dose of nutrition including Folate, Magnesium, Potassium and Vitamins A, C, E, B2 & K. Read more about spinach here. The almond butter imparts a yummy nutty flavor that goes so well with the cocoa. Almonds also provide more Vitamin E antioxidants, some extra protein and healthy fat (thereby boosting the satiety factor of this shake). Read more about almonds’ nutrient values here.

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Ingredients:
• 3 soaked dates (Soak in filtered water about 1 hour. Be sure the dates you use are free of sulfites if doing #WHOLE30)
• 8 oz. homemade almond or coconut milk
• 2 scoops (about 2 Tbsp.) powdered hydrolyzed collagen + Hyaluronic acid + Vitamin C (e.g. California Gold Nutrition CollagenUp ) or preferred hydrolyzed collagen powder + hyaluronic acid supplements + Vitamin C
• 2 cups loosely packed fresh baby spinach leaves
• 2 Tbsp. pure (unsweetened) cocoa/cacao powder (I like this one from Nativas Naturals )
• pinch salt
• 2 Tbsp. #whole30-compliant or paleo-correct almond butter (i.e. without any added sugars or sweeteners)
• 1 tsp. hydrolyzed gelatin, e.g. Great Lakes Gelatin Unflavored dissolved in 2 Tbsp. warm filtered water (optional but helps make shake thicker and more creamy)
• 1 cup ice cubes (optional, I add ice to thicken the shake and make it more like ice cream)
• pinch pure Stevia extract (optional and can be substituted for soaked dates if you’re watching your carbs but, do not use if actively doing #WHOLE30, see comment above)***

Hardware:
• Blender (I used this NutriBullet Pro 900 model, but a Vitamix or similar strong blender will work well too)
• 2 Freezer-safe mugs or jars with lid
• Measuring cups + spoons

Process:
1. If using gelatin, stir into 2 Tbsp. filtered water and allow to sit for a few (3-4) minutes. Combine milk and collagen in blender canister and whisk briefly with a fork until collagen mostly dissolves (there will still be a few collagen “lumps” but that’s okay).

Spinach is a superfood too, providing Magnesium, Potassium, Folate & Vitamins A, C, E & K

Spinach is a superfood too, providing Magnesium, Potassium, Folate & Vitamins A, C, E & K

2. Put spinach into blender canister then pour in milk+collagen mixture into blender along with all other ingredients.
3. Place canister on blender base. Cover with lid and blend mixture for a few seconds on HIGH until frothy.
4. Pour into 2 freezer-safe mug or jars with lid. Freeze for about 1 hour or enjoy immediately.
Makes 2 Servings or 1 Large Meal-sized Shake
Remember, sweeteners of all kinds (including natural ones like Stevia) are not permitted during #WHOLE30. For a complete list of #WHOLE30 program rules, check out the program rules here and resource links listed in comment above.***
N.B. If you don’t have access to homemade nut milk, you can substitute ½ cup Nut Pods Original (or flavored) Unsweetened Coffee Creamer + ½ cup filtered water. Stir briefly to combine creamer and water. Then add collagen and proceed as above.
Makes 1-2 servings.
BTW: Don’t be dissuaded by the slightly greenish color of this shakes. It’s delicious and Hubs swears “it’s as good any ice cream!” I like to save half this recipe and keep in the freezer until after dinner. It’s the perfect dessert.

Beauty Resource of the Day:
This video from Emily Noel of Beauty Broadcast is fantastic in content and simplicity.
I LOVE tip #3! It’s one of those “why didn’t I think of that?” kind of tips. I’m hoping this tip “changes my makeup world” too! Thanks as always Emily 🙂

Wisdom for the Day:
Loyalty makes a person attractive. It is better to be poor than dishonest. ~Proverbs 19:22 (NLT)
Read more here.

If you’re interested in checking out the scientific evidence supporting the effectiveness of hydrolyzed collagen ingestion for wrinkle reduction and increased skin hydration, check out this DBW post detailing research & evidence supporting Hydrolyzed Collagen Combo Supplements for Younger-Looking Skin. And if you wanna delve deeper into the research, check out these scientific articles and helpful collagen info sites:
1. Borumand & Sibilla S. Effects of a nutritional supplement containing collagen peptides on skin elasticity, hydration and wrinkles, 2015. Journal of Medical Nutrition and Nutraceuticals; 4(1), 47-53. Online full text article link.
2. Ohara H, Ito K, Iida H, Matsumoto H. Improvement in the moisture content of the stratum corneum following 4 weeks of collagen hydrolysate ingestion. Nippon Shokuhin Kogaku Kaishi 2009; 56: 137-45. Online link to abstract here.
3. Matsumoto H, Ohara H, Ito K, Nakamura Y, Takahashi S. Clinical effect of fish type I collagen hydrolysate on
skin properties. ITE Lett Batteries New Technol Med 2006; 7:386-390. Full text unavailable. See other cited article links (above and below) for summary of this study.
4. Sibilla S, Godfrey M, Brewer S, Budh-Raja A, Genovese L. An Overview of the Beneficial Effects of Hydrolysed Collagen as a Nutraceutical on Skin Properties: Scientific Background and Clinical Studies. The Open Nutraceuticals Journal 2015; 8: 29-42. Online full text article available here.
5. Dr. Tim O’Shea of The Doctor Within on Hydrolyzed Collagen Supplementation. Link here.
6. All About Gelatin & Collagen from Paleo Leap.
7. And you’ll want to check out this list of Studies on Collagen Supplementation from Collagen Complete.

An Anti-Aging Elixir – Yes It Does Exist!!!

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We all know it’s important to take care of our skin as we age – to remove makeup every night; to always (ALWAYS) apply broad spectrum sunscreen with a rating of at least SPF30 regardless of the season or time of year; and to use other topical skin-beneficial ingredients like antioxidant serums, retinoid creams, and the like. But when it comes to skin health, what we put into our bodies is just as important as the lotions and potions we apply to the skin. For healthy youthful skin, experts recommend drinking lots of pure water, staying away from too much sugar, avoiding cigarette smoke, eating foods rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, and reducing/eliminating alcohol consumption.

But what if I told you there’s a nutritional drink scientifically proven to significantly decrease wrinkles (especially your deepest wrinkles); to improve your skin’s elasticity; and to increase your skin’s overall hydration levels? Would you be interested? Turns out such a miraculous concoction does exist.

The foundation for this anti-aging cocktail is collagen. In humans collagen is a key component of the skin, hair and nails and makes up nearly 30% of our bodies’ protein composition (Borumand & Sevilla). Sadly, collagen production decreases as we age, causing a number of common aging complaints – wrinkles, sagging skin and loss of skin tone and elasticity. Recent technical advances have produced a supplemental form of collagen that, when consumed in conjunction with certain other key nutrients, effectively combats age-related collagen loss and associated skin concerns.

A Bevy of Beautifying Collagens

A Bevy of Beautifying Collagens

What Is Collagen?
Supplemental collagen is closely related to gelatin, but it’s chemically different from the gelatin (this ain’t your grandmother’s JELL-O) you’ve eaten in the past. The differences between gelatin and collagen can get pretty technical, so I’d encourage you to check out this article from Dr. O’Shea at The Doctor Within, as well as this excellent summary from Paleo Leap for more detail. The basic idea is that the protein components (amino acids) and peptides in gelatin must undergo additional processing to break down those components into forms more readily absorbed by humans’ digestive tracts, i.e. to break down the proteins into forms our bodies can actually digest and use to strengthen skin, hair and nails. The specific additional processing is known as hydrolysis and results in “hydrolyzed collagen,” also known as “collagen hydrolysate.”

But Haven’t Gelatin Supplements Been around Forever?
You may have seen gelatin tabs or powder gelatin supplements in stores. They’ve been around for a while. But researchers say those old-school gelatin capsules and supplements are all but worthless. That’s because the body isn’t able to break down those gelatin proteins to create the necessary building blocks for stronger hair and nail structures. N.B. Our hunter-gatherer ancestors often consumed the skin, bones and connective tissues of wild or free-range meats and fish. These sources do provide collagen more readily digested and assimilated by the human body. However, most modern diets do not include sufficient amounts of these food sources of usable collagen. Therefore supplementation is recommended. So #paleo diet folks and #whole30 fans alike can rest assured that hydrolyzed collagen supplementation is completely compliant with their chosen food regimens.

According to Borumand & Sibilla (2015), previous “oral (collagen/gelatin) treatments for skin aging have been unsuccessful due to their constituents being broken down by acid and enzymes in the gut; however several studies have shown that hydrolyzed collagen is absorbed in the gut and then delivered to skin and joints through the blood stream (see reference 1 below).” Researchers have also found that consuming hydrolyzed collagen along with oral hyaluronic acid and Vitamin C produces the best results and efficacy. Several recent studies have reported impressive wrinkle-reduction and skin hydrating results using a cocktail of supplemental hydrolyzed collagen, hyaluronic acid (HA) and Vitamin C. Borumand & Sibilla found that this combination resulted in 25-50% skin hydration levels among study participants. They also noted significant decrease in wrinkle depth among those receiving the hydrolyzed collagen+hyaluronic acid+Vitamin C cocktail. An earlier study by Ohara et al. (2009) using a combination collagen+HA+Vitamin C supplement produced similar results in terms of improved skin hydration and increased elasticity. But in this study, participants over age 30 displayed the most significant wrinkle-reduction results (see reference 2 below).

So the evidence definitely supports this combo of supplements for improving skin-related aging complaints. Perhaps you’re eager to try out these supplements for yourself. You’ll first need to decide which hydrolyzed collagen, HA and Vitamin C option or options are best for you. I have listed some options for each below. Where possible, I’ve included comments based on my own experimentation with these products. I should note that no evidence has been found indicating any negative side effects from collagen supplementation. I personally have a pretty delicate system. There’s lots of things I cannot take, but I’ve never had any problems or side effects from the collagen, HA and superfood C products I’ve tried. Nevertheless, we are all different. You may respond more favorably to one brand of hydrolyzed collagen (or HA or C) over others. It may take some experimentation to discover the best combo for you. Here are some options to consider.

Hydrolyzed Collagen Supplements

Reserveage Organics Collagen Replenish (for $15.79 for just 2.75 oz.) provides 2,500 mg. of hydrolyzed collagen + 20 mg. of hyaluronic acid and 60 mg. of Vitamin C (ascorbic acid). This one is pretty pricey compared to other hydrolyzed collagen options below but earns points for convenience by combining all 3 necessary supplements into one powder form. Screen Shot 2016-07-22 at 1.24.55 PM

California Gold Nutrition CollagenUp ($12.95) contains 60 mg. each of hyaluronic acid and Vitamin C along with 5,000 mg. of hydrolyzed collagen (from fish). This product is odorless and tasteless in every beverage I’ve tried. It does require a bit more stirring to dissolve (compared to the NeoCell Super Collagen below).

California Gold Nutrition CollagenUp 5000

California Gold Nutrition CollagenUp 5000

NeoCell’s Super Powder Collagen ($10.84 for 7 oz.) provides a whopping 6,600 mg. of hydrolyzed collagen. But it doesn’t include added Vitamin C or hyaluronic acid, so you’ll need to find those from other sources. N.B. NeoCell produces and recommends their own hyaluronic acid, but I suspect any well-made HA will work in conjunction with the NeoCell Super Powder Collagen. IMG_3990

• Last but definitely not least, Great Lakes Gelatin Co., Collagen Hydrolysate, Collagen Joint Care, is available from Amazon and iHerb along with other online sources. Price varies from $21-25 (generally around $23) / 16 oz. This amazing collagen product is odorless and tasteless (some reviewers report it has a slightly “meaty” flavor), dissolves quickly in hot, warm or cold liquids and offers pure hydrolyzed beef collagen – 6,000 mg. (6 grams) per Tablespoon. It’s worth noting that one (male) iHerb reviewer actually described this collagen as “better than Botox.” See that review here. Now that’s my kinda supplement!!!

Great Lakes Gelatin Brand Collagen Hydrolysate

Great Lakes Gelatin Brand Collagen Hydrolysate

 

Hyaluronic Acid Supplements
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Vitamin Shoppe brand makes a terrific hyaluronic acid product, Injuv Hyaluronic Acid 140 mg. I’ve used and enjoyed this product without any negative side effects. It has a very high level of hyaluronic acid per (2 gel-tab) dose, providing 140mg. relative to most other HA supplements, most of which provide no more than 100mg. of HA per dose. And because it’s Vitamin Shoppe brand, you’re sometimes able to get discounted prices for this product, especially if you’re a loyal Shoppe buyer.

Neocell’s Hyaluronic Acid, Nature’s Moisturizer product provides 100mg. of HA per 2 capsule dose ($19 for 60 capsules). This one is reasonably priced and is another great HA option.

Superfood Vitamin C Sources

My Current Fav Superfood Vitamin C Source

My Current Fav Superfood Vitamin C Source

Back in the day, the options available for Vitamin C supplementation were all lab-generated (often synthetically created) pills and sugary Vitamin C chewables. One problem with these options was the “GI distress” many people suffered when taking more than 1,000 mg. (1 gram) of Vitamin C per day. Next came Vitamin C Ester, highly touted by such skin/beauty gurus as Dr. Nicholas Perricone (of PBS and Perricone Prescription fame) who has been a big proponent of Vitamin C Ester, a different version lab-created C option. Some people claim Vitamin C Ester results in less digestive upset than traditional Vitamin C. However, several exerts (references here and here) state that Vitamin C Ester is chemically so different from the form readily recognized by the human body that it is less effective (than say Ascorbic Acid).

In the past few years another, more natural Vitamin C options have become widely available – C supplementation through consumption of concentrated essences of so-called “superfoods,” such as pomegranate, Camu Camu, acerola and others. These sources of Vitamin C are reportedly the most readily used by the human body and are the least likely to cause digestive side effectives (reference here). Hooray! Finally an answer to the C debate. There are some excellent “superfood” supplement options available to help you meet your Vitamin C needs. Here are a few to consider.

Navitas Naturals, Organic, Pomegranate Powder (pictured above) – Tart and sweet this bright orange powder dissolves quickly in liquids and imparts a nice pomegranate flavor. Just 1 Tbsp. of this powder provides 130% of your (adult) RDA for Vitamin C. And it’s certified organic, raw, kosher, gluten-free and non-GMO. Navitas claims this product provides a, “potent source of naturally occurring phytonutrients and superior antioxidants like polyphenols, ellagic acid, tannins and anthocyanins. When consumed, these compounds are strong free-radical fighters, providing added protection against cellular damage.” I like this supplement a lot. This is what I used in the Get Glowing Green Tea recipe which will be posted separately along with a few other collagen+HA+C beverage recipes.

Sunfood, Raw Organic Camu Camu Powder – This powdered concentrated raw powdered essence of the Amazonian super fruit, Camu Camu provides more than 250% of an adult’s RDA for Vitamin C in just 1 tiny teaspoon. Sunfood claims this product is manufactured in a special way that “preserves the abundance of Vitamin C in the Camu fruit.”

Navitas Naturals also makes an organic, raw Camu Camu powder supplement that boasts an almost too-good-to-be-true 1180% RDA for Vitamin C in just 1 teaspoon! The reviews for this product and the Sunfood version state pretty consistently that both companies’ Camu powdered supplements taste pretty bitter; though the Sunfood version seems to be less bitter (it also provides less Vitamin C).

• You may prefer to take your super fruit supplement in capsule form. If so, this product, Pure Radiance C Veggie Caps from The Synergy Company ($22.34 for 90 caps) is a great option. Based on The Synergy Company’s “proprietary blend of all whole food extracts,” including Camu Camu berry extract, manioc root, acerola berry extract, among others, just 1 of these capsules provides 200% of the RDA for Vitamin C as well as several naturally occurring co-factors and other antioxidants.

As stated above, I will soon be posting several beautifying and anti-aging “cocktail” recipes using this combination of nutrients. So be on the lookout for that! In the meantime, do some shopping. Find the right hydrolyzed collagen, hyaluronic acid and Vitamin C supplements for you! I encourage you to check out the referenced articles below if you’d like to some more research on this anti-aging combo for yourself. And if you’re interested in reading about my preferred form of topical hyaluronic acid, be sure to check out this post.

Beauty Resource for the Day:
Time to identify and correct some possible beauty mistakes you may be (unknowingly) making.
Check out this list of 20 frequently-violated beauty rules from Listotic.
P.S. I’m totally guilty of #3! Guess it’s time to change my sleeping habits too…☹

Wisdom for the Day:
“If you faithfully obey the commands that I’m giving you today, love the Lord your God, and serve him with all your heart and with all your soul, 14 I will send rain on your land at the right time, both in the fall and in the spring. Then you will gather your own grain, new wine, and olive oil. 15 I will provide grass in the fields for your animals, and you will be able to eat all you want.” ~Deuteronomy 11:13-15 (God’s Word Translation)
Read more here.

Referenced Article and Links for Further Reading:
If you’re interested in checking out the scientific evidence supporting the effectiveness of hydrolyzed collagen ingestion for wrinkle reduction and increased skin hydration, below are some citations for studies (referenced above) Hydrolyzed Collagen Consumption for Skin:
1. Effects of a nutritional supplement containing collagen peptides on skin elasticity, hydration and wrinkles (2015). Borumand & Sibilla S. Journal of Medical Nutrition and Nutraceuticals; 4(1), 47-53. Online full text article link.
2. Ohara H, Ito K, Iida H, Matsumoto H. Improvement in the moisture content of the stratum corneum following 4 weeks of collagen hydrolysate ingestion. Nippon Shokuhin Kogaku Kaishi 2009; 56: 137-45. Online link to abstract here.
3. Matsumoto H, Ohara H, Ito K, Nakamura Y, Takahashi S. Clinical effect of fish type I collagen hydrolysate on
skin properties. ITE Lett Batteries New Technol Med 2006; 7:386-390. Full text unavailable. See other cited article links (above and below) for summary of this study.
4. Sibilla S, Godfrey M, Brewer S, Budh-Raja A, Genovese L. An Overview of the Beneficial Effects of Hydrolysed Collagen as a Nutraceutical on Skin Properties: Scientific Background and Clinical Studies. The Open Nutraceuticals Journal 2015; 8: 29-42. Online full text article available here.
5. Dr. Tim O’Shea of The Doctor Within on Hydrolyzed Collagen Supplementation. Link here.
6. All About Gelatin & Collagen from Paleo Leap.
7. And you’ll want to check out this list of Studies on Collagen Supplementation from Collagen Complete.

Stupid Easy Paleo Cran-Berry Sauce #WHOLE30 #Vegan #Raw

Stupid Easy Paleo Cran-Cherry Sauce

Stupid Easy Paleo Cran-Cherry Sauce

Today’s recipe continues our series of recipes based on a the HealthGrove study identifying the top 30 foods for beautiful skin and hair. In case you’ve missed any of the previous recipes from the series, you can find links for each at the bottom of this page, so be sure to check those out. In order to avoid missing any future posts and recipes, be sure to subscribe to Daily Beauty Wisdom. It’s quick and easy, and  you’re guaranteed to never miss a new DBW post. Simply enter your email address in the “subscribe here” box to sign up. A few minutes later, you’ll receive a confirmation email. Click the “confirmation” button in the email, and you’re done. Easy as that.

And now, the news, er I mean, the recipe. Today’s recipe is an easy, quick-to-prepare sauce that can be used to jazz up desserts or meats. It makes a lovely sweet and tangy counterpoint when served as a dipping sauce for well-seasoned grilled poultry or pork. And it’s my preferred accompaniment for my Paleo Brownies available here. This sauce features the fantastic and beautifying ingredient – cranberry juice (food #27 from the HealthGrove list). In case you hadn’t noticed, cranberries are not just for Thanksgiving anymore. Cranberry juice, in particular, is everywhere! And for good reason, not only is is this sweet+tart juice healthy (with impressive levels of Vitamin C and potassium in every cup), it plays really nicely with other fruits. Apparently all the juice makers are onto this fact as well because there’s a seemingly endless variety of cranberry juice combos available on the juice aisles of every grocery and health food store, as noted here by the indescribably fabulous Brian Regan:

This recipe works equally well with both frozen pitted cherries or frozen (or fresh) blueberries. Just be sure the berries you select have ZERO added sugar. Both berries provide tons of beautifying nutrients. Dark, tart cherries are a great source of Vitamin C, a key antioxidant (read more about the skin beautifying effects of antioxidants like Vitamin C here) and tummy-filling fiber. While blueberries are a bona fide superfood! They also provide Vitamin C, more than a 1/3 of your daily Vitamin K requirements per serving along with several forms of phytonutrients. Phytonutrients are a group of good-for-you nutrients that include current beauty buzz-worthy antioxidants like quercitin, ferric acid and resveratol among others (Source1 and Source2).
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Ingredients:
• 5 dates, soaked at least 4 hours or overnight (see comment below)+++
• 12 oz. (about 2.5 cups) frozen unsweetened pitted cherries or unsweetened frozen blueberries, defrosted
• 1 cup pure (unsweetened) cranberry juice
• 1.5 Tbsp. chia seeds
• pinch iodized sea salt
• pinch ground allspice
• pinch pure Stevia extract, optional (do not use if doing #WHOLE30, see comment below)+++
• 1-2 Tbsp. lemon juice (optional)

+++When doing #WHOLE30, it’s very important you get into the habit of checking the ingredient lists of any foods you plan to eat or use when cooking. Many dried fruits (including certain brands of dates) are processed with sulfites which are also not permitted for consumption during #WHOLE30, so be sure to check the dates before you purchase/use them. Stevia and sweeteners of all kinds are also not permitted when doing #WHOLE30. For a complete list of #WHOLE30 program do’s and don’ts as well as answers to just about any #WHOLE30 questions you may have, I highly recommend you check out the program rules here and other resources available at WHOLE30’s website to educate yourself prior to beginning your own #WHOLE30 journey or whenever you have questions or need some support.

Hardware:
• Measuring cups + spoons
• Powerful blender or food processor (I used the Nutribullet Pro 900)
• A large spoon or spoonula
• Mason jar or other preferred storage receptacle with lid
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Process:
1. Drain dates and discard soaking liquid.
2. Place dates and all other ingredients into canister of blender or food processor. Place lid on canister and process on HIGH until sauce is very smooth and no chunks or pieces of ingredients are visible.
3. Remove lid and test for seasonings. Adjust to taste. You may want to add 1 Tbsp. or 2 of lemon juice (as noted below) if serving sauce with a savory dish. If you do adjust the seasonings, replace the lid and blend the sauce again briefly.
4. Then carefully (this will stain) pour sauce into a jar or bottle with a lid and cover. Store in refrigerator until ready to use.

Recipe Notes:
• This recipe makes about 2.5 cups of sauce.
• Sauce will keep for about 1 week in the refrigerator.
• I recommend adding 1-2 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice if you plan on using this as a sauce or dip for savory dishes.
• As mentioned above, this sauce is my preferred accompaniment for my Paleo Brownies seen below:

Stupid Easy Cran-Cherry Sauce #WHOLE30 #Paleo #Vegan #Raw Also pictured: DBW Paleo Brownie #Paleo #Vegan

Stupid Easy Cran-Cherry Sauce #WHOLE30 #Paleo #Vegan #Raw Also pictured: DBW Paleo Brownie #Paleo #Vegan

Wisdom for the Day:
I spend a lot of time and blog space here at DBW discussing things that will be tasty and pleasing to the tongue, but I don’t often acknowledge the power of the tongue. Words are powerful! The following Proverb reminds us that the things we say have the power to bring life or death.
The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love to talk will have to eat their own words. ~Proverbs 18:21 (God’s Word Translation) Read more here.

Beauty Resource for the Day:
Ever hear dermatologists and other skin experts say you should reapply sunscreen every few hours, but think “okay but how the heck am I supposed to do that when I’ve already put my makeup on?” Well, Angie from Hot & Flashy has an answer, and a video tutorial, for that very question! Check it out as she enlightens us on the best ways to protect ourselves from the sun while maintaining previously applied cosmetics:

Check Out These Great Recipes from the (HealthGrove) Top 30 Foods for Beauty Series:
QUICK & EASY BEAUTIFYING PAPAYA SALAD #WHOLE30 #PALEO #VEGAN
Presto Peachy Lime Vinaigrette #WHOLE30-compliant #Vegan #Paleo #Raw
Split Second Strawberry Vinaigrette #WHOLE30 Compliant (#raw, #paleo & #vegan)
Fix-It-And-Forget-It: Simply Beautiful Southern Greens Crockpot #WHOLE30 Compliant
Quick & Easy Paleo Lemon Garlic Salad Dressing #WHOLE30 Compliant
Chicken Tri-Almandine Casserole
WHOLE30 Stuffed Zucchini 2 Ways
Easy Cheezy Chicken & Broccoli Soup with Crispy Potato Croutons

Because Everybody’s Got One – The Daily Beauty Wisdom Paleo Brownie Recipe #Paleo #Vegan #JERF

Veganized Paleo Brownies Healthy Fudgy Deliciousness

Veganized Paleo Brownies
Healthy Fudgy Deliciousness

My family loves brownies. Loves. In fact “love” is probably not a strong enough word to describe Hubs’ deep and profound devotion. I think he even prefers brownies to cookies, which to me is downright un-American. But like a good little wife, I try to accommodate his preferences, at least occasionally. I haven’t done much baking since we did our first #WHOLE30 in April of this year (2016) because (as I’ve noted on a few occasions), we’ve been pretty successful at maintaining the #WHOLE30 lifestyle, even through some tempting and challenging situations.

But Hubs, in his wisdom, anticipated similar if not greater temptations arising when we were invited to a couple 4th of July potluck parties recently. So he suggested I create a paleo-correct brownie recipe we could bring along to those parties, “so I won’t be ‘forced’ to eat a bunch of unhealthy desserts.” Note his use of the word “forced,” as though one is obligated to eat 2 or 3 desserts at every party one attends. I tried to make the argument that he could actually attend the parties without indulging in any desserts, but that argument fell flat. And since we’re not currently doing #WHOLE30 (which would certainly preclude the consumption of even paleo-correct brownies), and because he’s such a wonderful husband, I figured baking a couple pans of brownies was the least I could do. And I set out in search of a paleo-correct brownie recipe I could live with.

Turns out there are many, many Paleo brownie recipes out there in Internet land! My recipe that follows is sort of a mash-up of several I found including this one from Civilized Caveman Cooking and this similar version from Paleo Grubs. The common ingredients are almond butter and cocoa powder (obv.), either honey or maple syrup, an egg or eggs, vanilla and leavening agents.

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Because I find plain brownies to be a bit boring, I decided to mix it up a little and use 2 types of nut/seed butters.

Instead of using almond butter alone, I decided to try combining 2 butters as the brownie base. I’m always looking for ways to incorporate tahini into my recipes because #1 it tastes yummy (and is a great dupe for peanut butter which I still kinda miss). #2 It’s a single-ingredient food – containing nothing but sesame seeds. I’m a big believer in reading labels and ingredients lists. My stance is, the shorter the ingredient list, the better. And #3, sesame seeds have some really healthful nutrients like copper, magnesium and a surprising amount of calcium. I’ve been reading lots of articles (like this one and this one) lately urging me to eat more tahini and figured this was a great opportunity. I also elected not to melt the chocolate chips but rather to just stir a few into the mixture prior to baking. The resulting brownies have a nice textural balance somewhere between cakey and fudgey (denser and fudgier if veganized). And I’m relieved to report that you can’t really taste the banana at all (I was worried about that).
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Ingredients:
• 1 cup paleo-correct (unsweetened) almond butter
• 1 cup unsweetened Tahini (unhulled is best if you can find it)
• 1 Tbsp. pure vanilla extract
• 1 very ripe banana, mashed
• 1 cup local honey or pure maple syrup (I used maple syrup)
• 1/2 cup pure dark cocoa powder (I like this one from Navitas Naturals)
• 1/2 tsp. iodized sea salt
• 1 tsp. baking soda (NOT baking powder)
• 3 large whole eggs, lightly beaten (or vegan egg substitute as noted below)
• 1/2 cup Cacao Nibs or Enjoy Life chocolate chips
• nonstick coconut oil spray (I used Pam Nonstick Coconut Oil Spray)

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Daily Beauty Wisdom Vegan+Paleo Brownies Fudgy Chocolatey Awesomeness!

Hardware:
• Measuring cups + spoons
• Large + small mixing bowls
• 9 X 13″ baking dish or pan
• Electric hand or stand-up mixer
• Silicone spatula
Image-1-1
Process:
1. Preheat oven to 340° (Fahrenheit, or 171° Celsius), and spray 9 X 13″ baking pan/dish with nonstick spray and set aside. Alternatively, you could oil the inside of the pan using a paper towel (coconut oil works best for this). If using egg substitute, prepare now and place in refrigerator until ready to use.
2. In a large mixing bowl, combine nut butters, vanilla and mashed banana. Stir until well-combined and mostly smooth. There will still be some lumps, and that’s okay. I used a sturdy fork to combine this part of the ingredients.
3. Fold in honey or syrup and beaten eggs (or egg substitute) and stir to combine.
4. In separate smaller mixing bowl, sift together cocoa powder, salt and baking soda until thoroughly blended with no lumps remaining.
5. Using a spatula, GENTLY fold cocoa mixture into wet ingredients, stirring just until combined.
6. Next using an electric hand mixer or stand mixer set on low, blend ingredients together for about 3 minutes, pausing occasionally to scrape down sides of the bowl using the spatula.
7. Transfer mixture to prepared baking pan/dish, and spread mixture out evenly in the dish or pan. Then place in preheated oven.
8. Bake for 35-40 minutes if you used eggs and for 40-45 if you used an egg substitute. I recommend testing for doneness using a toothpick or thin knife after shortest baking time (i.e., 35 min for egg recipe and 40 min for veganized recipe). Allow to cool thoroughly before cutting.

Notes:
• My beef with brownies is that I find them to be too plain (versus cake which has icing/frosting and cookies which tend to have nuts and chips and other goodies mixed in). So I prefer serving these brownies with a sauce of some kind. And for that, I highly recommend this quick and delicious Stupid Easy Paleo Cran-cherry sauce (available here). It also makes for a much prettier (and more impressive) presentation when plated.

Stupid Easy Cran-Cherry Sauce #WHOLE30 #Paleo #Vegan #Raw Also pictured: DBW Paleo Brownie #Paleo #Vegan

Stupid Easy Cran-Cherry Sauce #Vegan #Paleo; DBW Paleo Brownie (with eggs) #Paleo #Primal #JERF #WHOLE30 #Grainfree #Dairyfree

• This recipe could easily be #vegan-zed by substituting ground flax or chia seeds for the 3 eggs as follows: Grind about 3 Tbsp. flax or chia seeds to produce 3 Tbsp. meal (you may end up with some extra meal left over). Then combine 3 Tbsp. ground flax or chia seed meal + 9 Tbsp. water. Allow mixture to sit (preferably in the refrigerator) for about 15 minutes before using in recipe. Click to read more here.

Whole Chia Seed & Coffee Grinder

Whole Chia Seed & Coffee Grinder

Combine 3 Tbsp. Ground Chia or Flax Seeds with 9 Tbsp. Water.

Combine 3 Tbsp. Ground Chia or Flax Seeds with 9 Tbsp. Water.

You could also use one of the egg replacement mixes available. Bob’s Red Mill makes one as does Ener-G but there are several others. I veganized the 2nd batch I baked of these brownies (using chia seed meal + water for egg substitute). I found the vegnized brownies were denser and fudgier than the brownies made with eggs (which were more cake-like in consistency). I actually preferred the veganized version. But take note, the veganized version did require extra baking time and may have a different texture.

Wisdom for the Day:
“My children, eat honey, for it is good, and the drippings of the honeycomb are sweet to your taste. Know that wisdom is such to your soul; if you find it, there will be a future, and your hope will not be cut off.” ~Proverbs 24:13-14 (English Standard Version) Read more here.

Beauty Resource for the Day:
In my never-ending quest to find and consume the best foods for beauty and anti-aging, I stumbled upon this slideshow from a few years back depicting the top foods to combat aging. There’ve been some controversies surrounding Dr. Oz since then (re product endorsements) but, his educational resources, like this one, have always been grounded in science and evidence-based research. Spoiler – you can check off #7 on the list after you prepare and eat a few of these #cleaneating brownies. Top ’em with my Stupid Easy Cran-Cherry Sauce, and you can check off #3 as well. What a delicious way to combat aging! Foods to Fight Aging from Dr. Oz.com

Thick & Creamy Asian-Style Blender Dressing #WHOLE30 #Vegan #Raw #Paleo

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Is it hot where you live? Because it’s REALLY hot and humid where we are! I didn’t really need another reason to serve salads every night with dinner. But, these long, summer days seem to make my family more willing to eat fresh crunchy greens and lettuce every night as long as they have a continuous supply of new and exciting (read homemade) dressings to jazz up said salads. This has presented me with something of a challenge because I’m still relatively new to dressing-making (if that’s a thing). And whenever I’m working on a new dressing, I always worry that I may experience a repeat of my great mayonnaise fiasco from our first #WHOLE30 journey in April. Fortunately, I’ve learned some reliable salad dressing-making tricks since then and have discovered some tasty salad topping recipes along the way (including Presto Peachy Lime Vinaigrette, the Split Second Strawberry Vinaigrette and Paleo Lemon Garlic Vinaigrette). My current favorite method for whipping up a quick and easy, thick and creamy dressing using healthy ingredients is to employ our trusty NutriBullet 900. I’ve discovered it’s practically foolproof. And I’d highly recommend investing in a NutriBullet or other high-powered blender (e.g. Vitamix) if you’re looking to transition from processed foods to making the majority your own foods (especially dressings and sauces) from scratch.
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Lately, we’ve been including a series of different fresh fruits in our nightly salads – everything from sweet seedless grapes to juicy local peaches to tangy pineapple and succulent papaya. The sweet juicy fruits and crisp greens seem to beckon for a saltier more robust dressing, something with garlic, citrus, and ginger; something interesting, with a kick. We haven’t consumed any soy products since completing #WHOLE30, but I still find myself craving something akin to a sweet teriyaki but creamier. Thank goodness for Coconut Aminos Sauce – the answer to my salty soy cravings!

Not only is this dressing soy-free, it also has a hefty dose of selenium thanks to the inclusion of Brazil nuts. The garlic and fresh ginger provide anti-inflammatory protection, and the citrus juices offer a nice hit of Vitamin C. Did I mention that the oils contribute antioxidant protection in the form of Vitamin E? It’s true. Those same extra virgin oils contain useful fatty acids that will help your body better assimilate all the valuable nutrients in the salad. This dressing is a health fest! It’s about 85-95% raw (depending on the oils you use). It’s vegan; suitable for those following a #paleo lifestyle; and is #whole30-compliant as well (provided you following the instructions in the comments below and always read ingredients and food labels). Most importantly, it’s yummy, and your family will love it!

N.B. this recipe makes about 2 cups (scant) of dressing and will become thicker as it sits in the fridge (due to the coconut oil). You will find that it becomes thin and spreadable again as soon as you spoon it out onto a salad. It pairs well with avocado or guacamole, fruits and nuts, Asian or Southwestern spices and a sprinkle of fresh herbs as shown here.

The finished product garnished with fresh cilantro

The finished product garnished with fresh cilantro

Ingredients:

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Assemble your ingredients in advance for super-speedy salad dressing-making success!

• 4 dates, soaked at least 4 hours (see comment below if doing #WHOLE30)+++
• 2 garlic cloves, peeled
• 6 whole Brazil nuts
• 1 tsp. iodized sea salt
• 1 tsp. spicy mustard (do NOT Dijon if doing #WHOLE30, see comment below)+++
• 1” knob peeled fresh ginger root, diced
• ¼ cup lime juice (I only had bottled available, but freshly squeezed is best)
• ¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon or orange juice (or more lime juice)
• 2-3 Tbsp. Coconut Secret Coconut Aminos Sauce
(according to taste, I used about 2.5 Tbsp.)
• ¼ cup extra virgin coconut oil
• ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) or extra virgin avocado oil
• 2 Tbsp. sesame oil
(I used dark. Choose an organic cold-pressed light sesame oil such as this one if raw)
• 1 tsp. hot sauce (optional)

Hardware:
• Measuring cups + spoons
• Citrus juicer
• Powerful blender (As stated above, I used Nutribullet Pro 900)
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Process:
1. After soaking, drain dates and discard soaking liquid.
2. Place dates and all other dressing ingredients into canister of blender. Place lid on blender and process on HIGH until dressing is very smooth and no
visible chunks or pieces of ingredients are visible.
3. Remove lid and test for seasonings. Adjust to your taste preferences.

If you do adjust the seasonings, replace lid and blend on HIGH for a few seconds more.
4. Pour dressing into a jar or bottle. Cover with lid and store in refrigerator until ready to use. Garnish with cilantro if desired. Dressing will keep for about 1 week in the refrigerator.

+++When doing #WHOLE30, it’s very important you get into the habit of checking the ingredient lists of any foods you plan to eat, cook with or serve your family. For example, many brands of dried fruits (including some dates) are processed with sulfites which are not permitted for consumption during #WHOLE30, so be sure to check the dates before you purchase/use them. Also, most Dijon mustards contain white wine which is also not approved for consumption during WHOLE30, which is why you’ll want to use spicy mustard instead. For a complete list of #WHOLE30 program do’s and don’ts as well as answers to just about any #WHOLE30 questions you may have, I highly recommend you check out the program rules here and other resources available at WHOLE30’s website to educate yourself prior to beginning your own #WHOLE30 journey or whenever you have questions or need some support.

BTW – If you’re looking for a salad recipe to go along with this dressing, I highly recommend using this Quick & Easy Beautifying Papaya Salad recipe. It’s healthy, delicious, and is easily adapted for vegans, paleo and #whole30-ers. And it’s chalked full of good-for-you nutrients!

Thick & Creamy Asian-Style Blender Dressing Served along side & atop Tossed Green Salad with Fruit

Thick & Creamy Asian-Style Blender Dressing Served along side & atop Tossed Green Salad with Fruit

Wisdom for the Day:
Sometimes people ask me how I can eat vegetables all the time; don’t I get tired of the taste and so on. I explain to these folks that not only do I love the flavor of fresh vegetables, but vegetables are the original health food described in the Garden of Eden story (in Genesis 1:29) and in this cool story from the Old Testament book of Daniel:
“So Daniel spoke to the guard… ‘Why not test your servants for ten days? You could give us a diet of vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then compare our appearance to the appearance of the young men who eat the king’s food. Then deal with your servants according to what you see.’ The guard decided to go along with their plan and tested them for ten days. At the end of ten days they looked better and healthier than all the young men who were eating the king’s food. So the guard kept taking away their rations and the wine they were supposed to drink and gave them vegetables instead. And God gave knowledge, mastery of all literature, and wisdom to these four men.”
~Daniel 1:11-17 (Common English Bible) Read more here.

Beauty Resource of the Day:
Ever feel completely clueless when it comes to applying eyeshadow? You’re not alone. Sometimes I still look at those big beautiful (often expensive) shadow palettes that are so popular these days and feel…totally overwhelmed, like I wouldn’t even know what to do with all those color options. Luckily, great-looking eyeshadow doesn’t have to be that complicated and needn’t involve more than 2 colors! Emily Noel is here to tell us all about the “sandwich method” in this super-quick, super-informative video – complete with step-by-step tutorial, suggested shadow duos (both top-shelf and drugstore options) and listings + links for all products & tools used or mentioned in the video. The always delightful Ms. Emily really shines in this gem of a beauty Vlog!

Be sure to subscribe to Daily Beauty Wisdom to automatically receive new posts sent directly to your inbox of choice!

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Easy Creamy Asian-Style Blender Dressing #Paleo #Vegan WHOLE30 #raw #justeatrealfood

 

QUICK & EASY BEAUTIFYING PAPAYA SALAD #WHOLE30 #PALEO #VEGAN

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If you’ve followed this blog for a while or have read any recipes for beautiful skin and hair series, then you already know I’m really into cooking for beauty. Don’t get me wrong. I’m into external beauty products too. I desperately love cosmetics, makeup, hair products and beauty treatments of all kinds. My bathroom is literally overflowing with lotions and potions of all shapes, sizes and price points! But as the saying goes, beauty begins on the inside. And no amount of making up can disguise unhealthy insides. That’s especially true as we age. And I’ve found that after pregnancy, my body is far more likely to display outwardly any signs of dis-ease I may be experiencing inwardly. And since our baby girl has recently become independently mobile (translation lots more work for Mommy and Daddy to keep up with her), it’s definitely in my best interest to eat as healthfully as possible. So, I’ve been writing a series of recipes based on HealthGrove’s recent study identifying the top 30 foods for beautiful skin and hair (If you’ve missed any of the previous recipes from the series, do not despair. I’ve listed each of them below).

Fortunately for folks like me, the Internet offers tons of (mostly consistent) advice for those of us seeking the best foods to eat for health and beauty (including of course that recent HealthGrove study). Today’s recipe includes a veritable stockpile of beautifying ingredients including most notably #5 of HealthGrove’s list – PAPAYA.

Papaya - beautifying papaya!

Papaya – beautifying papaya!

When I discovered this article by the lovely Joy Bauer outlining the most important nutrients for anti-aging, I was inspired to begin using those nutrients in more recipes as well. However, because everyone in our household is sensitive gluten and dairy, I’ll obviously have to take a pass on the recipe she included in the article (no offense, Joy). So I decided to create my own recipe based around papaya and incorporating the other nutrients Ms. Bauer identifies as key for consumption. So here’s a rundown of nutrients this recipe offers:

Vitamin C – provided by the papaya, tomato and broccoli slaw. For more on the beautifying antioxidant benefits of Vitamin C, check out this article and recipe for #whole30 compliant #paleo and #vegan (and super-yummy) Strawberry Vinaigrette.
Vitamin E – in the extra virgin olive, coconut and avocado oils as well as in the walnuts
Beta-carotene (Vitamin A) – from the carrots and the broccoli slaw (as seen on the package)

Broccoli slaw is not only an antioxidant fest. It's also quick and ready in an instant!

Broccoli slaw is not only an antioxidant fest. It’s also quick and ready in an instant!

Selenium – provided by the Brazil nuts in the dressing. Did you know that Brazil nuts are in fact the #1 food source of selenium?
Omega3 fatty acids – from the walnuts and/or salmon if you choose
Lycopene (bonus nutrient) – lycopene has been shown in recent studies to protect skin against sun-related aging and sun damage. This recipe provides lycopene from 2 sources – EVOO and fresh tomato. Plus, this recipe is easily adjusted to suit vegans, vegetarians, paleo-types and folks actively doing #whole30. It’s quick and easy to prepare and (perhaps) most importantly, it tastes really good. Whoop! Whoop!

Ingredients:
For the Salad –
• 1 whole papaya
• 1-12 oz. bag broccoli or cabbage slaw
• 1 bunch fresh cilantro
• 1 whole tomato
• 2 carrots
• 1 medium jalapeno or Serrano chili pepper
• ½ cup chopped raw cashews or walnuts (I used cashews)

Protein Options –
• About 2 cups cooked, shredded chicken (bones, skin and excess fat removed)
• 1 large (14.5 oz.) can wild Alaskan pink salmon, drained
• 8 hardboiled eggs, diced
• 8 eggs, scrambled and chilled
• 2 cups cooked then chilled garbonzo beans (if using canned, drain and rinse very well)
• 2 cups cooked then chilled lentils

For the Dressing –
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• 4 dates, soaked at least 4 hours (see comment below)+++
• 2 garlic cloves
• 6 whole Brazil nuts
• 1 tsp. iodized sea salt
• 1 tsp. hot sauce (optional but recommended for best flavor. I like )
• 1 tsp. spicy mustard (NOT Dijon if doing #WHOLE30, see comment below)+++
• ½ tsp. minced lemongrass or 1” knob peeled fresh ginger root, diced
• ¼ cup lime juice
• ¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon or orange juice (I used OJ)
• 4 Tbsp. Coconut Secret Coconut Aminos Sauce, divided
• ¼ cup extra virgin coconut oil
• ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) or extra virgin avocado oil
• 2 Tbsp. dark (toasted) sesame oil

+++When doing #WHOLE30, it’s very important you get into the habit of checking the ingredient lists of any foods you plan to eat or use when cooking. Many dried fruits (including certain brands of dates) are processed with sulfites which are also not permitted for consumption during #WHOLE30, so be sure to check the dates before you purchase/use them. Also, most Dijon mustards contain white wine which is also not approved for consumption during WHOLE30, which is why you’ll want to use spicy mustard instead. For a complete list of #WHOLE30 program do’s and don’ts as well as answers to just about any #WHOLE30 questions you may have, I highly recommend you check out the program rules here and other resources available at WHOLE30’s website to educate yourself prior to beginning your own #WHOLE30 journey or whenever you have questions or need some support.

Hardware:
• One or two cutting boards
• A sharp chef’s knife
• A pair of disposable gloves
• A sharp vegetable peeler
• A large mixing bowl
• Powerful blender (I used the Nutribullet Pro 900)
• Salad spinner (optional)
• A large spoon or spoonula
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1. Prepare dressing as follows: Drain dates and discard soaking liquid. Place dates, 2 Tbsp. Coconut Aminos (reserving 2 Tbsp. for later use) and all other dressing ingredients into canister of blender. Place lid on blender and process on HIGH until dressing is very smooth and no visible chunks or pieces of ingredients are visible. Remove lid and test for seasonings. Adjust to taste. (I found that dressing was appropriately seasoned without adjustments but add salt or additional spices to your preferences.) Then pour dressing into a jar or bottle. Cover with lid and store in refrigerator until ready to use. Note, this recipe makes about 2 cups (scant) of dressing and may be made up to 3 days in advance. It will keep for about 1 week in the refrigerator.
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2. Wash and dry all vegetables, including cilantro. If you have a salad spinner, place washed cilantro in spinner and spin until dry. If you don’t have (or don’t wanna use) a salad spinner, simply placed washed cilantro on a clean kitchen towel and pat dry.
3. Using vegetable peeler, peel carrots and papaya.
N.B. Trust me on this one! I tried cutting half the papaya without peeling it first (I figured I’d cut it like an avocado, scoring it and removing the peel afterwards). No dice! It was a disaster trying to get the peel off, and I nearly removed my fingertips along with the peel! With the 2nd half I got smart and peeled it first. What a difference. I finished chopping it in half the time and with no near-death experiences.
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4. Finely chop the washed and dried cilantro. Then transfer it to mixing bowl. Next chop the papaya and all the vegetables (except pepper) into roughly equal bite-sized chunks and place into mixing bowl.
5. Put on gloves. Cut pepper in half and remove all seeds, stem and membranes. IMG_3447
Then chop pepper into very small pieces. Place in mixing bowl with other ingredients. Carefully remove gloves and immediately wash your hands. Try not to touch your face or anyone else before taking off, disposing of gloves and washing your hands. Also I used a separate cutting board just for the pepper and washed the cutting board and knife before removing the gloves.
6. Open bag of broccoli slaw and dump into mixing bowl along with other ingredients excepts nuts, dressing and remaining 2 Tbsp. Coconut Aminos. Then add dressing and stir well to combine. If everyone in your household wants the same protein option, then feel free to stir it in at this point. Otherwise, wait and serve several protein options along side Refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving.
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7. Just before serving, stir in remaining 2 Tbsp. Coconut Aminos and nuts.
8. Serve with multiple protein options (unless you already stirred proteins into salad). Example in our house both my mother and my Hubs selected shredded leftover rotisserie chicken. But I selected salmon as my protein of choice for some extra Omega-3 fatty acids. Additional garnishes include chopped avocado or Wholly Guacamole, bean sprouts and sunflower sprouts. Enjoy!

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QUICK & EASY BEAUTIFYING PAPAYA SALAD #WHOLE30 #PALEO #VEGAN

Wisdom for the Day:
Today I read the following quote:
“Biblical orthodoxy (hypocritical religiosity) without compassion is surely the ugliest thing in the world.” ~Francis Schaeffer And I was struck by the brilliance and simplicity of that statement. Surely a compassionate heart is an essential component of beauty. What if we made the choice to put on love and compassion the same way we put on makeup? The Bible says that we can in this passage from ~Colossians 3:12-13 (ESV)
Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Read more here. I encourage you to spend a few moments each morning imagining yourself putting on love and compassion, like you’re applying makeup or sunscreen. Surely we need to apply God’s love and compassion daily as the most important and effective beauty treatment!

Beauty Resources for the Day:
Want more info on what to eat for anti-aging benefits? Check out this slideshow from the folks at Total Beauty (Hint: if you consume this dressing on a regular you can cross slide #7 off your to-eat list).

Check Out These Great Recipes from the (HealthGrove) Top 30 Foods for Beauty Series:
Presto Peachy Lime Vinaigrette #WHOLE30-compliant #Vegan #Paleo #Raw
Split Second Strawberry Vinaigrette #WHOLE30 Compliant (#raw, #paleo & #vegan)
Fix-It-And-Forget-It: Simply Beautiful Southern Greens Crockpot #WHOLE30 Compliant
Quick & Easy Paleo Lemon Garlic Salad Dressing #WHOLE30 Compliant
Chicken Tri-Almandine Casserole
WHOLE30 Stuffed Zucchini 2 Ways
Easy Cheezy Chicken & Broccoli Soup with Crispy Potato Croutons

French Provincial Furniture Rehab – Chest of Drawers Makeover

A few years ago when Hubs and I purchased our home, we found ourselves with 3,000+ sq. feet of area in need of decor and very few suitable pieces of furniture. Because we’d decided to spend most of our remaining cash (after all the initial mortgage monies were paid) on professional interior painting and in converting several rooms’ flooring from carpet to hardwood, we had very little left to spend on furniture. So, pretty quickly we decided our best bet was to purchase quality used furniture and refinish as necessary.

The first piece we rehabbed was this flat front, chest-on-chest piece circa 1950.
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We chose this chest because it’s well-made, solid wood and was in good condition. Plus, it actually came with this matching vanity and stool which we also refinished (I’ll described in separate posts).
IMG_3289We snagged these beauties for $350 total. My thinking was, because it’s flat front, the chest would be the easiest to tackle as my first refinishing project. What follows is a step-by-step description of what we did and what I learned during the process.

Step #1: Removing those hideous drawer pulls. Okay, so they’re not actually hideous. Maybe you like them, but they’re not my style and did not fit with my vision for the finished piece. Plus, removing the pulls made Step #2 a whole lot easier.

Step #2: Sanding. This took quite a while. We used 2 different electric sanders and ended up doing most of the work by hand. This is where I learned my first furniture refinishing tip. Stock up on woodworking masks because you never know what materials (and potentially even hazardous chemicals) may be flying around when you refinish a vintage piece. I nearly choked a few times, and I’m still not sure what types of fumes we inhaled as we sanded off countless layers of paint, varnish and sealants. Why take that chance? Now I wear a mask anytime we tackle this type of project. I’d add that I tried to save some cash by initially purchasing a cheap-o mask akin to those flimsy plastic Halloween masks kids wear. It left marks on my face. It was difficult to breathe through, and then the flimsy rubber band on the mask broke. Ugh the frustration! So, I recommend you purchase a sturdier, more comfortable (and yes, more expensive) mask like this one.

Step #2b: Ordering New Pulls and Appliqués. As I said, sanding took a while, so I took advantage of that delay by shopping. I spent hours browsing various internet sites, searching for exact right the pulls. The interesting thing about this chest is that the pulls on the top 3 drawers are smaller than those on the bottom two, despite having the same widths (both large and small pulls measure 2.5″ at the centers). So I really had to hunt to find pulls I liked that were available in both large and small sizes. Ultimately, we had great success with these purchased from the unfortunately-named MyKnobs.com. I was so pleased with the experience that we ultimately decided to order all new knobs for our bathroom cabinets from MyKnobs.com. I also wanted to jazz up the flat drawers by adding floral appliqués and found a great selection of floral appliqués at reasonable prices from Do It Yourself Chic retailer at ebay.com.

Step #3: Cleaning Up. Once you’ve finished sanding, it’s important to remove all the dust, as residual dust will keep the paint and primer from sticking. On the advice of various internet furniture painting gurus, we used baby wipes to clean the piece and remove excess sand, dust and debris prior to priming.  

Step #4: Applying Appliqués & Priming.  This step took longer than necessary. But, I learned the importance of applying appliqués BEFORE priming for best results. That’s my 2nd tip – furniture glue works best when applied directly to bare wood. If you going to add any decorative accents to the furniture you’re refinishing, do so before priming. This may seem self-evident to some, but I had to learn the hard way. I tried to apply appliqués to sanded and primed wood and it was a massive fail! The glue wouldn’t adhere and the appliqués kept sliding off. Ugh! Fortunately, it was a relatively easy fix. We just had to re-sand (to remove primer) the areas where we planned to place the appliqués. Vise grips also helped ensure the appliqués stayed in place while the glue dried. Bonus tip – We found that Gorilla Glue tends to be more effective than furniture glue for appliqué application. We used Rustoleum Painter’s Touch Ultra Cover Primer, available from Home Depot and other retailers.

Step #5: Painting. I started painting by hand using a quart of warm white Valspar paint and a regular bristled brush. But after 3 coats, the coverage was streaky, and I disliked the brush strokes left behind. I experimented with using foam brushes and found that the coverage was smoother but drippy. Even though I sanded the piece by hand after each coat of paint, I still disliked the finish. After researching the best furniture painting guides online, I decided to switch to a different paint altogether – Rustoleum PAINTER’S TOUCH® Ultra Cover 2x Satin Spray in Heirloom White. What a difference! This is now my all-time favorite paint. The coverage is beautiful. The spray nozzle works wonderfully and is so user-friendly in design. Unlike other sprays we’d tried (for smaller projects), this one never clogged or dripped. And the coverage is thin, smooth and even. No more drips or streaks! Tip 3 – If you’re new to refinishing or just don’t have time to bother with (seemingly) endless cycles of paint and sanding, get some PAINTER’S TOUCH® Ultra Cover 2x Spray. Other finishes are available but I love the satin.

Step #6: Gilding the Lilly. I love the look of golden patina over antique white painted furniture. I easily located a suitable (and inexpensive) stencil at the craft store and expected to make quick work of the stenciling using some gold craft paint. But alas, that attempt failed miserably. Next we tried several other gold paint options, everything from craft paint to specialty golden furniture paints. None seemed to stick to the paint or they were barely visible. Some even peeled right off. So we eventually sought advice from online resources and local paint stores, and ultimately purchased 1 quart of this pricey specialty gold paint, Benjamin Moore Studio Finishes Latex Metallic (at a cost of $50 for 1 QT) from the nearest Benjamin Moore retailer.
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Fortunately, this product works really well with the stencils. And it was easy to apply using a rolling foam paint brush like this one. After only one coat of this stuff, we had a gorgeous golden stencil on each of the drawers.

 

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After only one coat of this stuff, we had a gorgeous golden stencil on each of the drawers.

 

 

 

For the finishing touch, I used some more of the latex gold paint to highlight the appliqués, as seen here. IMG_3379

 

Step #7: Sealing. After my experience struggling with brush-on paint (and after realizing the comparative ease of spray paint), I decided to use a spray-on paint sealer. And I figured, why change to something else when we’ve had such success with Rustoleum’s Painter’s Touch products. We used this seal and protect spray and it worked beautifully. I think the finished piece required 2 cans, but it was well worth it given the time and hassle spared. And as you can see from the last picture below, this sealant has protected and preserved all our hard work despite heavy daily use.

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The finished product, immediately after completion

The finished project after nearly 5 years. Still in pretty great shape. All those steps paid off in producing a lovely and resilient piece we use daily.

The finished project after nearly 5 years. Still in pretty great shape. All those steps paid off in producing a lovely and resilient piece we use daily.

Wisdom for the Day:
Therefore I love your commandments above gold, above fine gold.
~Psalm 119:127 (English Standard Version) Read more here.

Beauty Resource of the Day:
Wanna read more before tackling your next furniture rehab project? Check out this informative article from Frugal Girl featuring step-by-step guide and product recommendations (and lots of pictures!).

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