Monday Morsels 3/3/14

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Happy Monday!

For some of the newer readers here, Monday Morsels is a series where I share recent articles or blog posts on the topics of nutrition, wellness, and clean beauty.

Nutrition

Recently, I read an important article written by Chris Kresser that examines the vegetarian diet from a nutritional standpoint.

A large majority of my audience comes from the green beauty community, which is comprised mostly of vegetarians and vegans, so I thought that this would be relevant to share.

Holistic nutrition is my passion and this topic is in line with my nutritional approach.  Although I may be one voice in a sea of many green beauties, I wanted to share my thoughts.

To all of my vegetarian and vegan friends: Although I am not a vegetarian myself, I respect your choice to eschew meat due to ethical, spiritual, religious and social reasons.

The aim of this post is not to convince anyone to eat meat.

The purpose of this post is to raise awareness about the possible negative health implications of a vegetarian or vegan diet, if not properly implemented. 

Many people who choose to adhere to a vegetarian or vegan diet do so because they assume that it is healthier than diets which include meat. Many people are not aware of the potential nutritional deficiencies that they may develop.

As a side note, I believe that anyone pursuing any type of diet (meat or not) for the sake of health should have a deep understanding of the implications of that diet.

Chris Kresser discusses this in a fair manner and his article is an important read for those who choose to be vegetarian or vegan for optimal health. I should note that the author is a former macrobiotic vegan. Click here to read his article:

Why You Should Think Twice About Vegetarian and Vegan Diets

The biggest takeaway is that thriving on a vegetarian or vegan diet is possible, but it requires an active and meticulous awareness of the nutritional composition of your intake of food.

I Choose to Eat Meat

Being a green beauty blogger, it’s easy to feel like I am the only meat-eating one. I follow a Paleo framework which is a diet that is based on nutrient-dense whole foods.

Foods That I Eat:

  • Grassfed, pasture-raised, organic meat (I consciously purchase ethically and sustainably raised meat whenever possible)
  • Eggs (ideally pastured)
  • Fish and other seafood
  • Vegetables
  • Starchy tubers (sweet potatoes, taro, etc)
  • Fruit
  • Foods that support intestinal health (bone broth, raw sauerkraut)
  • Traditional, unprocessed fats (grassfed ghee, cold pressed coconut oil)
  • Other nutrient dense foods such as organ meats and fermented cod liver oil

Foods that I Exclude From My Diet:

  • Processed foods
  • Gluten
  • Most grains (except white rice) and legumes
  • Refined oils (canola, safflower, sunflower, etc)

What I Value:

  • Ethically raised animals
  • Local, sustainable, and organic food sources
  • Food that is closest to its natural state
  • Food that nourishes the body, supports long-term health, and prevents illness & disease

Why do I eat this way?

As I’ve mentioned before, in 2013, I became very ill with Histamine Intolerance, Small Intestinal Bacteria Overgrowth (SIBO), and a pathogenic intestinal infection. At the beginning of my sickness, I was incredibly reactive to most foods.

As I struggled with navigating what I could and could not eat, I dove deep into learning about eating to heal your body. More and more, I came across an underlying theme of the importance of eating for intestinal health by eliminating all inflammatory and irritating foods while incorporating nutrient dense foods.

Lots of people, myself included, have turned to eating a Paleo/ancestral/traditional type of diet to cope with autoimmune conditions like Ulcerative Colitis, Crohn’s disease, and Celiac disease or to prevent these diseases. Eating this way has helped many people not only cope but also thrive despite their very serious conditions. (Read about Danielle Walker of Against All Grain and her inspiring story here).

Autoimmune conditions are on the rise , and I truly believe that it is due to environmental factors as well as the lack of proper nutrition due to factory farming, GMOs, and the prevalence of highly processed foods.

I feel as though the Paleo/ancestral/traditional diet community is misunderstood by the green beauty community. For a long time, I didn’t know how to share my thoughts about this, but once I read Chris’ article, I knew it would be the perfect opportunity.

Eating a Paleo diet has a lot more in common with living a nontoxic lifestyle than one might initially think.  Both require conscious decision-making with the aim of optimal health. Both are environmentally conscious and value food/cosmetics/products in their purest, most natural forms. Both recognize that conventional food/products contain toxins and have a desire to go back to the basics.

I choose to eat meat in following a Paleo framework as it makes me feel like (and actually become) the healthiest version of me. Eating healing foods while excluding inflammatory foods has helped me heal from the scariest, most life-altering health ordeal of my life. Eating Paleo also upholds certain values of mine such as supporting local, sustainable, and ethical farming and food sourcing.

What about you? How do you choose to eat and why?

Love and light,

vm

February Favorites

February Faves

Happy March! Can you believe that Spring is just around the corner? California’s in the midst of a drought which makes it feel like it is already spring.

February Favorites

It’s an exciting feeling when you realize you’ve gone “all in” with nontoxic beauty products because day after day, you’re reaching for and loving the same items. It’s a bit like that moment you realize you’ve got a keeper on your hands when you start dating someone new.

So I guess what I’m saying is that nontoxic beauty and I are past the infatuation phase; we’re going steady. If that’s not too strange of an analogy for ya, read on..

Lovely Lady Stick Moisturizer1)   Lovely Lady Everlasting-Argan Solid Lotion Moisturizer – Helichrysum $15.99

This moisturizing balm has been a savior this month. I came across this brand at the Gluten & Allergen Free Expo that I attended at the end of January. The woman at the booth explained to me that her son has eczema and that the Helichrysum moisturizer in particular really helps to soothe his skin. I’ve got sensitive skin myself, and with the risk of TMI-ing you to death, I’m working through food sensitivities right now which sometimes causes a mild rash on my stomach. A few swipes of this at bedtime, and the inflammation on my skin is tamed by morning. I love the fact that the product is in stick form as it makes application easy peasy.

Acure Cleansing Creme2)   Acure Organics Facial Cleansing Crème Argan Oil + Mint $14.99

I bought this a while back at Whole Foods and didn’t see the beauty of it until now. My skin has been a bit dry this month and a few weeks ago, I randomly reached for it in the shower and was pleasantly surprised at how this gentle cleansing crème really helped to moisturize my skin.

Tongue Scraper3)   GUM Dual Action Tongue Cleaner $2.59

Yes, you read that correctly. I discovered the beauty of tongue scrapers in February. Where have I been, and why didn’t I try this sooner? It ain’t glamorous, but two phrases: Oral hygiene. FRESH breath.

Trust me, try it.

Rahua Voluminous Spray4)   Rahua Voluminous Spray $28 6oz / $12.99 2oz

This hairspray gives my naturally straight and limp hair a nice little boost and tames flyaways.

I received this 2 oz bottle as a sample with my purchase of other goodies. I would definitely purchase it on my own. You can get the smaller (2 oz) size here.

Kjaer Weis Desired Glow5)   Kjaer Weis Cream Blush -Desired Glow $54 compact / $30 refill

The month of February was the month I fell in LOVE with cream blush. It took me a while to grow accustomed to the switch from powder to cream, but Kjaer Weis’ has made me a cream blush convert. I’ve read a lot about the Desired Glow shade, and listen up ladies, the hype is REAL.

I like to apply it with the Real Techniques Stippling brush ($10), which you can purchase here.

Kjaer Weis Blissful6)   Kjaer Weis Lip Tint – Blissful $48 compact / $28 refill

More often than not, I’m a sheer red lip girl, but I thought I’d switch it up and go for a light pink shade for my intro to Kjaer Weis lip tints. I am SO glad I did as I find this shade to be so effortless and feminine.

Afterglow Stencil

7)   Afterglow Cosmetics Organic Infused Eco Eye Shadow – Stencil –$21 compact / $17 refill

Since I wore Kjaer Weis’ Blissful lip quite often this month, and it’s such a subtle light pink shade, I wanted to intensify my eyes a bit more. Enter Afterglow’s Stencil, which is a taupe with a gorgeous satin finish.

As a side note, I like to purchase pressed eyeshadow refills whenever I can and keep them in my Z pallete. It saves on three things: money, storage space, and precious time in my morning routine.

See any of your own favorites in this list? What have you been loving lately?

Love and light,

vm

Monday Morsels 2/24/14

Happy Monday!

I was MIA last week, and it was because of this:

Tahoe

And this:

Tahoe

And this:

Tahoe

I went to the snow (Lake Tahoe) with a group of 12 people, left the laptop at home, and holed up in a cozy cabin. I felt compelled to disconnect for a bit to live life in the moment. Can you relate?

Wellness

This Monday Morsels features a very important topic: SLEEP.

I don’t get enough of it. Getting to bed by 10:30pm is a goal that I am constantly chasing.

Are you one of those people who believe that you can sleep when you’re dead? I used to be one of these people.

I began looking at sleep much differently about a year ago, when I became ill with Histamine Intolerance (debilitating food and environmental sensitivities), a pathogenic intestinal infection, hormone imbalance, (..and I could go on).

Back then, I was sleeping an average of four hours each night, fighting sleepiness at work and then intensely crossfitting 5 times/week. At the time, I treated my body as an unbreakable machine. Was it a coincidence that I was overworking myself and under resting while I became so very ill? I think not.

It sounds so silly to think that I was doing this to myself, but when I was caught up in the hustle and bustle of life, I truly believed that getting to the gym regularly was benefitting me, regardless of my lack of sufficient sleep. I am learning every day how important it is to be kind to my body, to monitor the different aspects of my wellness, and to listen to what my body needs.

If my story doesn’t compel you to get more Zzs, this article might: 25 Horrible Things That Can Happen If You Don’t Get Enough Sleep.

Nutrition

I’m an “a little bit of this and a little bit of that” type of cook. I get in the kitchen, assess what I have, and concoct it on the spot. I love cookbooks, but I often find myself lacking the patience to work from one on a busy weeknight.

Tonight was no exception. My boyfriend and I made pork chops with caramelized onions and apples sautéed with garlic, ginger, and a splash of apple cider vinegar.

Paleo Pork chop with caramelized onion apple

Pasture-raised Pork Chop with Caramelized Onion, Apple, Garlic, Ginger, and Raw Apple Cider Vinegar with a side of Smashed Cauliflower & Carrot

When he got home, he placed the chops in a brine of salt, pepper, and fresh chopped garlic. An hour later, he seared both sides of the chops, and finished cooking them in the oven.

Meanwhile, I concocted the onion apple topping. I knew pork pairs well with apples, and apple cider vinegar seemed like it would balance out the sweetness. Let’s just say it was an experiment gone DELICIOUS. We MMmm-ed our way through dinner and will definitely be making this again.

The pork chops were from our first box ordered from Marin Sun Farms, which is a Community Supported Agriculture Program (CSA) that offers local, sustainable, humanely cared for, ethical, pasture-raised, grassfed meat. Check them out if you live in or near the SF Bay Area!

Have a great week!

Love and light,

vm

Monday Morsels 2/10/14

As Valentine’s Day rolls in, I thought it would be fitting for this edition of Monday Morsels to discuss…are you ready for it?

Hacking the Secret to Long Term Desire

I saw a very thought-provoking video on YouTube the other day by Shots of Awe aka Jason Silva.

In this video, Jason Silva summarizes Esther Perel’s TED Talk which explores the keys to long-term desire. Esther Perel is a world-renowned therapist, speaker and author.

Takeaways:

  • Most people are attracted to their partners when they are able to view them as a self-sustaining person rather than one half of themselves.
  • You must create space to maintain desire. Perel describes it as looking at your partner from a comfortable distance. You know this person deeply, yet momentarily, they appear a bit mysterious.

So how do you maintain this comfortable space and mystery? And how do you ensure that you are a self-sustaining individual?

An individual can do this by staying connected to their unique identity which is comprised of their own passions, interests, friends, family, and goals.

It can be quite easy to lose your identity in a relationship as you might find yourself wanting to revolve your life around your partner. (I know I’ve definitely done this.)  Staying connected to your own identity makes you a more well-rounded, self-sustaining, fulfilled, and interesting person, which ultimately enriches your life as a couple and is just plain attractive.

I’ve only scratched the surface of Esther Perel’s very thought-provoking TED Talk. You can watch it here.

DIY Raw Strawberry Cream Truffles

Why buy overpriced Valentine’s day chocolate when you can make your own at home? Kassie of Cloudy Apples on YouTube shared a great recipe for raw strawberry cream truffles which include super clean ingredients such as raw almonds, dates, cacao powder, sea salt, and coconut oil. They look delicious. See?


You can find her detailed recipe here.

Enjoy,

vm

ILIA Beauty Lipstick Crayons

IMG_5738Let me just start off by saying that ILIA Beauty is like the MAC of the green beauty world. That’s a bold statement, but that’s how I’ve always thought of the brand since making the switch to clean beauty.

I mean this in the best way possible in that ILIA is the go-to brand for fun and modern lip color that performs well. Everyone and their mom in the green beauty world either have or are lusting after some ILIA products. It’s become a staple in my routine.

About the Brand:

ILIA Beauty strives to offer natural products that nourish the skin and perform well. ILIA uses pure ingredients and is committed to ethical and sustainable packaging. All of their cream lip products are housed in sleek recycled aluminum cases. Their boxes are made of 100% recycled paper and vegetable-based dye. Each product contains on average 75% – 90% bioactive organic ingredients. ILIA products are also cruelty free, gluten free, and dairy free.

Sasha Plavsic is the founder of ILIA Beauty and I love her take on nontoxic cosmetics as she has said,

“Somebody once said to me, that because it’s organic it’s good for you, and it doesn’t matter if it doesn’t work as well as the mainstream stuff – I intend to change their mind.”

I would argue that Sasha is accomplishing just that. Her products aren’t just appealing to green girls. They’re breaking through to mainstream. She is proving that her nontoxic products can stand next to the best of them. 

IMG_5756My ILIA Beauty Lipstick Crayon Collection

Today I’m going to share with you my growing collection of Lipstick Crayons. I have the colors 99 Red Balloons, Dress You Up, and Karma Chameleon. I love their clever names. I can’t stop hearing Madonna when I apply Dress You Up…

Packaging:

The design is refined yet approachable. The bottom of the lipstick is color coordinated with what is in the tube, so you won’t be fumbling around in your makeup bag trying to find the right one. The lipstick also twists up from the bottom so that no sharpening is needed. And there’s just something about the convenience and fun of a lip product in crayon form that I simply love.

Consistency and Finish:

These lipsticks are creamy and moisturizing with a slight glossy sheen. They first apply glossy and then dry to a bit more of a matte finish (without becoming dry and uncomfortable). I should mention that they are not staining, in case you’re tempted to compare them to other crayons like Revlon’s Just Kissable Balm Stains (which I adored in a former life). I typically reapply after a few hours of wear.

ILIA Beauty Lipstick Crayon Swatches

Color:

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Rainy Saturday = Cozy Sweatshirt

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99 Red Balloons is a real red with a touch of blue. ‘Nuff said.

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Dress You Up is a true mauve. It’s got a rose-berry hue. On my lips, it takes on a slight touch of nudey pink. It gives my lips the appearance of extra poutiness, which I don’t hate. This is a great work appropriate color and is super easy to wear.

IMG_5701

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Karma Chameleon is a fiery coral. This is my favorite ILIA lip product. It’s a unique color that brightens my complexion. It actually looks a bit brighter in person than what is shown here. I can’t wait to bust it out more as Spring comes around.

Ingredients:

Helianthus Annus (Sunflower) Seed Oil*, Trisostearyl Citrate, Euphorbia Cerifera (Candelilla) Wax, Copernicia Cerifera (Carnuaba) Wax*, Ricinus Communis (Castor) Seed Oil*, Sesamum Indicum (Sesame) Seed Oil*, Rosa Canina (Rose Hip) Fruit Oil*, Carica (Papya) Seed Oil. May Contain: Mica, Titanium Dioxide (CI77891), Red 7 (CI15858), Iron Oxide (CI77499, CI77492, CI77491). *Certified Organic Ingredients

Environmental Working Group Skin Deep (EWG) Rating: 1

Price:

$24

Where to Buy:

ILIA Beauty

Eco Diva Beauty

Spirit Beauty Lounge  (you can purchase samples here)

Have you tried any ILIA lip products? If so, which are your favorite?

I’m lusting after the limited edition lipstick color Ink Pot, which is a rich berry plum with a hint of violet. It’s sold out but I’ve heard that they have plans to bring it back. I’m crossing my fingers in the meantime.

Love and light,

vm

Osmia Organics: I think I love you (Part III)

Today, I bring you Part III of the Osmia Organics series. Check out Part I and Part II, if you’d like. I’ll be the first to admit that this post is so long overdue!

I’m juggling lots of different “balls” in my life lately (interesting choice of words, I know), but I’m finding my groove and I’ve got lots of clean beauty posts cooking up in my brain. They’re coming, I promise!

Enough about me, let’s talk about skincare.

Osmia Organics Active Gel Toner (formerly Active Gel Nutrient Serum)

When I made my first Osmia purchase, I requested samples of a serum & a toner, and I am SO glad that I did. Osmia’s serum and toners are arguably one of my favorites of all of their offerings. This toner contains active botanicals that reduce redness and irritation as well as hyaluronic acid and niacinamide to help maintain intracellular water in the skin cells. It is meant to be used as a middle layer, after washing your face and before applying moisturizer.

Wearing a light tinted moisturizer over Osmia Organics Active Gel Toner & Purely Simple Face Cream

Wearing Osmia Organics Active Gel Toner & Purely Simple Face Cream. (Also wearing 100% Pure tinted moisturizer on top, super light coverage)

……………….Upon application, this toner sinks right in. It doesn’t leave a sticky film behind like some serums might. It makes my face feel incredibly clean, fresh, and moisturized without feeling weighed down. The scent of this is luxurious. It’s pleasantly herbaceous and slightly lemony. The scent brings forth my childhood memory of my mother’s favorite Borghese face wash (in a very great way). I use this right before the Purely Simple Face Cream and together, they are like a dream.

>> This picture was taken a week after continuous use of Osmia Organics Purely Simple Face Cream + Active Gel Toner. My skin felt so nourished and looked incredibly healthy & “glowy”.

Ingredients

aloe barbadensis leaf juice*, glycerin*, camellia sinensis (white tea) extract*, calendula officinalis extract*, selaginella lepidophylla (rose of jericho) extract, lactobacillus/oat ferment extract filtrate, niacinamide (vitamin B3), [oryza sativa (rice) extract & water & centella asiatic a extract]*, [gluconolactone (and) sodium benzoate], lactobacillus ferment, sclerotium rolfsii gum, hyaluronic acid, proprietary blend of organic and wild-harvested essential oils

82% organic

EWG (Environmental Working Group) Skin Deep Rating: 2

Osmia Organics Facial Calibration Serum

Yet another winner. This serum is quite different from the Active Gel Toner in that it is oil based and feels a bit more nourishing. The purpose of this serum is to soothe irritation and to “help oily skin behave itself, and combination skin become less confused”.

I like the idea of having a serum on hand that I can reach for when my skin is misbehaving. Since I only had a sample of this product, I did just that. I applied this serum on days my skin rebelled. It truly did help soothe irritation and balance out my complexion. Its scent is very clean and herbaceous.

The ingredients are so lovely. Olive squalane, kukui oil, and macadamia oil nourish the skin, and schisandra fruit extract soothes irritation. Acai delivers an antioxidant boost, while organic black seed oil brings a vitamin and mineral infusion.

Ingredients

caprylic/capric triglyceride (fractionated coconut oil), olive squalane, aleurites molaccana (kukui) oil, carthamus tinctorius (safflower) oil*, macadamia integrifolia (macadamia nut) oil*, rosa rubiginosa (rosehips) seed oil*, vitus vinifera (grapeseed) oil*, wildcrafted butyrospermum parkii (shea) oil, schisandra sphenanthera (schisandra fruit) CO2, euterpe oleracea (acai) oil, nigella sativa (black seed) oil*, rosmarinus officinalis (rosemary) CO2 extract*, GMO-free vitamin E oil, and a proprietary blend of organic and wild-harvested essential oils

EWG (Environmental Working Group) Skin Deep Rating: 1

Final Thoughts

It’s safe to say that I’m an Osmia die-hard fan. It’s apparent how clean and high quality the ingredients are based on how nourished your skin feels. Each product simply smells amazing as well. I would definitely repurchase these items, starting off with the Detox Exfoliating Mask and the Active Gel Toner, as I think I’d get the most regular use of out of these items.

If you’re intrigued, but don’t want to commit to spending a huge chunk of change in one go, I would recommend purchasing the Detox Exfoliating Mask first and requesting samples of other items.

This post ends my Osmia series for now, but the Spot Treatment and Organic Body Oils have been on my radar for some time, so future posts are in the works.

Have you tried any Osmia products? If so, which are your favorite?

Love and light,

vm

Monday Morsels 2/3/14

Happy February and welcome to another edition of Monday Morsels!

Does anyone else like to watch Groundhog Day when February rolls around? Is it really just me?

How do you not love Punxsutawney Phil?

This edition of Monday Morsels is about self-authenticity and the pursuit of happiness and fulfillment.

Quitting my corporate job and deciding to go back to school to study holistic nutrition was one of the most life-altering, challenging, and rewarding decisions I’ve ever made in my life. Up until this point, I lived my life trying to fulfill the standards and expectations that others set for me. Deep down inside, I always knew that I wasn’t being honest with myself. Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful that I became relatively successful taking that road, and the challenges that accompanied it have molded me into the person I am today. However, living with authenticity feels incredibly powerful. I draw such energy and joy in pursuing my own dreams.

What’s driving you in your life? Does your career fulfill and excite you? If not, why? Is there something else you’ve always wanted to pursue but are hesitant to?

Are you living to fulfill someone else’s dream, or are you living to fulfill your own dreams?

These two articles really inspired and motivated me. They hit home and I hope you draw some inspiration from them too.

click here:

I Took A Pay Cut To Pursue My Dream

and here:

The Asian American Quarter-Life Crisis