Monday, September 1, 2014

GOODBYE MUSCLES!



Massages. I love them -  they're among one of my favourite things in the world. But they're a gamble, aren't they?

I've just endured probably the most painful massage I've ever had. Usually if a massage gets a little painful I just screw up my face and mouth swear words within the secrecy of the face hole. I just accept the pain and tell myself that it's meant to hurt. Buck up, princess. Pain is gain. But today's pain was next level. My eyes nearly bulged out of my head at one point, and then out popped an unplanned, unrefined, "OWWW!". Quickly followed by a squeaky "it's a little bit hard" [read: I would rather be having a bikini wax]. I dunno, but I had to ask her twice to take the pressure down and I think it just spurred her on or something. Her elbow was her weapon of choice for most of the treatment. The most relaxing part was when she thumped the stuffing out of me. It truly was a happy ending. So when she asked me how it was, I said "Really good, thanks". I reckon while they're massaging they press some sneaky pressure points that connect to your brain and render you useless. But it's okay, guys, I'm sure it was good for me.


IT HAS SPRUNG

I will never get tired of the phrase "spring has sprung". It has - it's really sprung! That delicious whisper of warmth is in the air and I must say, things are feeling positive in my neck of the woods. Don't ask me why - they just are.

Anyway, I thought I'd kick off proceedings by pretending I'm someone famous whose beauty cupboard you actually have an interest in emulating! Just kidding, but in all seriousness, these four items below have wafted into my vanity and I think they're so great, I'm going to share!


1. Natio Spa Heavenly Hand Cream
I borrowed my Mum's cream and immediately requested my own tube (nicely). This one smells great and doesn't leave your hands with that yucky greasy feeling.

2. Bee Bar Lotion Honey House Naturals
Through work, a retailer gave me this product to go into a visual merchandising display. AMAZING find. I have the 'natural' scented bee bar and use it as a foot/heal moisturiser - rub it on before slipping on a pair of cozy socks. Tricky to find in Australia but for just a tin or two, go via ebay. #worthit.

3. Natio Meditate Shower Gel
This was a present from my boyfriend's Mum and it is DIVINE. Zen in the shower, I tell you. When I first read the label description 'Yoga Scent' I thought the marketers had gone off the 'woowoo' scale, but it totally makes sense.

4. Eco Store Lemongrass Soap
I'll be honest, I just needed a fourth image to fill the space, but this soap is still the goods. You've probably seen this brand in the supermarket. Every now and then I like to mix things up with the soap - variety is the spice of life and all that. Lindsay and I stayed at the Evason Ana Mandara resort in Nha Trang last year and everything from the cocktails to the shower gel were lemongrass'd - there's nothing like scent to bring back memories!

What is your FAVOURITE must-have cosmetic item? Please share with me - I showed you mine!


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Thursday, August 28, 2014

HELLO CACAO | NICE TO SEE YOU



Today I had to come and share one of my recent and marvelous new discoveries: cacao powder (yes, I discovered it, it was me).

Cacao powder is not the same as cocoa - it's not that tin of Nestle in your pantry that you use to make choccy cakes. Sorry.

Let's just get one thing sorted before we continue: how to pronounce cacao. *Leaves page to find out how to pronounce cacao.*

Okay everyone, it's KA COW. I was saying it wrong. *How embarrassment*

Alright, so lately I've been adding a friendly spoon of cacao to my morning smoothies. As a lover of chocolate, I feel like I'm having a treat, and my body agrees! Lately I've been thinking about redefining the word 'treat'. As far as food goes, when we traditionally think of having a treat we think: piece of cake, chocolate, dessert, take-away. But whom are you treating? It's a treat to your taste buds, fair enough, but not a treat to your internal organs or your bootay (depending on your preferences). When you eat nutritious food, your body, your internal organs (just imagine them as cartoons with big smiley faces) are screaming "THANKS FOR THE TREATS!".

Just another way to think of it.

Anyway, ka-cow powder adds an extra taste element to my smoothie and is a treat to both my taste buds AND my body (UH-HUH MOMENT ALERT!)

I'm going to borrow a couple of paragraphs from this Body + Soul article about the benefits of cacao (it basically says that raw cacao power is crazy high in antioxidants and is great for your hair, nails, healthy organs, bloodstream and mood).

Naturopath Aimee Robbins says raw, powdered cacao is full of flavonoids, which act as natural antioxidants. "Antioxidants protect the body from ageing and disease caused by free radicals. Raw cacao contains up to four times the antioxidants of traditional cacao powder, and has the highest antioxidant value of all the natural foods in the world." Scientists from Cornell University in the US recently discovered that raw cacao contains nearly twice the antioxidant content of red wine, and up to three times the antioxidant content of green tea.
The cacao bean is also rich in magnesium, an energy mineral and vital electrolyte. This super-food is also a good source of sulfur. Sulfur is associated with strong nails, shiny hair and a healthy liver and pancreas. Medical herbalist Dominique Finney says the flavonoids in cacao prevent fat-like substances in the bloodstream from oxidising and clogging the arteries. "Cacao has also been found to help regulate blood pressure and reduce cholesterol while building the immune system."
...Raw cocoa is an aphrodisiac because it contains anandamide, a substance that induces euphoria. It also contains phenylethylamine (PEA), which is a mood enhancer. While this super-molecule exists naturally in the brain, the only other food that contains PEA is blue-green algae. 
Shiny hair AND happy organs? I can tell you're sold, now where do you get it?

I bought a 125g  pouch of Nature's Way Cacao Powder (100% certified organic raw - all of the things) from Chemist Warehouse on special for $8.95 and that will last me a few weeks. Some sources say that mixing raw cacao with dairy inhibits the absorption of nutrients. Admittedly I need to find some alternative ways to mix it as I've been having it in a dairy smoothie. Do you have a cacao powder concoction you can share with me? I'm not a fan of store-bought soy, coconut, rice or almond milks because they contain a lot of additives/sugars/seed oils/gums (whatever they are). Maybe I should try my hand at home-made almond milk... that's a story for another day!

Happy cacao!

Edit: Went to Coles this morning and read the ingredients list on the back of at least 10 different varieties of almond milk and coconut milk. Yep, that person. Most of them are rubbish - way too many ingredients and sugar high up on the list, but I think I found a winner:

Pure Harvest Activated Almond Milk. 4 ingredients only - water, almonds, sea salt and rice syrup as a sweetener, but in negligible quantities (2.4g per 100g). 

This concoction: 1 cup almond milk, half a banana, 2 heaped teaspoons cacao powder. Good thanks!

Monday, August 25, 2014

FATHER'S DAY GIFT GUIDE 2014


Did you know that Father's Day in Australia is Sunday 7th September? That means we have two weeks to sort out a gift - something thoughtful that won't stink of last-minute vibes (that Lynx pack from Woolworths and a Scratchie). For the book lovers, surfers, barbeque-ers, campers, fishers, drinkers and Masterchef wannabes, all of these items are available online so whip out that credit card and get shopping!




1. Lovely Day for a Guinness Poster HardtoFind $110 2. Hot Dog Penny Boxer Peter Alexander $49.95 3. Top Mix Navy Blue/Grey Havaianas Havaianas Australia $24.99 4. Triumph & Disaster Shearer's Soap Antipodean Love $8.95 5. Camping Coffee Maker Carry Case BCF 6. EH Holden Storage Box Antipodean Love $64.94 7. Falcon Enamelware Range Antipodean Love from $10.95 8. Personalised Sterling Silver Identity Bracelet HardtoFind $89.00 9. Triumph & Disaster Rock & Roll Suicide Face Scrub Antipodean Love $29.95 10. Oztrail Titan Armchair BCF $109 11. Pagan Playing Cards The Flush $22 12. Mailman of the Birdsville Track Book ABC Shop $24.99 13. Australia's Hardest Prison Book Angus & Robertson $27.99 14. Fulton Walk Short Quicksilver $69.99 15. Campfire Jaffle Iron BCF $24.99 16. Sphere Ice Moulds Latest Buy $13.95 17. Tackle Box BCF $99.99 18. Darrell Lea Dad's Bag Tasteful Delights $25 19. Custom BBQ Branding Iron Latest Buy $29.95 20. Fishing Lures BCF from $14.95 21. Gents Hardware Shoe Polish Kit HardtoFind $39.95

Saturday, August 23, 2014

YUMMY PANCAKES WITH SUGAR-FREE OPTION



Pancakes are one of those things that sugar quitters keep trying to tamper with, and I believe they should just STOP. Someone recently Instagrammed some Sugar-free Maca Coconut Buckwheat Protein Pancakes. Pancakes aren't supposed to be stiff and beige. Pancakes aren't supposed to be made from quinoa or sugar harvested from kale.

I have tried a few modified/healthified pancakes in my time, so I do know what I'm talking about. I have tried pancakes using wholemeal flour, and again I say to myself, "why?" I have also made pancakes using dextrose instead of sugar. The dextrose left a funny taste in my mouth. If you're going to go to the trouble of treating yourself with pancakes, you don't want them to be a chore to eat.

Thus I present to you a guaranteed YUM sugar-free recipe that will yield yummy pancakes!

It is by far the best sugar-free pancake recipe I've had, and all I had to do was... leave out the sugar from the regular pancake recipe I've used for years. I served them here with some frozen blueberries that I heated in the microwave.

Pancakes don't want to be a health food (they slipped me a note) but if it's just sugar you're trying to avoid, THIS is the recipe for you (obv. if you're totally avoiding fructose you'll skip the blueberries, but why would you, blueberries are excellent!)

PANCAKES

1 cup self-raising flour
Pinch salt
1/4 teaspoon bicarb soda
2/3 cup sour milk*
3 tablespoons sugar (simply leave this out if you don't want sugar)
1 egg
2 teaspoons melted butter

*Make sour milk by adding 1 teaspoon of white vinegar or lemon juice to the milk, microwave for 30 seconds, stir.

Combine dry ingredients. Mix to a smooth batter with beaten egg and milk. Melt butter then stir into mixture. This recipe is good for pikelets - for a thinner pancake just add more milk.

Enjoy!

Friday, August 22, 2014

PINK HIMALAYAN SALT - SUPERFOOD OR FAD?



A friend of mine recently put me onto pink Himalayan salt, with the simple recommendation that "it's actually good for you". I like salt, and I love pink - sold. But being the information fiend that I am, I had to further investigate this claim with a little reading. So, is this just another food fad or is there substance to pink Himalayan salt beyond its exotic name and rosy hue?

According to this read, pink Himalayan salts "are one of the world's most potent and powerful hidden secrets... prized for its healing and restorative powers". The salts are a pure substance sourced from the Himalayan mountains and have a supposed list of health benefits including the following:

- 84 minerals and bio compounds

- Used to effectively detoxify the human body

- Lowers blood pressure

- Relaxes muscles and mind due to its ability to be easily absorbed into the bloodstream

- Used to treat sinus issues and other respiratory conditions including asthma

- Improves sleep

- Balances the body's acidity and alkaline levels

- Clears and heals arteries

Why might pink salt be superior to ordinary table salt? According to this post, "commercial refined salt is not only stripped of all its minerals, besides sodium and chloride, but is also chemically cleaned, bleached and heated at unnecessary high temperatures. In addition, it is treated with anti-caking agents... [that] also prevent dissolving within our system leading to build up and then deposit in organs and tissues, causing severe health problems. Finally, the iodine that is added into salt is usually synthetic which is difficult for your body to process properly."

While that all sounds convincing, there are just as many articles that claim the Himalayan pink salt hype is bogus, and definitely a fad. This health blog says that the quantity of extra minerals in pink salt are too small to count, and that at the end of the day, it's all salt (this blog does not like salt). 

This site claims that pink Himalayan salt is unusually high in fluoride and that this is damaging to your health; it labels the emergence of pink Himalayan salts as a scam, but it does talk about the various benefits of different varieties of salts.

Damn. I really liked my pink salt grinder. You know, my parents were never huge salt consumers, I think I picked up the habit of adding a sprinkling of salt to my dinner (especially my peas) from my Nanna. She definitely didn't have pink salt, and if you'd asked her what a superfood was she might have said that it was a really good baked potato?

At the end of the day, I feel like there is something to be said for the health benefits of different types of salts, including the way these salts have been treated before reaching the supermarket. But I also believe that for something that I consume in moderation, it's probably going to be neither here not there at the end of the day (or at least until they make up their minds). If you like the look of the pink Himalayan, join the club, but otherwise, I don't think a light sprinkle of the Black & Gold is going to send you early to the grave.

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