Superfood and candy – now that sounds like an oxymoron. Enter peanut butter cup chia pudding, the perfect way to satisfy your candy cravings, while taking in some superfood benefits!
If you were to guess the ingredients that were in almond milk, you’d probably think just almonds and water. But if you take a look at the carton of almond milk in your refrigerator, chances are, it has a bunch of ingredients. That’s why you should make your own homemade raw almond milk! You won’t believe how easy and delicious it is! But first, let’s take a look at a popular almond milk pick, Silk’s Original Unsweetened Almond Milk:
Ingredients: Almondmilk (Filtered Water, Almonds), Sea Salt, Locust Bean Gum, Sunflower Lecithin, Gellan Gum, Natural Flavor.
Although none of their ingredients are considered unsafe by the FDA, (but what even is natural flavor?) why do you need to have more ingredients in your food than you have to? The truth is, you don’t; just keep it clean and simple, and make your own!
Miss the summer? I think it’s safe to say that we all do, especially when you’re working hard at your desk underneath fluorescent lights. Most of your year takes place in that type of room, so it’s quite nice to look at a little souvenir from your sunlit vacation. While you still may have the time, put aside 10 minutes to make a DIY paperweight with your collected memories!
Remember the days when your parents would sprinkle baby powder all over you? Maybe not. But when you think of a baby’s scent, Johnson and Johnson’s (J&J) baby powder almost always pops into your mind. Let’s face it, you don’t have to be a baby to enjoy this product – many have been using it their whole lives. Nevertheless, this beloved product has recently been under scrutiny, as women are blaming pharmaceutical giant J&J for their ovarian cancer. You might be thinking: How is baby powder even related to ovarian cancer?
The answer is talcum powder. Talcum powder is the primary ingredient in J&J’s baby powder, and comes from talc: a clay mineral constituting of hydrated magnesium silicate. Although there is some conflicting research, numerous studies indicate that with years of dusting around or in intimate personal parts, women have a higher risk of getting ovarian cancer. (Around your private parts can even include dusting it on your underwear.) In a recent study in June 2013 published by the Journal Cancer Prevention Research, researchers analyzed data of 2,000 women from 8 different studies. They concluded that women who use talcum powder for their vaginal hygiene were 20-30% more likely to develop ovarian cancer. I think many women would agree that even an elevated chance of ovarian cancer is serious enough for you to stop using it.
So, what are your options if you want a better baby powder that’s cheap, effective, and reliable? DIY baby powder with only 4 ingredients: tapioca starch, arrowroot powder, oats, and lavender.
Oats: Perfect for even the most sensitive skin, oats naturally have vitamin E. Vitamin E, also known as tocopherol, has antioxidants which prevent aging, and also has natural moisturizing qualities since it’s a lipid. Also, oats help treat rashes, eczema, and even acne.
Lavender: As some of you may know, lavender has a plethora of skin benefits such as soothing irritations, and combating eczema to name a few. You’ll probably be happy to know that lavender has antibacterial and anti fungal properties. Plus, it smells great!
For roughly $6 (for a 4oz container), Johnson and Johnson offers a product that keeps both body moisture and odor under control… And I have to say that making this baby powder does all this – but in the healthiest ways possible, and due to its ingredients, it even tackles other skin issues. Think these ingredients are too expensive? Well, I’m glad to tell you that for a 4oz container of this diy baby powder, you only spend roughly $2 (using the ingredients in the links above). That’s four dollars off J&J! One of my favorite parts about this is that you don’t have to continuously waste plastic – or even use plastic at all. I like to use these metal shakers, but if you go through baby powder quickly, opt for a bigger shaker. Also, add fun little labels to make it personal! Considering the cheap cost, the beneficial ingredients put in, environmentally friendly factor, and of course, your health, there’s no reason you shouldn’t put 5 minutes aside to make your own baby powder!
- ¼ cup tapioca starch
- ¼ cup arrowroot powder
- 2 tbsp oats*
- 1 tbsp dried lavender seeds
- In a bowl, mix tapioca starch and arrowroot powder.
- In a blender, blend oats and dried lavender together until it reaches a flour-like consistency.
- Add oat-lavender flour to the starches and mix.
- Spoon it into your shaker.
“Talcum Powder & Ovarian Cancer – Claims from Women.” DrugWatch. DrugWatch, 2016. Web. 22 Aug. 2016.
“Talcum Powder Lawsuits: Johnson and Johnson Ovarian Cancer Claims.” DrugWatch. DrugWatch, 2016. Web. 22 Aug. 2016.
I was blown away on my recent trip to San Francisco where I discovered the most delightful place that literally makes absolutely everything from scratch!
My family and I were on a hunt to find some post-lunch treat, and thankfully, the Asian-like structure of Hometown Creamery caught our eyes. There, my brother and I instantly looked into the glass freezer where nine small tubs of ice creams were showcased: roasted black sesame, chocolate sorbet, peanut butter chocolate fudge, fresh mint chip, French roast, fresh ginger, coconut, cookies n’ cream, and pluot sorbet.
My brother headed for the classic flavor of fresh mint chip, a personal favorite, while I went for the vegan chocolate sorbet (which I must replicate by the way!) in a ‘smidge’ size (an adorable term the creamery uses for their smallest cup). Hometown Creamery offers six sizes (flight being a dreamy assembly of 5 different scoops) in either a cup or homemade waffle cone. If you choose to go an alternate route, Hometown Creamery offers more options, such as sundaes, milkshakes, coke floats and ice cream sandwiches with homemade (of course) cookies.
On this year’s family vacation, I made it a point to visit my first lavender farm, AKL Maui, to finally witness the home of my favorite scent and essential oil. Here, I was fortunate to see a vast amount of different types of lavender, such as Spanish, French, English, Sweet, growing naturally in the countryside. The farm is quaint, and sits on the side of a mountain, just so that you can see clouds make their way through the lavender bushes growing. As I made my way through the trails, the scent of lavender accompanied my steps. I had discovered that I was only semi-knowledgable on all the benefits of lavender. AKL Maui Farm explains it best:
I am often asked what I think is the perfect summertime treat. Without a doubt – sorbet! Sorbet is not only an incredibly easy dessert to make at home, requiring very few ingredients, but also, perfect for every age group – children, adults, and elders. It is especially great for those with many food intolerances and allergies. It just hits the spot for those who aren’t looking for a dessert that’s too fruity, too tarty, or heavy (like my family!). A true crowd pleaser!
In Italy, people generally have “sorbetto” in the summer to finish a meal. In other fine dining instances, small amounts of sorbet, called the “intermezzo”, are served between courses. It is considered a palate cleanser, and prepares your taste buds for the next course. Either way, it is a delicate part of any meal, and with the mint, it instantly places a refreshing taste in your mouth. At the end of your spoonful, there’s a very subtle tang from the lemon which is softened by the sugar, and if you choose, honey. You can get this summer hit made within 45 minutes (freezing not included)!
Since elementary school, we’ve been told to use hand sanitizer to wipe off any germs that could be left on our hands, and from there, people have immersed themselves in the world of Purell. Little did we know that those sanitizers we have liberally been putting on our hands were actually toxic. It may get rid of 99.9% of germs, put with a product so strong, it is doing more than just that.
Companies such as Purell do not want to disclose their exact scents as a trade secret, and therefore, are allowed by the FDA to simply list “fragrance” among their ingredient list. This allows the company to slip in harmful ingredients under one word that appears innocent. “Fragrance” is generally synthetic and is loaded with toxic chemicals, containing phthalates, which are endocrine disruptors (could alter genital development). Also, many hand sanitizing brands have parabens. Our skin is semipermeable, so all the toxicity of the sanitizer we use everyday, is getting into our bloodstream – something we don’t want.
Enter my easy hand sanitizing gel and spray – it’s easy, and works. Not to mention, it has a small ingredient list, all of which are natural and simple:
Avocado Oil – Sometimes with Purell, people tend to get dry and itchy hands, however with the use of avocado oil in this hand sanitizer, this doesn’t happen. Avocado oil reduces inflammation and itching due to its high content of oleic acid.
Witch Hazel – Witch Hazel has natural disinfectant properties, and is an astringent, therefore having the ability to remove excess oil from the skin, while reducing appearance of pores.
Aloe Vera – Aloe Vera has powerful antioxidants and some of the antioxidant compounds can help prevent the growth of harmful bacteria.
Tea Tree Oil – Tea tree oil has incredible antimicrobial properties, and even has the ability to kill parasites and fungal infections.
100% Pure Spearmint Essential Oil – Spearmint is a disinfectant. You can really play around with the oils for the hand sanitizers. I recommend lavender, lemon, and Young Living Thieves essential oils for the best results. Also, make sure to check that your oils are 100% pure because many times, companies add other fragrances and chemicals in their oils. The best essential oil brand I have come across is Young Living.
The recipes are so quick to make, and worth it. There’s also an environmental plus because you are reusing the bottles, rather than throwing them away. Put it in your bag for school, in the car, and you’ll know that what you’re putting on is authentic, natural, and works!
Hand Sanitizing Gel
- 3 tbsp aloe vera
- 1 tbsp witch hazel
- 5 drops 100% pure spearmint essential oil (or others such as lavender, lemon, Thieves, etc.)
- 2 drops tea tree oil
- 1 tsp avocado oil (almond oil, coconut oil works well too)
Combine all ingredients and put in a small bottle.
Hand Sanitizing Spray
- 1 tbsp witch hazel
- 2 tsp aloe vera
- 2 tsp avocado oil (almond oil, coconut oil works well too)
- 10 drops 100% pure spearmint essential oil (or others such as lavender, lemon, Thieves, etc.)
- 1 drop tea tree oil
- filtered water
Combine all ingredients together, and put in spray bottle. Then fill the bottle with filtered water until the top.
*I got all my bottles from Bed Bath and Beyond for under a dollar*
Summer is officially here, and for those that hope to stay healthy during the heat, I have the perfect recipe for you – vegan chocolate pudding. You can make within 5 minutes because there are only 5 ingredients: cocoa powder, maple syrup, salt, vanilla, and… avocado. Before you judge this snack based on the avocado, I assure you that you will not even taste it. Proof: my brother’s friends loved it, and asked for seconds. Also, the chocolate flavor masks any trace of avocado. Overall, it’s an extremely healthy alternative for the summer, and it actually cools you down. Snacks in the summer often include heavily color-died popsicles, or ice cream sandwiches – but this pudding is guaranteed to make you feel more satisfied, and stay full longer. Avocados contain a high amount of potassium, monounsaturated fatty acids (aka “heart healthy fat”), fiber, and antioxidants which help combat aging. Aside from all the health benefits this pudding may offer, it is incredibly easy to make, and within several times of making it, you’ll notice that you don’t even need to measure out each ingredient.
It’s creamy, velvety, and is quite addicting for chocolate lovers!
- 2 medium-sized ripe avocados
- ⅔ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- ⅓ cup maple syrup (add to taste)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- a dash of salt
- Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth.
- Cover and refrigerate for about 1 hour.
In January, I participated for the fourth time in Project Fabricland, a sewing competition. Each week, students meet for three hours to sew garments based on a theme. This year, the theme was Fairytales. This included classic tales such as Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, and lesser known ones such as The Gold Spinner. Since Cinderella was my favorite as a child, I chose her, adding a modern twist to the classic fairytale. We’re all familiar with the Cinderella story and her happy-ever-after. After marrying into royalty, one would think that a girl who went from rags to riches would deny her past – yet Cinderella never did this; she continued to be kind and hard working. Inspired by Cinderella’s story, I sped it up to date: what would modern-day working Cinderella wear to her royal appointments? Today, so many women work, and more than just mopping floors. That’s when my idea was born.
I quickly sketched a double breasted coat which I thought would look very professional, and what a princess today would wear – anywhere from a charity event, to picking up her children from school. I also chose to make a coat because I wanted to challenge myself to make something I have never done before. In previous years, I have sewn three dresses. This was by far one of the hardest pieces I have ever done! On my first day of class, I went through the fabric isles, and found a woven cotton blend fabric, light blue polyester lining, and navy buttons. White is often a sign of purity, and blue represents loyalty and sincerity. The navy blue buttons are a sign of royalty, and once unbuttoned, the lining is the iconic light blue. As I mentioned before, Cinderella never forgot about her past, and always keeps it a part of her, and therefore, I purposely put light blue on the inside because it reflects her continuous hard working, kind, and patient qualities.
During my second and third classes, I cut out all my patterns, and by the fourth class I began sewing a muslin, the “prototype” of the coat. Finally, by my fifth class, I began to sew the thirty pieces together. I really wanted to take my time with this piece because I wanted it to truly be royalty worthy! It was extremely difficult to work with the fabric, as it was always fraying, and it was extremely easy for the creamy fabric to get dirty. It took about nine weeks until my coat began looking like a coat. Finally, after 12 weeks of tedious work, I completed my coat. I still had two steps to go, the judging and the fashion show. At the judging, similar to Project Runway, there are three judges each with a background in the fashion industry who decide what place you will receive. This year, we had a fashion designer who made dance outfits, an assistant director at Coach, and another designer who had her own bridal wear line. They ask you a series of questions, as you present your garment and discuss your design board (featured two images above).
Five days after the judging, there was the fashion show. Thirty girls walk the runway to demonstrate their garment, as the head of Project Fabricland talks about your inspiration. It is extremely interesting to see how everyone translated their fairytale to a garment after a lot of hard work. This year, I was lucky to receive second place!