Monday, October 27, 2014

How to Eat Spirulina

The following is an advertorial. I received the product mentioned in exchange for my honest review. 

Please talk to your doctor before you eat spirulina, especially if you have a medical condition or take prescription medications.

Spirulina is a blueish-green algae that's full of almost all the nutrients that a body needs, such as protein, minerals, antioxidants, vitamins and essential fatty acids. As a dietary supplement, you can find spirulina in tablet, powder or flake form.

How to Use Spirulina


Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of spirulina in the following to boost its nutritional value:
  • Salad dressings
  • Sauces, like spaghetti sauce
  • Pesto
  • Yogurt
  • Smoothies
  • Homemade ice cream
  • Juices
  • Batter, such as pancake or cake batter
  • Guacamole
  • Salsa
From what I've read, there is no right or wrong way to eat spirulina. The NYU Langone Medical Center states that doses generally range between 1 to 8.4 grams per day.

While the natural medical community boasts that spirulina can help with various ailments, the Langone Medical center states that evidence that supports such claims is still "preliminary."

Spirulina Precautions

Spirulina is not appropriate for everyone. WebMD states that spirulina may not be appropriate for:
  • Those with autoimmune diseases
  • Individuals with phenylketonuria
  • Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding
  • Infants and children
  • Individuals taking immuno-suppressant medications
  • Those on a neutropenic diet

Spirulina Powder

One of the simplest ways to eat spirulina is in powder form, like the USDA-certified organic spirulina powder by the Sari Foods Company. According to the company, it harvests its spirulina from lakes in rural Mongolia.

When I first opened the bag of spirulina, the smell immediately hit me. It reminded me of those fried shrimp chips that you buy at Asian supermarkets. My husband said that it smells like a lake full of algae and plant life.

When you put a bit of the spirulina in a glass of water, the water gets a wonderful dark turquoise hue. The taste is much like lake water...without the boat motor oil or duck poo. The taste isn't noticeable when you mix the algae with other foods and flavors.

It's always a good idea to get your nutrients from food whenever possible. When you purchase spirulina, make sure that it doesn't contain toxins or contaminants. Sari Foods states that its spirulina comes from soda lakes that's free of pollution. They also state that they regularly test the product for heavy metals, pesticides, mold, yeast, E. coli,k and other contaminants.

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Moisturize Dry Skin When the Weather is Cold

The following is an advertorial. I received the products mentioned in exchange for an honest review on my blog. 

I have no idea what the future has in store for me. But, when the weather starts to get chilly, I know one thing for sure: cold weather = dry skin. For years, I used to just slather moisturizer all over my face and hands without a second thought. This year, I'm more thoughtful about my approach to keep my complexion clear and my skin hydrated and glowing.

How to Moisturize Dry Skin


1. Drink

Moisturized skin starts from the inside of your body. Drink at least 8 cups of water a day to keep your body and skin -- the body's largest organ -- hydrated. While this step may seem way too simplistic, it's one of the most vital.

2. Prep

Before moisturizing your skin, you must prepare it by getting rid of excess dirt, oil and bacteria. Vivant Skin Care's Mandelic Acid 3-in-1 Wash. The wash helps rejuvenate the skin, as well as treat acne, hyper-pigmentation (discoloration). In addition to using it on your face, you can use the wash on your body and hair.  

Because I have sensitive skin, I like that the wash contains acids derived from natural sources (i.e., almonds, grape seed, kiwi fruit and green tea) instead of harsh benzoyl peroxide. The product's scent reminds me of a gentle shampoo and it has a great lather. I use the wash day and night and recommend it if you want to prevent acne or minimize your pores.

Another product I use is InstaNatural's Deep Cleansing Facial Oil. You may think, "Wash your face with oil?! What the..." But, yes, you can wash your face with oil. This deep cleansing oil is a dry oil, so it cleans and moisturizes at the same time.

This oil is my go-to eye makeup remover. I have some mascara that's impossible to remove with regular eye makeup removers, but the Deep Cleansing Facial Oil does the trick. It completely dissolves the mascara, something that other oils I tried couldn't do. It also doesn't dry out the skin around your eyes when you use it.

Another thing that I like about the cleansing oil is its floral smell. It reminds me of Rodin's Olio Lusso, a similar facial oil that my skin likes, but is out of my price range. When I use InstaNatural's oil, I experience the same benefits as the luxury product, but at a fraction of the price.

3. Mask

Every once in a while, I like to use a facial mask to help remove dead skin cells and impurities from my skin. Azara Organics' Seaweed Facial Mask and Body Wrap does just that without drying out my skin. Harvested from the Atlantic Ocean and tested for quality, the seaweed mask naturally helps reduce inflammation and remove toxins.

The smell of the seaweed powder reminds of an aquarium. It doesn't smell fishy; it smells like the beach. I had a bit of trouble getting the powder-to-water ratio just right at first. After I figured it out, I left the mask on for about 15 minutes. When I washed it off, my skin felt soft and smooth. If you like natural masks, this is a good one.

4. Tone

When you wash your face with warm water, the pores on your face naturally open up more. A toner helps minimize your pores and clear out excess dirt and bacteria. I also like to use it when the skin on my face feels gross.

InstaNatural offers a Vitamin C Facial Toner that you can spray directly onto your face or onto a cotton ball (to wipe on your face). The toner has a nice citrus smell, moisturizes your skin and prepares it to absorb serums and moisturizers.

I thought the Vitamin C toner was the best I had ever used until InstaNatural sent me a toner made from Moroccan Rose Water. I love its smell! I can't decide which toner I like better, but I do wish the rose water toner had a spray pump on the bottle.

5. Nourish

Before I moisturize my skin, I apply serums that  help nourish it. Two that I recently used are hyaluronic acid serums with vitamin C and green tea from Morea Naturals and Body Merry. While both serums performed equally well, the serum by Morea Naturals seemed a bit silkier. It also comes in a pump bottle instead of a bottle with a pipette.

Body Merry also makes a Pro-A Serum that you can use in combination with its hyaluronic acid serum. Derived from vitamin A, the retinol serum helps reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. What I like best about it, though, is that it helps keep my skin clear.

Foxbrim sells a Complete Anti-Aging Moisturizer with vitamin A (retinol) and antioxidants. I'm all for products with retinol (I can't get enough). I feel, however, that this product doesn't deliver enough moisture to my skin, so I use it as a serum. The product feels nice on my face and my skin absorbs it quickly. 

InstaNatural sells the Age-Defying Skin Clearing Serum, which contains retinol, vitamin B3 (niacin) and vitamin C. Who knew that you could absorb so many vitamins through the skin? It also contain salicylic acid, which helps keep your complexion clear. This product blends my favorite skin-nourishing ingredients, eliminating the need to have a bunch of little bottles.

InstaNatural also let me try its Niacinamide (Vitamin B3) Anti-Aging & Skin-Lightening Serum. The serum is great for all skin types and gives your skin a boost of moisture before you apply a facial moisturizer. The nice thing about this product is that you only need a tiny squirt of it for your entire face, and the anti-aging properties also help you maintain a clear complexion.

6. Moisturize

My skin cries out for moisture after I wash it. Adovia has a great line of skin and hair care products, including its Intensive Anti-Wrinkle Cream. This product is a rich moisturizer that has ingredients like Dead Sea salt, vitamin C, collagen and lactic acid. While I like how the cream feels, its scent is a little too strong; it reminds me of soap. The smell, however, isn't so bad that I won't use the product.

Foxbrim has a nice Vitamin C Lotion that complements its anti-aging moisturizer. The product contains ingredients like aloe vera, shea butter, green tea and MSM. I like to use this lotion when I need a light moisturizer, like on warmer days, or if I plan to use supplemental moisturizing products.

Right now my favorite moisturizer to use is the Dr. Song Organic Rosehip Oil. I use it day and night and on my face, hands and feet. Rosehip seed oil is a dry oil, so it doesn't clog your pores or leave your skin feeling greasy. One aspect that I like is that you only need two or three drops of oil for your entire face, so the bottle will last you a long time.

7. Treat

Despite all the moisturizer and serums that I use, I sometimes need some extra oomph in areas where my skin is particularly sensitive or delicate, like around my eyes. Yalmeh offers the Super Youth Eye Cream and Glory Eye Bright Gel. Both product combat dark under-eye circles, puffiness and fine lines using natural ingredients, such as aloe vera.

The eye cream is much richer than the gel. I think I prefer it over the gel, but I like the gel's packaging better, as it comes in a tube. The gel smells nice and works as a light moisturizer. One thing I noticed, however, is that the gel smells just like Foxbrim's eye gel, which I reviewed several months ago.   


I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

An Easy Way to Drink 8 Cups of Water a Day

The following is an advertorial. I received the product mentioned in exchange for an honest review on my blog. 

Image: Wikimedia Commons
For a long time, nutrition experts advised us to drink 8 cups of water a day; that's 2 liters (64 ounces) (the size of a large soda bottle). The Institute of Medicine states that men should consume 13 cups of water a day (3 liters) and women should drink 9 cups (2.2 liters).

In addition to plain H2O, other sources of water include:
  • Milk
  • Tea
  • Other beverages, which you should consume in moderation
  •  Fruits and vegetables, which are up to 90 percent water

Tricks to Drink 8 Glasses of  Water a Day


Problem:

Part of the reason that it can be difficult to drink 8 glasses of water a day is that it can be hard to keep track of how much water you drink.

Solution:

Use a big 64-ounce cup instead of trying to count how many smaller glasses of water you drank. You can find a big cup like this at a mini-mart, like the kind at a gas station. I use a large cup like this at home.

Alternatively, fill up a 1-liter bottle twice a day. Some sodas come in 1 liter-sized bottles. This is a good option if you're traveling. If you work outside of the home, use two 1-liter bottles: finish a bottle while you're at home and one while you're at work.

Problem:

Even though people say it has no taste, water seems to taste gross to me after I drink so much of it.

 

Solution:

I use 0-calorie drink mixes. The larger packets flavors 2 liters of water. When I travel, I like to use the water flavor enhancers that you squirt into the water. Alternatively, you can use the smaller packets of drink mixes.

I recently tried the lemon-flavored Vacay Water Enhancer. It comes with 10 servings in one packet. The company states that Vacay has a calming effect with ingredients like chamomile, passion flower and l-theanine.

Unless you like the taste of stevia, Vacay is not for you. I liked the lemon taste, but the taste of stevia was too overwhelming for me. In addition, I can't say that it made me feel more noticeably relaxed or helped me sleep better. This drink mix is a nice try on Vacay's behalf, but I can't get over the stevia flavor issue. 


I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Information about Vitamin D

The following is an advertorial. I received the product mentioned in exchange for an honest review on my blog.

Vitamin D is a hot topic today. The fat-soluble vitamin helps your body absorb and retain calcium and phosphorus in its bones. Too much of it can cause problems with your heart, kidneys or lungs, while a deficiency can make your bones weak or lead to other problems. According to a 2008 article in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, vitamin D deficiency is a pandemic.

Image: U.S. National Library of Medicine

This summer, I learned that I had a vitamin D deficiency after a yearly checkup with my physician. She determined this after seeing the results of a blood test she ordered. My doctor instructed me to take 6,000 international units (IU) of a vitamin D3 supplement for three months, followed by 2,000 to 4,000 IU of the supplement for the rest of my life.

For the rest of my life?! What the... My doctor said that some people don't produce or absorb the vitamin on their own as well as others. While my doctor doesn't know why I have this problem, it may have something to do with my thyroid.

In general, causes of vitamin D deficiency include:
  • Thyroid problems
  • Having darker skin
  • Living in a place that doesn't receive a lot of sunlight (the sun can help the body produce the vitamin naturally)
  • Never going outside
  • Certain medications
  • Some herbal supplements
  • Liver problems
  • Kidney problems
  • Malabsorption-related diseases
  • Obesity
Image: U.S. National Library of Medicine

Vitamin D3 Supplements

When we discussed vitamin D3 supplements, my doctor warned me to make sure they were of good quality. When DSpeed offered the chance to try its Fast-Melt Vitamin D3, I was definitely interested.


The DSpeed supplement is round tablet that melts in your mouth. I like that feature because I don't have to worry about having water to take it. The tablet has a peach flavor. I like the taste, but I'm also not opposed to the taste of sugar substitutes. 

My one gripe about the supplement is that it's only available in 1,000 IU. Since I was taking 6,000 IU a day, I would have been out of supplements in 10 days. Now that I'm taking 3,000 IU a day, I take a Fast-Melt and a 2,000 IU tablet by a different company.

If you need to take a vitamin D supplement (talk to your doctor about this), and you hate swallowing pills, I recommend the Fast-Melt Vitamin D3, which you can find on Amazon.com.

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Items for Your Fall Kitchen

The following is an advertorial. I received the following items in exchange for an honest review. 

With the fall and winter holidays just around the corner, the right tools in your kitchen can help make preparing big meals simpler (and fun). A couple of my new favorites include a garlic press and a dual vegetable peeler.

Garlic Press

I recently tried the Propresser Garlic Press.It's made of stainless steel and strong. My old press was an aluminum one from a dollar store. It worked fine, but had a small basket. Propresser's press has a large basket, so I don't have to cut a clove into smaller pieces so it fits. Mincing garlic only takes a few seconds with this press.

A video from Propresser states that you can press the garlic without removing the outside skin. When I tried this, however, it was too tough for me to press. I have large hands and have to use both to start the pressing process when I use larger garlic cloves.

All in all, the Propresser Garlic Press works well and the company backs it with a 200 percent satisfaction guarantee.

Dual Vegetable Peeler

zoodles
The Julienne Peeler - Vegetable Peeler from Priority Chef is a delight. The gadget looks like a regular vegetable peeler, but has two heads. One head peels vegetables like a normal peeler and the other juliennes them so they look like long strips.

I brought the dual peeler to a family event for the cooks to try. They loved it! Everyone commented on how they don't have to use a mandolin and risk cutting their fingers to julienne vegetables.

The fun part of the peeler is that when you leave the julienned vegetables long, they look like pasta. The kids loved this, especially in the salad. The cooks like that the blades on the peeler tool work in both directions, not just in a downward motion.

My only gripe about the peeler is that it can be tricky to clean by hand. 

The people who tried the dual peeler said they wanted one. Now I have a great, affordable gift idea. (When you see the Julienne Peeler - Vegetable Peeler on Amazon, the product may be back-ordered. If so, you have to click on the "Other Sellers on Amazon" section and then find the peeler sold by Priority Chef to reserve one.)

What are your favorite kitchen gadgets?

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Natural Pain Relief Cream without the Smell

The following is an advertorial. I received the following product in exchange for an honest review.

Back in July, I wrote a post about an effective pain relief gel that I enjoyed. I recently had the opportunity to try a different product, Thera Relief lotion from Thera Vita.

Thera Vita claims that its lotion helps fight and calm inflammation in the joints and muscles using 27 natural compounds that are free dangerous chemicals, such as parabens. The cream is odorless and doesn't have a menthol-like smell.  

My Review

I recently tried Thera Relief when I pulled a muscle in my leg. The lotion is unscented and non-greasy. I applied the cream as directed, but didn't notice a difference in how I felt or my recovery time.

At this time I do not recommend Thera Relief for muscle or joint pain. If I change my mind, I'll let you know.  


I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

The Best Beauty Products to Try this Fall

The following is an advertorial. I received the following products in exchange for an honest review on my blog. 

I love trying new beauty products! I don't need a theme park with roller coasters for a thrill; just give me a bag of makeup. This summer, I tried a few products that I believe are must-haves in any beauty arsenal, regardless of your age: eye cream, skin exfoliator, a hair threader and pure, raw shea butter.

Eye Cream 

The skin around your eyes is thin and sensitive. At any age, you can experience dark circles, bags, dryness and puffiness. Using an eye cream twice a day -- in the morning and at night -- will help keep your eyes looking healthy and bright.

I recently tried the Age Defense Eye Cream by Body Merry. The cream has natural and organic ingredients, as well all peptides like Matrixyl-3000 and Tripeptide-5. In addition to helping prevent fine lines and wrinkles, it helps reduce their appearance.

The eye cream smells like Dr. Pepper. I liked that it contains natural ingredients and the formula was gentle enough that it didn't irritate my eyes. My skin absorbed the cream quickly, too.

Skin Exfoliator

I recently wrote about how and why to exfoliate your skin. Australian company Exfolimate brings you two exfoliators (one for your body and one for your face) that are unlike others offered on the market. Instead of scratchy sponges or lotions, the Exfolimate uses a thin piece of metal with micro-grooves that scrape away dead skin cells, dirt, oil and bacteria away from your skin. I use it in the shower, after I rinse off my soap and face wash.

Of all the exfoliators I've tried, the Exfolimate is the best. I use the larger exfoliator under my arms to remove deoderant and on my legs before shaving. The large exfoliator is also great on my feet!

The smaller exfoliator that comes in the Exfolimate kit is the best I've ever used on my face. It is the only exfoliator that has reduced the size of my pores and eliminated blackheads. The curves on the Exfolimate are small enough to fit along the tight spaces around my nose, making it better than a pore strip.

Hair Threader

Hair threader
One of the fastest ways to remove unwanted facial hair is with a hair threader, like the kind sold in the Facial Hair Remover Kit by Bella and Bear. The kit comes with a hair threader that's a tightly wound, flexible metallic spring and a set of tweezers.

To use the threader, you press the coil lightly against your skin and twist it. If you're not used to using such a contraption, it will hurt the first few time. But, just like your eyebrows and tweezers, your skin will get used to feeling. (You shouldn't try to use the hair threader on your eyebrows...unless you don't want any.)

The threader in the Bella and Bear kit works well, as do the tweezers. I like that the tweezers aren't dull, so they get some of the more stubborn hairs.

The only hesitation I have about the product is the "engrish" on the packaging: "People will stare, make it work [sic] their while." Just ignore it and you'll be fine.

Raw Shea Butter

Raw shea butter
I've always seen shea butter promoted on various products, but never appreciated its benefits until I tried the Raw Shea Butter from Cleopatra's Choice. Women in Ghana, Africa, produce this shea butter from the nuts of a shea tree.

Raw shea butter has similar benefits as coconut oil, but it is less likely to clog your pores. In my opinion, it feels less greasy. Shea butter's melting point is higher than coconut oil, so it stays hard until you rub it between your hands.

Raw Shea Butteris better than any other oil or lotion that I've tried on my feet. It absorbs into my skin quickly and lasts all day. My feet also don't feel slippery after I apply the shea butter, so they don't slide around in my sandals.

Stop buying lotions that have a tiny bit of shea butter. Go for the real thing and save money in the long-run with pure, raw shea butter.


I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.