5 Ways You Can Use Apple Cider Vinegar To Shine Up Your Skin + Hair

Apple Cider Vinegar, or ACV, has been used for centuries for external and internal benefits.

When processed, ACV is fermented, the sugars turn into alcohol, and you are left with a vinegar which is a similar PH to skin.  The acetic, lactic, citric, and other acids in the apple cider vinegar help to dissolve dead skin cells, revealing a shiny, fresh layer and restore the acid balance of your skin.

There are many benefits of ACV when used internally, and Bragg’s website claims a few important benefits of using their vinegar externally, including

  • Helps maintain healthy skin
  • Helps promote youthful, healthy bodies
  • Soothes irritated skin
  • Relieves muscle pain from exercise

When purchasing ACV, be sure that the “Mother” exists.  This ensures that the best part of the apple has not been destroyed during processing and that it is rich in it’s natural minerals and enzymes.

clear glass mason bottles with apple juice

We have 5 ways to use this natural pantry staple in your weekly skin and hair care regime:

  1. Fight oily skin and acne with a purifying ACV mask, made of 1 TBLSP green clay to help draw impurities, and 1 TBLSP ACV to balance PH.  Apply liberally (avoid eyes), leave on for 15 minutes and rinse.

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  2. Shine up dull skin using ACV to dissolve dead skin cells.  Apply vinegar to your skin using a cotton ball dampened with purified water. Repeat weekly.
  3. Add shine to dull hair that is built up with product.  Add 1 TBLSP ACV in a small bowl of water.  Pour over hair and comb through.  Rinse. This is one of my weekly treatments that leaves my hair so soft and shiny.hair
  4. Eliminate odour and fungus from feet! Soak feet in a bowl of warm water with 1/2 cup ACV and Tea Tree Oil (5 drops). Soak for 15 minutes, rinse off and towel dry well.

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  5. Soothe sunburns, sore muscles and rashes by adding 1/2 cup ACV to your bath water.  Soak for 15-20 minutes.

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Jen Casey is a Holistic Nutritionist with Next Bite Nutrition Coaching in Vancouver, BC. She focuses her practice on whole body wellness and building a solid foundation for the pillars of health. Learn more about Jen and her healthy meal plans on Instagram.

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Picky Eater? 5 Sneaky Ways to Hide More Veggies in Your Meals

Whether it’s a picky eater you are tiptoeing around, or it’s your own wellness goals you are trying to reach, eating more veggies is on the top of many minds. Vegetables are our source of fibre to help regulate our bowels, clean out unwanted toxins, and provide us with the vitamins and minerals to keep us healthy.

For some, it’s a colour thing. Just seeing a green drink or a big side of spaghetti squash make many people cringe. As a Holistic Nutritionist, I have seen everyone from toddlers to husbands with a veggie phobia and, as a mom, I have some tricks. I have compiled my list of hacks to easily sneak in the foods that are considered too healthy for some.

Pancakes, when you make them from scratch, are a great medium for hiding leftover roasted sweet potato, carrots, and zucchini. A bonus, top them with nuts, almond butter and berries, and cook them in coconut oil for some extra healthy fats and nutrients.

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Muffins and Breakfast Cookies are often made with all kinds of whole grain goodness, like oats, flax and nuts.  The secret additions are apple sauce, shredded carrot, dried fruit and zucchini which makes them uber moist. This is one of my favourite muffin recipes, made with roasted sweet potato.

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Scrambled Egg Cups are not only the ideal on-the-go breakfast, but they hide vegetables really well. Whisk up a dozen eggs with a splash of water or milk of choice, and pour it into lined muffin cups. Sprinkle in diced red pepper, tiny pieces of mushroom, zucchini, spinach or tomato, top with cheese and bake for 20 mins. Voila, a mini omelette with no sugar and all the protein to keep your fueled until lunch.

egg cups

Smoothies, of course, are on the list. My top sneaky choices are spinach, steamed zucchini and cauliflower, roasted carrot and yam, and avocado. When I’m making dinner, I always roast extra veggies and freeze them for smoothies. Zucchini and cauliflower have little flavour in smoothies, but instead add a creamier texture.

veggie foods

Overnight Chia Pudding might be the quickest snack to prepare, although it takes some time to set up. I mix 1/3 C chia seeds with coconut or almond milk (some use yogurt) as the base. This will expand into a pudding consistency overnight. My top additions are pureed pumpkin with cinnamon and walnuts, almond butter with banana, and roasted beets with vanilla and pecans.

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My wish is for everyone to have a good relationship with vegetables and not be afraid of them because of their colour or texture. It might simply mean blending or pureeing them, slicing and dicing them in to pieces small enough to ‘hide’ for now. Once the secret is out that you have been serving veggies on the regular, I am sure you can expect some lifelong changes on your menu and some new fans of the veg.

Jen Casey is a Holistic Nutritionist with Next Bite Nutrition Coaching in Vancouver, BC. She focuses her practice on whole body wellness and building a solid foundation for the pillars of health. Learn more about Jen and her healthy meal plans on Instagram.

Embracing Winter: How to Cozy Up Your Life with a Good Dose of Hygge

Huh? Hygge? Unless you are from Denmark or Sweden, you might not be familiar with this Scandanavian tradition. Hygge, pronounced hoo-ga, is a lifestyle. Consider it the new mental health trend.

It’s a Danish idea which means to be happy and feel cozy during the winter. Also known as the Art of Happiness.

hygge

The term Hygge goes back to the 16th century, meaning “to comfort”. Practicing Hygge is a way to cope and embrace the dark, cool days of winter when sunshine is minimal. This Nordic secret might be just what many of us need to get through SAD, Seasonal Affective Disorder. Sometimes, wrapping your brain around, and simply accepting, something that you cannot change is the best way to deal with it. Enter Hygge.

Embracing darkness and cold might not sound easy. The key is to surround yourself with what means “cozy” to you. Literally blankets, fire, candles, friends, laughter, warm drinks, warming and grounding foods. Interestingly, Hygge doesn’t  shy away from the darkness. From what I have learned, the lifestyle does not involve trying to make rooms brighter, or by any means counterbalance the darkness. Rather, darkness and candle light add to the ambiance, add to feelings of coziness and closeness.

Want to add a little Hygge into your life? Here are 5 lessons we can take from Scandanavia:

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  1. Hygge together: gather your friends and loved ones, make a meal together of warming foods like roasts, root vegetables, soups, warm rye bread, warm drinks, and foods that “stick to your ribs”. Friends that hygge together, stay together. 🙂
  2. Bring the outdoors in: create a centerpiece for your table, make a promise to always have fresh flowers in one or two rooms, or start a collection of beautiful dried flowers and leaves and display it on your coffee table.
  3. Lots of blankets and pillows: bring out your favourite hand made afghan or buy the fluffiest throw you can find. Create a little corner on your oversized chair or loveseat with giant throw cushions and wrap yourself up for the night.
  4. Aromatherapy: burn some organic essential oils, light some beeswax candles, add some fresh rose petals to your warm bath. Inhaling essence of flowers can have a stimulating, relaxing or calming effect on your nervous system. Choose oils or plants that make you feel good. Some prefer citrus, floral, even woodsy.
  5. Make a “me corner”: a place to call your own where you can write, meditate, stare out a window, contemplate your thoughts. Fill it with a few of your treasures, a candle, an essential oil diffuser, a journal and your book.

Adding a little Hygge into your life will surely reduce your stress. Your negative thoughts toward winter or cold or constant rain will dissipate if you simply embrace what you cannot change. Hold my hand, come sit by the fire and Hygge with me.

love romantic bath candlelight

Jen Casey is a Holistic Nutritionist with Next Bite Nutrition Coaching in Vancouver, BC. She focuses her practice on whole body wellness and building a solid foundation for the pillars of health. Learn more about Jen and her healthy meal plans on Instagram.

Wellness Community Member: Danielle Lindsay, Nutritionist and Mental Health Advocate

Danielle
Let me introduce myself:
My name is Danielle and I am a nutritionist and a mental health advocate. I began my career as a counselor but quickly started to realize that there was more to mental health and well being than just talk therapy. I quickly burnt out and began facing my own mental health challenges. Which is part of the reason why I went back to school and became a nutritionist! I now work with clients on such health challenges as mental health as well as thyroid and adrenal issues. I also like to make really tasty food!
This is what wellness means to me:
Wellness to me means that there as a sort of balance in your life. It isn’t about the number on the scale, the salad you ate for lunch or the long run that you went for last night. To me it is so much more and so much deeper than all that. To me wellness is about bring in a state of peace and a sense of calm into the body so that you can feel great no matter what you are doing whether it is sitting at work, walking down the street, or snacking on a cookie!
I contribute to the wellness community by:
I run Thyme to Nourish which is a life coaching business/blog that focuses on nutrition, lifestyle, and having fun with food to bring about well being. I work with clients one on one, both as a counselor and a nutritionist via in person sessions or on skype to bring about balance into their life and help focus on over all mental/physical well being.
I am also an ambassador and part of a small start up called Blue Support which focuses on mental health advocacy and sending out self care boxes to those in need!
One item I cannot live without:
I don’t know if it is actually truly an item but probably my fur baby cat Vitton. I got him when I myself was struggling with my own mental health challenges and he has now become part of my being. He reminds me to slow down when I need it, forces me to sleep in on days where I am lacking in sleep, and gives me a good excuse to curl up in front of the fire with a good book. Plus he is just so darn handsome!
My favorite self care practice is:
My favourite self care practice has to be my weekly essential oil epsom salt baths. These baths have become so ritualistic for me that I can literally feel myself getting super stressed out if I go too long without on. Once a week (sometimes twice if I feel like I really need it) I light my favourite bees wax candles, draw a hot bath (even in the summer), add in some epsom salts/essential oils (I love rose, lavender, bergamot, and eucalyptus), grab a good book, and soak!
How I keep my wellness simplified:
I keep wellness simplified by encouraging myself and my clients to take everything day by day. Sometimes when we look at the bigger picture it can be very overwhelming and seem impossible to get there. By looking at each day (and moment) as its own it helps us to break things into smaller steps and also see the smaller victories we might otherwise miss. I also believe this is key because each day our bodies and minds need something different and so it is key to honour where we are at each day to make sustainable changes in the long term!
This is what motivates me:
I am motivated by so many things. But for the last year my niece, Bailey Mae, motivates me so much. It is my wish that she grows up in to a world where wellness is not talked about as something to achieve but that just is a part of life. I want her to be able to feel and know that no matter where she is she is exactly where she needs to be right then and does not need to strive to fit others ideas.
Learn more about me at:
You can follow me on instagram @thyme_to_nourish 
Or tag along on my blog for recipes, tips and trick at: www.thymetonourish-ca.com

Turn 5 Healing Plants in to the Ultimate Natural Skin Care Remedies

Using plants and flowers topically might seem like the new trend. Companies are including chamomile, lavender, salts and clays in products to 1. bring us back to nature, and 2. create a more healthy product.

In fact, using ingredients from nature goes way back. Think of Cleopatra and her milk and honey baths with a sprinkling of rose petals. Having access to these luxurious ingredients was a sign of wealth. In the ancient Roman baths, prior to the invention of soap, olive oil was used all over the body and scraped off with a rounded metal spoon-spatula to remove dirt from the skin.

These ingredients were used because they were available, yes, but also because they had purpose. Plants contain constituents that soothe, nourish, stimulate and coat. Some plant oils are extracted in the form of essential oils and used in aromatherapy for their healing properties. Some plants are steeped in tea form and ingested or used topically. Either way, our internal and external self can reap the rewards of nature’s gifts.

Here are my 5 top plant picks that work wonders on the skin:

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  1. Oats (Avena sativa): Oats are warming overall. Eating a big bowl of oatmeal soothes the digestive tract, calms the nervous system and topically is a demulcent and emollient. Mix up some ground oats with honey for a weekly face mask, or add oats to your bath to help relieve itching or rashes.
  2. Rose: Roses were grown traditionally for medicinal use but are wonderful in skin care as they are high in vitamin C and aromatic. Rose essential oil has antibacterial and antifungal properties, making it useful in skin toners and cleansers. Try making rose infused face oil or use rose petals in a weekly facial steam.
  3. Aloe Vera:  Internally, aloe juice can aid in digestion with it’s anti-inflammatory properties. Topically, aloe contains constituents that aid in wound healing by  stimulating the growth of skin cells. If you have a live aloe plant, simply break open a leaf and apply to wounded skin. Otherwise, you can purchase aloe juice or gel and use directly on skin. For sunburned skin, keep aloe refrigerated and apply directly as needed.
  4. Calendula (Calendula officinalis): From the pot Marigold flower, Calendula has a purpose in skin care from baby to adult. Topically, it’s major uses are for burns, wounds, skin infections, and reducing inflammation. A cold infusion compress works well on burns and calendula-infused oil is my favourite addition in salves.
  5. Witch Hazel (Hamamelis virginiana): A plant with astringent, anti-inflammatory, and healing properties. Traditionally, it is used in skin care to tone the skin, tighten pores, reduce inflammation and protect against UV damage, with antioxidant properties. Apply directly onto cleansed skin, or mix with steeped herbal tea as a face toner.

Get back to basics. Try incorporating one or two herbal remedies into your daily routine to help reduce some toxins, and naturally clean and protect your skin. Experiment with infusions, salves, compresses and even try mixing them together for a synergistic effect. You can grow your own and dry the leaves, or purchase organic plants and flowers at organic markets, dispensaries, wellness clinics and DIY soapmaking/beauty suppliers.

 

Beauty Foods: 5 Common Nutrients That Give Your Skin That Glow

As a former Make Up Artist, a Nutritionist, and the creator of a line of natural skin care for babies, I know a thing or two about skin.
Topically, our skin is affected by what we eat, or don’t eat, what we put on it, and by our environment.  Consuming trans and saturated fats can clog pores and promote bacteria production and acne.  Also, high refined carbohydrate consumption can increase testosterone conversion to DHT, which enlarges the pores and increases sebum (oil) production and acne.  Sugar is also a culprit as it is turned into saturated fatty acids by our body and forms a greasy film on our skin. (1)
A lack of nutrients can also cause skin conditions.  A deficiency in zinc, antioxidants, fiber, water and EFA’s can cause acne, premature aging, dehydration and sun damage as your skin is less protected from free radicals. Some foods work well topically to improve suppleness, shine, and clean pores, but some foods contain nutrients which are more effective when eaten.
Of course, a balanced, healthy diet with plenty of water will keep our entire body systems working optimally, but these particular nutrients will help your skin looking its best. 

Liquid EFA’s (Essential Fatty Acids): Oils containing EFA’s work better internally rather than topically as they can become rancid if left on the skin and exposed to air.  Internally, EFA’s, such as walnut, sesame, and flax oil, help to improve the skin’s suppleness and makes it less prone to infection.

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Zinc: Zinc is a micronutrient that works particularly well on acne conditions. A deficiency in this mineral can increase the conversion of testosterone to DHT, increase pore size and sebum production. Zinc plays an important role in healing and tissue building. Foods rich in zinc are spinach, oysters, lamb, eggs, nuts and pumpkin seeds.

 

Selenium: A trace mineral that helps to protect against free radicals that can cause premature aging, dryness, tissue damage and even skin cancer. Cold water fish and brazil nuts are excellent sources of Selenium.

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Fiber: This is the roughage of plant material that binds to cholesterol and other toxins in the body and flushes it out. Daily fiber intake is important for our entire body to keep it clean. The skin is our body’s largest organ, so if the body is not clean, the evidence shows on the outside, usually in the form of skin rashes and acne. An excellent form of fiber is ground flax, an ancient seed that is the richest source of alpha-linolenic acid, plus protein, vitamins and minerals. It is anti-fungal, anti-bacterial and has cancer fighting properties. (2)

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Antioxidants: Vitamins A, C, and E help protect our body from free radical damage that can cause premature aging, tissue damage, disease and the deterioration of fatty acids. Foods high in vitamins A, C and E are berries, citrus fruits, tomatoes, wheat germ, carrots, avocado, sunflower seeds, eggs, dairy and spinach.

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Always include exercise in your daily routine. It aids in detoxification of toxins through the skin.  Sweating is good! And, don’t forget about water. You can liven it up with lemons and berries for flavour and an extra boost of antioxidants.

 

Additional sources:

  1. The Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine, 
  2. Fats that Heal, Fats that Kill

 

Jen Casey is a Holistic Nutritionist with Next Bite Nutrition Coaching in Vancouver, BC. She focuses her practice on whole body wellness and building a solid foundation for the pillars of health. Learn more about Jen and her healthy meal plans on Instagram.

Wellness Community Member: Sophia Ruiz, Wife, Mama + Wellness Enthusiast

Sophia Brigstock
Let me introduce myself: Hey! I’m Sophia Ruiz, wife, mama to Isabel Grace, and wellness enthusiast.
This is what wellness means to me: For me, wellness is about feeling your best. I believe that when you feel better, you do better!
I contribute to the wellness community by: I have been apart of the wellness community for about four years now. Everyone I encounter has to sit through some wellness spiel while I talk to them about organic food and celery juice. I also run a wellness Instagram called Curve Wellness where I post simple science-based health tips.
One item I can’t live without:  I can’t live without my juicer! It makes my celery juice every morning.
My favorite self care practice: An essential oil epsom salt detox bath, yummy-smelling soy candles, face mask, and sea minerals salt scrub is my favorite way to take care of myself.
How I keep my wellness simplified: I like to look at wellness as a combination of sleep, nature, food, and fitness. If all these are good, you’re probably good!
This is what motivates me: Seeing other successful women in the wellness realm is a huge motivator for me. I love to see some girl bosses!
Learn more about me at:
My instagram @curvewellness is an insight into my daily wellness practices, food, with a few occasional pictures of my beautiful baby Isabel Grace!