Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Fall Beauty Favorites

With the cooler weather you need to mix up your skin care routine to keep your skin looking flawless. Here's a collection of my current favorites to keep my skin moisturized. I also wanted to share this interesting article: The Cosmetics Safety Bill: Everything You Need to Know about making the products you use on your skin safer. Good skin is where beauty starts.

DERMAdoctor Kakadu C Brightening Daily Cleanser with Vitamins C, A & AHAs
I've been a fan of this company for many years as I love their medicated body lotions and skin scrubs. Last December they released their new Kakadu line which comes from a plum in Australia that is high in Vitamin C. It comes in a glass bottle and the directions say to apply the gel cleaner to dry skin so that takes some getting used to.  It's supposed to a combination cleaner/toner, but I still use a toner afterwards because my skin feels little tight after use. My skin feels clean after use and it removes all of my makeup.

Dr. Jart+ Water Drop Hydrating Moisturizer
This line is from a dermatologist in Korea. This lightweight gel moisturizer made of Hyaluronic Acid absorbs quickly and I love how it makes my skin feel.

Smashbox Photo Finish Hydrating Under Eye Primer
I have a problem with creasing with concealer under my eye no matter what trick I try. This luminous primer provides a buffer that  keeps makeup from slipping into fine lines. The formula is made up of good for you antioxidants and peptides. I have to say I'm very happy with this products as it has helped smooth the skin under my eyes to make makeup go on smoother.

Acure Marula Oil
Marula oil is Africa's beauty secret as research shows it's a great source for  fatty acids, antioxidants, vitamin E and may help with hyperpigmentation. Not wanting to spend $72 on Drunk Elephant's marula oil, I found this great alternative, a 100% oil with no additives for a fourth of the price. Since it comes in a clear bottle, I keep it in my medicine cabinet to protect it from light exposure. I dab a little bit of this lightweight oil on my skin before bed to keep it hydrated.

First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Instant Oatmeal Mask
I first became familiar with this brand by a cleanser I got in my monthly Sephora box, but it kept clogging my sink's drain so I had to throw it away.  Lately I've had some slight redness in my cheeks and was looking for a mask that would calm it down so I thought oatmeal would be the perfect trick. This moisturizing mask is made with oat bran, Sea Buckthorn and shea butter. If you're looking for a soothing, calming and repairing mask, give this one a try!

Michael Todd Avocado and Mango Mask
I was impressed that the description says "free of Synthetic Fragrance" because this mask smells amazing! This moisturizing mask is full of plant oils and is a great way to pamper yourself. My only complaint is the packaging makes it look like there's more product than there is.

What are your current fall favorites?

Monday, October 24, 2016

Larabar Review - Top Flavors

I’ve been a fan of LÄRABARs for years. LÄRABARs are delicious bars made from unsweetened fruits, nuts, and spices with no added sugar.  It's hard to find protein bars that don't have added sugar or artificial ingredients. Since they are primarily made of a puree of dates they have a chewy sticky texture. Depending on the flavor, they only have just two to six ingredients. They come beautifully wrapped in bright colors. The cashew cookie flavor has been my all time favorite, in fact, I loved it so much I never bothered to try any of the other flavors. I've found that I've been missing out as they come in over 26 flavors which I sampled a few below. I don't eat these every day as I'm not totally in love with the high amount of natural sugar in LÄRABARs. I’ve tried a lot of protein bars, but LÄRABARs stand out as by far the best. Here's the calorie breakdown of the cashew cookie : 230 cal, 23g carbs, 18g sugar, 6g protein. The other flavors have a little less calories but they all essentially have a similar breakdown. Some flavors come in mini size which I think is the perfect size for a quick energy bite. 

Key Lime Pie- I was skeptical about this one, how can they put my favorite desert into a bar. Well, the lime flavor was authentic, not chemical. I really liked this one.

Coconut Cream Pie- had a really nice coconut flavor and it was creamy.

Cherry Pie- tastes so good, it's like eating candy. Can't believe there's no sugar in it, it's made with unsweetened cherries.

Snickerdoodle - so delicious, like you're eating a cookie. Here's a recipe to make a snickerdoodle protein shake. 

Gingerbread - OMG this authentically tasted like a gingerbread cookie! The ginger flavor was very strong.

Pumpkin Pie- it smelled amazing and tasted like fresh pumpkin bread.

Peanut butter chocolate chip - This is the one bar that has sugar in it because the chocolate chips are made with sugar. The bar comes in at 19g of sugar, similar to many yogurts. The bar was still moist and chewy and really tasty.  It has a good chocolate-y flavor, but very subtle peanut flavor.

Peanut butter cookie- I love pb, but this was my least favorite, it just didn't taste like a pb cookie to me, wasn't very sweet. 

They are available at Whole Foods and Trader Joes. It's a great healthy snack made of natural ingredients. I'm going  to sample some more flavors. But don’t take my word for it, try it out yourself and let me know what your favorite flavor is?

Friday, October 21, 2016

Fall Themed Yogurts

I love all the new fall flavors of yogurt available! Chobani also has a Pumpkin Twist that I unfortuantely couldn't find. I did try their Meze Dip in Smoked Onion Parmesan but the smoked flavor made it taste like meat so I couldn't eat it. Otherwise I imagine it could be a good sauce to put over pasta. Here's my review of everything I tried.

Chobani Apple Crisp Twist - delicious, it's an apple cinnamon yogurt with pieces of spiced walnuts, cinnamon crunch & glazed pie crust pieces. The yogurt was pure white and tasted very authentic. And the pie crust pieces were an awesome add on.

Chobani Pumpkin Blended -  This tasted really authentic and delicious.

Chobani Caramel Apple - I thought the caramel flavor was a little too smoky, there were a few small pieces of apple. I would just rate this ok.

Siggi's Pumpkin Spice - This had a very mild pumpkin flavor, it was more about the spices.

Noosa Pumpkin Yogurt - This seasonal yogurt used to be only available at Target, but now Whole Foods has it! Noosa is my favorite yogurt but it's high in calories and sugar so it's only an occasional treat for me.
Noosa is an Aussie style yogurt which is similar to rich Greek yogurt. It’s made in Colorado from milk free of artificial growth hormones (rBGH) and artificial preservatives from outdoor cows that eat grain and alfalfa grown without pesticides. Eating organic yogurt free of artificial sugar (splenda) has always been really important to me. Their pumpkin flavor is absolutely divine, it was incredibly delicious!! I split the container into two servings so it’s better calorie wise. Definitely make sure to get your hands on one, you won’t regret it! Noosa also has some new flavors out, a whole line of yogurt with hot pepper in it, no thank you! But I do want to try the Mexican chocolate.

Ok so I know this is a post just about yogurt, but I had to also throw in one other thing.
Annie's Pasta in a pumpkin and sweet potat0 sauce - I was skeptical about this one, but it was surprisingly good. The directions say to use non-dairy milk but all I had was vanilla almond milk, thankfully the vanilla flavor was almost non-existent. I added some butter, peas and a little left-over pumpkin I had from a pumpkin I recently baked. Then sprinkled some cheese on top and it was delicious!

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Spicy Vegan Chili

There's a farmers market that sets up once a week by my office so I always take a stroll through during my lunch break. I picked up a bunch of veggies and was impressed that my two full bags only cost $10. I recently read Top Chef's Padma Lakshmi's memoir where she talks about spices a lot. I have a cabinet full of spices (see here). For the first time ever, I purchased two green peppers. I know nothing about peppers, so I googled when I got home to figure out what the difference between the two were. The big one was a poblano pepper and the small one was a jalapeno pepper. After cutting the peppers and removing the inner seeds with my fingers,  I washed my hands thoroughly with soap.  Afterwards, I started to feel parts of my fingers burning, I checked my hands and didn't see any cuts, I guess the pepper got absorbed through my dry skin. Later I jumped in the shower and when I tried to remove my mascara with water, well boy was I in for a surprise, the pepper was still on my hands and my eyes were burning! Fair warning here, use caution when cutting peppers and don't touch the inside seeds. This being my first experiment cooking with peppers, it really gave a nice rounded deep flavor to the chili, but it's not too hot to eat, it just the right about of heat. This recipe will be replacing my previous go-to chili recipe.

I used one link of Trader Joe's Soy Chorizo, which I also used in my paella recipe.  The secret ingredient is raw cacao nibs, which is bitter unsweetened chocolate. I always buy red bell peppers for whatever I'm going to use it for (even though they are more expensive) because a rule I live by is to always make a colorful plate for every meal. 

1 can kidney beans
1 can pinto beans
2 cans fire roasted tomatoes
1 cup vegetable broth
1 poblano pepper
1 jalapeno pepper
2 bell peppers (red and yellow)
1 carrot
1 cup kale
4 celery stalks
1 lime (squeezed and zested)
1/3 cup tomato paste
1 red onion
1/4 cup corn
3 garlic cloves
1 TB Apple Cider Vinegar
2 TB agave syrup
raw cacao nibs
soy chorizo

 tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper
2 TB chili powder
2 tsp nutritional yeast
1 ½ tsp ginger
½ tsp garlic powder
2 tsp cumin
dash cayenne
1 bay leaf

  1. In a large pot heat a little oil over and add the onion and garlic and saute a few minutes.
  2. Add the ginger and cumin and let cook for one minute.
  3. Then add all the peppers for a few minutes.
  4. Next add the celery, carrots, tomatoes, tomato paste, broth, chili powder, cayenne, salt, pepper, garlic powder, bay leaf, nutritional yeast, agave, vinegar, cocoa and lime. Bring to a boil and simmer on medium heat for 15 minutes uncovered.
  5. Add beans, sausage, corn and kale. Stir well, cover with lid and simmer on low for 1 hour. 

Nutritional Analysis 
Makes 5 servings, 386 cal, 20g protein, 17g fiber

Monday, October 17, 2016

6 Amazing Pumpkin Recipes To Make This Fall

Fall has become one of my favorite seasons since it involves everything pumpkin. Saying goodbye to summer isn't easy, but the crisp autumnal breeze and festive aspects of fall make the transition easier. From watching the leaves change color, to apple picking, pumpkin patches, and making seasonal fall foods, there's so much to enjoy this season. I love pumpkin recipes as much as the next person but would rather stay away from the high-calorie pumpkin pie.  Here are some true and tried recipes to get your pumpkin fix with these low-calorie but high nutrient foods. Did you know that pumpkins are high in fiber and contain the antioxidant beta-carotene which keeps your eyes sharp? This week on my blog will feature fall themed foods you need to add to your list to try this season.

Last week I baked a sugar pumpkin to have fresh pumpkin puree. With it I made Pumpkin Baked Oatmeal for breakfast all week, it was delicious!

Sugar-Free Pumpkin Bread  check out the calorie comparison I did between my recipe and Starbucks pumpkin bread.

Overnight pumpkin oatmeal - if you're not ready to turn the oven on yet.

Pumpkin curry - if you love Thai food, you'll want to try this.

Pumpkin soup with tofu croutons.

Pumpkin Pie Protein Shake - Last Friday I went out to lunch and saw on the menu "Pumpkin Pie Smoothie" which I'm sure would be delicious but made with ice cream which is just way too much sugar for me. It reminded me I had a delicious but low in sugar protein shake made with pumpkins. Watch the video of me mixing it up.

Check out my other favorite fall recipes.

Friday, October 14, 2016

13 Trader Joe's Foods You Have to Try This Fall

I just got my Trader Joe’s flyer in the mail and couldn’t wait to hit up the store to stock up on pumpkin products. I decided this year not to get some of the usual: pumpkin butter and pumpkin cream cheese as I figured those involve repeatedly spreading on something unhealthy (bagels or waffles). I love macarons and find that TJ's frozen macarons are affordable (versus going to a macaron shop) and low in calories. Every fall TJ's comes out with pumpkin macarons, but this year they changed the recipe and added a lot more spices. When I went apple picking a couple weeks ago I was dying to have some apple cider so I had to pick up a bottle at Trader Joes which is perfectly spiced!  I always bake my own pumpkins instead of buying it in a jar, tastes so much better. Here's my recipe for sugar pumpkins. Here's your must-have fall Trader Joe's shopping list:

Fall Zucchette Pasta (a pumpkin shaped pasta that derives its orange hue from butternut squash)
Pumpkin Ravioli
Sugar Pumpkin
Pumpkin Body Butter (see my review of the Coconut Body Butter)
Pumpkin greek yogurt
Apple Caramel yogurt
Pumpkin Spice Rooibos Tea
Pumpkin Spice Almond Beverage
Pumpkin macarons 
Spice Cider
Sweet Potato Sage Gnocchi

Not photographed is the Cauliflower Rice which TJ's sells this both frozen and in the fridge with the vegetables. It's a great substitute for rice. I've made it myself from scratch before, but it's a lot of work!

Related Posts:

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Halloween Costume Ideas

Halloween is my favorite holiday because I love dressing up.  The Great Gatsby Party was my first big dress up event of the year. If you need a good movie to watch to get you into the Halloween spirit, I highly recommend The Book of Life, it's cartoon based on the Day of the Dead celebration. This year my costume is based on a comic book character, stay tuned. Here are some costumes I've had in the past, the first three pics were taken in the same place because I kept going to the same party every year.

                                                              Belly Dancer - I used to take classes



Day of the Dead - purple is my favorite color and I wanted the makeup to be different than the traditional
Thai Princess inspired by my 4th trip toThailand

Salt N Pepa

Buzzfeed did a hilarious article called 18 Halloween Costumes That Are As Ridiculous As 2016 Has Been. Here are my previous posts on what celebrities wore for Halloween:

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