Wednesday, July 23, 2014

A Healthy Summer Drink Recipe and the Natural Health Benefits of Green Tea

by Angie Neal
If there's one vice I have that is truly bad for me, it's diet pop. Diet Pepsi has always been my favorite, but Diet Mug's Rootbeer and Fresca come close behind. I started drinking diet pops a long time ago, so I could cut calories and still have my fizzy, sweet drinks.

They're just so addicting! Like many vices, I would stop drinking them, only to come back to them later on after getting a random craving. When it comes to addictions (I have what you would call an “addictive personality”), if you want to stop it, you have to replace it with something else.

So far, green tea – in all its antioxidant-rich, metabolism-boosting glory – has been the best replacement for my diet pop addiction. It's by far the healthiest drink I could have used to replace them with! Hopefully, I can even reverse some of the damage I probably did to myself by drinking so much diet pop through the years.

In this heat, I got a bad hankering for a big Polar Pop of Diet Pepsi. I gave in a few times. Today, I decided to do something different to stop my craving, and it worked!

This is a really simple recipe I created with the stuff I have on hand in my kitchen and my herb garden – A lemon and my sweet basil plant. I had an empty gallon jug from water we bought at the store, so I used that as the container for my recipe.

Here's how to make a delicious jug of iced basil lemon green tea! 

  • Fill your empty jug with water and dump the water into a pot on the stove. Add a little more water to make up for what will evaporate. 
  • Bring it to an almost-boil, and add 10 green tea bags. If you have a tea infuser and loose leaf green tea, use however much you would use to make 10 cups of tea. 
  • Steep for 5 minutes. You don't want to steep green tea too long, or it'll be really bitter. 
  • Take it off the heat and let it cool down a little. 
  • Stir in your chosen sweetener, or leave it unsweetened like I did with mine. 
  • Slice up a lemon and cut the slices in half. Throw those in the jug. 
  • Cut 8 fresh sweet basil leaves in half and throw those in the jug. 
  • When it cools down a bit more so that it won't melt the plastic, carefully pour it into the jug with a funnel. 
  • Let it cool down in the fridge, add some ice to your glass, and enjoy! 
You can always add different flavors to suit your taste. Green tea has a pretty plain, planty taste which is good by itself (I like it, anyway!), but also makes it perfect for adding other flavors. Try other citrus fruits, berries, honey and fresh ginger.

Here are some of the facts about why green tea is so good for you. They even make up for the fact that it's not carbonated.
  • All those antioxidants! Both green and black tea have 10x the amount of antioxidants you would get from fruits and veggies. These antioxidants detoxify the body, which helps protect you from things like high blood pressure, high cholesterol and cancer. 
  • It works as an anti-inflammatory, which makes it great for people with problems like arthritis and asthma. 
  • It can help speed up your metabolism and help with minor weight loss. 
  • It kills bacteria and gives your immune system a boost! 
  • Green tea has half the amount of caffeine as black tea, which is perfect if you need a boost in the evening, but you don't want to stay up all night. 
  • It's easier on the stomach than coffee. I also have a bad habit of drinking more coffee than I should. I can be more excessive with green tea, without getting too jittery or hurting my stomach. 
  • It can help your brain work even better, with the help of an amino acid called L-theanine, which had been found to help improve brain function. 

Have you made any healthy and natural replacements in your own life recently?
Angie is a blogger and copywriter who loves to work with creative small businesses. You can find her lifestyle/beauty blog at http://thismuseistaken.com, or get blogging advice and help with blogging and copywriting at http://buzzcopy.net.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Blending Essential Oils for Acne Prone Skin

Essential oils can be used for so many things, including household cleaning, medicinal purposes and even in your beauty routine. I have been using essential oils for several years now and I've learned a LOT along the way. Although I definitely got by for a long time without them, it’s hard for me to imagine going a day without using them for one thing or another. One of the things I love most is blending essential oils to get the most out of the different properties each unique oil has.

Not every essential oil is suited to every purpose. For example, I love using lemongrass oil in my aromatherapy burner, but it doesn’t make my skin happy at all. Tea tree oil is wonderful for clearing up my acne, but it’s a bit too harsh to use for my newborn’s baby care.

Here, I’ll cover my favorite oils to use in my skin care routine. As someone who has suffered from severe acne, I hope that these tips will help you clear up your skin too!

Acne-Fighting Essential Oils

One of the first reasons I turned to essential oils for their beauty-boosting benefits was to clear up my acne. Because all essential oils contain powerful antibacterial and cleansing properties, many of them are useful for this purpose. The key to choosing the right ones are to find those that will benefit your skin without being too harsh. The following essential oils are those that I’ve found to be helpful for clearing up acne, starting with the gentlest option:

Ylang Ylang – gently cleans, tones, and moisturizes skin.
Lavender – a little more powerful, lavender’s antibacterial properties can whip breakouts into shape.
Rosemary – a great option for combination skin, as it fights acne while balancing your oily and dry skin patches.
Tea Tree – for the worst of the worst, including multiple blemishes and cystic acne, try tea tree.

Blending Essential Oils for Skin Care

There are a few ways you can blend these essential oils for use in your skin care routine. One of my favorite, simplest ways, is to combine a drop of two different oils (or two drops of any one oil) in my hand along with a dime-sized amount of jojoba oil and oil cleanse with it.

You can also just use it as a facial serum and let it sit on your skin.

One more way that you use essential oils to clear up your skin is to treat your makeup brushes with essential oils. This is only recommended if your makeup brushes are made from natural fibers, as synthetic fibers might be broken down by the oils. To do this, clean your makeup brushes well with a bit of facial cleanser and warm water. Then, soak the brushes for 30 minutes or so in a solution of:

1 cup of warm water
1/3 teaspoon of baking soda
3 drops of your chosen essential oil(s)

(shake the solution well)

After soaking, rinse well and lay the brushes flat on a clean towel to dry. For the best results, treat your makeup brushes this way every month or so – give or take depending on how often you wear makeup!

Clearing Up Acne Improves Confidence!!

According to About.com, “A study published in the British Journal of Dermatology found that acne patients experienced social, psychological, and emotional ramifications at the same level of those with chronic health problems, such as epilepsy, diabetes, and arthritis.” As someone who has gone through it myself, I have no problem believing this.

As I said before, I once suffered from incredibly severe acne and it’s hard to put into words exactly how much it can diminish your confidence. If you have this problem, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Although I tried many commercial products to clear up my skin, what would happen is that it would clear up for a couple of weeks and then gradually become worse again until I was back where I started. It wasn't until I started using oil based skin care products like the ones I made myself that my skin actually improved for good.

I hope that you have the same experience after trying essential oils for your skin. xx

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Why I DON'T Support Stricter Cosmetic Regulation

I feel like one of my callings in life is to spread the word about living a less toxic life. Not everyone knows that so much of our food and personal care products are loaded with junk ingredients that are causing serious health issues throughout the population. 

Many others who share this passion of mine promote the idea that stricter government regulation on toxic ingredients would be the best way to handle this issue. I don't agree.


Government regulation is notoriously inefficient. It's also never as effective as it should be. Bureaucracy looks a lot better on paper than it plays out in real life. 

For one thing, it's expensive. There's a of government staff to pay, after all.

Look at organic food: is it really that much more expensive to grow it? Not necessarily, but USDA certification is expensive and cumbersome, and it turns out it doesn't really solve the problem anyway.

There are a TON of small businesses making awesome natural skin care products that are free of toxins, healthy to use, and work much better than anything you can buy in a store. The only way a LOT of these businesses are able to operate is in a fairly unregulated market. 

Are there crappy companies putting out junk products by taking advantage of this? For sure. But you don't have to buy anything from them, because there are a ton of other WONDERFUL businesses making AWESOME skin care products that you can buy from.

Many of these businesses would have to close up shop if they were burdened with the obligation to get government certified. I don't want that. 

Consumer education is more effective. That's why I want to continue studying the relationship between health and our food, personal care and lifestyle and share what I learn. What I DON'T want is for laws to come into place that will place a work at home mom in jail or burden her with heavy fines for making a batch of body butter in her kitchen and selling it. 

Now, I've sold my own homemade products in the past, and some of you who have known me awhile might think I'm biased for thinking this. Of course I am, but I can honestly say I would still feel this way even if I'd never been there myself. 

It comes down to this: You have to make a decision between educating yourself and actively choosing what to buy - and vote with your dollars by doing that OR vote to enable expensive, inefficient systems paid for by tax dollars so that the government can do it for you (but not really..).