Best. Sunscreen. Ever.

Written by: on Thursday, July 30th, 2015
Sunscreen Application

You need to apply—and reapply—sunscreen all over the body…to prevent skin damage.

Exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays is just about the worst thing for your skin (besides smoking). The sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays are essentially radiation that’s penetrating your skin, right down to the deeper layers. Not only can this mess with your DNA (your genetic mapping that determines how your cells should act)—which can trigger mutations and even skin cancer—it also depletes collagen and elastin in the skin. These are the skin-firming proteins that make skin look more youthful looking. (It’s when collagen and elastin get depleted that skin starts to sag and lose its youthful fullness.) The sun’s UV rays also cause hyperpigmentation (age spots and freckles), rough skin, fine lines and wrinkles, and more.

While not going out in the skin ever is probably the best thing for your skin, it’s just about impossible to do that—particularly if you’ve got kids in swim lessons (outdoors) and in other various activities (like me) that necessitates being out in the sun.

I don’t use chemical sunscreens on my skin or on my kids’ skin. There are just too many questions about the chemicals being absorbed into the skin and showing up in urine. (It begs the question: what could those harmful chemicals be doing to your body—or to a child’s body—over time.)

Enter Raw Elements.

 

Organic, natural sunscreen

When it comes to the beach and the pool and being outdoors, this sunscreen delivers serious protection.

Raw Elements simply makes the best sunscreen. This is a physical, not chemical, sunblock. I swear by this stuff. It’s organic, cruelty-free, non GMO certified, has non nano particles (so nothing penetrates the skin), offers UVA and UVB protection, and not one member of my family has gotten a sunburn yet despite plenty of time spent in the pool (it’s super water resistant) and playing tennis. (I used this last year as well with the same results.) You can find it lots of places online, including amazon.com—where a 3-ounce tube (which lasts about a month or maybe a little less for my entire family) costs $13.74. Another favorite natural skin-care website where I buy this is carenonline (they often have 20% off sales, which brings the prices down).

What’s even better: I can slather this ALL over my kids’ faces … and it never irritates eyes. Have I said how much I love this stuff? (A side note: my 11-year-old son just wants a “spray” sunscreen like all the other kids…and wants me to say he thinks this stuff is too white on the skin. If you rub it in well, this whiteness tones down. But doesn’t bother me—or my younger kids. No chemical sprays in this house!)

Update: I got a call from the Raw Elements people after my post; they suggested that my son try their Raw Elements Eco Tint Stick 30+ tinted sunscreen. I purchased it (see note below) and my son loves this! I have to say I love it too…it’s not white but matches up pretty well to skin tone (it still needs to be rubbed in, though). It’s perfect for the face.

Another Raw Elements fave that I just tried: Eco Formula 30+ Lotion in a recyclable tin (plastic-free packaging); it’s beyond easy to apply and you can use up every last bit. I’m buying some more to finish out the summer (this—and the Eco Tint Stick 30+—will be perfect sunscreens for skiing too!).

(Note: I have bought all these sunscreen products, and have received nothing free—and no discounts—to say I love this stuff!)

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A Delicious, Super Healthy Snack

Written by: on Monday, April 28th, 2014

Chia Pod BananaI picked up some Banana Chia Pods while I was doing my weekly grocery shopping—and I have fallen in love! This convenient snack only contains three! ingredients (which follows my simple, healthy eating philosophy): chia seeds, coconut milk, and real bananas. The banana definitely tastes fresh…and there are no added sugars! Plus, one container contains 259 milligrams of potassium—a mineral key for so many things like regulating blood pressure and keeping your kidneys healthy.

These snacks are also rich in fiber and omega-3s (of course, because chias are chockfull of omega-3 fatty acids). Take a look at the ingredient label, below. Bottom line: definitely try these yummy treats—particularly as a substitute for more sugary snacks. (You can buy a 12-pack for $40, about $3 a snack, at thechiaco.com.au; just be sure to click the US flag at the bottom of the page…otherwise, you’ll be ordering from Australia!) The only downside: they use a lot of plastic for this one snack (plastic top, plastic spoon included, and plastic cup); while I do recycle plastic, I want to find a way to re-use these snack pods to make buying these worthwhile. (I think they’d make a great on-the-go snack container for kids on long car rides!) And while I’m not a fan of plastic at all, glass chia pod containers are never going to happen unless I make my own banana chia pudding…stay tuned!

Chia Pod Nutrition

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Love Lululemon jackets!

Written by: on Thursday, April 24th, 2014
Lululemon jacket

Love the longer length of this jacket! It’s very slimming.

Lululemon Jackets

The back hits below the butt, which flatters any body.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Looking for a great all-around jacket for spring? Head to Lululemon. I recently purchased one of these jackets in black and absolutely love it. I wear it to the gym, to/from yoga, walking around the park, and basically everywhere! It’s completely windproof and water resistant, has a handy hood, and zips up completely around the neck for chilly mornings.

It’s also lined with a sweat-wicking fabric, which is brilliant. And it has a hidden “media” pocket to keep your phone or music from bouncing around. Plus, it fits pretty true to size; no need to buy a size up, or down! Comes in cadet blue and black, both shown here. ($138…and worth every penny; lululemon.com).

* Note: While I love most Lululemon products, I’m not a fan of their headbands…while they come in many colors and prints, they simply do not stay put. I’m constantly adjusting them during workouts, which is beyond frustrating. I’d say pass on these!

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Finally! Peppermint Bark That’s Vegan, Gluten & Dairy Free

Written by: on Thursday, December 5th, 2013
NaturalCandyStorePeppermintBark

This yummy peppermint bark is vegan—and gluten and soy free too!

My family loves peppermint bark around the holidays—but since my two sons are gluten and dairy free, we tend not to buy the stuff. But now I’ve found that the Natural Candy Store (my favorite spot to buy candy free of all the typical junk) is now selling Peppermint Bark that’s organic, vegan, and gluten-free. Amazing! Plus, it’s delicious too! (I also bought Surf Sweets Organic Holiday Gummies to decorate the gingerbread houses we’ll be making soon.)

If you haven’t tried The Natural Candy Store yet, it’s a must visit—particularly if your child is allergic to anything (they have special sections on the website that sell allergen-free candy). And while sugar isn’t great for anyone (including kids),  you won’t find things like Red Dye #40 or Blue Dye #1 (which have been linked to ADHD in kids) in this stuff.

This site (and the candy sold on it) is worth a click through. I can definitely vouch for it—and the candy (and even baking decorations) they sell!

 

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Looking for some creative gift ideas?

Written by: on Monday, December 2nd, 2013

healthyholidaygifts

Tired of giving the same old humdrum gifts every year? Or feeling a bit unsure about what to give—friends, loved ones, co-workers? Look no further than these stay-fit, stay-healthy, and stay-inspired gift suggestions (see below)! We put these ideas together based on the things we’d love to get (hint, hint!). Hope you enjoy…and remember: it’s not about the how much you spend, but the thought that counts!

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4 Good Reasons You Should be Drinking Tea…Every Day

Written by: on Tuesday, November 26th, 2013
Green tea in pot

Home-brewed green tea has more antioxidants than anything you’ll find in a bottle. For best results, steep for no more than 3 minutes.

You know when Starbucks—the king of coffee—buys a tea brand like Teavana, and opens the first Tea Bar in Manhattan, tea is going to be the next big thing. Or maybe it is already, if you look at the stats from the Tea Association of the U.S.A. which says that on any given day, more than 158 million Americans are drinking tea. But there are plenty of reasons you should be one of them; here are the four top ones:

1) Tea—particularly green tea—may help prevent cancer. The magic number: three to five cups a day, according to a 2009 review of 51 green tea studies conducted by the Center of Integrative Medicine at the University of Witten/Herdecke in Germany. Research has focused on the fact that tea is rich in disease-fighting polyphenols, specifically catechins that appear to have cancer-fighting and health-promoting properties. (Green tea is particularly rich in catechins.) What’s the big deal about these? Polyphenols are thought to rid the body of harmful molecules known as free radicals, which can damage a cell’s DNA and may trigger cancer and other diseases.

Teavana Bar in New York City

Teavana’s first tea bar is located at 1142 Madison Avenue at 85th Street. Next tea bar location: Seattle…of course!

Note: if you don’t like the bitter taste of green tea, try white tea. This tea is also high in antioxidants but has a more mellow, sweeter flavor than green teas. (Note that herbal brews, like chamomile and peppermint, are not technically considered tea; they’re infusions of plants. Tea is technically black, green, white, or oolong teas—all of which are made from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant.)

2) It may lower your risk of Parkinson’s 

Alice's Tea Cup in Manhattan

An Alice in Wonderland-inspired tea shop located in New York City.

Disease. Drinking up to four cups of green or black tea daily has been linked with a lower risk of Parkinson’s disease (a progressive disease of the nervous system), according to the National Institutes of Health.

3) It may reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease. Black and green tea have been linked to a reduced risk of heart attack and stroke. One Japanese study, in particular, found that adults who drank five or more cups of green tea daily had a 26 percent reduction in heart attack or stroke death when compared with those who had one cup or less. What’s more: the benefit seemed to be greater in women than in men.

4) It can reduce stress. That’s because the very ritual of sitting down for a cup of tea is relaxing. “If you look at different cultures, like Japan and China, they have a very elaborate ritual for the taking of tea,” says Nancy Baker, founder of AnaBeall’s tea room in Westfield, New Jersey. “We look at tea differently than coffee; you don’t hear about coffee rituals” [unless your idea of a ritual is grabbing a cup of joe to go!].

Alice's Tea Cup in Manhattan

You’ll find plenty of sweets, plus an amazing brunch, at Alice’s Tea Cup.

From Teavana’s newest Manhattan outpost to small tea rooms like AnaBeall’s or Alice’s Tea Cup (which has various locations throughout New York City), you’re sure to find a spot to relax and de-stress. We got a chance to visit Alice’s Tea Cup—which boasts over 100 exclusive teas—from black and green tea to red and white blends—from around the world (not to mention Alice in Wonderland effects), as well as an amazing brunch. (All food is served on a three-tiered silver platter, and tea, in a personal-sized, colorful teapot.) If you’re looking for a sweet savory brunch with a delicate, Victorian ambiance, Alice’s Tea

CupsofGreenTea

Tea —first said to be discovered in China in 2737 B.C.—was first considered a tonic, used for medicinal purposes only.

Cup will make you feel like you’ve stepped inside the page of a fairy-tale! (Kate Holmes—and Suri—are fans.)

Our favorite teas at Alice’s: Drink-Me-Detox Tea, which is white tea blend with Pai Mu Tan, Silver Needle, Jasmine, and white teas with organic Rooibos, mixed together for a subtle brew; Alice’s Birthday Tea, which is described as a classic blend of black teas with tropical fruits and flowers; and Tranquil Tummy Tea, which is a blend of red teas with organic ginger, and peppermint. Alice’s Tea Cup’s has three locations: 102 West 73rd St, 156 E. 64th st, and 220 East 81st St.

Wherever you decide to have your cup of tea—know that it’s good for your health (unless you eat too many scones along with it!).

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3 Skin-Care Products I Swear By (and Why I Love Them)

Written by: on Monday, November 18th, 2013
BeautifulFacialSkin

Skip harsh, drying toners with alcohol during the fall and winter months.

 

It’s that time of the year: when the weather gets cooler and my skin gets duller and drier. And it got me thinking: I wish I could hire a personal trainer for my skin like I can for my body. Then I could find out exactly how to switch up my skincare by the season—and ask all sorts of little nagging questions like why I always seem to get tiny blackheads around my nose.

I’ve got a dermatologist (a great one at that), but with my out-of-pocket costs rising, I have to save up my visits up for when

Woman'sNeck

I use the SkinAuthority products on my face, as well as on my neck and upper chest—also where you see the signs of aging.

I really need it (like my twice-yearly mole checks).

But then I found out about the free skin coaching at SkinAuthority, a skin-care line that has zero parabens, dyes, fragrances,

and does not test on animals (just a few reasons that I’ve fallen in love with the line; see my earlier post on the importance of vitamin D, which mentions their great vitamin D product). Sure, these skin-care experts—available to you 24/7—are hoping to get you to buy products, but there’s something different about getting skin-care advice from a trained skin aesthetician than from a department store beauty salesperson or from no one at all (as is the case in a drugstore beauty aisle).

SkinAuthority'sCelesteHilling

Celeste Hilling, CEO and founder of SkinAuthority

I got a chance to speak with Celeste Hilling, founder and CEO of SkinAuthority, about skin care and the brand—and here’s what she had to say: “We’re about education,” says Hilling. “The average phone call with consumers is 30 minutes, but at the end of the day, you make the choice about what’s right for you.” But skin coaches aren’t just on the phone; Skyping is one of the most common ways to speak with the skin coaches. “Last year, we did half a million Skype sessions,” says Hilling, adding that: “People want to show us their skin.”

SkinAuthorityCleanser

Contains glycolic acid and sugar-cane derived exfoliators to remove dead skin cells—and blackheads!

Here are the products that were recommended* for my skin—and that I’ve been loving:

SkinAuthority Exfoliating Cleanser: I used to have tiny (barely visible, except to my eye) little blackheads around my nose and on my chin. Just one week of using this cleanser and every single one is gone. My skin is smoother and more radiant. No joke. This cleanser is like a pore-extracting facial without the painful pore extractions. What I also love: the scent or lack of it. This smell of this product is just … clean. ($42; skinauthority.com)

SkinAuthority Super C Serum: I’m a big believer in what antioxidants can do for the skin (they can reduce the signs of aging, even out

SkinAuthorityVitaminCSerum

You need to use this within 4 months of opening for maximum benefit (not hard, since it’s so great!).

skin tone, and make skin brighter and more radiant), so when I tried this product, I was already a believer. But I loved the fact that this product was literally absorbed right into the skin—with no greasy feel (a must when you’re wearing under sunscreen to help boost UV protection). What I also love: the dropper comes with measurements on it so you know exactly how much to use—and don’t use too much, as I’ve always done in the past. ($99…pricey, but it lasts several months; skinauthority.com).

SkinAuthority Age Defying Moisturizer: Even though I’m in my 40s, I still have oily skin, so I’m always looking for a moisturizer that won’t leave a grease slick on

SkinAuthorityMoisturizer

This daily moisturizer is rich in antioxidants and vitamins.

my face. This moisturizer fits the bill—and does much more. It absorbs fast—and leaves skin feeling soft and supple, sans the grease. I also love that it has an SPF of 18. ($60.50; skinauthority.com)

So you’re probably thinking: if these products are so good, why haven’t I heard about them before. SkinAuthority doesn’t spend money on advertising; it’s all word of mouth and posts by people like me who have fallen in love with their products. Kerri Walsh Jennings, who has been a SkinAuthority consumer for years, just became the face of SkinAuthority….so you’ll be seeing her around more too! (Turns out Kerri—like me—loves the Super C serum, too!)

OlympicVolleyballPlayerKerriWalsh

Olympic volleyball champion Kerri Walsh Jennings is the new face of SkinAuthority. Love that they chose an athlete to be the face of their brand!

Bottom line: these are great products—and you get access to a skin-care expert to ask (and show, via Skype) all those little nagging problems—from blackheads and breakouts to rough skin and wrinkles—you’ve been dying to ask someone. You’ll definitely get results, whether you use one product or completely overall your regime and use only SkinAuthority products.

* SkinAuthority sent these products to me; I did not pay for them, but I also do not endorse any products that I don’t like. And I’ll be paying full price for my refills, as I’m just about out!

 

 

 

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Yummy Gluten- and Dairy-Free Cookies

Written by: on Wednesday, November 13th, 2013
ChunkieDunkieCarrotCakeCookies

These carrot cake cookies are my fave!

I know what you’re probably thinking: gluten- and dairy-free cookies…how good could these possibly taste? But I’m here to tell you these cookies are AMAZING (my favorite flavors: carrot cake, oatmeal raisin walnut, and chocolate chip). I’ve even recommended them to a U.S. Olympic snowboarder I was speaking with recently because she’s gluten- and dairy-free.

The story behind why I eat this way: My son is gluten- and dairy-free—so the rest of us in the family try to eat like him (well, except for his younger sister who likes to tell him, often, that she can eat anything she wants!). What I’ve found is that, by eating this way, I feel more energetic and less bloated and stay at a healthy weight without a lot of effort. But the challenge is finding good-for-you treats that are both gluten- and dairy-free.

Gluten-Dairy-FreeOatmealRaisinCookies

These oatmeal raisin cookies taste like scoops of homemade batter…yum!

So when I got sent the Chunkie Dunkie cookies to try*, I was game—and never expected to really LOVE them! These raw, vegan cookies have been created by raw vegan chef Dina Lauro out of Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. I had to put them in the freezer (they can be frozen for up to six months) because I was finding it hard to stop eating them! One here, then another, and then another…I had to put  a stop to it or I would become a Chunkie Dunkie! (Each cookie has 118 calories and 7 grams of fat—definitely not something you want to eat a lot of in one sitting.)

Gluten-Dairy-FreeChocolateChipCookies

A healthier chocolate chip cookie that tastes homemade.

Why they taste so good (and are pretty nutritious), according to Lauro: “Our special touch is the organic raw buckwheat groats! We soak, sprout and then dehydrated these power houses for the perfect crunch. After each one is individually scooped they are then dehydrated for  another 10 hours for a crispy outside and a moist flavorful inside.”

But the ingredient list is all stuff you can recognize and don’t mind feeding to your kids (unlike the processed treats available on store shelves these days): raw walnuts, gluten-free rolled oats, pure maple syrup, extra virgin coconut oil, etc.

ChunkieDunkieBrownies

Next up on my to-try list!

Next up to try: the chocolate chunk fudge brownies which sound truly yummy! (To order, go to chunkiedunkies.com; each five-pack of cookies is $6.49; the brownies are $7.99) And I can tell you: my kids love them (even my daughter!)—and I love feeding them to my kids!

* Full disclosure: I did not pay for these cookies, but I do not (and will not) endorse a product I don’t like. But I would happily re-order myself once these are finished, which won’t be too long at the rate I’m munching on them!

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Makeup That Gives Back (and Gives You a Gorgeous Glow!)

Written by: on Friday, September 13th, 2013
Laura Mercier Ovarian Cancer Compact

Comes with a bronzer, two natural cheek colors, and two highlighters.

Ever since I left my position as a full-time editor in chief, I go sans makeup…most days. When I have a meeting or I’m headed out for the evening, I apply makeup. But I’ve been looking for everyday products that are easy to apply (read: take very little time in the morning—since I don’t have much time with three young kids heading off to school) and give great results as the no-makeup look is getting a bit, well, dull.

Then I found this Laura Mercier product at my local Bluemercury—and I fell in love. What first caught my eye: 100% of the profits from the sale of this $48 product go to ovarian cancer research. (September is National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month…a time to celebrate the strong women who are fighting this disease and help—in any small way possible—in the fight against a disease that 22,000 new women are diagnosed with each year.)

And what’s more: this Bonne Mine Healthy Glow for Face & Cheeks compact truly works. It’s super lightweight—and goes on sheer (layer it for more color). Makeup artist Laura Mercier says it results in “skin [that] has a natural ‘no-makeup’ glow that looks soft and sun-kissed”…very true! Plus, it includes super-helpful, step-by-step how-to-wear-it instructions.

My recommendation: this is the best $48 in makeup you’ll ever spend. And the fact that your money is going toward such an important cause makes your purchase all that more worthwhile.

 

 

 

 

 

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Love this Organic Green Tea!

Written by: on Wednesday, September 11th, 2013
OrganicGreenTea

Drink at least three cups of this a day, and you may (say some studies) raise your metabolic rate.

It’s hard to find good, loose organic green tea. Or at least that’s what I thought until I found Mountain Rose Herbs organic Green Sencha Tea ($15.50 for 4 ounces); I brew this tea in the morning and then ice it—so I can drink it throughout the day. I don’t put anything in it (I’m a purist!), but some may not like sencha’s “astringent” (as it’s called) taste.

As an FYI: Sencha tea is a tea that’s grown in full sun—as compared with Matcha tea, which is grown in shade. Some experts say that, because it’s grown in the sun, sencha tea has more catechins (or EGCG, a type of antioxidant) than matcha or teas grown in the shade. It’s these antioxidants that are so critical to our health. Studies have shown that EGCG has anti-fungal (against things like yeast infections), anti-viral (against hepatitis B, herpes, and adenovirus—a common virus that causes respiratory infections), and anti-bacterial properties.

Green&WhiteTeaCapsules

One capsule (recommended dose) contains the equivalent of 24 cups of green tea and 6 cups of white tea.

Pretty amazing stuff.

Now, this kind of tea does contain caffeine, so if you’re trying to steer clear of caffeine, then you can take the Green & White Tea Max from Pastore Formulations (recommended to me by Jeffrey Morrison, M.D., one of the top integrative medicine doctors in New York City); $48.99 for 60 capsules. The capsules have no caffeine.

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