Monday, December 15, 2014

Pumpkin Coconut Cupcakes

Infused with ginger and cinnamon, these coconut topped cupcakes are a delicious way to sneak in some healthy fats and fiber!  The saturated fats in coconut oil contain medium chain triglycerides, which are metabolized differently than long chain fatty acids, and can have therapeutic effects. Pumpkin in a great source of fiber, providing more than 20 percent of the daily value for fiber in one serving.  This helps keep you full and can reduce hunger. 

1 15 oz can of pumpkin
2 t. baking powder
2 t. cinnamon
1 t. ginger 
3/4 c. almond flour
1/4 c. Coconut Oil
1 T. vanilla extract
1/2 c. nonfat Greek yogurt
4 packets of xylitol
1 T. vanilla extract
1/4 c. shredded coconut

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and place liners in muffin pan. Mix the pumpkin, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, almond meal, coconut oil and vanilla extract.  Distribute evenly into muffin liners. Bake for approximately 45 minutes.  Allow to cool before frosting.  To make frosting, stir nonfat Greek yogurt with stevia and vanilla extract.  Top with shredded coconut and cinnamon.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Vitamin D for Immune Health & Strong Bones

Along with hoodies, Vitamin D can be considered must-have for individuals in cloudy climates, particularly during the cold winter months.  Our skin makes Vitamin D when exposed to natural sunlight.  Without Vitamin D, the body cannot produce calcium and phosphorus, both of which are needed to build and maintain strong bones.  Vitamin D also helps reduce inflammation in our cells.  Inflammation can lead to disease.

The Institution of Medicine recommends that most Americans supplement with 600-800 International Unites (IU) of Vitamin D per day. This is enough for bone health.  Excessive dosages of over 40,000 IU per day can be dangerous.  Vitamin D is crucial when it comes to activating your immune system as well.  It helps keep the "guards" of your immune system alert.

There are different forms of Vitamin D. Vitamin D3 is the kind made naturally by your body and is what's recommended for those taking Vitamin D supplements.  An easy and convenient way to reach the daily recommendation of Vitamin D is with the Mixed Berry Chews from Vitamin Shoppe.  The chews are free of wheat, gluten, dairy, fish, animal derivative, artificial colors and artificial flavors.  They also contain Vitamin K1 which plays an essential role in promoting bone density and strength.

Please consult your doctor if you have concerns regarding use of this product or any other supplements and practices.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Beauty Basics: My Favorite Products

Years ago, during a New Year's Eve trip to Canada, I shared a hotel room with four other girls (craziness, I know). I recall one particular night when I was the last one to get in the shower, and I was the first one ready to go. While I'm still not sure if this is something I should be proud of, I like to consider myself very "efficient" when it comes to getting ready.  This past week, a friend of mine (ironically, from Canada!) inquired about my favorite beauty products, asking what I use to prepare for photo shoots and on a daily basis.  At first, because I don't use an excessive amount of makeup, I wasn't sure I could come up with much.  After some thought I realized that many of the products I use regularly have been a part of my routine for years. While everyone's skin, makeup style and budget differ, the following products are ones I highly recommend trying.  Interested in learning more about my online fitness programs and challenges? Click here to stay hot and get healthy with the Fuel Your Fitness Method!

Skin Care

Olay Quench.  Moisturize.  Daily!  I cover my body in lotion after every shower.  Well, 95% of the time.  Use lotion while your skin is damp to help retain the moisture.  This products deserves 4 stars and scores a perfect 10! Which is exactly how many years I have been using it.  After I graduated college and was living in Dallas, I noticed how scaly the skin on my lower legs was.  Regardless of which lotion I used, it never seemed to go away.  And I'm not the type of person who is very observant of small changes (if my hair has grown, it'll need to be a good 3 or 4 inches before I realize it!).  Within weeks of using the lotion, I noticed how smooth my skin was.  Since then I've used other lotions from time to time, but I always return to this one.  It's in my bathroom now.  And it's also at Target. Available for less than $10.

Yes to Inc. Facial Wipes.  Because if you ever wear a "smokey eye," it takes EFFORT to remove all of that mascara and black shadow!  And sometimes it's just more convenient to clean up with a facial wipe.  Especially when traveling and on the go. I began using Yes to Cucumbers about two years ago.  I have also used the Yes to Blueberries and am currently using Yes to Grapefruit.  This product sells for less than $10 at Target.

Andalou Naturals SPF. This is the first product I tried from the Andalou Naturals skin care line.  Along with focusing on health and wellness from a fitness perspective, it's also important to prevent damage to your skin with topical products.  Research shows that wearing a daily SPF is one of the best ways to prevent fine lines and wrinkles.  The best part of Andalou (there are many "best parts!") is that it contains fruit stem cells.  The fruit stem cells work at cellular level to repair damage caused by oxidation, free radicals and UV damage.  All of the Andalou Naturals products contain 100% certified organic aloe in place of water.  The aloe helps deliver nutrients to the skin and retains hydration better than water. It is available here at Vitamin Shoppe.

St. Tropez Self Tan Dark Bronzing Mousse.  While I am still fairly new to using this product, I know the challenge of finding a high quality, non streaking self tanner that doesn't leave you feeling like a stained oompa loompa from Willy Wonka.  After reading a friend's review of this product on Instagram, I purchased it on Amazon for $42 (in addition to the application glove) and have been pleased with the results.  Moisturizing is crucial in the days that follow to help retain the color.  It was a bit spotty as it faded, but was tolerable.  It is also available at Sephora.


Bare Escentuals Powder Foundation.  While a loose powder can sometimes be messy, this is another product I have used for years.  There was an extended time when I used the Laura Mercier pressed powder (another great product) but then returned to this one.  It provides great coverage and you'll get even better results when pairing it with the Mineral Veil. No parabens or synthetic chemicals. Contains SPF protection of 15.  It is available at Ulta for about $27.

Cover Girl Lash Blast.  The original.  Not the waterproof. Not the "extra volume" or whatever other version is now available.  This product first came out about 6 or 7 years ago.  The results were amazing. My lashes were long. My lashes were full.  More than ever.  I began using this product while I was living with my mom, and with the "discretionary" income I had, I spent around $20 for mascaras from Sephora, only to be disappointed.  I have tried others since discovering this one, and always return to Lash Blast.  I did accidentally purchase the waterproof once.  I do not recommend it.  I'm convinced I lost several lashes along with the black water that washed down the bathroom sink.

Revlon Liquid Liner.  Liquid liner addicts, unite!  Because once you've used liquid liner, it's very difficult to go without it.  A college friend introduced me to liquid liner and I will always remember that monumental moment in the dorm bathroom.  It was a game changer.  Wherever we were going that night, in our "5-7-9" sparkly tanks and black pants, I went feeling more glamorous than ever.  I always buy this in black. The one time I bought it in brown (because it was the only one available), I used it once and was disappointed in it's lack of intensity. It remains in the back of my bathroom cabinet to this day.  I have used other brands, but I'm very picky about the applicator (anyone who has tried to apply liquid liner would understand), so I buy this one consistently.  Available at Target for less than $10.

Urban Decay Eyeshadow.  I discovered my love for Urban Decay eyeshadow from a makeup artist/friend.  I reached out to her when trying to find a brand that would mix well with water (yes, stay tuned for details) and go on smoothly and easily.  In the past, I had used a powder eyeshadow from Bare Escentuals, but have no longer been able to find it.  The women who sold it to me suggested dipping the brush in water before applying the eyeshadow for a more dramatic effect.  I have had great luck achieving this effect with the pressed powder in Blackout.  My base color is Virgin and my secondary color is Smog.  I use Virgin and Smog on a daily basis.

MAC Lipstick.  Of course when I finally discovered a lipstick color I LOVED, they discontinued it!  For the longest time I used MAC lipstick in Lady GaGa.  When a client/friend of mine who works for MAC sent me some products, she asked which were my favorites. When I told her about Lady GaGa, she quickly came up with an alternative color, Blankety, which I love and use fairly consistently.

Hair Care

Big Sexy Hair Powder Play.  The first time I bought this, it was at Nordstrom Rack. It's also available at Ulta.  Or on Amazon.  I don't use it often, but it's a must-have for photo shoots and when my hair is looking flat.  Sprinkle a bit on the roots, run your fingers along your scalp and instant volume! For even more fullness, I'll gently tease the hair with a narrow bristle brush, then brush over the top to smooth it out.  This is not good for the hair, so I avoid doing it too often.  The powder gives hair added "thickness" as well.

NeoCell Keratin Hair Volumizer.  While this isn't exactly a product that I "apply" to my hair, I have seen more results with NeoCell's Keratin Hair Volumizer than I have with some of the sprays, creams and other topical treatments I have used in the past.  NeoCell's Keratin supplement contains keratin, collagen, vitamin C and amla extract.  And because the keratin is bioavailable, it's able to bind with hair and has been proven to increase hair strength and make it shinier, longer and thicker.  NeoCell Keratin Hair Volumizer is available here at Vitamin Shoppe for less than $20.  

Not Your Mother's She's a Tease Volumizing Hairspray.  I definitely don't use hairspray very often.  But when styling my hair for photo shoots or the rare "undo," it's a must.  The Not Your Mother's brand is available at Ulta and Target.  The hair spray sells for around $6. They also have an amazing dry shampoo, Clean Freak, at a similar price point.

What are your favorite products and why?