Top 10 Birchbox Discoveries

One of my favorite monthly indulgences (and I have many) is my Birchbox, for only $10 a month (even less if you subscribe annually) you get 5 deluxe beauty samples specially curated just for you and delivered to your door! It seriously brightens my day to open that box and try on all the products at once (don’t judge me.) Starting with my first box in May of 2013 I have seriously found at least one product every month that I’ve bought again, and there have been quite a few products I have added to my daily beauty routine. So here, in no particular order, are 10 my favorite products I discovered through my Birchbox.

Top 10 Birchbox Discoveries

Top 10 Birchbox Discoveries by thehealthyalt

(clockwise from top left)
1. Klorane Dry Shampoo with Oat Milk : My favorite dry shampoo. I love the scent and even on my brown hair it doesn’t leave any white residue. Tip: If you know you won’t have time in the morning to wash your hair, use this the night before to allow for maximum oil absorption.

2. derma e Hydrating Mist with Hyaluronic Acid : This mist is a great light coverage I like to wear under my tinted moisturizer, I swear it plumped and tightened my skin within just 2 weeks. Its also great as a refresher over your makeup, just make sure you spray from a distance.

3. Skyn Iceland Hydro Cool Firming Eye Gels : I took these bad boys with me to Vegas for an extended Labor Day Weekend and let me tell you, they were an absolute lifesaver! After overindulging in every way on Thursday and Friday my poor eyes were so puffy Saturday morning I was seriously considering donning my darkest shades for brunch. But instead I grabbed these gel pads from my makeup case and put them on. Five short minutes and a bottle of high quality H2O later I was as good as new (at least on the outside)

4. Caudalie Make-up Remover Cleansing Water : This makeup remover manages to get through my mascara without irritating my eyes or leaving a greasy residue. I’m seriously obsessed.

5. Benefit Fakeup : This under-eye concealer is super easy to apply and the built in moisturizer (packed with ultra-nourishing vitamin e and apple seed extract) allows it to blend seamlessly. Pick a shade slightly lighter than your foundation to get the best dark circle coverage.

6. Mèreadesso All-in-One Moisturizer : Hands down the best moisturizer I have ever used. A little bit pricey, I’ll be the first to admit, but if anything was worth it it’s this. Not only does it moisturize but it doubles (triples? Quadruples??) as a toner, primer and eye cream. And it actually does all those things well! Plus a little bit goes a long way, and you’re stuck with your skin for the rest of your life so might as well take care of it now!

7. twistband Specialty Pack : If you haven’t tried ribbon hair ties yet you are seriously missing out. They are super gentle on your hair and are even comfortable to wear on your wrist. These are super durable and long lasting, plus the designs are too cute.

8. Liz Earle Cleanse and Polish Hot Cloth Cleanser : This cleansing system has won over 100 awards and after just one use it becomes obvious why. The texture and fragrance are nothing short of incredible, it removes all traces of even the heaviest makeup, and the eucalyptus and rosemary oils help gently lift away dirt you didn’t even know was there. Plus its great for ALL SKIN TYPES (!!!) This is one product I will  buy again and again.

9. Dr. Lipp Original Nipple Balm for Lips : For all you ladies that get dry skin in the winter or who’s men have the worlds roughest hands (the worst) this stuff is incredible. It absorbs into your skin with no greasy feeling and helps rehydrate it better than a regular intense cream. Used as a lip gloss it plumps up your lips and once absorbed its a great primer! Plus its made of 100% natural Lanolin “La- Lanolin. Like, like the sheep’s wool?” you ask? Why yes, yes it is.

10. beautyblender : Even the most expensive makeup can look awful without the right application and this is the tool for the job. This fool-proof beauty sponge helps blend your foundation to provide even coverage without absorbing any at all.

xx  What are some of your must-have beauty products?  xx

Always, Carmella

Lavender Berry Coconut Cream Dessert

So Nick (the boy-toy) has been craving frozen yogurt lately and after 4 trips to get $7 creations topped with more candy than yogurt this past month I decided to make something a little healthier to satisfy that craving. This fresh treat is so much better than the artificially sweetened crap you can get at your local yogurt shop. The coconut milk is rich and creamy and feel free to add a little more honey or some other fruit to up the sweetness factor! Plus the flavors are so delicious you won’t even miss the candy toppings that you know you succumb to no matter how much restraint you tell yourself you’ll have. So throw this together in the morning and instead of stopping for some crap on the way home, feel good after dinner with this healthy satisfying treat!

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Ingredients

2 cans full fat coconut milk
1 bag frozen berries (make sure there’s no added sugars 😖)
2-4 tbsp Food grade lavender (as much/little as you’d like
3 tbsp maple syrup or honey
1 lemon

Put all ingredients in a bowl and stir to combine, making sure the berries don’t gather in clumps. Take the lemon and roll it on the counter before cutting it open. Remove any seeds and squeeze half the lemon into the coconut mixture, stir. Separate into 4 containers and freeze overnight or for 6 hours. Enjoy!

CVS to stop selling Cigarettes

So I just was playing around on my phone, uhm I mean doing very important business, and I came across a few people on facebook posting this link. Its an article about the drugstore chain CVS planning on pulling cigarettes, cigars and all other tobacco products from their shelves in ALL of their stores by October of this year!! How difficult must it be for people trying so hard to quit smoking to go to buy their Nicorette patches or gum and having to stare at the hundreds of packs of cigarettes lining the walls behind the checkout stand tempting them and calling their names in a taunting whisper…Well, maybe it isn’t quite so dramatic but I’m sure it might as well be. Luckily the CEO of CVS has come to a realization that for a store that is trying to promote health and wellness its pretty contradicting for them to even be offering tobacco products at all. They are willing to sacrifice the profits that they generate from tobacco sales (about $2 BILLION dollars) to help Americans on their journey to wellness.

I think that this is such a massive WIN for healthcare in our country. CVS is pioneering a movement wherein profits are not whats most important. What I’m hearing them say is “Hey America, we value your lives more than we value a few extra bucks in our pockets.” Wouldn’t it be great if more companies felt this way? How many lives would be saved if McDonalds, for instance, put their salads on the dollar menu instead of those nasty “cheeseburgers?” Or if you could go to 7-11 and their bananas were cheaper than a candy bar? A girl can dream…

What do you think about this decision? What kind of real impact do you think it will have? And what other companies do you want to see making changes like this?

Simple Snacks…Roasted Chickpeas!

chickpeas main

It seems like one of the most common complaints I hear from clients is that being healthy takes too much time. Most people are busy with school, work, taking care of their kids and pets with barely enough time to get all that done, never mind taking any extra time to take care of themselves! In an environment like this healthy eating takes the backseat, especially if you feel as though you have to spend hours in the kitchen to make a good meal. Here’s where I come in!! I am going to do a series of healthy Simple Snacks that you can make with very little prep time and taste absolutely delicious. The first in the series is Roasted Chickpeas. These are great because they are so versatile, you can eat them plain, throw them in a soup or on a salad, and on top of that you can even season them any way you like! Oh and did I mention…they only take about 5 minutes to prep plus they are VEGAN, gluten, dairy, soy, corn and wheat free!

You will need…

2 cans chickpeas (or more!)
1/4c olive oil
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp garlic powder
2 tsp cayenne pepper

First things first, preheat the oven to 350. Then you want to open your cans of chickpeas and put them in a strainer, make sure to rinse them really well. After rinsing them off lay them out on paper towels and dry them off, the dryer they are the crunchier they get! You will start to notice their little shells coming off, just pick them out and toss them. Don’t worry if you don’t get them all!

strainer

Next you want to put them all in a big bowl with the olive oil and seasonings. Feel free to add more or less or switch it up completely! Some other great options are using sesame or coconut oil instead of olive oil. Use Cumin, Coriander and Garlic powder for an Indian flavor. Toss with fresh minced garlic and parsley for an Italian style batch. There are no limitations on what you can use, just make sure you get all your oil and seasonings mixed in there really well. Then put them on a flat baking sheet and pop them in the oven for 30 mins et voilà, time to start snacking!

chickpeas

Keep checking back every Friday for a new Simple Snack post!!

How to Grow Sprouts in Mason Jars

sprouts mainOn any given day of the week you can find me eating some kind of sprouts. Alfalfa sprouts in my burritos, spicy radish sprouts on my sandwiches, mung bean sprouts in spring rolls….yum! Sprouts are so good for you because when the plant starts to germinate it breaks down all the nutrients into their simplest components and makes them way easier for us to digest. But going to the store 3x a week to spend $10 on these little green seedlings was starting to get ridiculous. Luckily I have a boyfriend who absolutely loves gardening (we have more houseplants than places to put them!) so I told him that sprouts were something we needed to plant ASAP. Imagine how surprised I was when he told me not only did we not need any dirt to grow these guys it would only take 3 days for them to be fully sprouted and ready to eat! I was so amazed at how easy this was, even for the girl who has never mowed a lawn or planted…well anything! And, other than the seeds, you probably have everything you need already in your kitchen!

Supplies

20 oz wide-mouth Mason Jars (one for each type of seed)
Cheesecloth
Rubber Bands (one for each Jar)
Your favorite organic sprout seeds
1 Tsp Bleach (for disinfecting)

First you want to disinfect the seeds to remove any traces of E. coli or other foodborne pathogens they may be carrying. You do this very simply by taking 1 tsp of bleach and one cup of hot tap water in a separate cup and soak  2 tablespoons of the seeds in that mixture for about 10 minutes. Make sure to rinse the seeds very well once you’re done soaking them and strain them through a fine mesh collander.

Seeds soaking in the mason jars

Seeds soaking in the mason jars

The next step is to put the seeds in the mason jar and fill it about a third of the way with cool water then take a layer or two of cheesecloth and cut it into a square large enough to cover the mouth of the mason jar with a little bit of extra. Then take a rubber band and put it over the mouth to hold the cheesecloth on. This is a little bit easier to do if you have an extra set of hands to help, but if not, I still have faith in you!  After the jar is covered let the seeds soak for a minimum of 4 hours, but it is best to let them soak overnight.

We used the metal rings from the jar lids our first time but they left rust stains so we switched to rubber bands

We used the metal rings from the jar lids our first time but they left rust stains so we switched to rubber bands

In the morning hold the jar over the sink and let all the water drain out through the cheesecloth. Rotate the jar as necessary to make sure to get out as much water as you can. If the seeds are sitting in any excess you run the risk of having them start to rot, yuck. After getting all the water out tap the cheesecloth to get the seeds off and then lay the jar on its side out of direct sunlight. Try to get the seeds as evenly dispersed as possible.

Our finished products! Time to eat 🙂

After this initial prep work the rest is really easy! Simply rinse the seeds twice a day by filling the jar with water through the cheesecloth and then swirling the seeds softly and draining all the water then replacing the jar on its side. You will notice the seeds starting to sprout small tails in about a day and a half and in about 3-4 days you should be able to harvest and eat your sprouts! Once they’re ready to eat you should put them in a collander and rinse them to get all of the seed husks out of the sprouts. They’re edible so don’t worry if a few stragglers stay in there but they’re not the best tasting so you want to get out as many as possible. To store the sprouts you want to pat them dry and put them in a container, plastic bags or containers work great. They will stay for about 5-7 days, but if you’re like me they’ll be gone in two!

If you want to grow more sprouts at once you can always use a bigger mason jar and more seeds and follow the same method. With how quick mine are disappearing I think the 6 cup jars are going to be used next time. How often do you eat sprouts? What are some of your favorite ways to eat them?

Reflections

Our little model for the morning

Our little model for the morning

As the year is coming to a close everyone seems to be looking back and doing some good old-fashioned self reflection. As society is telling us to set New Years Resolutions, to improve on those things we never got around to last year it is easy to fall into a negative thought pattern. We put pressure on ourselves to achieve a big goal like to finally stop eating fast food, or quit smoking and many people, after a few days or weeks (or hours!) tend to get discouraged and quit. These new habits don’t to really have any staying power. So this year why don’t we do it a little differently?

Reflect on your achievements
First of all before I write down my New Years Resolutions I always look back on all of the positive things I’ve accomplished this year. It’s so easy to see all the things you didn’t get to do, and then downplay your accomplishments. Well not this time! Think about all the great days you had this year, all the moments that made you smile, all the goals you achieved, all the progress you’ve made. And if you can’t think of anything THINK HARDER! Today is the day to give yourself a big pat on the back for everything you have done this year, no matter how big or how small. This way you’re in a positive mindset when we move on to the next step…

Creating your resolutions
Okay now this part seems easy…and it is! Think of a few things you would like to do this year and write them down. This doesn’t have to be anything huge, keep it realistic. Quitting your job to volunteer for the Red Cross, probably not going to happen…but spending an hour a month at your local soup kitchen? That sounds a lot more reasonable! Making resolutions that you can achieve is so important. There is no need to set yourself up for failure. And there is no resolution too small! One of my resolutions is to put the laundry away the same day I do it. That might not sound like anything major, but it’s something I don’t currently do that I would like to. And voilá! A resolution is born. And then…

Make action steps
The biggest reason people fail when it comes to actually attaining their goals (besides having unattainable goals) is a lack of planning. We need a steady supply of motivation and encouragement in order to continue to do the work needed. But when you set the standards sky high you won’t ever reach it in one leap, no matter how concentrated an effort you give. That’s where action steps come in. Once you set a large goal you need to break it down into smaller, more manageable steps that will take you closer and closer to your ultimate goal. Think of them as the rungs on your ladder to the heavens. So after you have your resolutions written down pick 3 or 4 you want to concentrate on, or even just 2 or 1, and write down a few steps you can make to get yourself started. These little steps along the way will help you see your progress and not get discouraged. Losing 50 pounds is overwhelming, but losing 3 pounds…not so much. Celebrate your progress along the way and you will find it much easier to stay on track to your goal.

Make it happen!
Now that you have your plan in place there is nothing stopping you from achieving your goals this year! And if you ever get stuck and start to want to quit then just look back at your action steps. There is nothing wrong with admitting we bit off more than we can chew, and then spitting it back out. There’s no need to choke just to save some pride. Reflect on how far you’ve gotten and then find a smaller step and try to do that. Whatever it takes as long as you keep moving forward…

Welcome!

Hey everyone! Right now I’m still in the process of designing my webpage to have all my links and forms uploaded to make it easier for clients. But in the meantime I will be posting some recipes and general health information. If you would like to get in contact with me about my health coaching business you can email me at vodkaisvegan@gmail.com. I can answer any questions you may have and we can schedule your FREE initial health consultation! Looking forward to hearing from you, and keep checking back for some yummy healthy recipes!