The Best Natural Skin Masks

When you purchase face masks and skin products from the supermarket, it isn’t uncommon that they will have a long list of ingredients, some of which you may not be familiar with. Unfortunately, not all of these things are going to be as good for your skin as the manufacturer would have you believe. Avoiding toxic chemicals is very important when it comes to the health of your skin. Making skin masks yourself at home is the best way to know what you are using on your body and it’s also not at all difficult.

Lemon

Lemons are full of vitamin C which is great for your skin. Try mixing two tablespoons of lemon juice with a teaspoon of unrefined organic sugar. Then using your hand, rub the mixture into your face. This is amazing for exfoliating the skin and once you wash it off a few minutes later, you’ll notice that your face is brighter and smoother.

Raw Cacao

The caffeine that is present in raw cacao is great for your face as it tightens the skin, not to mention the mass of antioxidants that are present in raw cacao. It is one of the most nutritious foods on the planet and is revered for its cancer combating properties and ability to tackle signs of premature aging.  To get the best results from this miracle ingredient, mix two tablespoons of raw cacao powder with one mashed banana, two tablespoons of ground raw oats and two tablespoons of organic honey. Make sure you mix it together well and then apply evenly to your face. Wait for 20 – 30 minutes before washing off.

Avocado

Avocado is absolutely bursting with Omega fatty acids which work wonders at moisturizing your skin. Not only that, but avocados are full of many all important vitamins and minerals too.  If you have dry skin then the best way to treat it is to combine the flesh of an avocado with a dash of olive oil and leave on the face for 15 – 20 minutes. Be sure to use an organic olive oil or an Extra Virgin variety.

Spirulina

Spirulina is famous for its antibacterial properties which means great things for your pores. It is a member of the algae family and comparably has more antioxidants than blueberries! This is good news for your face if you are trying to reduce the impact of sun damage or are attempting to alleviate blemishes or fine wrinkles.

For a face mask that will leave you looking rejuvenated, add just ½ a teaspoon of spirulina with a mashed banana. You can also add a squirt of lemon juice in for good measure but it’s not essential. After 15 – 20 minutes on the face, rinse away and dry.

How to Make Healthy Alcohol Choices

It’s that time of year again when we’re all being bombarded with advice on how to avoid over-indulging in party food and booze. Although being told to ‘stop at two is great in theory, when we get into the festive spirit it’s easy to postpone our good intentions.

When it comes to alcohol it really pays to have the facts so that you know what you’re putting in your body and what the consequences of that will be. We all know that beer is full of bad fats and is high in calories, but do we all know what the better options really are?

Vodka with Soda

One of the most low calorie drinks you can choose is a vodka with soda. There is approximately 95 calories in 1.5 ounces of vodka. Soda water is totally calorie free!

Tequila

When drinking tequila, always look on the label to check it is 100% Agave. Real Mexican tequila is required by law to only be made from the blue Weber agave plant. When tequila is made in the U.S it can contain up to 49% other liquids, which will usually be sugary alcohols – this is something to be avoided! When made in Mexico, this drink will be gluten free, sugar free and low in carbohydrates. Tequila experts will tell you that a shot after dinner can aid with digestion and also that when drank in moderation can help to lower bad cholesterol levels. A single serving of tequila contains approximately 97 calories.

Sake

Japanese rice wine, known as sake is made from fermented rice and is usually around 16% alcohol. Sake contains selenium which is a mineral with antioxidant properties. Several health conditions have been linked to low selenium levels. Drinking rice wine is known to be better for your stomach than the majority of other alcohols, especially if you already suffer from a digestive condition.

Red Wine

In recent years we’ve been hearing more and more how a glass of red wine a night is actually quite good for you. Not only does it help you to relax after a stressful day, but it also contains iron, potassium, magnesium and a range of antioxidants. One of these antioxidants, called resveratrol, is known to lower bad cholesterol levels whilst also helping to protect against blood clots.

Potato Vodka

Potato vodka, as the name would suggest, is made using potatoes instead of the usual grains. It is almost impossible to tell the difference in taste. As with grain vodka, potato vodka has antibacterial properties and is astringent in nature meaning it can keep the skin and hair healthy. The differences between the two are that the potato version is gluten free, sugar free and also has a lower carbohydrate count. That means you can enjoy it in moderation without worrying as much about the adverse health effects.

When it comes to mixers to drink your drinks with, it is best to avoid high sugar, high calorie options. Opt instead for fresh fruit juice (that you can make at home) or even blended vegetables such as cucumber, carrot or avocado. If you want to sweeten up your drink then it’s always a good idea to use a squirt of organic honey – but don’t over do it! Also, if you’re in a bar and it’s therefore not possible to make the drink yourself, then the best options are gluten free beers and ciders, a red wine or champagne. Try to avoid mixed drinks and liqueurs as they are usually crammed with refined sugar!

Almond Butter Granola Balls

These nutritious little balls are fantastic for carrying around with you and snacking on during the day. They also make great after-meal additions and can really help the body to get the amount of goodness it needs throughout the day. Add to that, that they are incredibly simple to make and will last for weeks when stored properly and you’re onto a winning snack idea!  Continue reading Almond Butter Granola Balls

How Yoga Can Alleviate Anxiety

Anxiety is a problem that we all experience at some point in our lives for one reason or another. Whether it’s your financial stresses causing you concern or you experience a degree of social anxiety in certain situations, it can cause much bigger problems for you to deal with. When anxiety sets in, it can disrupt no end of things – your sleeping pattern, your diet, even the way you communicate with others as you are put on edge.

Overcoming anxiety can be complex and of course varies depending on the reasons for it and the severity of it. There are some fantastic herbal remedies that can help to alleviate the symptoms but, as with most things, prevention is always better than the cure. Yoga can be such an effective weapon against anxiety that it’s surprising that it is not prescribed long before the doctor reaches for the pills.

First of all, yoga is an amazing form of exercise and it releases those all important endorphins. It’s a fact, doing exercise makes us feel good about ourselves – if not during than at least afterwards. This sense of accomplishment after a session is as great for our self esteem as it is for our bodies. The key is to start slow. Learn the basic poses and move from a beginner class to a more advanced session at your own pace. You’ll more than likely surprise yourself at how well you’re progressing and this of course is great for your self esteem also.

There are certain yoga positions that are more beneficial for defeating anxiety than others. The most important poses to focus on are restorative poses. These are positions of rest in which you have time to focus on your breathing and clear your thoughts. Done for an extended period of time, restorative yoga poses can feel similar to meditation. The Child’s pose for example, which involves kneeling down with your head bent forward and your arms stretched to reach ahead of yourself on the floor, helps to release tension in the shoulders and neck. When people experience anxiety, a lot of tension tends to build up in these areas so it is important to regularly release it.

The Legs up the Wall pose is another restorative pose that will induce feelings of relaxation. It is also useful for alleviating lower back pain and of course, releasing anxiety from the body. As the name suggests, you simply lie flat on your back with your legs up the wall – you can insert a pillow under your hips for comfort if you prefer. You can hold this pose for as long as you like; it shouldn’t become uncomfortable and you will find it a great way to relax as feelings of anxiety leave your body. This is a good one to do right before bed if you find that your anxiety is preventing you from sleeping restfully.

Remember, these are great poses to begin with but there’s a world of yoga out there in which you can learn many more helpful poses. Don’t limit yourself and you’ll soon be amazed at how much lighter life feels.

Black Bean Spinach Salad with Red Pepper Dressing

There’s no end to the variety of delicious salads you can make for yourself at home and as winter sets in, it’s great to have a light dish that actually leaves you feeling full! My Black Bean Spinach Salad with Red Pepper Dressing does just that and also packs a strong nutritious punch at the same time. Making the salad is the quick and easy part whilst the dressing takes a little bit more preparation. However, it’s well worth the time it takes to get ready!

Using red peppers as the base for a salad dressing is an amazing way to take full advantage of their health promoting properties. Red peppers are packed full of vitamins and nutrients – especially vitamins C & A. As we know, vitamin C is great for the health of your skin and vitamin A is essential for the good health of your eyes. Red peppers are also a wealthy source of vitamin B6 and magnesium, a combination of which is thought to help decrease anxiety levels and the vitamin B6 half of this duo is also fantastic for preventing bloat and hypertension.

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To make enough for two people, you’ll need the following ingredients:

2 cups of cooked black beans

1 cup of spinach

1 small onion

A handful of black olives

A head of romaine lettuce

A whole carrot, shredded

A large handful of almonds, roughly chopped

And then for the dressing you’ll need:

2 red bell peppers

Coconut oil

2 tsp lemon juice

1 tsp of extra-virgin olive oil

1 tsp of maple syrup

Himalayan salt and freshly ground black pepper

So to begin, preheat your oven to 400°F/200°C. You can then slice your peppers in half and remove all of the seeds you find inside. Take your coconut oil and massage it lightly all over the peppers. You must then put them into an oven-proof dish and then leave them in the oven for 45 minutes.

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Once this time is up, take the peppers from the oven and leave them to cool for ten minutes or so. After ten minutes, the skins should slide easily from them and you can then place them into your food processor with all of the other dressing ingredients. Give this a whiz until it is completely smooth and then it is ready for use.

Take your black beans and combine in a separate container with half of the salad dressing that you have just prepared. Give this a good stir and then add in the onion, spinach, almonds, lettuce, olives and carrot. This can then be served onto two plates and more dressing added if needed.

Remember, if you want to learn more about nutrition then check out The Flexie Foodie Academy!