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New Book Announcement: The Good Living Guide to Medicinal Tea!

Kombucha Tea

Oh my gosh, I can’t believe how December is FLYING by! Two sleeps ’til Christmas! Woo hoo!

I received an early Christmas gift a couple of days ago: a new book contract! I’m super excited to announce The Good Living Guide to Medicinal Tea: How to Brew the Cure to What Ails You will be released in January 2016! Not only is this fabulous, but I’ll be fortunate enough to work with Tanya R. Loewen from Wild Honey Art House again! Sooooo exciting!

 dried green tea leaves

It’ll be a few months before I’ll be able to unveil a cover for this new book, so instead, I decided to post a few extremely gorgeous tea images to satisfy myself (and maybe you? Any hardcore tea lovers out there?!), until I can make it happen.

My holiday is already off to a fab start, and I hope everyone who reads this has an amazing couple of weeks, too. xo

Medicinal Herbal Tea

20 Original Gift Ideas for a Happy and Healthy Holiday Season

Christmas

Hey, Happy Healthy Lifers! Today’s post has been contributed by one of my fave guest bloggers, Ashley Erikson. She has some great ideas about holiday gifts, and I for one could use the help!

Enjoy. xo

The Christmas season is in full swing, and many of us still haven’t done our shopping. It’s okay; it’s not unhealthy to procrastinate. It is unhealthy to stress out—and when you don’t know what to get someone this late in the season, it can be stressful.

After looking for a couple of gifts for some friends of mine, I decided to write about some of the finds that I was impressed with. If anything, these gift ideas might give you better direction. These products range anywhere from $5 to $500, and for the record, I don’t work for any of these companies.

Gaiam Yoga for Beginner’s Kit – Price $

Yoga mat

Two short yoga workouts, plus all the accessories needed for a beginner to find their zen. If you’ve heard any of your friends or family talk about their interest in getting started with yoga, then this might be the perfect solution. Getting started with yoga is typically expensive, but this will ease the cost a bit.

Aroma Food Steamer – Price $

A steamer creates delicious meals without adding fat and excess calories. Steaming is one of the healthiest ways to cook meat, vegetables and other foods. If you want to know how interested your friend might be in this product, look at their social presence online, and see if they talk about cooking much. Every cook would love this gift.

Fitbit Zip – Price $$

This is one small electronic device that tracks steps, distance and calories burned. It syncs to the user’s computer or smartphone. This is one of the most powerful fitness tracking devices out there and your fitness junkie best friend might appreciate this for their next jog.

Philips Activa Portable Workout Monitor –  Price $

Gift Box Wrapped In Natural Paper With Blue Ribbon.

Exercise is more enjoyable when this monitor provides music with the perfect beat and feedback to keep you going. The user selects the type of workout, and the device sets the tempo. This device is something I was thinking about buying for myself. It’s impressive with its ability to turn up the beat as your run gets more intense.

Wake-Up Workout Alarm Clock – Price $

Give the gift of commitment. This dumbbell-shaped alarm clock comes in a variety of colors and won’t shut up until you perform 30 bicep curls. It’s fanatically healthy but it can be a funny and really cool gift for that loved one who is not a morning person.

Dark Chocolate Bar Library – Price $

Dark Chocolate

You can never go wrong with chocolate. Unless the person is not a human. Seven dark chocolate bars in a box, ranging from 54% to 72% cocoa. The flavors are unique, and dark chocolate is one of the healthiest snacks for those with a sweet tooth. Remember dark chocolate is stuffed with magnesium, which helps the body in many wonderful ways.

Flip Belt – Price $

Keep your loved ones safe with this stylish and comfortable belt that holds their identification, cell phone, keys and other items when they head out for a run or walk. This gift is perfect for your marathon runner friend who leaves the house unlocked for hours on end.

Unimug Tea Infuser – Price $

Green Tea

This glass mug cradles a loose-leaf tea infuser and makes it easy to brew a cup of tea at the office or home. It’s very affordable, and your herbal tea lover friends will admire it.

Tribest Personal Blender – Price $$

Smoothies and protein shakes are fast, easy, and convenient with a personal blender, and this blender is small and powerful. It’s worth a shot if you have no idea on what to get a person.

Sedona Dehydrator – Price $$$$

This isn’t the cheapest gift, but it is one of the healthiest options. Instead of letting fresh produce go bad, your loved ones can dehydrate it into healthy snack food. This is the dream gift for your raw vegan loved ones.

Sproutman’s Wheatgrass Grower – Price $$$

Holiday gift

Wheatgrass juice is the best way to cleanse and nourish the body, and the process is faster and cheaper when you grow fresh wheatgrass at home. It’s different (definitely not your average gift), but it can help someone save if they love their wheatgrass shots.

Oil Mister – Price $

This is an inexpensive gift that eliminates the need for aerosol oil spray cans. It allows users to control fat intake, while infusing food with mists of oil. This affordable gift is loved by many, and it will help you save financially this holiday season if you’re on a budget.

Galvanic Body Spa – Price $$$

This is a relaxing home spa that helps smooth skin and reduces the prominence of cellulite. Let your loved ones tone up and refresh without paying for expensive spa visits. If you’ve heard any complaints about cellulite or skin issues, this is the perfect gift. (Just be careful not to offend anyone.)

Slimware – Price $$

Christmas Gift

These uniquely-designed plates make portion control simple. There is a decorative pattern to fit every personality. A young married couple would love plates like this–they’re creative and long-lasting.

Resistance Band Door Attachment Kit – Price $$

Give the gift of fitness on the go. Simply attach bands to any door and workout. Not everyone likes to go to the gym every day; this gift is perfect for the mom who wants to add resistance training to her morning run. These long lasting bands are worth a try.

Aromatherapy Shower Tablets – Price $

Drop a tablet in the shower and cleanse, relax or revive your mind before you dry off. This is a gift that will give someone you love a fresh start long after the holidays pass. Sticking tight to the holiday budget? This is perfect for you.

Pop Chef Shape Cutter – Price $

Cookie Cutter

Encourage children to eat healthy with this fun kitchen tool that cuts fruit, sandwiches and other foods into hearts and other shapes. There are 12 shape options in one child-friendly kit.

Kamagon Ball – Price $$$

This water-filled medicine ball is difficult to control mid-swing, and that’s good news for your muscles. Deliver a challenging workout tool that even a dedicated fitness pro may not already own. If any loved ones are building their gym at home, this is the perfect idea!

Define Fruit Infusion Bottle – Price $

Staying hydrated is easier when the water has natural, healthy flavor. This bottle was featured on Shark Tank, and is now available in a variety of sizes, colors and designs. It’s very affordable and really impressive. Lemon water just got simple! If they’re adding lemons and limes to their water at a restaurant, they will admire this creative bottle.

Quilted Inspirational Cuff Bracelet – Price $

Inspire someone special to stay on the healthy track with this “Never Quit” quilted cuff bracelet. Your ETSY fanatical friends will admire this one!

Merry Xmas

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About our Guest Blogger

I’m Ashley. I’m a vegan, a blogger, a happy mom to 3 happy little dudes, and a woman of strength (I do like to work out). My passion is health, but my life is focused on helping others achieve their goals. Visit my site and learn more at AshleysHealth.com

6 Ways to Make Homemade Oatmeal More Exciting

TGIF, friends! Is it seriously Friday already?! The weeks are going by WAY too fast right now. I can’t believe Christmas is just around the corner! With all the craziness and hoopla that surrounds the holidays, it’s easy to rely on pre-packaged crap to get you through the day. But we don’t need to put our poor bodies through that—we just need to get creative! Cold months are perfect for oatmeal, which is super simple to make, and very good for you. It’s high in plant-based protein, low in sugar, great for your digestive system (and those of us suffering with IBS), and it’s a whole food.

Oats. That’s it!

But just oats can get a little boring, so here are 6 ways to create incredible-tasting oatmeal, and make it look even prettier (because everyone knows that pretty food just tastes better):

Homemade oatmeal

  • Experiment with some fun ingredients. Aside from the common toppings of cinnamon or raisins, try other things. Banana slices, pomegranate seeds (especially this time of year), blueberries, shredded coconut, and flax seeds are all great additions to any bowl of oats. Literally, IT’S ALL GOOD.
  • Swap water for almond or coconut milk while cooking. It makes a thicker, heartier oatmeal that will stick around for the entire morning. If your tummy starts rumbling for a snack an hour before lunch, then this idea is for YOU. No more rumbles.

Homemade oatmeal

  • Try assembling it the night before. If time (or lack thereof) is your excuse for skipping breakfast or throwing back a crappy Nutri-Grain bar on your way to work, then prep, baby, prep! Here’s how: layer dry ingredients in a bowl or jar the night before, and sit it on the counter where you’ll see it in the morning. When you’re ready for it, add fresh fruit and some unsweetened almond milk, and viola! Good quality, homemade breakfast. You can’t beat that.

Homemade oatmeal

  • Make your oatmeal into little muffins! Simply combine oats with pumpkin puree, cinnamon, and some ground flax until the texture feels right. (Like vegan oatmeal meat balls!) Plop into muffin paper liners (in muffin tin), and bake for 12-14 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Let cool for 15 minutes before eating, or make the night before and just pop 2 into your purse on your way out the door. Easy, peasy!

Vegan Homemade Oatmeal

  • Dress it up. Not with toppings (do that, too), but arrange it in something fancy and pretty. It’ll be more visually appealing to you in the morning, and you might just make time to stop and take a foodie pic. I do it all the time. I’ll admit it, and I’m not ashamed. Think about it: if you’re creating food that you feel compelled to photograph, then you’ll want to eat it! Get passionate about breakfast! And create an Instagram account.
  • Do a quick search online about how good oatmeal is for you. It’ll help to know that oats are protein-laden, fiber-rich, blood sugar lowering, weight-loss inducing, intestine-cleaning powerhouses. How do you avoid it, now? YOU HAVE TO EAT IT!

And those are my ideas on how to make oatmeal more exciting. I hope you’re totally planning on running home after work, assembling some jars of oats and stuff, and are looking forward to your healthful, amazing, plant-based breakfast of oats for the week. If you have kids, it’s fun for them to create their own oatmeal concoctions, too! Let the creativity roll!

Like an oat. Like a rolled oat. Get it? Kk, I’m out. xo

The REAL Reason for Cold and Flu Season?

Holiday Drink

Autumn used to be my favourite season. The leaves change colour, it’s brisk, and I love the spider webs that are illuminated by the morning dew. It’s a season of fun: there are holidays left and right and parties to attend every week. It’s cozy. We drink warm cocktails, we get together with family and friends more, and there’s the feeling of success that comes with harvest time.

Fall’s awesome. Right?

Well, not so much anymore. Ever since I had children, I dread this season. The colds and flus and croup and midnight subsequent hospital visits are awful. I began to question if there was any way to avoid all of this without locking down my family from October to March. And this is what I realized:

Being more susceptible to colds and flus means that your immune system is not working 100% for you. We are designed to fight these things, right? So what could be depressing our immune systems so completely during this season? I mean, exposure to illness is heightened by the fact that people gather indoors instead of out, and children, who are just building their immune systems, are like little carriers of anything viral. But what else?

How about this: cold season coincides with Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Valentine’s Day. That equals sugar, artificial ingredients that your body doesn’t recognize, holidays that center around  turkeys that are specifically bred to be huge and taste great through artificial means, and a TON of booze. We also generally get less sleep due to excessive fun time (who needs sleep when you’re having fun?!), and your immune system takes a massive hit.

Hmmm…

I wonder what would happen if we all gave up sugar, animal products, and booze for the entire cold and flu season? I’m not expecting you to actually do this—I’m not willing to give up my mother-in-law’s amazing party sangria, either. But perhaps if we’re more aware that what we feed our immune system could be a game-changer in regards to being sick during this season, we can cut back on the sick days taken and the cold medicine that’s purchased. (The ingredients present in cold medication, by the way, is the topic for a whole other blog. Yuck.)

Anyway, food for thought. Be preventative. Have a great week!

The Multi-Tasking Matriarch

We’ve all heard women say that they “do it all.” When you have school-aged kids, your life is BUSY. With two Christmas concerts, three children’s Christmas parties, a flu-stricken hubby, and a zillion things to accomplish in the next two days alone, I am reminded of just how much brain power it requires to keep it all together with the holidays approaching. I guarrantee that none of us ever looked at our mothers in wonderment when we were growing up and thought, “Wow, she remembers everything! She’s amazing! Good thing I have my mom.” More likely, we all thought, “Aww, mom! Stop asking me questions about my homework and just let me watch T.V. Of course I ate today- you packed my lunch! Why do you always vacuum during the good songs?” Remember?

It’s been said that all mothers are tutors, teachers, short-order chefs, drivers, and receptionists. We are bankers, investors, housekeepers, mediators, therapists, and mentors. We are readers, writers, small-appliance repair-people, doctors, and friendship co-ordinators. (Aside from being “just” mothers and working regular jobs that have nothing to do with our children.) Because of this, many of us are also drinkers. 😉 Where’d that shiraz go to…?

Do I have respect for my mom, now. I am able to work from home, and am blessed with crazy insomnia, so I often can easily get up out of bed to make a forgotten lunch, or finish those class cupcakes. “Lost library book? No problem- I saw it yesterday while dusting your filthy room. It’s in your top drawer, next to your bed.”

My own mom sometimes worked three jobs, and my dad also worked full-time shift work. She always made nostalgic goodies for Christmas, presented healthy dinners at 5:30 every night, and always drove me anywhere I needed to go. While taking care of two kids and a hard-to-live-with husband (Hi, Dad), she held our family together like glue. She drove us to the movies, bought us the “must-have” jeans, and took amazing care of us when we were sick. Even if she was working on two hours sleep, and had to get up for work in less than one. This is a woman who purchased my first house with me in 2003, just so I could get my foot in the door of the housing market.

Mothers are incredible multi-taskers.

Aren’t mothers amazing? I was feeling nostalgic and a little whimsical, and decided that I needed to voice my appreciation. My kids have no idea what I do. They just know that they’ll get enough sleep, that their nutritional needs will be met, that they’ll get to school on time (mostly), and that when they are ill, I will help them. Although we’re too young to truly appreciate our mothers while we are still children, it’s caring for our own wee ones that allow us to finally make that connection and appreciate our moms.

Go give your mom a hug! Happy Holidays!

The Art of Slowing Down

This is the time of year when everyone seems to be on fast-forward. In fact, the phrase “hustle and bustle” is completely synonymous with Christmas and the holidays. Stress can be off the charts, and alcohol intake often goes up in an attempt to combat the effects of stress.

So, what’s a girl (or boy) to do?

The answer? We have to train ourselves to consciously slow down when we feel overwhelmed. Simple solutions, such as deep breathing, meditation, and yoga can help considerably, without making a giant time investment.

Deep breathing: I’m talking about 10-20 deep, conscious breaths in and out, for a count of 5. 5 in, 5 out. It takes about one minute to complete this exercise, and it makes all the difference.

Meditiation: This takes stress relief one step further. You can do this, even if you’ve never done it before. Find a place that is preferably quiet and dark. Sit or lie, close your eyes, and breathe deeply. If you can do it the way I described above, then that’s ideal. While breathing, think about or whisper an affirmation. It can be “I” while breathing in, and “can” while breathing out. Or “slow” and “down.” Or whatever you want. This works.

If you’re feeling as though you might kill someone (usually a partner is the object of temporary hate here– you may be feeling like you do it all, and he/she doesn’t pull his/her weight), then I highly recommend you go ahead and attend a yoga class. If you go at night, you can often find a candlelight restorative class, or something akin to it. Yoga combines the deep breathing and the meditation, as well as some light exercise, positive reinforcement, and welcome comradery. It’s the best of the best, in terms of stress relief.

So, instead of drinking yourself into oblivion, slaying a spouse, or throwing a giant tantrum in front of your children this year (that last one hits home for me…), consider a healthier way of dealing with your anxiety and stress. After all, the holidays are meant to be fun, not stressful. TGIF!

How to Weigh the Same in 27 Days

This post could also go by “Don’t Gain that 10 Pounds I Piled On and Had a REALLY Hard Time Losing Last Year.” I’m already scaring myself. I literally ate an entire pan of amazing almond cookies my neighbour baked yesterday. I’m weak. It’s Christmas.

Here are some tried and true ways to sidestep those super annoying holiday pounds. I know this info, and I still struggle. This year, I’m sticking this list on my bathroom mirror, where I will be reminded every morning. Hopefully, I will inspire myself. You know, like last year…:/

1- DO NOT go to any gathering hungry. If it’s too early to eat supper, then make yourself a smoothie before you go. Those little ready-made appies and killer cheeseballs that are insanely delish are really full of empty calories. If you’re prone to thinking that you’ll skip a snack because there will be food at the party, you’re right. And you’ll eat it. Alot of it.

2- Don’t drink sugary cocktails. They are full of extra calories, and cause bad hangovers. This, in turn, creates greasy hangover cravings the following day that can only be satisfied by a drive-thru hamburger and fries. Instead of a candy cane martini, opt for vodka and water, gin and tonic, or a mohito, sans simple syrup. Garnish with citrus. Also, skip the eggnog. That one’s self-explanatory. If you need some inspiration, here are some great low-calorie holiday cocktail recipes.

3- Keep up the exercise routine. Don’t quit because it’s party time. It will screw you up for December, and make it way harder to start back in January. Keep running!

4- Eat 3 meals a day, and 2 snacks in between them. Consistent and mindful caloric intake can regulate your blood sugar and hormone levels, which will create an optimum environment for burning calories. Don’t skip meals!

5- Stop eating after dinner. 7pm is an ideal time to quit stuffing food down your throat, and let your stomach digest properly. It makes a huge difference.

6- Drink water all. day. long. All those great fluids will help to keep you regular, which will help to keep the weight off. Accumulating too much stool can lead to weight gain and tummy pain. H2O! H2O! H2O!

If I can follow these 6 rules, I know you can too. And if I can’t, I’m sure you’ll all hear about it in the New Year. Yeah, you’re welcome.