Aloe Vera gel is God’s gift to skin…especially for those of us who get sunburned the moment we step on to the beach! It’s very relieving to apply aloe vera gel onto sunburned skin. But when you buy your gel from the store, there’s no telling what other harsh chemicals might be in that bottle of aloe. There’s no telling what you might be putting on your skin. Here’s a recipe to make your own aloe vera gel at home!
How to Make Aloe Vera Gel
What you will need:
Live Aloe vera leaves
Airtight container (for storage)
Sharp knife (for skinning the leaves)
A clean bowl to put your gel in
Firstly, use your knife to divide up your aloe vera leaves into pieces that are 20cm long. Cut off the serrated edge of the aloe, and then cut your 20cm pieces into long strips.
When the serrated edge is removed, you should be able to see the aloe gel inside. Turn your knife on it’s side, and slide it under the gel to free it from the leaf. You can also cut the strips into small pieces to make it easier to extract the gel if you prefer. You can get a ton of gel out, so make sure you flip each leaf over after you’ve done one side!
The, place your gel into your blender. After all of your gel has been added to your blender, blend it until smooth. The gel will appear frothy, and this is normal. The forth with dissapate after you have stopped blending. Once the froth has gone down, place your gel in a clean, airtight container.
Finally, it should be mentioned that homemade aloe gel doesn’t “keep” as well as the store bought stuff does. Keep it in the refrigerator, and plan to use your aloe gel within a week, or it will go bad. Additionally, if you want to keep the gel on hand for longer periods of time, pour it into ice cube trays and store in the freezer. Pop one out and rub on irritated skin whenever needed! You’ll wonder what you did before you made your own.
This vegan pesto recipe made with cashews is so easy to make! You just need 5 ingredients to prepare this healthier, budget friendly option!
Pesto usually involves nuts, cheese, garlic, fresh basil and olive oil. This is my favorite vegan version of pesto, which still has plenty of garlic and fresh basil flavor, but is made without any cheese or olive oil! The cashews provide a buttery, cheesy taste and are a lot cheaper than pine nuts, which are often called for in pesto.
Try it with any kind of pasta you like for a super quick and fancy meal, or use it on pizza, sandwiches, wraps, as a dip or salad dressing. The possibilities are endless, and you will love this go-to recipe for sure!
Vegan Pesto Recipe
It really couldn’t be easier! Add all the ingredients plus 1/4 cup water to a food processor. Process until smooth and creamy, adding more water as desired.
1 cup raw cashews
2 – 3 teaspoons minced garlic
2 cups fresh basil, loosely packed
4 tablespoons nutritional yeast
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 – 1/2 cup water
Add the cashews, garlic, basil, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, salt and 1/4 cup water in a food processor. Process everything until it gets smooth, adding more water if needed for a thinner consistency.
You can store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Pesto also freezes well for up to 6 months. You can also freeze it in an ice cube tray, then pop the cubes out and stick them in a ziplock freezer bag or container if you prefer!
Can you make pesto nut free?
If you have an allergy to cashews, you can use raw slivered almonds or pine nuts in place of the cashews. If you can’t have any of those, you can use pepitas or sunflower seeds. But the recipe does taste best with cashews, as they give it a buttery, cheesy flavor.
Regularly drinking tea can help you lose weight and reduce your risk of several diseases, including diabetes, heart disease, dementia, and cancer. Learn more about the most famous tea types and the health benefits associated with each one.
Tea Types and Benefits
Before we start, it’s important to be able to distinguish a true tea from a herbal tea. True teas (green tea, black tea, and oolong tea) are brewed from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant. Herbal teas, on the other hand, are not true teas at all. They are made from dried fruits, flowers, spices or herbs. This means herbal teas can come in a wide range of tastes and flavors and make a tempting alternative to sugary beverages or water.
Here’s a list of my favorite tea types and the health benefits associated with each one:
TeaBenefits: Good for bloating, allergies, acne, and weight loss
Green tea is touted to be one of the healthiest beverages on the planet. It’s loaded with antioxidants that have many health benefits, which may include improved brain function, fat loss, protecting against cancer, and lowering the risk of heart disease.
Green tea is loaded with polyphenol antioxidants, including a catechin called EGCG. These antioxidants can have various beneficial effects on health, such as reducing inflammation and helping to fight cancer.
Green tea contains less caffeine than coffee but enough to produce an effect. It also contains the amino acid L-theanine, which can work synergistically with caffeine to improve brain function.
Green tea may boost metabolic rate and increase fat burning in the short term, although not all studies agree. Green tea has powerful antioxidants that may protect against cancer. Multiple studies show that green tea drinkers have a lower risk of various types of cancer.
Several studies show that the catechin compounds in green tea can have various protective effects on the brain and reduce the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s. Some controlled studies show that green tea may cause mild reductions in blood sugar levels. It may also lower the risk of type 2 diabetes.
Last but not least, green tea may lower total and LDL (bad) cholesterol, as well as protect the LDL particles from oxidation. Studies show that people who drink green tea have a lower risk of cardiovascular disease. Finally, studies show that people who drink green tea may live longer than those who don’t.
Steeping time: 2 minutes
TeaBenefits:Good for sleep, headaches, anxiety, and bloating
Chamomile tea is most commonly known for its calming effects, and is frequently used as a sleep aid. In one study of 80 postpartum women experiencing sleep issues, drinking chamomile tea for two weeks led to improved sleep quality and fewer symptoms of depression.
It is also believed to have antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and liver-protecting effects. Studies in mice and rats have found preliminary evidence that chamomile may help fight diarrhea and stomach ulcers.
One study also found that chamomile tea reduced symptoms of premenstrual syndrome, while another study in people with type 2 diabetes saw improvements in blood glucose, insulin and blood lipid levels.
Steeping time: 2-3 minutes
TeaBenefits:Good for bloating, nausea, PMS, and bad breath
Peppermint tea is one of the most commonly used herbal teas in the world. It is most popularly used to support digestive tract health. Several studies have confirmed peppermint’s beneficial effects on the digestive tract. Several studies have shown that preparations of peppermint oil, which often included other herbs as well, can help relieve indigestion, nausea and stomach pain.
Evidence also shows that peppermint oil is effective at relaxing spasms in the intestines, esophagus and colon. Lastly, studies have repeatedly found that peppermint oil is effective at relieving symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. Therefore, when you experience digestive discomfort, whether it be from cramping, nausea or indigestion, peppermint tea is a great natural remedy to try.
Steeping time: 1-3 minutes
TeaBenefits:Good for high blood pressure, and respiratory diseases
Hibiscus tea is made from the colorful flowers of the hibiscus plant. It has a pink-red color and refreshing, tart flavor. It can be enjoyed hot or iced.
Hibiscus tea has antiviral properties, and test-tube studies have shown its extract to be highly effective against strains of the bird flu. However, no evidence has shown that drinking hibiscus tea could help you fight off viruses like the flu.
Hibiscus tea has been shown to have a positive effect on high blood pressure. In fact, many studies have found that hibiscus tea reduced high blood pressure, although most studies were not high quality.
Steeping time: 4-5 minutes
TeaBenefits:Good for weight loss, and to boost the metabolism.
Oolong tea is a traditional Chinese tea made from the partially oxidized leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant. In addition to caffeine, oolong tea contains vitamins, minerals, amino acids and beneficial tea polyphenol antioxidants.
The polyphenol antioxidants may help maintain normal blood sugar levels and decrease the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. However, the evidence is mixed and more research is needed. Oolong tea may help decrease the risk of heart disease, stroke and high blood pressure in some people. The combination of caffeine and polyphenols found in oolong tea may help increase the amount of calories and fat burned each day. This could ultimately help speed up weight loss.
Recent reviews show that tea may help maintain brain function and prevent Alzheimer’s disease. The caffeine, antioxidant and theanine content of teas may have beneficial effects on brain function and mood.
Steeping time: 3 minutes
TeaBenefits:Good for the immune system, inflammation and colds
In many parts of the world, “chai” is simply the word for tea. However, in the Western world, the word chai has become synonymous with a type of fragrant, spicy Indian tea more accurately referred to as masala chai. Chai tea is traditional Indian milky tea made from a blend of black tea, ginger and other spices.
Chai tea contains cinnamon and black tea, both of which may help reduce blood pressure and cholesterol levels. However, studies that directly investigate the effects of chai tea are needed. The cinnamon and ginger found in chai tea may help increase insulin sensitivity and reduce blood sugar levels.
The chai tea ingredients ginger, black pepper, cinnamon and cloves may help reduce nausea, prevent bacterial infections and support proper digestion. Chai tea contains several ingredients that may work together to promote weight loss. However, stay away from the sweetened versions sold usually at the supermarkets.
Steeping time: 5 minutes
TeaBenefits:Good for fat burn, immunity, and detoxification
Matcha has skyrocketed in popularity lately, with matcha shots, lattes, teas, and even desserts appearing everywhere from health stores to coffee shops. Like green tea, matcha comes from the Camellia sinensis plant. However, it’s grown differently and has a unique nutrient profile. Matcha contains the nutrients from the entire tea leaf, which results in a greater amount of caffeine and antioxidants than typically found in green tea.
Matcha contains a concentrated amount of antioxidants, which may reduce cell damage and prevent chronic disease. Some studies have shown that matcha could prevent liver damage and decrease the risk of liver disease. Matcha has been shown to improve attention, memory, and reaction time. It also contains caffeine and L-theanine, which can improve several aspects of brain function.
Test tube and animal studies have found that the compounds in matcha may inhibit the growth of cancer cells. Studies show that green tea and matcha can decrease several heart disease risk factors. Finally, some studies show that green tea extract helps increase metabolism and fat burning, both of which may aid weight loss.
Steeping time: 1-3 minutes
TeaBenefits:Good for stress, weight loss, and detoxification
Just like green tea and black tea, white tea is also made from the Camellia sinensis plant. However, different processing methods give them their unique flavors and aromas.
White tea is the least processed of the three teas, and so it retains a high amount of antioxidants. These help reduce chronic inflammation by protecting the body against damage from free radicals. Polyphenols like those found in white tea may help relax blood vessels, boost immunity and prevent bad cholesterol from becoming oxidized. These factors may help lower the risk of heart disease.
White tea is a good source of caffeine and catechins like EGCG. These two compounds may have a synergistic effect that helps the body burn fat and boost metabolism. Test-tube studies have found that white tea extract suppressed several types of cancer cells and stopped them from spreading. However, more human research is needed. Studies have also shown that polyphenols like those found in white tea may lower the risk of insulin resistance and improve blood sugar control.
Compounds found in white tea, including the polyphenols called catechins, may lower the risk of osteoporosis by promoting bone growth and suppressing bone breakdown. White tea and its compounds may protect the skin from damage linked to aging. This includes external damage from the sun’s UV rays and internal damage from cellular components that may harm the skin’s fiber network.
EGCG, which is found in white tea, has been linked with a lower risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. EGCG may help fight inflammation and prevent proteins from clumping and damaging nerves, two conditions linked with these disorders.
Steeping time: 1-3 minutes
TeaBenefits:Good for bloating, cold, upset stomach, and sore throat
Ginger tea is a spicy and flavorful drink that packs a punch of healthy, disease-fighting antioxidants. It also helps fight inflammation and stimulates the immune system.
It is most well known for being an effective remedy for nausea, as showed in several studies, especially in early pregnancy, but also when caused by cancer treatments and motion sickness. Evidence also suggests that ginger may help prevent stomach ulcers and relieve indigestion or constipation.
Ginger may also help relieve dysmenorrhea, or period pain. A number of studies have found that ginger capsules reduced pain associated with menstruation. In fact, two studies found ginger to be as effective as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen at relieving period pain. Finally, some studies have found that ginger supplements helped with blood sugar control and blood lipid levels.
Steeping tie: 4-5 minutes
TeaBenefits:Good for the immune system, colds, and to relieve pain
Echinacea tea is an extremely popular remedy that’s said to prevent and shorten the common cold. Evidence has shown that echinacea may help boost the immune system, which could help the body fight off viruses or infections.
Many studies have found that echinacea can shorten the duration of the common cold, lessen the severity of its symptoms or even prevent it.
Steeping time: 15 minutes
Earl Grey (Bergamot) Tea
TeaBenefits:Good for oral care, digestion, and stress relief
Bergamot tea is made by combining black tea and bergamot orange extract. Commonly known as Earl Grey tea, it has been enjoyed worldwide for hundreds of years. Since it received its nickname from the British prime minister Earl Grey, bergamot tea is often considered English. However, it’s native to Southeast Asia and widely cultivated in Southern Italy today.
Bergamot is rich in beneficial plant compounds known as polyphenols, which act as antioxidants, which fight free radicals that can cause cell damage and diseases. Research on bergamot juice and supplements, as well as on black tea, suggests that bergamot tea may improve heart health and digestion.
Steeping time: 3-5 minutes
TeaBenefits:Good for bone strenght, lower risk of brain strockes, and signs of ageing
Yellow tea is a variety of tea that is native to China. This variety of tea is quite expensive and is not produced everywhere. The process of making this tea is similar to that of green tea but with an added step, which involves encasing and steaming the tea. As the tea oxidizes at a slower rate, it gets the mellow taste. This tea has gained popularity because of its smooth and silky texture.
For healthy and strong bones, as well as lower joint pain, you can consider drinking yellow tea. Drinking yellow tea can also thin your blood, which can Help the blood circulation and prevent brain strokes. The antioxidants in yellow tea take care of free radicals and fight the signs of ageing like wrinkles and blemishes. The antioxidants present in the yellow tea serve yet another purpose: to help yourbrain function better. It will make you more aware and alert, and improve your mental reflexes.
Steeping time: 1-2 minutes
TeaBenefits:Good for weight loss and brain function
Jasmine tea is a type of tea, scented with the aroma of blossoms from the jasmine plant. It’s typically based on green tea, but sometimes black or white tea is used instead. Jasmine tea is high in polyphenols that act as antioxidants in your body. It also contains the powerful polyphenol EGCG, which is linked to many health benefits like reduced heart disease risk.
Jasmine tea made from green tea may aid weight loss by boosting your metabolism. Jasmine tea polyphenols may help protect against heart disease by preventing LDL (bad) cholesterol from oxidizing and potentially clogging your arteries. Jasmine tea contains caffeine and L-theanine, which may help keep you more alert and vigilant. Plus, it may improve short-term memory.
Jasmine tea is packed with powerful polyphenols, which may lower your risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Studies show that drinking jasmine green tea may help your body use insulin more effectively and reduce blood sugar levels. This may help lower your risk of type 2 diabetes.
Steeping time: 3-4 minutes
TeaBenefits:Good for the immune system, weight loss, and heart health
Darjeeling tea is a well-known tea variety that is exported around the world. It grows in the Darjeeling district of West Bengal, India. Darjeeling tea is unique because the leaves can be processed in different ways, resulting in black, green, white, or oolong tea.
Darjeeling tea is rich in antioxidants, which are known to combat free radicals in the body, neutralize chemicals during digestion, and eliminate toxins. A cup of tea provides useful hydration to the body and helps combat dehydration. Darjeeling tea helps the body regulate the production of cortisol, known as a stress hormone, and reduce stress.
Steeping time: 3-5 minutes
Lemon Balm (Cidreira) Tea
TeaBenefits:Good for sleep aid and digestion
Lemon balm tea has a light, lemony flavor. In a small study in 28 people who drank either barley tea or lemon balm tea for six weeks, the lemon balm tea group had improved elasticity of the arteries. Arterial stiffness is considered a risk factor for heart disease, stroke and mental decline. In the same study, those who drank lemon balm tea also had increased skin elasticity, which typically tends to decline with age.
Another small study in radiology workers found that drinking lemon balm tea twice a day for one month increased the body’s natural antioxidant enzymes, which help protect the body from oxidative damage to cells and DNA. As a result, participants also showed improved markers of lipid and DNA damage.
Preliminary evidence has also suggested that lemon balm may improve high blood lipid levels. Furthermore, a number of studies have shown that lemon balm improved mood and mental performance. Two studies including 20 participants evaluated the effects of different dosages of lemon balm extract. They found improvements in both calmness and memory. Another small study found that lemon balm extract helped reduce stress and improve math processing skills. Finally, another small study found that lemon balm tea reduced the frequency of heart palpitations and anxiety.
Steeping time: 5-10 minutes
TeaBenefits:Good for bone health and reduced heart disease risk
Rooibos is an herbal tea that comes from South Africa. It is made from the leaves of the rooibos or red bush plant. South Africans have historically used it for medicinal purposes, but there is verylittle scientific research on the topic.
One study has shown that rooibos tea may benefit bone health. One test-tube study suggests that it might stimulate the cells involved in bone growth and density. The same study found that italso lowered markers of inflammation and cell toxicity.
Moreover, preliminary evidence shows that rooibos tea may help prevent heart disease. One study found that rooibos tea inhibited an enzyme that causes blood vessels to constrict, similarly to how a common blood pressure medication does. Also, another study found that drinking six cups of rooibos tea daily for six weeks lowered blood levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol and fat, while increasing “good” HDL cholesterol.
Steeping time: 5-6 minutes
Tea Benefits:Good for the cognitive function and memory
Sage tea is well-known for its medicinal properties, and scientific research has begun to support several of its health benefits, especially for brain health. A number of test-tube, animal and human studies have shown that sage is beneficial for cognitive function, as well as potentially effective against the effects of the plaques involved in Alzheimer’s disease.
In fact, two studies on oral sage drops or sage oil found improvements in the cognitive function of those with Alzheimer’s disease, although the studies had limitations. Moreover, sage appears to provide cognitive benefits for healthy adults as well. A number of studies found improvements in mood, mental function and memory in healthy adults after they took one of several different types of sage extract.
What’s more, one small human study found that sage tea improved blood lipid levels, while another study in rats found that sage tea protected against the development of colon cancer.
Commit yourself to a trash-free, zero waste lifestyle by swapping out everyday items for zero waste products. This is a great way to reduce waste, minimize carbon footprint, and save money too!
Zero Waste Tips
You already know this is a global waste problem. Plastic is cheap, versatile, and valuable resource in many ways. However, it has created a disposable lifestyle. 50% of plastic is just used once and thrown away.
Bottles, straws, coffee cups, beverage containers, plastic bags, cutlery, cotton buds… the list is long and we all know it. This is indeed a major concern. But the good news is that it’s entirely up to us to take the first step: to refuse and adopt a zero waste lifestyle.
Plastic pollution is an unsustainable waste of that resource and it has become an environmental issue. So basically, do you want to continue being part of the problem or are you ready to take a small step to reduce our collective plastic footprint? Here are some small changes you can make to change your lifestyle towards zero waste and help the environment.
Small Changes for a Zero Waste Lifestyle
Buy Your Own Shopping Bag
Reusable bags are easier to use for both loading and unloading groceries, and your purchases are more likely to survive the trip to and from the store. Leaks are less likely to be a problem with reusable bags, and it’s easier to control where reusable bags have been and what germs they may carry. While they cost a little more upfront, there are many benefits of reusable bags, particularly when it comes to easing plastic bag pollution and the effects of plastic on the environment.
Bring Your Own Coffee Cup
When purchasing coffee on the go, bring your reusable coffee cup. It will cost you a bit more upfront but will save waste in the long run. In addition, many coffee shops now give a small discount if you bring your reusable cup.
Use a Reusable Water Bottle
Around 2.5 million water bottles are thrown out every hour making it one of the top ten items collected in beach clean-ups worldwide. In addition, plastic bottles contain harmful chemical compounds including Bisphenol A or BPA which poses a number of health risks including problems with liver and kidney functions. So forget bottled water and just take your reusable water bottle with you!
Use Eco-bags for Fruits and Veggies
Reusable produce bags can have great benefits for both yourself and for the environment. They can cut down on your plastic waste, benefit the health of your home and surrounding ecosystems, keep food fresh, and even save you money. You can make your own net macramé produce bag, for example, it’s a simple and great DIY!
Use Your Own Lunch Box
No time to make a packed lunch? Just pack your lunch box! Some cafés and restaurants accept to serve your food in your own lunch box, helping you to enjoy single-use-plastic free lunches on the go. It’s important to keep connecting conscious consumers with like-minded businesses and do what’s better for our planet!
Use Glass Jars to Store Food
You can save your glass jars and bottles, purchase bulk food, and store it in those jars. You can also take the jars to the bulk stores if you prefer, and weigh them before filling them, but it might be more practical to just take reusable produce bags and put everything in jars when you get home. You can label your jars, to make it easier to identify what’s in them.
Use Reusable Straws
This simple switch could help save the environment. The plastic straw, an item that you probably didn’t think twice about using a few years ago, has become a source of controversy as concern over pollution from single-use plastics has grown. Reusable straws can be made of metal, silicone, bamboo, or glass. They are made from recyclable materials, easy to clean, light, and durable enough to keep in your bag. Thanks to reusable straws, you can still sip on your favorite summer drink while also being environmentally friendly!
Carry Your Own Cutlery
We throw away billions of utensils every year. Like many plastic items, cutlery often finds its way into the environment, where it poses dangers for animals and can take hundreds of years to break down. Cutlery is listed amongst the “most deadly” items to sea turtles, birds, and mammals. A logical solution is simple: to carry your own set of reusable metal cutlery! Carrying cutlery requires a habit change, but it’s really no different than taking a mug, water bottle, a pen, even sunglasses.
Use a Bamboo Toothbrush
Plastic toothbrushes are made from non-renewable fossil fuels. They are essentially indestructible, which means that the first toothbrush we had when we were kids is still hanging around in some form, somewhere polluting Mother Earth. Bamboo toothbrushes are an eco-friendly alternative, because bamboo is a natural plant, fully biodegradable, thus a renewable and sustainable resource. Bamboo toothbrushes are also naturally antimicrobial – this attribute ensures that bacterial growth is limited extremely!
Use stainless safety razors
While the initial outlay will be more expensive than you spend on a disposable shaver, where you will save is in the purchase of razor blades and in the environmental impact. This material can be recycled compared with plastic covered replacements for conventional razors that cannot.
Make Your Own Products
A shampoo and conditioning bar can last up to three months depending on how often you need to wash your hair, and you don’t consume any plastic. Regular bottled shampoo and conditioner are not only more expensive, but more wasteful too, creating more plastic packaging isn’t a good thing particularly if there are minimal waste alternatives and let’s not forget the energy that needs to be consumed to recycle the material. You can read my post about Castile Soaps, with homemade recipes for beauty and household products.
Use a Menstrual Cup
One conventional sanitary napkin contains the equivalent of about four plastic bags as well as other chemicals that may irritate the skin. It can take hundreds of years for one of these items to decompose not to mention the waste it contributes to landfills. By opting for reusable cotton pads or a menstrual cup, a woman not only minimizes her waste but saves money in the long run as well, as these last for up to 10 years!
Try Plastic-free Alternatives
Explore plastic-free hair accessories and tools. Nowadays you can buy all types of accessories made from plastic-free, biodegradable materials!
With so much going on in the world with the COVID-19 outbreak, it’s easy for anxiety to set in while you’re self-quarantining. Remember that it’s good to take time for yourself to give your brain a chance to process emotions and reset. To help you do that, here’s a list of things to do while you’re social distancing!
At-Home Self Care Ideas for Stress Relief
Self-care is not only about the one-off moments that you get to take care of your self, it is more of a daily practice. Not a practice of luxury bubble baths, but rather asking yourself each day, “what do I need right now?” and then following through.
Sometimes, our body is asking us to get moving, to do some yoga or go for a run. Other times, our body is asking for us to slow down and sleep a bit more. Here are some self-care ideas that can help relieve stress while you’re stuck at home.
1. Cook a special or new meal
Cook something you love to eat or try experimenting with a new recipe. Cooking is another form of creativity and it can be very therapeutic and rewarding, especially if you also have people to cook for.
2. Play a video or computer game
With the coronavirus pandemic creating tons of stress for everyone who has a soul, some people have been turning to video games a lot lately. If you’re all frazzled and unable to sit still long enough for a movie or TV show, games require more focus and thus often work better at keeping people chill. You can try to play again computer games from your childhood, like Sims for example!
3. Sing and dance to your favorite songs
Choose your favorite tunes and host an online dance party with your friends—or join one of the many group dances that have popped up. Or if you prefer, do it alone instead, and have fun without no one judging you!
4. Call a loved one or friend
While social distancing is good for our physical health and strained healthcare system, it’s not great for folks who are desperate for their daily dose of social connections, or anyone who is feeling really lonely during the quarantine. Try to do a video chat with a friend while you both meal prep for the week ahead, or organize a remote game night with your family. It’s important to keep in touch with your loved ones!
5. Practice breathwork – Pranayama
Before this pandemic, we were living a sedentary and stressful lifestyle, where most of us live on a shallow and quick breath, using only a fraction of our total lung capacity and living on just enough energy supply for the body to function. This way of breathing limits our vitality and our resistance to diseases, and potentially starves our brain of essential oxygen, creating tiredness, irritability, and disturbed sleep. Take 5 minutes of your day for Pranayama – you can find some breathing techniques here.
6. Do a guided meditation
Meditation is one of the best things you can do right now to relieve stress and improve your wellbeing. If you’re like the rest of us, you sit down, try to “quiet” your mind… and then say “Well, now what?”, read this post about meditation to learn some techniques.
7. Explore who you are
One of the things that help me explore who I am, and what I want to do is read. I’ve been reading a lot of motivational, self-development books during this quarantine, which have been very inspiring! Another thing is to listen to podcasts from coaches or motivational speakers. They will help to overcome this situation and deal with stress.
8. Try a DIY facial or face mask
Give your skin some extra love. As you wash your face, imagine washing all the dirt and negativity away. As you replenish your skin with hydration and vitamins, think of how you’re giving back to yourself, nourishing and loving yourself.
9. Try a new craft
Hobbies and crafts are usually things we push to the bottom of our priority list, but they actually do so much for our happiness! After all this, you might just be able to make time for this hobby in your weekly routine, to make time for something that brings you joy.
10. Create a Pinterest vision board
Setting goals and various to-dos (not just for the new year, but all year round!) is an excellent way to keep yourself focused on the things you want to do and accomplish. Create an album with your buck list items, an album with your dream house, or an album with your favorite motivational quotes. The creative power is unlimited!
11. Order in food and do nothing all evening
Even though you shouldn’t make it a habit, sometimes it is nice to just do nothing and relax right? Order take away food and watch Netflix. There are a lot of movies and documentaries that can actually make you learn something while you ‘do nothing’, so it’s a win-win situation!
12. Try an at-home workout
Since it’s not ideal to go to gyms, find a new exercise routine at home that’s fun to do. You can find workout videos on YouTube, or just follow some of the exercises I mentioned here.
13. Make a fancy drink or cocktail
Whipping up a green juice may be too much work on a normal morning but what is normal anymore? These days it’s more important than ever to support your immune system and your waistline with plenty of fresh or frozen fruits and veggies. Check out some smoothies recipes here. If you prefer a nice hot drink, why don’t you try to prepare Golden Milk? You can find the recipe here.
14. Make a dessert and enjoy it
Make yourself and your quarantine buddies a delicious treat—plus get a feel-good boost from accomplishing something fun. If your cupboards are a little bare, try one of these simple recipes that can be made from ingredients you likely still have at home, like this banana bread.
15. Write down on your gratitude journal or do journaling
Sitting at home binge watching Tiger King on Netflix may not feel like you’re doing much, but you’re actually living through a major historical event that people will learn and talk about for generations after this is all over. Writing a journal will help you not just preserve your memories but will also help you process your feelings about this time that manages to feel simultaneously terrifying and immensely boring. Consider making it a gratitude journal, or start doing journaling, by answering daily deep questions about yourself.
16. Clean out your wardrobe
Start by emptying all the items in your wardrobe. Once you’ve got everything out of the closet, start separating all the items—clothing, lingerie, jewelry, bags, footwear, outerwear and other accessories like belts, hats, etc. While making a pile for all, simultaneously decide what you plan to keep, donate, and discard. I did it twice already and donated the clothes I didn’t want to keep to a Charity Shop next to my place.
17. Re-arrange something in your home decor
When the world outside feels out of control, focus on the things you can control. You can control how your space feels—if your space feels tidy and fresh, your mind will feel calmer as well. Feng shui your home! The energy of your space is really important. Change up the decoration, light up some candles, use your aroma diffuser… those small things make a difference!
19. Draw or color
Channel your feelings by doing something creative. Painting or drawing are great ways to express yourself, learn a new skill, and help you see ordinary things (like everything in your house you’ve been staring at for weeks) in a whole new way.
20. Play with a pet
As you might know, if you read my blog, I’ve recently adopted a cute stray cat and even wrote the whole story here. Whenever I want to take a break, even when I’m working remotely, I play with Pinky for a bit. He makes me feel calm and relaxed!
21. Do a gentle yoga class
Since we are spending so much time sitting at home, we need to stretch! Yoga is perfect for that. You can do it by yourself, just following some asanas or sun salutation poses, like the ones I have prepared here, or you can actually do online classes. I personally like to watch videos on YouTube from this channel: Yoga with Adriene. Her classes range from stress-relieving breathing exercises to popular yoga poses to regular flows—no prior experience (or flexibility!) required. Your body will thank you for doing yoga!
22. Sit in the sun
Many people might not have been getting much sunlight lately as they are shut up inside their homes to avoid the COVID-19 contagion. Moreover, having a window that opens to the outside air is a luxury in many rooming houses in densely populated areas as these rarely provide windows in their rooms to maximize the space to host more people. However, if you do get the chance to sit in the sun, do it. Let’s get some Vitamin D!
Eating your daily dose of fruits and veggies in a smoothie tastes way better! Whether you like berry smoothies, chocolate protein shakes, or green machines, you’ll find plenty of healthy smoothie recipes here.
Layering Guide for Smoothie Recipes
Try to layer your smoothie recipes like this, and you will see a big difference when it comes to the final texture!
My Favorite Smoothie Recipes
Choc Mint Smoothie
Inspired by the classic ice cream flavour, this six-ingredient smoothie is special. Mint will settle your stomach and freshen your breath and spinach will improve everything else. The healthy chocolate flavor is created with unsweetened cocoa and pitted dates. Cocoa is actually one of the best sources of iron, magnesium, and zinc.
Green Horchata Smoothie
If you’ve been to Mexico, then you know Horchata. Or ‘orxata’ as Wikipedia tells me. There are so many different versions but the basic premise is homemade rice milk made with cinnamon and vanilla. Delicious stuff. Sweet, subtle, and not too heavy. In this recipe I included sesame seed nut butter, aka tahini, to thicken up our smoothie and bring in more protein. It’s also one of the best sources of calcium. I also added smoothies staples, spinach, and banana, bringing in more creamy nutrients. Now it’s completely untraditional but dang healthy!
Peanut Butter Biceps Smoothie
This is my afternoon delight. It’s either going to get me to the gym or the good fats and delicious flavours are going to stimulate my mental cognition and satisfy my sweettooth. Peanut Butter Biceps gets me through my day!
Energizer Bunny Smoothie
Remember the Energizer battery commercials? That bunny was a nutcase. Now you can be the nutcase with this delicious smoothie with coffee, to boost your energy levels!
Inflammation is rife. If you go to the gym or you take shortcuts with your diet, then your body is inflamed. Help repair the damage quicker with this anti-inflammatory smoothie This delicious smoothie includes the strongest inflammation fighting foods.
Age Fighting Turmeric Smoothie
We’ve got so many nutrients in this combo, beyond the turmeric. They’re all designed to fight ageing, principally because of the antioxidant content. You can even add two handfuls of green to take it another step further. My favourite age fighter is coconut oil. The good fats are not only hydrating to your skin, making them look younger, but they also nourish your brain. Coconut oil will not only help you focus day to day but it will help protect you against the age related degenerative diseases that occur.
Mango Unchained Smoothie
There’s no better use of an overripe mango than in a smoothie. You know the darker, bruised ones that you’re too precious to eat? Cut those babies open and get them in the blender. It’s hard to be humble with this recipe, it’s perfect. We’ve got greens, protein and superfoods. And the end result is delicious!
Golden Milk Smoothie
Inspired by turmeric latte. The combination of turmeric, ginger, cinnamon and honey is hard to beat. This version is colder and even more nutritious. If you’re a vegan or take issue with anti-viral, immune boosting raw honey then swap in maple syrup.
Pecan Pie Smoothie
This pecan pie smoothie tastes just like a melted piece of pecan pie a la mode, and you can blend it up in 5 minutes! This recipe is perfect as breakfast on the go or a post-workout snack, packed full of protein, healthy fats, fibre, vitamins and minerals.
Salted Caramel Smoothie
Let’s not typecast smoothies people. A key ingredient to a healthy sweet is dates. Dates are a decent source of fibre, vitamins and minerals. Importantly, they’re genuinely sweet. You don’t need many to sweeten things right up. And a little trick to make them pop in even more is adding sea salt. The combination works and it’s the foundation of any sugar free ‘salted caramel’ product you’ll find or make. So get stuck into these smoothies whenever your sweet tooth is in need!
Mocha Protein Smoothie
This mocha smoothie has protein, which makes this the perfect recipe for the gym. Toning plant based protein with clean energy. The combination of caffeine and post workout endorphins makes for an epicly enjoyable morning. What makes this smoothie so good, apart from the flavour and energy is that we crammed two cups of kale in there. And a banana. That’s a serious hit of vitamins and minerals. The cocoa is also a tremendous source of iron which, amongst other things, carries oxygen to the brain and helps you feel sharper.
Ginger works best when it’s paired with something sweet. And vanilla is a great partner too. So I love adding it to plant-based vanilla protein powders. Add a pinch of sea salt and you’ve got a delicious gingerbread flavour. This recipe is a protein powerhouse, perfect for treating yourself after the gym. I like to add two cups of spinach as well. Get those veggies in.
Gingersnap Cookie Smoothie
Ok, so our Gingernsap is pretty similar to the Gingerbread. However, it really does taste like an American gingersnap cookie. Blackstrap molasses is a great ingredient here. It’s not only a unique sweetener it’s seriously rich in iron, calcium and magnesium. Molasses is great for your hair, skin and it’s even shown to fight cancer, stress and PMS!
If you want young skin and less toxins in your body, you need to eat dense multi-vitamins that nourish your liver. One of the best ingredients for liver health is broccoli. And we’re going raw with it in this smoothie. The cancer fighting cruciferous contain phytochemicals that directly help with the elimination of contaminants. Other friends of your liver includes kale, and detoxifying lemon. Rounding out our detoxifying recipe is clean protein powder, which brings flavour and long lasting satisfaction. Lastly, add some delicious potassium in the form of a banana and coconut water. Now you’ve got a green smoothie that is unbelievably nutritious as well as tasty!
What does big Mel have to do with a healthy smoothie? This smoothie protects and nourishes your heart. So even though it’s got nothing to do with Scottish Mel, it’s a powerful name and we got to mimic the facepaint in the artwork!
Fat Boy Slim Smoothie
‘Good fats’, polyunsaturated (or mono unsaturated), are critical to good health. They help avoid heart disease, depression, dementia, cancer and arthritis. But it’s not just about prevention. Good fats also fuel your brain, helping you feel cognitively sharper. These good fats are present in flaxseeds, walnuts, hemp seeds and chia seeds. I love having those guys for breakfast in a smoothie. This keto friendly recipe goes hard on avocado, coconut and almonds. The vitamins in these high fat foods are great for your skin!
If you have money to invest in a good blender, I recommend this one.
There are tons of Dr. Bronner’s Castile soap uses that you can use daily from skin care and body wash to laundry and household cleaners. The ideas are endless and you will love that you will save you time and money.
Benefits of Using Dr. Bronner’s Castile Soap
Dr. Bronner’s is a top-selling soap in the natural marketplace. Only the purest organic & Fair Trade ingredients. No synthetic preservatives, no detergents or foaming agents — none! The oils in these soaps have antibacterial agents. In addition to this, the soap is very gentle to use without drying out your skin or surfaces. Just make sure it is diluted properly before using it.
You if live in Malta like me, you can buy Dr. Bronner’s Castile soaps at Holland and Barrett, either by visiting their physical stores around the island, or by ordering it through their online shop.
Here are some of the Castile soap uses and some nice homemade products you can make with it:
Dr. Bronner’s Castile Soap Uses
1/4 cup melted coconut oil
1/4 cup Raw Honey
1/2 cup liquid Castile Soap
1 tsp Vitamin E Oil
10-13 Drops of Lavender Essential Oils
Glass Pump Jar
Let’s start this list of Castile soap uses with this homemade body wash, which is so easy to make and leaves your skin really soft and hydrated. Mix all the ingredients together and store it in a glass Pump Jar. It is that easy!
1/2 cup unscented liquid castile soap
1/2 cup purified water
1 tablespoon glycerine
juice of 1 lemon (about 2 tablespoons)
2 teaspoons olive oil
10 drops lemon essential oil
This homemade clarifying shampoo helps remove build up from water, styling product residue and chlorine. It is all natural and very simple to make. You just have to combine all ingredients together and place into a squeeze bottle. Easy!
Homemade Eyeglass Cleaner
2.5 oz Spray Bottle
This Homemade Eyeglass Cleaner is so simple to make and very budget friendly! Fill the spray bottle 3/4 of the way full with the rubbing alcohol. Fill the rest of the bottle with water. Put 2-3 drops of the dish soap or castile soap in the spray bottle. Screw the lid on tightly to the spray bottle. Shake until all the ingredients are combined thoroughly. Spray on your glasses and clean/remove with a microfiber cloth.
1/4 cup castile soap
1/2 cup filtered water
1 teaspoon glycerine
2 tablespoons jojoba oil
20 drops tea tree oil
Combine all ingredients together including cup of water and mix well, and pour into a container. You are going to love this super easy Homemade Dandruff Shampoo. Forget paying way to much for dandruff shampoo at the store when you can make this one at home!
3/4 cup liquid Castile Soap
3/4 cup water
1 Tbsp. vitamin E oil
1 Tbsp. nourishing oil such as: sweet almond or jojoba oil
15 drops tea tree essential oil
5-10 drops lavender or peppermint essential oil
This homemade hand soap is such an easy DIY and very moisturizing and smells great! In a mason jar, add the water first (to prevent bubbles) then the liquid castile soap, followed by the essential oils. Top your mason jar with a rust proof soap pump. Shake the ingredients together. Shake the soap dispenser before using, and then squirt a small amount on your hands as needed, rinsing with water.
1 teaspoon coconut oil
2/3 cup unscented castile soap
1/2 cup coconut milk
1/4 cup purified water
1 teaspoon vitamin E oil
5 drops lavender essential oil
Melt coconut oil and combine all ingredients. Mix well and place into a squeeze bottle. You will love this lavender shampoo and it is so easy to make your own shampoo. The lavender smells amazing and it’s so calming!
Body wash with Honey
1 cup unscented castile soap
2/3 cup honey
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon vitamin E oil
This DIY honey body wash is incredibly moisturizing and so simple to make. Combine all ingredients. Pour into a refillable squeeze bottle. Shake well to combine.
Vitamin E oil
Ylang Ylang essential oil
Frankincense essential oil
Lavender essential oil
It’s pretty easy to make this homemade facial cleanser recipe. You just need liquid castile soap, water, essential oils and a carrier oil. Simply shake the ingredients together for a refreshing homemade facial wash.
This face wash doesn’t contain any harsh ingredients, so it’s perfect for all skin types: it won’t dry out or not moisturize. You can easily customize this wash with the following essential oils depending on your skin type: to reduce blemishes use Tea Tree Oil, to fight pimples on oily skin use Lemongrass Essential Oil, to reduce scarring use Frankincense Essential Oil, and for dry skin myrrh, cucumber seed and sandalwood all work well.
Clean Makeup Brushes
Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castille Soap
A clean cup
A dry towel
Clean those brushes with this simple DIY. It is so easy to overlook cleaning your makeup brushes but it is so important. Just get a clean cup or glass and squirt a small amount of Dr. Bronner’s soap into the bottom of it. Get your brush wet using lukewarm water, and be sure to keep the brush pointing downward as to not get the metal part of the handle which contains the glue or the brush handle wet.
½ Cup Oil (olive, grape seed, almond etc.)
¼ Cup Raw Honey
¼ Cup Castile Soap
10 Drops of Essential Oils (Optional)
Castile soap makes a really great shaving cream. This is so good for skin and moisturizing. Just combine ingredients in a bowl and rapidly whisk for several minutes until all of the ingredients have fully emulsified. Transfer to a pump or squeeze bottle.
Organic Cotton Pads
1 1/2 – 2 Tablespoons Coconut Oil
1 Teaspoon of Castile Soap—I used baby mild
2–4 Drops of Lavender Essential Oils
1/2 Teaspoon Vitamin E Oil
Skip the store bought make up wipes loaded with chemicals and make your own at home with castile soap and coconut oil. It is very simple to make and works great on your skin! Place cotton pads in the glass jar. In a small bowl mix the fractional coconut oil and castile soap together. Pour mixture over cotton pads. Press down on the pads so the soap and coconut oil evenly absorb into them. Pour distilled water over pads, just enough wet the pads. Place the lid on the jar and shake (this helps to evenly distribute the liquid over the pads).
Multi-Surface Floor Cleaner
5dropspine or tea tree essential oil
Clean your floor with this multi-surface cleaner that works so well on multiple surfaces. Dirt and grime will be a thing of the past when you use this cleaner! Just add the hot water to a bucket, then the liquid castile soap and essential oil. Gently stir the ingredients together (you don’t want a ton of bubbles).
3/4 cup Castile Soap (use the peppermint, lavender, and citrus varieties)
1/2 cup Super Washing Soda
1/2 cup Baking Soda
just under 2 gallons water
We’ve come to the last suggestion of this list of Castile soap uses, laundry detergent. Take your two-gallon bucket and pour lukewarm to cold water in the bottom of it, about an inch high of water. Add the dry powders (baking soda, super washing soda). Add more water if necessary to cover the powders then take your hand mixer or immersion blender and blend the powders for a few minutes, or until it is fully blended and there are no clumps. Fill your two-gallon bucket up almost all the way with tap water (the temperature doesn’t matter). Add the castile soap (this helps it not to bubble up), and stir with a long-handled spoon. Using the funnel, pour into your containers. Use 1/3 cup per load for HE washers, or 1/2 cup for non HE washers. Easy! Get rid of the chemicals and make your own laundry detergent with castile soap. It works great and will save money too!
Learn how to propagate succulents from leaves in 5 easy steps! In about three weeks, you can easily grow new succulents from the ones you already have with this step-by-step tutorial!
How to Propagate Succulents
If you want to propagate succulents, the first thing you need to do is to remove the leaves from the stem carefully and firmly wiggle them from side to side. Make sure to maintain the complete leaves without leaving parts remaining on the stem.
Once you have the leaves you want to propagate, leave them to dry for 1 to 3 days. Not all the leaves are going to survive, so make sure you take a decent amount.
Place the dried leaves ready to grow on the soil. You will see how the propagation occurs and the roots will find their way towards the interior of the soil themselves.
Gently water the leaves with a light spray, but not too much. Later just water the surface of the terrain when it becomes dry. It is important that you don’t water the leaves before they have completely dried, otherwise they might start to rot.
Time to wait for the leaves to sprout roots or until you see new leaves. Be sure to keep them in a warm place with plenty of bright light, but not direct sun. Don’t treat the leaves as ‘adult’ plants because they are delicate. Within three weeks or so, little roots and leaves will begin to sprout!
It can take a few months before a succulent gets big enough for re-potting. You’ll know it’s time when the leaf eventually turns brown and falls off. This means the succulent has taken all of the nutrients from the leaf and no longer needs it!
You can buy some paper pots online to place the leaves.