Recipe: Maple Glazed Brussel Sprouts

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Photo courtesy of hotdinnerhappyhome.blogspot.com

Happy Thanksgiving, Peeps!

Are you one of those people who never know what to bring to a Thanksgiving gathering? This year, bring something that is both a crowd pleaser and doesn’t pack on the calories. I actually made this dish for a Friendsgiving gathering and it wasn’t long before it was all gone! This recipe is super easy as it doesn’t have that many ingredients and once it’s put together, the oven does the rest of the work!

Ingredients:

1 – pound Brussels Sprouts, trimmed and cut in half

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

3 Tablespoons Pure Maple Syrup

4 Slices bacon, cut into ½ inch pieces

½ Teaspoon Salt

¼ Teaspoon freshly ground Black Pepper

Prep Time: 10-minutes

Cook Time: 35-minutes

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (200 degrees C)

Place the Brussels Sprouts in a single layer into a baking dish (preferably glass).

Drizzle with olive oil and maple syrup, toss the sprouts to coat.

Sprinkle with bacon and season with salt and black pepper.

Roast in the preheated oven for about 35-minutes, or until the bacon is crispy and the sprouts are caramelized. Every so often, stir so they don’t get stuck or burned.

Calories:175 per 1-cup serving

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No More Acne Detox Tea!

 

Who doesn’t want clear skin? For many people hormones, stress, and lack of sleep can do a number on your skin. So what can one do when you’ve tried all sorts of over the counter acne medications but still don’t see the clear skin you covet? Clear skin, unfortunately, is something that isn’t linked to the surface, and goes deeper, meaning that what you put into your body can certainly affect the health of your skin. This detox tea is amazingly easy to make AND it works in combating acne!

SKIN CLEARING TEA DETOX

Ingredients:

1 cup green tea (such as Twinings green tea)

Lemon Juice

1 teaspoon Ginger Honey (such as Greenbow Organic Honey with Ginger)

Drink this tea first thing in the morning for best results OR right before you go to sleep. This tea helps skin to release toxins and keep any inflammations at bay.

Let me know if you try this and how it works for you!

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Hiking – Purisima Creek Redwoods Reserve

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It had been years since I had been hiking, but I knew that if I found myself again in Northern California, I just had to see the famous redwoods. My boyfriend and I chose to hike up the Purisima Creek trail, since it was the closest to where we were at at Half Moon Bay.

Driving to the location proved to be a feat in itself, as we went up spiraling roads that looked incredibly sketchy at best (think slasher horror movie vibes), but once we arrived at our destination, we were awe-struck by the beauty of the forest.

The Purisima Creek Redwoods are located on the western slopes of the Santa Cruz mountains. The trail was filled with coastal redwoods, creeks, ferns, berries, and some seriously large crows.

Now, I’m not an expert when it comes to hiking, so I embarked the hike wearing jeans, a vampire tee, and Doc Martens. What? That’s not the appropriate attire you say? I guess I figured with the gorgeous trees surrounding us that resembled the sort in Twilight, that maybe Edward Cullen would pay us a visit in all of his glittery glory.

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For not being expert hikers (can you believe that we managed to forget to bring water along with us?), we walked the eight mile hike (roundtrip miles) that had slight inclinations and numerous bridge crossings.

One thing that I was very astonished about, was that I didn’t encounter any insects whilst hiking (usually my avoidance of bugs is one of the top reasons why you’ll rarely see me hiking). But I really enjoyed seeing the incredibly beautiful redwoods, and would truly recommend anyone who happens to be in the area to check the out! Not to mention that the trails are so very populated with other fellow hikers that meeting new people was the easiest thing to do!

I enjoyed this hike so much, that I may check out another trail in my near future.

Suggested Pack List:

  • Hiking boots (although my Doc Martens worked out just fine, thankyouverymuch)
  • Backpack (makes it easier to carry anything you need and keeps your hands free)
  • Camera (so you can share all your gorgeous pix with your friends & family!)
  • Water (a must! But we forgot!)
  • Sunglasses/hats (I forgot a hat & sunburned my scalp, yelp!)
  • Sunscreen (if you’re ghostly white like me, you’ll burn even in the shade so don’t forget it!)

Which hiking trails have you done, and which ones would you suggest me to do?

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Erase Cellulite With Grapefruit Juice!

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Every gal deals with cellulite, some more than others, and for many, it’s the bane of their existence. But have no fear, I’ve got you covered, ladies.

One sure fire way to erase those annoying lumps is by drinking grapefruit juice.

Why is grapefruit juice so effective?

  • It boosts blood circulation
  • Burns excess fat in a speedy manner
  • Helps produce collagen
  • It effectively metabolizes sugar

Ingredients:

1 Large Grapefruit

2 Oranges

½ Lime

Directions:

Cut each of the fruits in half and using a manual juice, squeeze the juice from the fruits and place it in a glass. Stir the juices together, and you have your drink!

For best results: Try to maintain a healthy diet free of fatty foods, processed foods, sugars, and deep-fried foods.

Please note: If you’re taking any meds, DO NOT drink grapefruit juice as it can counteract the effects of your meds.

Let me know in the comments below what you think about this juice and if it has worked for you!

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Avoid These Hidden Sugars to Lose Weight & Acne-Free Skin!

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Hidden sugars is one of the reasons why the average adult in the U.S. is culprit of consuming around 22 teaspoons of added sugars every day. Many times, these sugars are hidden in foods meant to be “healthy.” Normally, one should only be consuming around six teaspoons of sugars a day if you’re female (that’s around 100 calories) and nine teaspoons a day (around 150 calories) if you’re male.

Why is sugar such a huge no-no? Well, apart from sugar being one of the leading causes associated with diabetes, heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure, and cognitive disorders (such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease), sugar is now even linked to cancer.

Now, apart from all those scary diseases, sugar is also a huge culprit when it comes to teenage and adult acne and any other skin conditions (because sugar is known to cause inflammation).

But not all sugars are created equal. The issue isn’t with sugars found in fresh fruits or vegetables, but rather it’s the added sugars found in the majority of the meals we consume that are the so-called bad sugars.

So how are we to avoid such hidden sugars? How do we know where they’re lurking? Below is a list of ten most common “healthy foods” that in reality have more sugar hiding in them than junk food.

TOP TEN HIDDEN SUGARS FOODS

  • Cereals and flavored oatmeals
  • Packaged breads (even those of the whole-grain variety)
  • Granola bars
  • “Lower calorie” drinks such as coffees, energy drinks, juices, and teas
  • Protein bars and meal replacements (think Slim-Fast)
  • Sweetened yogurts and other dairy products
  • Frozen waffles or pancakes
  • Bottled sauces, salad dressings, condiments, and marinades (think ketchup, relish, barbecue, or teriyaki)
  • Dried fruit and other fruit snacks (such as Fruit Roll-Ups)
  • Restaurant foods (sugar is found is almost anything cooked at a restaurant, it’s added in various sauces, desserts, and dressings)

So how are we to avoid hidden sugars? Basically, the issue is you must consume the majority of your foods in their natural state (such as fruits and vegetables). Once foods are processed or prepared in factories or restaurant chains, then that’s when unneeded sugars and sodium are added.

I’m not saying that you must avoid all of those foods on the list above ALL THE TIME, but try to consume them in moderation, that is the key to maintaining a happy and healthy lifestyle.

Need a healthy alternative for breakfast? Check out my recipes for GREEN SMOOTHIE and STRAWBERRY KIWI SMOOTHIE.

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How to Lose 10 Pounds in 1 Week!(Find out what Foods to Cut!)

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Summertime is when people begin to take notice that they’ve piled on some extra pounds over the winter months (ya know like you’ve eaten your weight in cookies and muffins). Trying to shed those pounds in time to strut a bikini at a beach or pool can prove to be taxing. But I’ve got you, girl, it doesn’t have to be that way!

You can easily shed up to 10 pounds (even more!) in ONE WEEK if you eliminate these two food groups from your diet completely:

SUGARS & STARCHES (CARBS)

If you dramatically cut these from your diet, I will guarantee that you WILL see results as fast as ONE WEEK. Why is that? Well, first of all, cutting back on sugars and starches will influence your hunger levels, dramatically lowering them, hence, contributing to the consumption of fewer calories.

But lowering your hunger levels isn’t the ONLY perk. Removing sugars and starches from your diet will also lower your insulin levels, allowing your kidneys to flush any extra water or sodium from your body, removing any bloating and unnecessary water weight.

Essentially, if you’re eating a low-carb low-sugar diet, you will be less hungry than your low-fat low-protein eaters. You will feel less hungry for longer, and in the long run, will have higher levels of energy. Basically, a win-win!

One of the biggest hurdles dieters worldwide encounter is the feeling of hunger that comes with any fad diet. But by removing sugars and starches from your diet, you will automatically reduce your appetite, allowing you to lose weight without the hunger pangs driving you mad!

Instead, opt for these low-carb veggies as snack options:

  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Spinach
  • Tomatoes
  • Kale
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Swiss Chard Lettuce
  • Cucumber

What’s great about these low-carb veggies is that you can fill up your plate and feel ultra-full without going over the 20-50 net carbs for a day!

Let me know if these tips help you in your weight-loss journey or if you have any to share of your own in the comments below!

Need more diet tips? Check out how to avoid empty calories!

By: Azzurra Nox

Get a Beach Body Stat By Cutting Empty Calories!

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It’s that time of year again when everyone is trying to drop pounds as quickly as they put them on back during the luscious Christmas holidays (ya know we were all guilty of packing away cakes, cookies, and chocolates and downing it all down with gallons of eggnog).

But have no fear! Here’s a quick and easy way to shed some pounds without going too overboard or fasting (never cool).

What causes most of us to gain weight is empty calories. Meaning, these are calories that hold no nutritional value to us, so eating them not only doesn’t apply to making us healthier or giving us energy for the day, but rather are very detrimental to our health. These calories are usually low in proteins and dietary fats, but high in carbs (simple sugars). But we’re all human, so cutting out ALL empty calories is unrealistic and would also be kind of sad (seriously who wants to bid farewell to sweets forever? Not this gal!).

So here’s a nifty chart for you to take advantage:

The USDA MyPlate Limits empty calories to the following:

Women/Ages 19-30: 260 calories

Women/Ages 31-50: 160 calories

Women/Over 50: 120 calories

What constitutes as empty calories?

The following foods contain empty calories:

Cake, cookies, pastries, sodas, cheese, pizza, sports drinks, ice cream, hot dogs, bacon, jam, chips, French fries, syrup, and donuts

empty calorie

Try to fill up on fruits and vegetables instead, where you’ll end up feeling more full for a longer time with less calorie consumption, and limit your empty calorie intake to half a serving or one serving a day, and you’re bound to see some results in your waistline!

Let me know some of your tips and tricks for shedding pounds in the comments below!

By: Azzurra Nox

Common Water Brands pH Levels & How They Can Affect Health

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Everyone (from your doctor to trainer) is always preaching about how we need to drink more water for better hydration and also for optimal skincare. But are all waters the same? With so many brands out on the market, it’s hard to tell sometimes which ones are actually beneficial for us, which ones don’t do anything at all, and the ones that are actually causing harm.

Here are some of the ways that either too low or too high pH levels can cause you harm:

Eye & Skin Irritation

We need to worry when pH levels are either too high (above 10) or too low (below 4). If you wash yourself or drink water with pH levels that are either too high or too low you could cause irritation to yours eyes or worsen skin conditions like eczema and acne.

Upset Stomach

High pH levels or too low can also cause nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea in some individuals. So if you’re someone who suffers from that you should probably look into what water you’re drinking and see which one would be best for you.

With so many brands out there you’re probably wondering, which one is the best for me? Below is a list of common brands and their pH Levels. Anything below five isn’t the best, and the closer to ten is the optimal number for drinking water.

Vitaminwater: 3.4

Propel Zero: 3.5

Propel Fitness Water: 3.6

Penta: 4.0

Dasani: 4.5

Function: 5.0

Perrier: 5.5

Poland Spring: 5.8

Voss: 6.0

Ice Mountain: 6.0

Crystal Geyser: 6.0

Deer Park: 6.3

Smart Water: 6.5

Great Value (Walmart brand): 6.5

Gerber Pure Water: 6.5

Arrowhead: 6.83

Evian: 7.0

Volvic: 7.0

Zephrhyllis: 7.5

Absopure: 7.5

Fiji: 7.5

Super Chill: 7.5

Evamor: 8.0

Real Water: 8.0

Essentia: 9.0

Now from that list you can see that the best brand for an optimal pH Level drinking water is Essentia. I usually drink Fiji and although it isn’t the level that Essentia is, it’s still at a healthy level. All the other waters are probably okay, but the clear loser is Vitaminwater, which is below a 4-level and could actually cause those issues that were mentioned above or worsen them.

What’s important to remember is that water with an alkaline pH improves your body’s hydration levels, supplies essential minerals, and creates a healthy pH balance in your body. However, when water has an acidic pH level you can have skin and eye irritations, stomach problems, the water doesn’t provide a good source of nutrients, and it may lower the pH level in your body causing more harm.

So next time you’re in the grocery store think about which waters are actually doing their job, and which ones you should avoid as you’re just doing yourself more harm and actually paying for it, than anything else.

Did your water brand make the cut?

By: Azzurra Nox

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Five Morning Rituals That Will Kick-Start Your Day!

For many of us, waking up early in the morning is a must. But if you’re not an early bird (as myself), waking up early can truly seem torturous. How can you alleviate this problem or at least make those early morning wake-up calls seem less dreadful? Here are a few of my morning rituals that help me jump-start my morning and be ready for the day.

Choose a Pleasant Alarm to Wake-Up To

I don’t know about you, but I’ve always found that being utterly startled out of sleep already puts me in a foul mood before I even set foot out of bed. Throughout the years I’ve found that being slowly awakened to a pleasant sound that gently lulls me out of sleep works wonders. I’ve been waking up to The Cure’s Just Like Heaven for years now. There’s something about Robert Smith’s dreamy voice and the uplifting spirit of this song that somehow makes me feel like my day is going to be awesome. Choose a song that makes you feel good or even a relaxing instrumental and start your day with some positive vibes!

Cup of Tea

I’m a tea lover, and if there’s one thing that will put me in a bad mood first thing in the morning is if I have awful tea (which also makes me a tea snob). I usually favour English Breakfast or Darjeeling Tea for the mornings. There’s something about the aroma and the comforting warmness of it that makes me feel like I’m being cuddled up in a snuggly blanket. Some of my favourite tea brands are: Twinings, Ashby, Mighty Leaf Tea, and . If you’re more of a coffee person, then go ahead and have that. But something about drinking a hot drink will soothe any morning jitters and get you prepared for the long day ahead.

7-Minute Reading

I know some people love to read the morning news, and that’s good if that’s what you like to do. I usually try to avoid being bombarded by the news first thing in the morning, mostly because a good portion of the news if always somewhat depressing. Instead, I try to wake up my brain with some leisure reading. Usually it may be a magazine article or simply reading a few pages of whatever book I’m currently reading. Whatever you choose doesn’t matter as long as it helps you motivate yourself to wake up.

7-Minute Workout

I’m not the best person when it comes to exercise (at least in the formal going to the gym-sort), but I’ve found that doing this simple exercise routine 7-Minute Morning Workout In Pyjamas by Joanna Soh is the best way to get your blood flowing and shake off the morning blues. This exercise is simple and doesn’t take too much time out of your morning routine. If anything, it helps you work off that extra glass wine or scoop of ice cream you had before going to sleep the night before. It’s also fool-proof enough that even hungover or sleep deprived you can manage to do these easy steps. In just seven minutes you’re able to loosen your muscles and get your heart rate going. And don’t worry if you work up a bit of a sweat, just jump into the shower afterwards!

Lemon Water

This is simple! Just take a glass of hot water and spritz some lemon juice (or add a slice of lemon) to the water and drink this either before your morning coffee or tea, or even after. This Lemon Water is an excellent source of Vitamin C (much needed during flu-season!) and an amazing way to rid your body of unwanted toxins. Not only that, lemon aids in reducing pain in the body and any inflammation in joints. Not to mention that it tastes delicious!

These are just some of my morning rituals. Leave some of yours in the comments below!


Lemon Water image taken from eblogfa.com

By: Azzurra Nox

Make Pesto Like A True Italian! Easy Recipe!

Many of you may not know, but I’m half Italian and grew up living in various Italian cities. For this reason, I’m always hesitant to dine out at Italian restaurants in America, because it’s rarely anything remotely close to what the original recipe really is. I always feel bad having to break the news to Americans that their most coveted Italian dish (Chicken Alfredo) is merely an American concoction that doesn’t exist in Italy.

When it comes to pesto, the secret is in the preparation. If you’ve ever actually been to Italy and had a chance to taste the pesto there, you will notice right away that it’s vastly different from the Americanized counterpart you find here in the U.S. at restaurants or sold in jars at stores. First of all, the real meaning of “pesto” in Italian is to “grind/smash.” That means in the original Italian recipe you DO NOT use a food processor or hand blender to get the ingredients to become a paste. Rather, you place all the ingredients in a mortar bowl and grind them using a pestle (see photo for example). This method requires you to manually grind all the ingredients together till it becomes a texturized paste.

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This may take you between 20-25 mins. I know many of us lead very busy lives and may find this takes too long and wish to skip this step and use a food processor, but if you truly want to experience an authentic Italian pesto, you must take the long way! The beauty of this though is, that you can make extra and freeze what you won’t be using, to be consumed at a later date. So pretty much it’s a far more invigorating and delicious meal prep trick!

Ingredients:

1 Large bunch of basil leaves (about 30 leaves washed & dried)

1-2 Tablespoons of Raw Pine Nuts (I love pine nuts so usually go with 2)

3 Medium cloves of garlic

2 Tablespoon of freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

2 Tablespoon of freshly grated Peccorino Romano cheese

3 Tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil

A pinch of salt

Directions:

Begin by chopping up the garlic cloves in four squares and cutting the basil leaves in half (if they’re too large). Once you’re done with this, place both of them in a mortar dish and using the pestle begin to grind and smash them. Do this until they’re completely minced. At this point, add the pine nuts (you may wish to chop the pine nuts if you want to speed up the process first) and using the pestle, mince them along with the first two ingredients. Now you add half of the Parmigiano Reggiano cheese to the mortar and grind and then add the other half. Repeat these steps for the Peccorino Romano cheese as well. Using the pestle, grind till all the ingredients are minced in a paste-like manner. Once you’re satisfied with the consistency, then you add the olive oil and salt to the mortar and using a teaspoon stir all the ingredients together. And you’re done!

Depending on how much pesto you use, this amount can be used for up to 3 dishes of pasta.

This is a very nutritious and delicious recipe that it’s hard not to love!

You can use any kind of pasta for pesto, below I chose to make it with orecchiette pasta because they’re one of my faves, but you can also use spaghetti or zitti if you prefer!

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Buon Appetito!

By: Azzurra Nox