5 Great Everyday Benefits of Chamomile

Greetings, foodies. Guess what? It’s going down to 4 degrees tonight. Guess what else? I saw that in Fargo, ND, the windchill is going to be -54 degrees FAHRENHEIT! Is that even livable? What happens to your house, do the walls literally just shatter? Where are your dogs? Does fire actually still… work??? Honest questions. I struggle with 30 degrees. I can’t even comprehend weather that cold. My hands and lips are already crusty from this cold weather, I lotion about every 45 minutes, drink about 8 bottles of water… everything is just so DRY.

Queue to a friend of mine at work giving me a nice  big bag of dried chamomile flowers from Barefoot Botanicals. I have some jojoba oil that I’m going to infuse with the chamomile for dry skin. I love to use that kind of thing rather than store-bought lotions, that way I’m sure of what’s in them. I had a bad reaction to a lotion I thought I really liked that was seemingly “natural” – smelled like coconut, had coconut oil in it, was made by a small business, etc. I come to find out, the ingredients were artificial, sourced overseas and god knows what I was actually using. Maybe a few drops of an essential oil I’m feeling (lavender, ylang ylang, maybe some citrus), and I have myself a nice skin oil.

Speaking of, I want to  share with you a lot of great things you can use chamomile for. It’s definitely a useful thing to keep around the house, so be sure to go grab some and stock your pantry with it! Unfortunately Barefoot Botanicals is out of stock, but you can find some to order online here!

5 Great Everyday Benefits of Chamomile

Anti-Itch Remedy for Bug Bites

Chamomile is great for reducing the pain and itchiness insect bites due to the elevated levels of quercetin and luteolin, two types of flavonoids found within the buds. For lack of some science-y stuff, it it contains stuff that suppresses the production of certain enzymes that your body produces as a response to the bug bites. Drinking a cup of chamomile tea is great, but a bath with a few tea bags couldn’t hurt!

Better Sleep

Having trouble sleeping? A cup of chamomile tea before bed has been known to act as a calming agent due to the flavanoid it contains, apigenin. This bonds to benzodiazepine receptors in your brain that are known to reduce anxiety and stress, making it easier to sleep.

Relief from Acid Reflux

Chamomile is known to calm an upset stomach, but it’s also useful for acid reflux, which is something I am VERY happy I know. Studies have shown that it can calm the muscles within the digestive tract and can support a proper pH within your stomach acid by inhibiting helicobacter pylori, a bacteria that contributes to stomach ulcers.  A helpful tip would be to drink this after a large meal to aid in digestion.

Minor Scrapes, Cuts and Burns

Using chamomile as a natural means to help heal superficial wounds has shown to be highly effective. In a scientific study, a trial showed that the antimicrobial properties of chamomile helped speed the process of epithelialization (skin cell regeneration) and wound contraction (further healing). In addition to disinfecting, you can heal your boo-boos faster with chamomile!

Sun Burn Relief

Who’s had sunburn? Yeah, not proud of the number of times I’ve let this happen… but it does. Remember those anti-inflammatory properties of chamomile I mentioned before? It’s great for reducing inflammation after a long day out in the sun. That, coupled with its ability to promote faster skin cell generation, may greatly reduce the pain of a pesky sunburn.

Hopefully these tips make your life a little easier and give you a little boost with all this cold weather. Enjoy!

-S

Sources:

Chamomile: a herbal medicine of the past with a bright future. Srivastava, Shankar, Gupta, 2010. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2995283/

Chamomile: An ancient pain remedy and a modern gout relief – A hypothesis. Hamed, Ali, Sanaz, Afshin, Afagh, Feb 2012. https://academicjournals.org/journal/AJPP/article-abstract/F0DF1C635194

Functional foods with digestion-enhancing properties. Marco Valussi, 2012. https://doi.org/10.3109/09637486.2011.627841

My Top 5 Favorite Superfoods (and where to find them!)

Happy Friday!

Today starts another fabulous long holiday weekend… complete with rain, rain and more rain. I’m home working for the day, so hopefully I can squeeze in some cooking to get you guys some delicious recipes.

One thing I wanted to share, though. I love healthy food, but I didn’t always love it. Growing up, my mom was an excellent cook, but I still hated vegetables. My parents ate them so I don’t know if I was just being stubborn. I didn’t like to eat steamed vegetables and I certainly didn’t know how to cook for myself until the last few years so I was sadly deprived of a lot of delicious ways to eat and cook vegetables. Then Amazon came to the rescue and now I feel like I need to share all the fun things I found recently to you and your loved ones/picky eaters if they aren’t into trying new things (though I think my recipes are delicious…).

8Greens Effervescent Super Greens Dietary Supplement – $14

Link: https://smile.amazon.com/dp/B0792HYX21/ref=twister_B07DPWSPSF?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1

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This stuff is liquid gold. My favorite local cosmetics store, Houpette, started carrying this when they moved to their new location, and I am DELIGHTED. It has a nice citrus-y taste, isn’t sludgy, and gets you the Vitamin B, Vitamin C, Zinc and other minerals you need if you don’t plan on eating your broccoli. It’s vegan, gluten free, sugar free, salt free and preservative free.

TerraSoul SuperFoods Gelatinized Maca Powder – $13

Link: https://smile.amazon.com/Terrasoul-Superfoods-Organic-Gelatinized-Powder/dp/B00EHQQ1A6/ref=lp_6944339011_1_11_s_it?s=hpc&ie=UTF8&qid=1535718486&sr=1-11&th=1

maca

Don’t let this one’s name fool you – it’s vegan, certified, organic, non-GMO and also gluten free. Maca is a root native to Peru – it’s balanced in carbs and protein, and also contains vitamin C, copper, iron, potassium, fiber, manganese, along with others. Studies have suggested it increases libido and fertility in men, and it has been suggested that maca root also alleviates unfavorable symptoms of menopause. As with everything – always pay attention to your body, as anything that influences your hormones can impact things such as your thyroid, or general hormonal wellness… however, the state that you will likely buy your maca root powder carries little adverse side effects compared to its natural state (raw, uncooked). When taken properly, this can do wonders, but always consult your doctor if you have concerns!

Greenbow Organic Bee Pollen – $11.99

Link: https://smile.amazon.com/GREENBOW-Organic-Bee-Pollen-Certified/dp/B019HI4CRC/ref=lp_6944339011_1_1_sspa?s=hpc&ie=UTF8&qid=1535718486&sr=1-1-spons&psc=1

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Though I’m a firm believer in buying this particular one locally (the bees are pollinating your local flowers – it couldn’t hurt to ingest local pollen for allergy reasons!), if that isn’t available to you, this is a great choice. Bee pollen contains amino acids, Vitamin B and other minerals to support a healthy immune system. I am particularly fond of this brand because they donate 1% of their proceeds to the Planet Bee Foundation, which helps to repopulate the bees and promote awareness of dangers to the bee ecosystem. Word to the wise – without bees, we all die…. If we’re being transparent, here. **side note: if you are allergic to bee venom, or anything bee related, it is recommended that you consult your doctor prior to any consumption of a bee byproduct.

Navitas Organics Goji Berries – $15

Link: https://smile.amazon.com/Navitas-Organics-Goji-Berries-oz/dp/B000FFLHSY/ref=sr_1_21_s_it?s=hpc&ie=UTF8&qid=1535719220&sr=1-21&refinements=p_n_feature_nine_browse-bin%3A6997074011%7C6997076011&th=1

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This one is fun in that… it’s kind of fun to say. They’re like a dried cherry cranberry raisin type thing, and I add them to my smoothies or overnight oatmeal. Chinese folklore says these are nicknamed “Happy Berries” – as the monks were jolly, happy and cheerful, and attributed this to their consumption of goji berries. They are high in antioxidants and vitamin A, and they taste pretty darned good, too. If chewing on these things freaks you out, Navitas also sells, powder form, available here.

Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides – $25 (30 servings)

Link: https://smile.amazon.com/Vital-Proteins-Pasture-Raised-Grass-Fed-Collagen/dp/B00NLR1PX0/ref=sr_1_4_s_it?s=hpc&ie=UTF8&qid=1535719464&sr=1-4&keywords=vital+proteins+collagen+peptides

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I love this stuff. While I am fortunate enough to have what some would consider “good skin”, there’s no sense in letting it go to waste! I add this to my coffee every morning… it’s taste-free, smell-free, and doesn’t change my coffee at all. Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body and makes up a good part of all the connective tissues in our body. It maintains skin’s elasticity and regeneration of cells, your hair, tendon, cartilage, bones and joints. Collagen is a protein made up of amino-acids: glycine, proline, hydroxyproline, and arginine. In laymen’s terms… if you’d like to help slow the process of saggy boom-booms or crepe-y skin, this is a great product to give you a head-start.

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These are just a few of my favorites that I’ve found over the years. If you aren’t interested in buying at Amazon, most local health food stores, as well as Whole Foods and Wegmans, carry these products. Much of the evidence provided around these products is from my own research, so always be sure to educate yourself on what the best superfood regimen may be for you. I’m always here for questions too!

What’s your favorite superfood or healthy product you’ve found? Share yours!

-S

Best 2017 Holiday Gifts for the Healthy-Food, Natural-Beauty and Causeworthy-Clothing Junkies

Some might say I get a little excited when it comes to gift giving. When I was younger, I used to buy birthday and Christmas presents for people, and in typical Sarah fashion, I would do it months ahead of time. The problem with this was that I couldn’t wait to give them their gifts and demanded they open it immediately.

Not a whole lot has changed about that, so I really have to fight the urge to hold onto presents when I have them for people. It’s hard. Life is hard.

The drawback with gift-buying these days is that the preference is digital, and since everyone’s super busy, it can be hard to really know your audience when gift shopping. When in doubt, I always aim for something healthy or sustainable

So – if I’m not thinking about food? I’m probably thinking about shopping. There’s definitely a LOT going on this season in terms of fun stuff at every price-point! See below for my favorite picks for this year.

$25 and under

Pacha Whipped Soap + Scrub – $12

Pacha

www.pachasoap.com

I absolutely love this stuff. The fact that it smells amazing is, oddly enough, the least cool thing about it (but a major selling point!). The owners of this company have embarked on a mission to provide underserved communities around the world with clean water and soap, and means to help them improve their situation. You can find this at Whole Foods.

Black & Decker CitrusMate Plus Juicer – $17.99

Black-And-Decker-CitrusMate-Plus-Juicer

www.vitacost.com

This is one of those things you didn’t know you needed until you have it. For those of us that hate pulp, you can even filter that out. This is perfect for recipes, measuring your juice, and just makes an all-around great little addition for someone you know that loves to do stuff in the kitchen. This makes it super easy and quick to make some delicious Lavender Lemonade…

HUM Nutrition Daily Cleanse Skin Supplement – $25

hum1

www.sephora.com

I really like this vitamin. It’s vegan, sustainably sourced, and is free of most major allergens. It has green tea extract, chlorella, MSM, and other beneficial plant nutrients. Sephora stocks a few different types to suit different skin needs, long with some other products in this line. Definitely worth a look.

Chef’n Kale & Greens Stripper – $7.95

www.chefn.com

I use this thing all the time… and quite frankly, what was life without it? For the amount of Garlic Tahini Kale Salad that we make, this is a huge time saver. It’s even great for tedious little herbs like Thyme and Rosemary. It’s easy to wash, compact to store, and it makes a great stocking stuffer.

Youth to the People Cleanser and Cream Mini Duo – $20

kale spinach face

www.sephora.com

This little set is great for people who have allergies to a lot of other major skincare lines. While I’m a Clinique/Origins girl myself, I’ve tried this and really liked how smooth it left my dry skin. It is made with actual spinach and kale – like a salad for your face!


$50 and under

Cuisipro Fat Separator – $34.95

cuisipro

www.surlatable.com

If you’ve ever made a gravy, confit anything where you need to separate a liquid, this is a great tool to have. The little filter separates the pan drippings and solids, it cleans easily, and its BPA-free, which I feel is really important if you’re using plastic.

OXO V-Blade Mandoline – $39.95

mandoline

www.oxo.com

I have a mandoline very similar to this, and it has greatly reduced the time spent slicing potatoes, cucumbers, apples, onions, etc… as well as greatly reduced my fear of cutting my finger off (came very close, one time….) The great thing about this is that it folds up nice and flat, comes apart to clean well, and is adjustable using a little nozzle.

Gandy’s Flip Flops – $33

gandys1.jpg

www.gandysflipflops.com

This company was started after two brothers from the UK were traveling in Sri Lanka when the 2004 tsunami  hit – unfortunately both of their parents were killed. This was their motivation to create something that would help other orphans, specifically those impacted by the tsunami, by helping build orphanages in India and Sri Lanka. Your feet feel good, you feel good!

Kopari Coconut Multitasking Kit -$40

Kopari

www.everythingbutwater.com

This little set includes Coconut Melt, a nice blend of Kopari’s 100% organic coconut oil, as well as aloe vera, cocoa seed butter and beeswax. The Body Glow has to be the best part of this – well worth trying!

WHBM Living Beyond Breast Cancer Butterfly Print Scarf – $48

whbm scarf

www.whbm.com

I may be a bit partial to White House Black Market (I’ve worked there part time for almost 7 years), but I’ve been really touched by the company’s involvement with and contribution to Living Beyond Breast Cancer – an organization that helps women assimilate back into normal life once in remission from Breast Cancer. I’ve had a few family members and close friends that have experienced this, and it really touches me to know that there’s an organization out there that serves this purpose.

Antonym Certified Organic Baked Blush – $36

Antonym blush

www.antonymcosmetics.com

This blush has a great shimmer to it, is cruelty free and Ecocert certified. The naturally-derived mica flecks give a nice shimmer without nasty aluminum, or other harsh chemicals. I prefer the Peach color for lighter skin tones, but according to reviews, the copper tone is a really nice tone on darker skin. It comes in a fun wooden container, so makes a great gift.


$100 and under

Taaluma Totes – $60-100

taluuma

www.carryacountry.com

The concept of these tote bags is pretty  cool. Wool and cotton from all around the world is brought back to the US, where disabled adults are employed to construct each bag. As if that didn’t make you smile, proceeds from the sale go back to the fabric’s country of origin in the form of a micro-loan to farmers and small business owners. YET – there’s more – the repayment funds go towards purchasing even more fabric, so as to promote sustainable economic growth. Carry your bag, carry the world.

Gloss Moderne Clean Luxury Masque – $65

gloss moderne

www.glossmoderne.com

This super conditioning mask is great for curly hair – it doesn’t weigh your hair down and keeps everything super sleek with zero frizz. The smell is to die for – the company’s signature scent was created by a popular perfumery. The best ingredient? Cocoa Butter 🙂

Le Creuset Heritage Stoneware Oval Covered Casserole – $100

le creuset casserole

www.lecreuset.com

This is another one of those things where, when you have it, you use it all the time and you can’t remember what life was like before you had it. A covered casserole dish is a great alternative to cooking things in a traditional dish with foil – the best part is, there’s no waste to remove and throw away. This one is big enough to fit all of your holiday side dishes, your fall mac and cheese dishes, your picnic salads… the whole nine yards.

Cuisinart Wine Opener – $99.95 – currently on sale for $79.96

cuisinart wine opener

www.williamssonoma.com

Remember those days in college when you would only buy screw-top wine bottles because you didn’t have a wine opener? Remember those days when… I still do that… because I’m lazy, shred a cork every now and again, and this screw-top Malbec was on sale? For days where I like to be a bit fancier, I really enjoy using a good ol’ shortcut… and this puppy can open up to 120 wine bottles on a single charge. It’s like a power tool! But, it’s safe! And for the kitchen!

 

Lilah B Perfection Eye Quad – $58

lilah b

www.lilahbeauty.com

This eye palette comes in 4 different combinations to cater to warm and cool skin tones. The best part? It contains aloe, marigold extract and coconut oil to give a creamy color that keeps your eyelids hydrated.

 

Trudeau Graviti Electric Salt and Pepper Mill Set in Copper – $79

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www.williamssonoma.com

These are absolutely beautiful, and are super simple to fill. All you do is flip them over, no work required! It grinds on its own. They stop as soon as you flip them back upright. They’re so pretty, you won’t want to hide them away in your cabinet.

Here you have it — my favorite picks so far for gift buying this year. Keep an eye out for more updates — definitely more to come! Be sure to share with your friends and follow on instagram @ thedivinekitchen for more fun!

Enjoy 🙂

-S