Friday, February 24, 2012

I Love Green Tea

Green tea has been prized since ancient times as a traditonal beverage that's good for the body and soul. I started drinking green tea a couple of years ago as a healthier alternative to coffee. One thing that really sparked a desire to drink more green tea was when I read The 17 Day Diet by Dr. Mike Moreno. He suggested drinking a cup of green tea with each meal to aid digestion and help with weight loss. I'm always looking for easy ways to help me maintain a healthy weight.
Health Benefits of Green Tea
  • Antioxidants- Green tea is full of them and they are good for your body. They help protect the skin from free radical damage which lessens the likelihood of wrinkles.
  • Cancer Prevention- Animal studies have indicated green tea protects against the start & growth of cancer and this is believed to be due to its antioxidantive properites. Green tea has also been shown to ease the adverse effects of cancer therapies, such as radiation and chemotherapy.
  • Longevity- Green tea is linked to having a strong immune system which helps you live longer.
  • Better Memory- A study done in 2010 found that people who consumed tea had significantly less cognitive decline in their senior years than non-tea drinkers.
  • Improved Digestion- Green tea drinkers have a decreased risk of ulcers and green tea is thought to help maintain a healthy weight.
  • Prevents dental cavaties and gingivitis. Green tea is an antiplaque agent and good for preventative dental care.
  • Lowers total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels. It increases HDL cholesterol levels.
  • Reduces blood pressure and acts as a blood thinner.
  • Reduces the risk of heart attack and lessens the likelihood of death from heart attack.
A note of warning before you go out and start drinking 8 cups a day.  An article from the journal Nutrition (1999, pp. 946–949) states
"Caution should be applied, however, in the use of high concentrations of tea for disease prevention. Ingestion of large amounts of tea may cause nutritional and other problems because of the caffeine content and the strong binding activities of tea polyphenols, although there are no solid data on the harmful effects of tea consumption. More research is needed to elucidate the biologic activities of green and black tea and to determine the optimal amount of tea consumption for possible health-beneficial effects."
So how much green tea should you drink each day? In Asian countries the average amount is 3 cups a day.  I often drink 2 and sometimes 3 if I'm especially tired.  I'm sensitive to caffiene so I don't drink any after 2pm to be sure I can fall asleep at bedtime.

To make green tea: Heat water in a tea kettle on the stove until 80 to 85 °C (176 to 185 °F) which is before boiling temperature is reached. The hotter the water the more bitter the tea will taste. Place a tea bag into your favorite mug and pour the hot water in.  Let it steep for 1 minute. Most teas you can steep for a long time but green tea gets bitter if you leave the bag in the water more than a minute or two.  Enjoy!

The majority of my information came from The Green Tea Book by Lester A. Mitscher, Ph.D. and Victoria Dolby

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Clean Hair Without the Chemicals


I’ve never liked chemicals.  Perhaps I’m more aware of them since my dad is a chemist. I know there are “good” chemicals, but I’m more of a pessimist and tend to focus on the icky ones that come in contact with my kids or myself.

My MBA focused on marketing so I often think about how products are positioned & what’s real versus what’s advertising. As I started paying more attention to the ingredient lists of my personal care products, I started thinking & researching what those long words really mean. What I found is that most of them are dangerous & unsafe.

According to "Skin Deep," a 2004 study and ranking of 7,500 cosmetic products published by the Environmental Working Group (, 100% of shampoos tested contained ingredients that have not been assessed for safety by either the Cosmetic Industry Review panel (an industry body) or the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which is charged with regulating cosmetic ingredients.

Other hair-raising facts

  •  69% percent of hair-dye products may pose cancer risk
  • 76% percent of conditioners contain ingredients that are allergens
  • 93% percent of shampoos possibly contain harmful impurities linked to cancer or other health problems.
The safest thing to do is choose hair-care products that are free of the following “Top Four” hazardous chemicals.

1. Phthalates: These chemicals get covered up on labels by the general term "fragrance," which the FDA permits to protect "trade secrets." Our fingernails, skin and lungs readily absorb Phthalates. Studies have found that phthalates can lead to liver cancer and birth defects in lab animals. One study from the University of Minnesota, published in the May 2005 Environmental Health Perspectives, found a connection between phthalates and genital abnormalities in baby boys. They found that mothers with high levels of phthalates gave birth to boys with one or more developmental issues. Definitely something to stay away from when pregnant!

2. Parabens (methyl-, propyl-, ethyl- and butyl): Some studies have shown that parabens mimic estrogen in rodents; the chemicals also have been shown to stimulate growth of human breast-cancer cells in the lab.
3. Coal Tar appears in many hair dyes and strong dandruff and psoriasis shampoos and has been linked to cancer in lab animals.

4. Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) is a powerful detergent and attacks greasy surfaces and probably the most dangerous ingredient used in skin and hair-care products. SLS is used in 90 percent of products that foam, including cleansers, shampoos, shower gels and bubble baths. In the cleaning industry SLS is used as a commercial garage floor cleaner, engine degreaser and car-wash soap. SLS is a harsh skin irritant that may also result in the formation of potentially carcinogenic nitrates and dioxins. Animals exposed to SLS experience eye-damage, central nervous system depression, labored breathing, diarrhea, severe skin irritation and even death.


I buy Tea Tree Tingle shampoo, conditioner & body wash at Trader Joe’s for my family, as I know its SLS free.

For myself, I stopped using shampoo & conditioner last year. Yup, I’m ‘poo free. So what do I do? I do something I learned from Organized Simplicity: The Clutter-Free Approach to Intentional Living  by Tsh Oxenreider (

Here’s what I wash my hair with:

Hair Cleanser:
1 Tablespoon baking soda
1 Cup water
Mix together in a squirt bottle & keep in the shower.  It can take a few weeks for your scalp to adjust to not being stripped of its natural oils.  I only need to wash my hair 2-3 times week and my hair feels very clean.

Hair Clarifier:
1 Tablespoon Apple Cider Vinegar
1 Cup Water
Mix together in a squirt bottle & keep in the shower.  Use this is in place of your conditioner.

I dare you to try it for a month and be faithful... see how much you love your new hair . 

[For more information on chemicals found in personal care products, visit]

Monday, February 20, 2012

Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Pancakes

My kids LOVE pancakes and waffles and I've finally made a whole grain recipe that I feel good about feeding them. This recipe works well for pancakes or waffles. The pancakes turned out light and fluffy & the waffles were crisp and delicious. I have tripled this recipe so that we have extras to put in the freezer for weekday breakfasts. My oldest son doesn't like the chocolate chips so I add those to the batter after I've already fried up a few pancakes & waffles for him.
Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Pancakes
5 ¼ cups whole wheat flour
½ cup wheat germ
¼ cup ground flax meal
2 Tablespoons baking powder
2 teaspoons salt
3 ½ cups skim milk
1 ¾ cups plain yogurt
6 eggs, beaten
2 Tablespoons vanilla
½ teaspoon stevia or ½ cup sugar
¾ cup melted coconut oil or butter
1 bag mini chocolate chips (optional)

In a large bowl combine flour, wheat germ, flaxmeal, baking powder, and salt and mix briefly with a whisk. Set bowl aside. In a separate bowl, whisk the skim milk, eggs, vanilla, and stevia or sugar together. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients; stir in the wet ingredients and add the melted coconut or butter last, being careful not to over mix the batter. Add chocolate chips if desired. Heat a large skillet over medium heat and/or a waffle maker and coat with cooking spray. Cook in the skillet until bubbles appear on the surface and then flip with a spatula, and cook until golden brown on the other side.


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