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The Return of “Dry brushing”

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Have you ever heard of “dry brushing?” It is an ancient technique poking its head into modern times because it is SO freaking good for your body. I can’t believe I just started, but it is never too late… you too can dry brush!

So what the heck is dry brushing, anyways? Well, it’s exactly what it sounds like. Brushing your skin with a dry brush which has more benefits than you can imagine. Typically, you dry brush before you get into the shower. At first it feels tingly and maybe tickles a little bit, but soon you get used to it and it becomes another part of your routine.

Interested in learning more about the benefits? Here are a few:

BENEFITS

  • Exfoliation: You will notice the first time you dry brush that the loose and dead skin cells on top of your body are easily removed and softer more supple skin appears below. This is really good for our skin and can even help reduce cellulite! Who doesn’t love soft skin especially in the dry winter???
  • Lymphatic Support: The lymphatic system (think of your lymph nodes) is a HUGE part of our beautiful defense army called our Immune System. Many lymph vessels are located right below our skin and dry brushing claims to help stimulate the normal  lymph flow and detoxify naturally!
  • Increased Blood Flow = More Energy: Don’t dry brush before you go to sleep because you will notice a pump up of energy. Due to the circulation it helps create, a pool of energy is released! Skip that coffee and dry brush 😉
  • Cleans the skin: Dry brushing cleans the pores by clearing oil and residue that accumulate there. While I think exfoliating the face is great, I don’t dry brush my face. I stick to my body 🙂

 

Helpful Dry Brushing Tips:

  1. Select a NATURAL bristle brush with a long handle so you can even get that part in the middle of your back (guess where I got mine, haha – TJ Maxx)
  2. Start at your feet and work your way up slowly to you heart. Your entire body should take anywhere between 2 and 5 minutes to dry brush.
  3. I prefer to do little circles and work my way up my body but you can figure out what works right for you!
  4. Don’t brush too hard! A soft and even pressure of the brush will work the best! My skin will be a little pink, but nothing red or hurting after brushing.
  5. This is great to do before a shower, which will help get rid of the other dead skin cells the brushing helped remove.
  6. Follow up with organic unrefined coconut oil massage of your body or choose a natural and healthy lotion. Questions about which to buy? Message me or leave a comment below!!!

 

Here’s to dry brushing, health, happiness and gratitude. Namaste!

Jess

What my guru taught me…goals for 2017!

 

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Happy new year!!! You may have noticed I have spent a few weeks away from the blogging world. The idea of new years resolutions has never really excited me. This year I decided I wanted to set GOALS. My main goal for 2017 is something my daughter taught me…BE PRESENT. Scroll down for my list of goals for the year!

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In a world where there is constant hustle and bustle, social media, instant gratification–it is SO easy to get caught up in it. We are addicted to our phones, and constantly staying connected to whatever is happening in the world. Studies suggest that technology dependency along with social media sets off dopamine signals in the brain, similar to drugs. Growing up in the social media frenzy, you can actually get addicted to getting likes on your photos and posts. Seems unreal, right?

There’s a number of articles circulating about the negative affects of the selfie world, Keeping up with the Kardashians or having as many followers as possible. Check out, “How real is a social media addiction,” By CBS News here. Although, a simple google search of social media dependency will find several articles worth reading.

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Sofia, my little guru, has taught me so much in just the 28 months she has been here. Our children are constantly living in the present, and joyfully so. They barely think about what they are going to be doing in the next 30 minutes. They allow themselves to be 100% immersed and consumed by whatever task they are doing. I used to find myself getting frustrated if I couldn’t breastfeed, type emails, blog, talk on the phone and plan what I would be making for dinner that night all at the same time. Sofia loves to say, “look at me mama…” and she would put her hand on my face and make me look in her direction and then everything around me would just stop. I was living in the beautiful moment, gazing into her eyes, feeling that deep, deep love that comes from lifetimes of knowing another soul.

And so I began meditating more often, thanks in part to a daily group I participate in. I found myself joyfully living in the moment and finding the child within. We never completely lose the child within us, but we allow our “adulting” to take over and transform our life.

I made several goals for 2017 that I know will be helpful to me, so hopefully they will help you too. Let’s have a great year together!

Hello There 2017, let’s do this:

  1. Be Present, meditate more often. Have you checked out the app: Insight Timer? It’s free and awesome.

  2. Love yourself. We all need to be less hard on ourselves, stop comparing and start loving. Wear less makeup. Buy the bikini!

  3. Stop trying to buy happiness-consume less. Check out the Minimalism Documentary on Netflix!

  4. Speak your TRUTH!!! Stop holding it in and just say it. Release it. It will be okay.

  5. Read more. Watch less TV, get a library membership!

  6. No new friends! Ha just kidding, but seriously- spend more time with the people that mean the most in your life. It’s not about quantity, it’s about quality.

  7. Educate yourself…don’t just listen to the media. Pay attention, ask questions.

  8. Stop caring what others think. Seriously, f em’.

  9. Eat less processed foods and less meat. YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT!

  10. MOVE! Dance, run, shake it when you brush your teeth, blast the radio in the car and jam in your seat at the red light and smile when you see people staring, and BELT out that song in the shower. Do what makes your body feel good!! Moving and exercise releases those beautiful things called endorphins.

Homeopathy – Does it work? (Here’s some tips to get over your cold!)

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My post “Sick? My 3 steps to feeling better” gained positive attention online so I decided to follow up with some more homeopathic remedies that have helped me the very moment I feel I could be getting sick. These have either a) reduced my duration of colds (mine used to drag on for days/weeks, now last 1-2 days!) or b) prevented the cold from actually coming (woohoo) [Bonus: I have not gone to the doctor for a common cold/sinus/sniffles/virus in over 2 years!]

Many joke about the quality of OTC Homeopathic medicine- is it the placebo effect? In my opinion, I choose not to use antibiotics unless I REALLY REALLY REALLY have to. I’d prefer the placebo effect to antibiotics any day– especially if it works. Further, I believe homeopathic medicine actually does work. Historically, my immune system was never that powerful…I would get sick constantly, lose my voice, take antibiotics, wait it out, etc…

Everything changed when I started reducing toxins from my body and treating myself at home, homeopathically. I use the netipot, apple cider vinegar, pink salt, honey, cinnamon, raw garlic (natural antibiotic) and the products listed below. I also try extra hard to stay away from Sugar!

Homeopathic Medicines I like:

  1. UMCKA Soothing Hot Drink Mix is my GO-TO. There really is something about fighting a “cold” with heat! Take hot baths, drink lots of hot organic tea, and then drink this about 2-3 times a day until you feel better. I purchase this from Wholefoods but I am sure you can find online. They also have a liquid dropper medicine (doesn’t taste great, just an FYI!) that works well but I prefer this hot drink.
    •  I found them online at Amazon, here.
  2. OXYBUMP: I found this at Target a while ago and knew I had to try it. This in combo with the netipot, clears out my airways and lets me breathe again. It’s awesome!
    • You can purchase it at WALMART! wow who knew? click here.
  3. Essential Oils: You all know I love EO’s but… I tend to be overly careful with them. They are extremely potent and in ancient times used for mostly medicinal purposes. I diffuse Eucalyptus when I am sick because it helps clear my lungs, throat and nose of any gross stuff blocking the airways. You can also buy FRESH eucalyptus and tie it to your shower head when you take a hot, steamy shower- it will clear out your airways so quickly and naturally (WIN WIN!)
    • There are SO many places you can get essential oils, but be careful – find a company you trust and you know puts what they say in their oils. Many companies dilute or mix without your knowledge or even put harmful additives in them. GROSS. I buy mine from PurespiritPotions and YoungLiving(they sell through distributors, so if you don’t know someone I can put you in contact with several of my friends who are YL distributors! I don’t sell it) and occasionally Wholefoods.
  4. Vitamins: I don’t talk too much about vitamins or brands but I personally take Juiceplus vitamins which are micronutrients from fruits and vegetables dehydrated so you can get several of them in a couple of capsules. If I feel sick I double up on them, add Vitamin C and double on Vitamin D!

I hope you find value in this!

Here’s to a healthy and happy (non-sniffly!) you! xoxo

Gooey Banana Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies (gluten free, no butter, no refined sugar!)

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Happy Monday!! Did you guys have a good weekend? Ours was pretty relaxed, but the weather turned SUPER winter in the DC area. We are even expecting snow next weekend which I am extra excited for since my mom and sister will be in town visiting for the holidays.

Now to these cookies…can you believe I snapped these pics with my phone? #vscocam for the win!! I dislike wasting anything (food, water, energy, time, etc)…but there is something about bananas where they just ripen too quickly for us to eat them and then they are black. What to do, what to do? I usually freeze the peeled bananas and save them for smoothies which is great or homemade banana ice cream (I know, yum!). But since it is fall/feels like winter, I am coming up with recipes to use them for baking.

Bananas have a lot of natural sugar so it’s so easy not to have to add a lot of additional sweeteners. I stay away from refined sugar as much as possible so I sweetened these with one cup of maple syrup (that’s it!). Rather than butter I chose coconut oil and I used oatmeal and gluten free all purpose flour for the base. They are very banana in taste (I love banana, though) and if you are a PB lover like I am, drizzle some warm Peanut butter on top and then die of love for these cookies.

Enjoy!

What you need:

  • 2 small-med overly ripened bananas
  • 1 Large Organic Egg
  • 1 Cup Maple Syrup (the good stuff!)
  • 1/4 cup of melted coconut oil
  • 2 tsp of Vanilla Extract
  • 1.5 cups of gluten free old fashioned oats
  • 1.5 cups of all purpose gluten free flour
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp pink salt
  • 1 cup of organic chocolate chips or cacao chips (if using cacao chips, might want to add more sweetener such as agave!)

Directions:

  1. I used a kitchenaid but you can use a handheld mixer and one large bowl for this recipe. Combine the egg, bananas, maple syrup, coconut oil, vanilla, and beat on medium for about 3 minutes (should be on the runnier side than traditional cookies)
  2. Stop mixer, add oats, flour, cinnamon, baking soda, salt and beat together for another minute.
  3. Stop, add chocolate chips and either hand mix with large spoon or beat on low to mix together.
  4. REFRIGERATE DOUGH FOR AT LEAST 2 HOURS (up to 4 days!)
  5. Preheat oven to 350 degree Fahrenheit
  6. Place parchment paper on cookie sheet
  7. Using a 1/2 tablespoon measuring spoon scoop the dough and roll into little balls, placing on cookie sheet.
  8. Bake for 10-13 minutes depending on the ripeness of your bananas and how long you refrigerate you might want to taste test and cook some more!

Here’s to a healthy and happy you (and non-wasteful!!), xo!

Non-Toxic Fragrant Fall Smells for your Home (DIY, Easy, Affordable!)

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Who doesn’t love a house that smells good? The unfortunate thing is that we are marketed to by companies that put nasty stuff in their products…toxins that fill your rooms and your family’s lungs…yuck. There is an EASY and affordable way to make your house smell good NON-TOXICALLY! I tried this recipe today and my house smells like I am baking a warm apple pie, without actually having to bake it (or eat it hahahaha). I am pretty sure Kiril will walk in being pretty excited and then disappointed, but hey, at least the house smells good.

What you need:

  • Orange Peels
  • 1 apple, chopped
  • 1 cup apple cider (store bought)
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • Water and a small/medium pot

Directions:

  1. Boil water in pot with 1 cup of apple cider
  2. Once boiling, add apple, orange peel, cinnamon stick
  3. Reduce to a simmer
  4. Set timer for 30 minutes and add more water
  5. You can continue this throughout the day, just keep an eye on it!!

Enjoy your home smelling yummy and fresh!

Here’s to a healthy and happy you, xo!

Yummy Cuban Bowl (easy, vegan, gluten free!)

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I am sooo surprised I have not made Cuban food before. It is SOOO yummy! This is going in our regular recipes for sure because the whole family liked it! Most of the ingredients can be made ahead of time and you can just reheat and add them all to the bowl. I hope you guys love it!!

What you will need:

  • 1 cup of uncooked rice (I chose wild brown rice)
  • 1 sweet potato cubed
  • 1 Super ripe (almost black) Plantain!! (not a banana)
  • 1 Can of organic Black Beans
  • 3 small tomatoes or 1 large
  • Cilantro
  • 1 jalapeno
  • 1/3 red onion (instead of the above 4 ingredients you can buy store bought pico de gallo!)
  • 1 lime
  • 1 avocado
  • cumin
  • pink salt
  • coconut oil
  • Cayenne Pepper

Directions:

  1. Cook rice from packaging directions.
  2. If you are making your own pico de gallo, add 1 cup of diced tomato, 1 large bunch of chopped cilantro, 1/3 of finely chopped red onion, deseed and devein the jalapeno and chopped into small pieces (be careful, do not touch your eyes or face), add salt!!
  3. Cube the sweet potato and then sauté in coconut oil over med high heat and season with cumin and salt, stirring frequently for 10+ min or so on each side until it is soft (taste before removing from heat).
  4. Place sweet potato in bowl and cover with foil to trap heat
  5. Peel the plantain by drawing a sharp knife along the ridges and removing the peel. Then chop into coins cutting on an angle and trying to get all at the same size so they cook the same time. I like mine thin!
  6. Heat 1 tablespoon of coconut oil or more in same pan and then add plantain, cooking on both sides until golden brown or crispy.
  7. Remove and cover with foil
  8. Add beans to same pan, season with cumin and some cayenne for an extra kick.
  9. Assemble the bowls with rice, beans, sweet potatoes, plantains, pico de gallo, avocado slices and a lime wedge for squeezing over top!

Here’s to a healthy and happy you, xo!

Snacks on Snacks… (healthy and toddler approved!)

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Happy Monday, everyone!! Who doesn’t like snacks??? A few months ago Sofie used to call them “nacks” and would constantly say, mommy nack please…please mommy!!! Needless to say, nacks are the best. I find TONS of great options at Homegoods and TJ Maxx. A few online places I shop at are Amazon, Vitacost, and Jet.com.

I thought I would share some of our favorites with you. As a mom to a toddler, I know how important it is to always have some healthy snacks (that she actually likes) on the go. Most of these you can take with you!

Some of Our Favorite Snacks:

  1. Annie’s Organic Fruit Snacks…available at most grocery stores and online. Hard to tell who loves them more (Kiril or Sofia, haha!)
  2. Avocado Toast… Literally spread avocado onto a piece of toast and that’s it. If you want to get fancy you can season with pink salt and pepper, crushed red pepper, add roasted garlic, Sriarcha, whatever you fancy…goes great with eggs, too! (EASY BREAKFAST FOR THE WIN)
  3. Organic Dried Mango…Sofia’s absolute favorite fruit in the whole world. We buy the organic frozen mango cubes too and that’s another fun favorite. But these pouches are great to slip into our diaper bag and head on out for the day. I buy them in bulk from Amazon.
  4. Sustainable Indulgence Cookies… These are my favorite of this list. Put almond butter in between two and you have a yummy cookie sandwich. I found this brand at Homegoods–but they have tons of flavors. I recommend ordering online!
  5. Biena Chickpeas…So Kiril and I also found these in the snack section of Homegoods and after trying them he ordered an ENTIRE BOX of like, 40 bags. All different flavors (habanero, sea salt, cinnamon, etc). THEY ARE SO BOMB.
  6. Justin’s Nut Butters (Banana optional!)… These are sold at the grocery store. I like the little pouches but we also have the jar because let’s be honest, a spoon plus justin’s is heavenly
  7. Yogurt… Siggi’s is a pretty good brand of yogurt and Sofia’s favorite is Lifeway Organics. Both yummy and both Toddler Approved!

Hope you guys enjoy this list and have a chance to try some of these yummy treats. Happy nacking’!

 

Here’s to a healthy and happy you, xo!

Fall Quinoa Vegetable Soup (gluten free, vegan, healthy)

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Sometimes the weather just says SOUP. Not like in the movie it’s Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (if you have kids you may have watched it, ha.) BUT seriously, I love cuddling up with some hot soup a blanket and Netflix. Add some wine and it’s a party for one!

Sofia as always is my little helper. She LOVED this soup (TODDLER APPROVED, what?) Bonus we froze half of it and thats a lunch or dinner I don’t have to make in the future. WINNING!

This soup was pretty easy to make. Have you thought about using quinoa in soup before? I have tried pasta and rice but not quinoa. IT is awesome. It’s hearty and filling while absorbing the flavors and being extra tasty.

I hope you guys enjoy!

What you will need:

  • 1 Box of Organic Veggie Stock (4 cups) or 2 if you subtract the water below
  • 4 Cups of water
  • 1 Cup Organic Quinoa (uncooked)
  • 3 Organic Carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 sweet potato chopped at the same thickness as the carrots
  • 2 Organic celery stalks chopped
  • 1 Large can of organic Diced Tomatoes, drained and rinsed
  • 6 Garlic Cloves, minced
  • 2 Small onions chopped finely, or 1 medium onion
  • 1/2 tsp dried organic thyme
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • 1 tsp Lemon Juice
  • 1 Zucchini and 1 Yellow Squash (or about 1-2 cups of seasonal veggies of your choice)
  • Pink Salt, pepper, red pepper flakes
  • spinach or kale (1-2 cups)
  • 1 can of chick peas, rinsed (BPA free can!)
  • 3 TBSP Olive Oil

Directions:

  1. Wash, Dry, and Chop produce
  2. In a large pot over medium heat add olive oil and then add onion, carrot, celery, and sweet potato. Season with salt and pepper
  3. Cook for 4 min or so when onion becomes translucent
  4. Add seasonal veggies, cook for 4 more min or so, stirring often
  5. Add the garlic and Thyme, cooking about 1 minute when it becomes extra fragrant
  6. Pour in the rinsed tomatoes and cook for 3 more minutes, still stirring quite often
  7. Add the cup of quinoa, broth and water (or just broth). It’s ok to use a little less quinoa if you’d like for extra soupiness and less stew-iness.
  8. Add 1 tsp of salt, 2 bay leaves and a couple shakes of red pepper flakes
  9. Generously season with cracked black pepper
  10. Raise heat to bring the soup to a boil, then cover partially with a little edge open to steam out and reduce heat to simmer for 25 minutes
  11. After 25 minutes add chick peas or rinsed canned beans of your choice and spinach. Continue cooking for 5 or so minutes more.
  12. If the soup is not broth-y enough for your desire from the quinoa soaking it up, add broth or water here.
  13. Taste and season as desired, remove the bay leaves and stir in the lemon juice
  14. Plate and enjoy!
  15. PS -You can freeze your leftovers!

Here’s to a healthy and happy you!

Thanks in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.

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I am so sad to be writing this post just days after we left with the news of Fires ravaging this area. We stayed in a cabin in Pigeon Forge, TN with my husband’s family over the Thanksgiving Holiday and we had a great time! We visited Gatlinburg (notice the tourist traffic above), cooked all day on Thursday which followed with a bountiful feast and went to a Trampoline jumping place on Friday for Sofia. The views were incredible and we had a blast with all the kids and parents. I made sooooo much food — I’m not sure why I didn’t capture many photos of it unless you follow me on instagram stories (@missjessashley) — I made: Sweet Potato Casserole, Green Bean Casserole, gluten free pumpkin chocolate chip cookies, 2 chocolate pies, 1 Maple Pecan and Chocolate Pie and my Butternut Squash and Spinach Stuffed Shells with Browned Butter Sage. I feel like I am still full!

Although the history about Thanksgiving is one that is quite horrible and painful especially for the native people of this country, I feel that it is important to remember to be grateful for our abundance. I’m not sure if it is ironic what is happening in Standing Rock at North Dakota right now with (once again) the Native people being victimized by the agenda of big business and US politics…namely the Oil industry. If you do not know much about this story please message me so I can help inform you! Water is life.

I hope you all had a healthy and happy thanksgiving – more recipes will be coming soon!

Here’s to a healthy and happy you, xo!

Thanksgiving Butternut Squash and Spinach Stuffed Shells w/ Sage Browned Butter (gluten free!)

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Ok if you have any vegetarian guests to your Thanksgiving this year, you HAVE to make this dish. I made it for our Friendsgiving a few weekends ago and it is now one of my favorite recipes. These are not as sweet as traditional butternut squash ravioli, they are salty and savory and the SAGE BROWNED BUTTER IS THE BOMB.

I made these with gluten free brown rice shells however, you can easily make it with regular shells if you <3 gluten. Let me know what you guys think!

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 container of butternut squash, precut (to reduce time, but you can always buy and cut yourself) **COSTCO sells the perfect size and it’s ORGANIC!!!**
  • 1 Box of Pasta Shells (gluten free if you’d like)
  • 2 Cups of Ricotta Cheese
  • 1 Egg
  • 1/3 Cup Grated Parmesan
  • 1 big handful of spinach, chop after measuring with your hand
  • 1 Lemon (zest plus juice)
  • Pink Salt/Pepper
  • 10 FRESH Sage leaves
  • 1 Stick of Butter (original recipe calls for that, however, I chose 1/2 stick plus 1/2 cup olive oil)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • Olive Oil

Directions:

  1. Begin by preheating oven to 425 degrees F. Toss the cubed butternut squash with 1-2 TBSP of olive oil, pink salt and pepper and roast in oven for 15-20 min (should be soft and able to mash with a fork when done)–As soon as the squash is ready, take a handheld blender and make sure it is whipped up nice and evenly- place in fridge to cool to room temperature.
  2. Reduce oven to 400 degrees
  3. Boil Water for Pasta Shells and cook according to the box directions
  4. In a bowl, combine ricotta, parmesan, room temperature squash, garlic, spinach, egg, salt, pepper, and the fresh lemon zest from 1 lemon. MIX WELL!
  5. Spray a 9×13 inch pan (I used glass!) with coconut oil non stick spray
  6. When the pasta shells are finished cooking, run cool water over them and begin to fill them with the butternut squash and cheese mixture – you might not use all the shells depending on how much mix you use– I opted to make a quick fix with remaining cheese and spinach and made a few w/o the squash!
  7. Place stuffed shells in oven for 18-20 minutes, until hot all the way through
  8. While shells are baking, take a small sauce pan and place the stick of butter OR 1/2 stick plus olive oil mixture depending on your preference. Add the sage leaves, juice of one lemon and season with salt and pepper.
  9. Heat over medium low heat for about 10-12 minutes making sure to frequently stir the mixture. The mixture should be a darker color when it is finished and the leaves should be crispy.
  10. After the shells are finished cooking, pour butter mixture over top and serve with crispy sage leaves!

Enjoy!

 

Here’s to a healthy and happy you, xo