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Hydration Station :: Sweet Mint Tea Recipe

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I am always looking for fun ways to stay hydrated, especially during these hot summer days.  I came across this two-step recipe on my own and I had to share because I have been LOVING it! I am such a huge fan of mint tea, whether it be hot or cold.  I love it for headaches (in which case I steep two strong bags into one cup) and I also love it for a post-meal treat, especially if I’m craving something sweet.

Normally I buy this brand of tea from Target and I love it.  I mean, just look at how pretty and serene the box is…

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But this week I decided to try a different brand.  I was hoping for something a little bit stronger and my eyes came upon this little gem.  It’s only a couple dollars more but it looks so fancy. And in case you can’t tell, the box is a metal tin.  Click here to purchase.

HTSo I came home and opened the box and took a whiff and let me tell ya, this stuff is the real deal.  It was almost like taking in a menthol breathing treatment but in a good way.  I plan to buy this in bulk come winter time!

Since it’s still summertime I boil the tea in the morning when I get up and drink a cup hot.  Then I let the tea cool and put it in my fridge.  Once 10-11AM rolls around I take it out and drink it iced with stevia.  Then I sometimes also drink a cup in the afternoon too.  The tea is caffeine free so it doesn’t affect your hydration levels and it won’t disturb your sleep patterns either.

For those of you who prefer to drink something other than water with your meal, try making this and having with a salad or even a burger.  This drink really does fill you up and the best part is that it’s naturally calorie and sugar free!  I also think this would be fabulous to have at a summer bbq party for people who don’t prefer the taste of alcohol or who just want to try something new.

Here the easy recipe:

  • Bring water to a near boil in small/medium pan
  • Remove from heat and add 1-2 bags of peppermint tea
  • Cool and pour over ice, add a little cool water if it tastes too strong
  • Add 1-2 packets of truvia.  I use this brand
  • Stir and enjoy!
  • Fun add-ins: sliced lemon, fresh mint leaves, sliced cucumber.
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Craving Real Food

Roasted Broccoli Recipe

This broccoli recipe will change your life. Ok, I know that sounds dramatic but when else do you find a food that not only tastes amazing but is also equally amazing for your body?  That’s a win-win in my book!

This recipe is simple, easy and quick! I love to make it an hour before I start dinner if I’m super hungry and want something to snack on, or I love it on top of a salad, but I also love it for just plain “tv snacking.”  It’s healthier than popcorn or potato chips, but still satisfies your salt craving.

I’ve also tried roasted cauliflower, sweet potatoes and frozen corn and they are all equally delicious!! No matter which vegetable you try, it’s fun to experiment and really enjoy the unique flavors each one has.

Ingredients

  • Broccoli heads, chopped with stems removed (the smaller you chop the heads, the crispier your snack will be, fyi)
  • Olive Oil
  • Sea Salt, I prefer Pink Himalayan
  • Optional: Fresh garlic, garlic powder, onion powder, fresh rosemary.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Chop broccoli and place inside large bowl.  Saturate the broccoli with olive oil. Be generous with this but be sure that it’s not soaking wet. Grind sea salt into mixture and add in any of the options above for taste preference. Stir evenly.

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Spray a large, dark baking sheet with olive oil and transfer mixture on pan.  Be sure that the broccoli is spread out well and has a chance to cook evenly.

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Set timer for 15-25 minutes depending on personal preference. The longer you cook the broccoli, the crispier it will taste.  As the broccoli cooks, it will turn brown and appear to be burning. In all actuality, this is the broccoli “roasting” and will yield a terrific flavor. Be sure to toss the broccoli a couple times during baking so that it roasts evenly on all sides.

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Remove from the oven and enjoy! As I mentioned earlier, this broccoli tastes awesome on top of salads, meat, soup, or even a baked potato! (And it tastes great as a finger food, too!)

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Drink Up Buttercup! :: Cucumber Water

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Illustration by Renee Leigh Stephenson

“With vitamin K, B vitamins, copper, potassium, vitamin C, and manganese, cucumbers can help you to avoid nutrient deficiencies that are widespread among those eating a typical American diet.”

Dr. Joseph Mercola, Osteopathic Physician

With my due date approaching and the summer heat just now kicking in, proper hydration and water intake is more important than ever for me.  Whether or not you’re currently creating life or just trying not to melt into a puddle, you’re probably in the same boat.  I decided to make a personal goal for myself and drink a gallon of water everyday from a pitcher I keep in my fridge.  I’ve also decided to “one up” it and add a different garnish for each day of the week, whether it be lemons, basil or cucumber.

Recently I’ve been adding a ton of sliced cucumber to my pitcher and I love how “healthy and clean” it makes me feel.  Cucumbers are an excellent hydrator as they are made up of 95% water.

Talk about DOUBLE hydration!

As someone who suffers from Rosacea, cucumber water is one of the quickest ways to calm and cool my skin, not expensive creams or serums.  As a matter of fact, it’s one of my favorite drinks to offer brides during their trial run or on their wedding day because of it’s luxurious effects.

Here’s a quick list of how and why cukes are just amaze-wah!

Cucumber Water

1.) Eases nausea – great for pregnant Mamas!

2.) Reduces cholesterol and helps stabilize blood pressure

3.) Promotes digestion

4.) Helps with constipation – great for preggers again

5.) Is a good source of B vitamins which are great for energy

6.) Fights bad breath

7.) Contains a natural antihistamine release, bye bye summer allergies!

8.) Contains silica which helps to strengthen connective tissues and promote silky hair

9.) Helps eliminate waste and even helps dissolve kidney stones

10.) Helps relieve acid reflux…

“If you struggle with acid reflux, you should know that drinking water can help suppress acute symptoms of acid reflux by temporarily raising stomach pH; it’s possible that water-rich cucumbers may have a similar effect.” – Dr. Mercola 

Here’s a pic of my half-way through water pitcher in my fridge…

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Just be sure to clean your cucumbers well with a produce spray or vinegar before consumption and buy organic if you can.

According to Dr. Mercola:

“If you’re wondering whether you should choose organic cucumbers over conventionally grown varieties, I’d suggest organic. Cucumbers were ranked the 12th most contaminated food and the second in cancer risk due to their pesticide content, according to the Environmental Working Group (EWG).”

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Spa Inspired Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas :: Part Two

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So it’s day 2 of Spa Inspired Valentine’s Gifts and I am so excited to reveal adorable gifts and ideas for the tween-teenaged girls.  I know for all of the girls that are like me, there’s nothing that warms my heart more than makeup and lip gloss.  So let’s spread the love with these delicious products…

 

Sugar Tinted Lip Balm from Sephora $22.50

http://www.sephora.com/sugar-lip-treatment-spf-15-P57002?skuId=1448372

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These lip balms are great because they last for quite a while and the tints are perfect for the younger generation.  They also glide like butter and they smell like a sugary lemon! Yum!

 

Too Faced Chocolate Scented Bronzer from Sephora $30

http://www.sephora.com/milk-chocolate-soleil-light-medium-matte-bronzer-P309709?skuId=1511831

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Yes girls, this actually smells like chocolate.  It’s legit.  And I shouldn’t have to say anything else to convince you to buy this.

 

Benefit Sugarlicious Lip and Cheek Kit from Sephora $28

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http://www.sephora.com/milk-chocolate-soleil-light-medium-matte-bronzer-P309709?skuId=1511831

This kit is such a good deal for several reasons.  The High Beam is one of Sephora’s greatest selling products and for good reason, it’s a glamorous highlighter that adds the perfect amount of shimmer anywhere on the face.  The bronzer/blush color is so, so gorgeous.  It gives such a beautiful glow that is hard to beat, along with the lip gloss that is such a great universal color. The Benetint is also a popular selling item and smells like roses!

 

Bonding over Beauty: A Mother-Daughter Beauty Guide to Foster Self-esteem, Confidence, and Trust 

Amazon $12.50

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http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=bonding+over+beauty

I thought this booked looked SO adorable.  If I could write a book on beauty and have a cover designed for it, it would look like this.

Book Description-

Makeup, skin care, shaving, hair color, periods–the tween years are full of landmines for moms. As the mom of a tween girl, you know what’s coming: puberty. As your daughter enters the teen years and exerts her independence, will you suddenly seem out of touch? Will she turn to her friends for advice before coming to you?

The tween years present a golden opportunity for you to start a dialogue and gain your daughter’s confidence–to talk to her about the things she cares about and show her they are equally important to you too. How you deal with the sticky ”grown-up” issues early on will determine the nature of your relationship with your daughter for years to come.

With Bonding over Beauty, you’ll have the knowledge and tools to create bonds that will last a lifetime.

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And at last! I leave you with the oh-so-yummy www.lemon-sugar.com recipe for:

Red Velvet Truffle Brownies!!!

http://lemon-sugar.com/2013/11/red-velvet-truffle-brownies.html/

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A Healthy Winter : How to Eat Your Way to Merry & Bright Skin!

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Cool little known fact about me?  I was halfway through a dietetics program at Kansas State before I decided to leave and begin a dance teacher/esthetician career that I’m halfway in now. It’s a long story…I originally planned to open a dance studio with my sister and teach at night, which is actually the reason I started esthetics school.  I didn’t want to be laying around eating Cheetos all day while waiting for school to get out so I could teach.  Little did I know that God had a different plan for me and that instead of teaching little girls how to do turnout, I would be waxing and shaping their Mommy’s brows!

SINCE I am so in love with nutrition & all forms of health, I thought now would be a good time to do a post on the best things to eat and also promotes skin clarity and brightness during the cold + dreary winter months! One of the reasons I renamed the website and blog is because I wanted “The Blush Life” to encompass any and all things beauty related and unless you don’t have a pulse, nutrition will always be at the forefront of everything that you do.  If you want to look beautiful, you have to feel beautiful. And you can’t do that without giving your entire body the TLC it needs.

I have in fact tried and tasted each of these tasty recipes.  The goal for this post is list powerful meals that leave you feeling full but energetic, that are easily digestible, and that contain many (seasonal) produce items that pack a powerful punch of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.

1.) “Lover’s Salad” from www.thediva-dish.com

http://thediva-dish.com/uncategorized/lovers-salad-with-easy-balsamic-dressing/

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Many yummy ingredients including: apples, grapes, dried cranberries, strawberries, parmesan & candied walnuts. 

I can’t tell you how much I love Ari’s blog and recipe site on The Diva Dish.  She has such a well-written blog that is oh-so-relatable as she on takes on finding everyday “unhealthy” meals and converts them into a lightened, higher-quality version.  I think she has one of the best blogs to “dive into” if you’re scared to step into “healthy land.” Most of the recipes on her site are staple meals that you probably already make for your own family on a weekly basis.  The Lover’s Salad has so many different ingredients that it is a perfect meal for holiday months when you’re stuck in a rut and you’re feeling your waistline grow by the hour!  I also love the idea of making it for a family get together, so many people are used to the regular ranch + crouton combo that this delectable dish is more than satisfying for your tastebuds.

 

2.) Lentil Soup from Dinner was Delicious 

http://www.dinnerwasdelicious.com/post/44230372095/lentil-soup-lentil-soup-is-one-of-those-powerhouse

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So many reasons to include this in your WEEKLY lineup.  It’s super easy, super cheap, and it’s great to enjoy either as a meal in a bowl or in a cup with half a sandwich or salad.  What’s great about this meal is that the fiber from the lentils keep you feeling full while the assortment of veggies and chopped onion are great for fighting colds since it’s a clear based broth and you are avoiding excess dairy from cream or milk based broths.  Writer tip — I may or may not add more than one bay leaf to this recipe when I make it.  If I could OD on bay leaf I would!

 

3.) Spinach Artichoke Pizza from Two Peas and Their Pod

http://www.twopeasandtheirpod.com/spinach-artichoke-pesto-pizza/

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When I first started cooking for my then boyfriend/now husband it was a challenge to say the least.  I could serve him spaghetti with Ragu beef sauce every night of his life and he would die a happy man.  Because I lean towards more meatless meals, combining our food choices once we started living together was near impossible, literally, because I’ve come to find out that this is the ONLY meatless meal he will eat.  In fact, the first time I ever made it, he didn’t say his usual “this doesn’t have meat in it, does it?” I’ve made it so many times now, it’s the only recipe I can make by memory.  Ok I’m lying because really all you’re doing is adding your favorite toppings to an unbaked crust base, but don’t stray too far from this simple recipe.  I love this because I usually bake it on a thin crust to keep the carbs down and I pile as many veggies on top as I can. The only thing I ever change or add is hummus, sun-dried tomatoes and garbanzo/black beans.  Enjoy!

 

4.) Garlicky Baked Shrimp from Normal Cooking

http://normalcooking.com/2012/07/26/garlicky-baked-shrimp/

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This is in my regular routine and for good measure, it has two of my favorite ingredients to cook with: garlic and white wine.  The ingredients are small and simple and because of that, it’s more likely to be thrown into the weekly lineup during hectic weeknight rushes.  Low-cal and quick to cook, you can sub olive oil for butter if you’re looking for a dairy-free option.  Shrimp is a great alternative to any red meat options and it packs on the antioxidants and omega fatty acids. Pair it with some lemon + feta roasted potatoes and you’re on your way to one of the best meals of your life.

 

5.) Triple Chocolate Muffin from Maria Kang

http://www.mariakang.com/2012/09/10/clean-eating-triple-chocolate-chunk-muffin/

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If you’re ever on Pinterest you see about 8392 pins a minute on clean eating/gluten free/low-carb dessert recipes.  How I found this gem of a recipe I will not know.  It beats all the others and it makes life worth living again.  This recipe is a knockoff of the Chocolate Muffins from VitaTops if you’ve ever tried those.  This recipe uses oats for fiber, egg whites for protein and applesauce and greek yogurt for a moist and rich muffin. These are the perfect sidekick for your sweet tooth and the recipe makes a huge batch so I would recommend freezing them so they don’t all go bad.  That would be very, very sad.

Are there any healthy staples you add to your winter meal plans? Comment below!

 

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Skin Clearing + Skin Glowing Drink On-the-Go!

Ok. I am about to list 328493 benefits of what drinking fresh pressed lemon and orange juice will do for you.  It’s a long list, but I want you to REALLY read it and understand why we should be drinking this concoction every s-i-n-g-l-e day of our lives.  I’ve compiled a list of important benefits AND I am sharing with you my absolute favorite recipe for making a drink that you will:

actually have time to make every single day

actually want to drink because it tastes SO good

The best part is that this drink mix is perfect for any and all skin conditions: great for skin clearing acne, dryness, wrinkles, pigmentation, and brightening.  Every single person will benefit from this juice.

I’ve included the items you need with a step-by-step guide on how to make the juice.  I’ve experimented with a few different versions of the juice and I like it best with a 1-to-1 ratio of 1 orange and 1 lemon.  I tried adding limes but it was too tart for me. It’s so easy and delicious that even my “super picky” eating nephews love it and ask me to make it for them all the time.

It is my hope to add many recipes to the blog as skincare + health + nutrition are all one of the same.  There never could be one without the other.

But first, a little education on these masterpieces that we call lemons and oranges!

Benefits of Lemon:

Fades facial scars, flushes bad bacteria from urinary tract system, combats mouth bacteria which can lead to bad breath, antibacterial, aids weight loss, supports cardiovascular health, great for constipation and elimination of bowels, increases vitamin C consumption which supports immune system and helps prevent accumulation of viruses and illness, perfect for a post-workout drink as it replaces lost salt in the body, stimulates brain nerve function, cleanses liver, reduces phlegm, regulates blood pressure, increases energy, keeps appetite at bay, helps cure common cold, great for alleviating dry scalp/dandruff and/or oily hair follicles, full of antioxidants, removes free radicals that cause aging, repairs damaged cells (such as wrinkles and fine lines), great for cardiovascular for health.  

But wait, isn’t Coke Zero calorie free or something? That’s not too bad…right…? NEXT.

Benefits of Orange:

Increases white blood cell count, increases absorption of other vital nutrients, essential for collagen production (the stuff people pay big $ to inject into their face), only source of the full vitamin C complex which is only found in fresh raw oranges (not available in grocery store pasteurized juices), regulates blood sugar and insulin levels, contains 90% of recommended  vitamin C, supports thyroid, reduces cholesterol, anti-inflammatory (great for arthritis or body pain), prevents ulcers and kidney stones, helps in prevention of breast, skin, lung and colon cancer, lowers the stress chemical in the body known as cortisol which is a big cause of belly fat. Hello! 

I have always read that fresh squeezed juices are best served in warm water BUT let’s get real here.  I tried my absolute hardest to do that for like a week and it didn’t stick.  Some nutrition is better than perfect nutrition and I would say we are doing a good deed by looking at the list above.  I make this juice every morning and I drink it cold on ice.  It takes less than 5 minutes to make and I take it with me in a big water bottle to sip on for the morning.

Here is the lineup.  You need:

a big water bottle

1 lemon

1 orange

a juice press (I think I got mine from Target?)

cutting board and knife

sweetener of your choice (I use 3 packets of stevia, you are welcome to use any natural sweetener you like such as honey or agave.) I love the taste or honey and agave but I have a hard time getting to to blend and melt into my drink.

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Begin by cutting your lemon and orange in half horizontally.  Press each of the 4 sections onto your juice press while rinsing the residue off the lid each time (this prevents unwanted floaties in your cup.)

After you’ve pressed the fruit this is the juice that it will yield…so beautiful and yummy.

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Then, you will pour the juice over ice into your water bottle.  Like this-

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For the finale, I add my packets of stevia and top it off with water all the way to the top.

The only rule is to shake and mix it well for even distribution.  You are now ready to head out the door! Super easy, am I right?!

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