Skin Care Tips that Can’t Be Beat!

By Sarah Frost

Your skin is the biggest organ in your body. It spans from your head to your toes and without ever saying a word to someone, this is what they see first. So why not keep it beautiful, healthy and glowing?

Acne is the worst. I don’t think you’ll meet a single person who has said they’ve had a good experience with the oily, bumpy condition. Why would you? Skin issues always seems to strike when you really need a clear complexion. Picture day? Boom, mountain right in between your brows. Job interview? Dry skin, and irritation. First day of school? After a summer of clear, glowing skin, you wake up with a half erupted volcano on your nose. As if you didn’t have enough to stress about. But it’s important to remember that acne happens to everyone. And just because you don’t have clear skin now, doesn’t mean you can’t get it later. In fact, you can help clear your skin just by changing your diet. Stop using harsh chemicals on your face. They may work short term, but do you even know what’s in the stuff you’re applying onto your body? Not to mention they smell heinous. Check out these skin care tips for a great complexion!

Skin care tips for things you should be eating:

* Go Nuts: Nuts contain selenium, which has been shown to reduce inflammation and acne in many cases. Along with vitamin E it helps to fight free radicals that can often damage your skin. A diet rich in brazil nuts and almonds can help keep your selenium levels high, and your acne low.

* Start avocaDOing: Avocados contain omega 3 fatty acids. Don’t let the word fatty scare you, these are good fats to have in your diet! They are also a great source of vitamin C, and E, which keep acne causing bacteria under control. Using avocado as a mask or avocado oil as a moisturizer can naturally hydrate your skin and keep it clear.

* Boost your beta carotene: Beta Carotene is an important part of Vitamin A which keeps your skin strong and is a natural shield against the sun’s harsh ultra violet rays. Beta carotene is found in bright, colorful foods, especially yellow, orange and green. Sweet potatoes, carrots, dark, leafy greens and peppers are great options!

* Add tomatoes to your diet: Tomatoes contain lycopene which is an anti-oxidant and anti-aging super substance. They keep your skin hydrated and healthy, and will even out your complexion!

* Water: whether you’re drinking it from the glass, or getting it through foods with high water content, water is one of the best things for your skin. Make sure you’re getting the recommended 8 cups a day to flush out any toxins, and to keep your skin from drying out. Water is the easiest way to keep your skin from getting cracked and dry and it also regulates blood flow and keeps your cells nourished. Cucumbers, watermelon and greens have high water content.

Just as there are things that you can add to your diet, there are also things that would be better left alone. These skin care tips involve a few things to steer clear of, if you’re trying to keep your skin clear!

* Dairy: There are a whole lot of things that bother me about dairy, but this is one that may finally get people to listen. Believe it or not, cow’s milk is meant for cows and not humans. For example, a hormone in milk called IGF-1 is amazing for calf growth, but results in inflammation in people. In addition to this, cheese, milk and other dairy products actually increase the amount of oil that your sebaceous gland secrete. The excess oil is more likely to clog pores and lead to acne. Finally, dairy makes it harder for dead skin cells to clear out which allows for oils to collect and become inflamed. Bottom line is, dairy is an oil making machine. You are what you eat, and if you’re putting a greasy slice of pizza into your mouth, your body is going be representative of that.

* Processed and greasy foods: Not all fatty foods cause acne. In fact, healthy fats are good for your skin! But when you eat fat that isn’t natural, that’s when a problem starts to form. Greasy foods fried in canola oil or margarine with scary ingredients—these things are not good for you or your skin. French fries tossed into a deep fryer is going to fry your chances of a good complexion.

* Soda: You probably already know that soda is bad for your teeth. Moms always use the “You’ll rot your teeth” intimidation factor to keep kids from overdoing it. But did you know that it’s also contributing to your aging skin? The high sugar content not only produces a lot of inflammation, but it also reacts with your skin cells and causes dryness, decrease in color, and premature wrinkles.

Though the causes of acne are greatly affected by genetics, you can start to clear your skin by making lifestyle changes. There are plenty of things you can do as an individual to keep your skin looking young, clear and beautiful. Even though good skin can be a result of genes, I guarantee that people with a glowing complexion are doing things themselves to keep it that way. Using these skin care tips, you will find your complexion clearer in no time!

Whether it’s due to stress, too much sun exposure or poor diet, we all lose the elasticity and glow of our skin at some point. But you can delay that as long as possible. In fact, you can do it naturally!

The great thing about natural remedies is that sometimes you have to look no further than the kitchen! There are plenty of ways that you can clear up your complexion and glow with the power of organic and natural foods! Here are some easy homemade skin care tips and ideas for masks and other skin repairing treatment:

Natural ways to fix your skin:

* Avocado masks and oils for hydration

* Tomato juice to shrink pores

* Honey for an anti-acne facial

* Coconut oil for moisturizing and anti-aging

* Cucumbers for hydration

But it’s important to remember that there are a variety of other things that can harm your skin and keep you from looking your best. Make sure that you are protecting yourself when you go out in the sun! Too much sun exposure early on can lead to wrinkles and even cancer later in life. That tan may look great now, but don’t forget, that’s damaged skin. Even sleep has an effect! Lack of sleep can keep your skin looking pale and sallow. They don’t call it beauty sleep for nothing! There are a plenty of skin care tips that don’t involve the use of harsh chemicals. By changing your diet and day to day choices, you can start getting healthier skin!

Butternut Squash, the Best Winter Squash

By Dinar Yusufov

A lot of people, this time of year, are talking about butternut squash, one of the most popular winter squashes. Personally, it’s my favorite. I eat it at least twice a month, if not more. The taste and smell just feels so fall-ish and warm, it’s pretty hard to resist. So, what is the big hype over these wonderful squashes? WELL, let me list you off some reasons why it is such a yummy and craving-worthy vegetable, as well as so versatile.

* You can make delicious soups from it.

* You can use it as an appetizer with Brussel sprouts, and even a quinoa dish.

* It can be used as a substitute for mashed potatoes.

* It pairs VERY well with cinnamon, maple syrup, and even balsamic vinegar!

fall-for-butternut-squash-1-lg-desktop

There are so many uses of this wonderful and delicious squash. The possibilities are basically endless! So, now that you have some ideas of how to use it, let me give some reasons why you should definitely indulge in this healthy winter squash.

1. It contains lots of Vitamin A. This vitamin is great for making your hair and skin look radiant and glow, as it keeps them moisturized.

2. It promotes regularity. Since butternut squash is high in fiber (6.6 grams (wow!) of it in one cup of cooked, cubed butternut squash), it helps with preventing constipation and keep your digestive tract healthy.

3. Boosts immune function! This lovely squash is high in both vitamin C AND beta-carotene, making it the immunity boost that your body needs to brace these cold winter months ahead!

4. It can help lower blood pressure. Butternut squash is a great source of Potassium. A diet that is high in potassium can help prevent high blood pressure issues, as well as maintain a healthy BP.

5. Has anti-inflammatory properties! This is due to its high antioxidant content. Thus, consuming more of this squash can assist in reducing the risk of inflammation-related disorders, such as arthritis and asthma.

Now that I have lead you through both the uses and reasons why Butternut Squash is so healthy, here are some cooking & cutting tips!

There are a variety of ways to cook Butternut Squash, but I will be going over my favorite way, cubing them & then roasting! So, first we must get the cutting down, which can be a bit tricky, due to its interesting shape.

How to Cut a Butternut Squash:

1. Cut the ends of the squash (both sides) to give a more balanced squash.

2. Use a vegetable peeler to peel off all the skin. (Use a pretty sharp peeler!)

3. Cut the squash in half, where the neck meets the body.

4. Slice the body into pretty thick disks.

5. Cut each disk into long rectangles, and then cube!

6. For the body, cut the squash in half and scrape out all the seeds with a spoon.

7. Cut the halves into strips, and then cube from there!

Once the entire squash is cubed, time to roast it.

 

Here is my favorite recipe for Roasted Butternut Squash:

Ingredients:

1 butternut squash – peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch cubes

2 tablespoons of olive oil

2 cloves of garlic, minced

Salt and ground black pepper, to taste

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. Toss the butternut squash with olive oil and garlic in a large bowl. Season with salt and black pepper. Arrange the squash in a baking sheet, in a single layer.

3. Roast in the preheated oven until squash is tender and lightly browned, 25 to 30 minutes.

4. Enjoy the yumminess!!

I hope this post has sparked your interest in trying butternut squash! Give it a try and don’t forget to share with your friends and family! J

Staying on Track for the Holidays

By Emily Myers

The joys of eating bagels, hot pockets, and an abundance of coffee are over. You survived finals and are making your way home. For many, this may mean doing away with your usual eating, sleeping (or lack of) and exercise routine, and indulging in one too many sugar cookies. Read these tip to help you stay on track and reduce the post-holiday guilt.
1. Not too Hungry, Not too Full, Just Right
It is important to treat special days like any other in the sense of eating. Wake up and eat breakfast, do as you would if there wasn’t an awesome party to go to in the evening. Restricting yourself for the day may lead to overeating later, whether at the party or after. Likewise, filling up on a large meal right before an awesome party isn’t a smart move either. You want to enjoy all the hard work the hostess put into the event, including the cheese platter, pigs in a blanket, and warm, gooey snickerdoodles.

2. Graze
In short, taste a little of everything and eat all of nothing. For some, like myself, parties are a chance to explore new and different food traditions. There is only one day of the year where Aunt Sue makes here broccoli and cheese casserole, Jake makes his pumpkin crumble, and Olivia shares her almond toffee, and I wouldn’t want to miss out. If you find yourself in a similar situation with too many yummy eats and not enough time, tasting may be the key to satisfying the foodie in you.

3. Eat More of What You Like
On the other hand, eating a well portioned meal may be more satisfying. If you eat turkey but not pork, or prefer green beans over Brussel sprout, portioning out a standard meal may be a better option for you. Stay true to your needs and expectations. You know which track will fill up both your belly and that festive spirit.
4. Sink up with Your Hunger Cues
Mindful eating talks a lot about this term, “hunger cues”. Essentially, it is distinguishing between emotional hunger and physical hunger. Where eating can become a coping mechanism to avoid uncomfortable emotions. It’s no wonder it is a topic so relevant to the holiday season. One tip to help stay in tune with your hunger is to wait 20-30 minutes between helpings. This allows your brain to catch up with your belly, which prevents overeating. Fill the gap with activities, like people watching, or play a game- engage in conversation. Often times, distracting the mind for 20-30 minutes helps distinguish physical hunger from emotional hunger.

 

5. Slow and Steady
Stay in the moment, enjoy the corny decoration, conversations with guests, and energy of the holiday season. By engaging in your environment the anxiety associated with food may be decreased. Eat your food, notice the flavor and texture- take pride in how it will sustain you through every cha-cha slide and cupid shuffle.

Coffee Craze

By Sarah Frost

 

There is nothing like the warm and inviting smell of coffee beans roasting. That overwhelming aroma of comfort and quick energy is one of my favorite scents. And it’s because it’s the smell of perkiness, wakefulness, and conversations with friends. “Do you want to grab coffee” is an easy way to catch up with the girls, or have a casual date. Secrets have been gushed over dark roast, and relationships have begun over cappuccinos. After all, doesn’t America run on Dunkin?

And that’s part of the problem. Forget Dunkin Donuts, we need to start dumpin donuts. That’s right. It’s time to break up with fake coffee and start drinking organic. Some franchises are better than others, (I am currently sitting at Starbucks with a coffee in hand while writing this). A lot of mom and pop shops brew organic from natural coffee beans, and when it comes to mainstream shops, Starbucks can offer more when it comes to healthier options for your body. But what’s the deal with all the coffee controversy anyway? One day it’s good for you and the next it isn’t. How can we keep up with the constantly changing media? Well one thing is for sure, there are definitely some real benefits of having of cup of joe in the morning.

coffee

Health Benefits of Coffee:

* Energy Booster: This one is a no-brainer. Coffee is most people’s go-to when they need some perking up in the morning. The caffeine from coffee and coffee beans is a stimulant which means that it quickens your bodily functions. This occurs because the drug (yes, caffeine is a drug) blocks inhibitory transmitters so that there can be more epinephrine and dopamine released.

* Rich in anti-oxidants: coffee beans are a great source of anti-oxidants that clear free radicals from the body. These anti-oxidants have been linked to particular disease prevention like type 2 diabetes, heart disease and certain cancers.

* Better physical performance: I know it sounds crazy, but caffeine has an interesting effect on your exercise. First, it gives your muscles an extra power boost, letting you lift more or work harder. It can also increase endurance for low intensity endurance sports like soccer or football. The caffeine in coffee blocks certain neurotransmitters in your

brain, making you feel less tired than you normally would and allowing you to continue your workout past your usual wall.

* Decreases mortality: studies have found that drinking coffee lowers your over-all risk of mortality. The likelihood of premature death decreases when you average between three and five cups a day.

* Reduces the risk for certain diseases: there is a correlation between drinking coffee and decreased chance of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, stroke and cirrhosis. That’s not to say that drinking coffee means you’re invincible to these epidemics, but having your daily caffeine does seem to offer at least a little assistance.

* Fat Burner: Caffeine is a natural fat burner! Drinking the right amount of coffee (you don’t need to be throwing back more than one venti) will speed up your metabolism, helping you to burn more calories.

If these benefits don’t constitute a good drink I don’t know what will. But not all coffee is the same. As mentioned before, you should try to stay away from franchises that dump chemicals into your drink. You want to be drinking coffee, not sugar through a straw.

Coffee is one of the most popular drinks worldwide. If I had a dollar for every time someone told me they couldn’t function without their morning cup of Joe, I’d be making more money than Starbucks. And as mentioned before, coffee is pretty great for you when done the right way. Organic, on a full stomach, with plenty of water. And that’s not to say you can’t go on your Starbuck’s runs and coffee dates as well. Just be conscious of what you’re putting into your body, because you may be getting more than just caffeine. I always find it funny when I listen to some of the orders of the people in front of me on line at Starbucks. Some of those drinks don’t even sound like English! Simple is usually best when it comes to coffee and if your order consists of more than eight words, you may want to tone it down.

Quick Snacks with Less Sugar

By Dinar Yusufov
During our afternoon slump, on long homework-filled days, we typically go for snacks that can be very high in sugar. Whether it is beverages like smoothies, Frappuccinos, lattes, or foods, like Pop Tarts, flavored yogurt, granola bars, pudding cups, and even some cereals, a lot of our snack foods contain high amounts of sugar and sometimes we don’t even realize. A lot of people may also believe that sugar can give them the little boost of energy that they need to finish the day off. But, if we consume too much sugar through our snacks, we may get a sugar crash later in the day. This sugar crash can consist of headaches, tiredness, or even irritability.
A lot of food companies try to market their foods as being healthier, with lots of fiber or protein. But, they also contain lots of added sugar with that. One example of this is the Nature Valley Strawberry or Vanilla Yogurt Granola Bars. One bar of this granola bar contains 13 grams of sugar! A Sunrise Sunset smoothie from Tropical Smoothie that is made with strawberries, pineapples, mango & orange juice contains 76 grams of sugar. A Grande salted caramel mocha Frappuccino with whipped cream from Starbucks contains 69 grams of sugar. These “wake-up” drinks and snacks can actually be more hurtful than helpful.
If our snacking constantly consists of high-sugar foods, there can be some health implications. This may cause high blood triglyceride levels, and can contribute to inflammation and oxidative stress, which can become conditions of heart disease. Also, risk of tooth decay can increase. Sugar-rich foods, as well as sticky foods, take longer to dissolve in the mouth. Also, since sugar is a calorie-dense food, we get more calories when we eat foods high in sugar. Thus, weight gain and obesity make become a greater risk.
So, lets take a look at how to create healthier snacking habits that will be much more helpful than harmful to your body.

1. Pick more nutrient dense foods. Nutrient-dense foods contain more nutrients than calorie-dense foods. Some examples of this are fruits and vegetables (apples, celery, corn, mangoes, avocadoes, bananas). Basically, the possibilities could be endless. These foods help to keep you full longer, and they give you great nutrients!

2. Drink lots of water after snacking.
Drink water after your snacks, no matter what they are, can actually be beneficial. It will help you to feel full for much longer and also prevent tooth decay, if you do choose to consume a sugary snack. Also, it helps everything digest quicker.
3. Replace added sugars with natural sugars. This goes for all those snack foods that are marketed at various grocery stores. It is always a better idea to go for the more natural foods, especially fruits and vegetables. Some snack ideas that contain no added sugars are Skinny Pop (popcorn), Justin’s Almond Butter, and plain Greek yogurt, just to name a few. These foods that contain small amounts of added sugars are great because you avoid the unnecessary processed sugars and also avoid a sugar crash later in the day. Also, overtime, less consumption of foods with added sugar can decrease risk of heart disease, obesity and weight gain.

4. Substitute! When you can, try to find substitutes for your favorite snacks!
*Granola with plain Greek yogurt and your favorite fruit!
*Chocolate dipped bananas.
*Banana “ice-cream.” Freeze some bananas; throw them in a blender and you get an ice cream consistency. You can add chocolate chips, peanut butter, coconut flakes, or anything your heart desires to personalize it!
*Energy bites. Use dates and oats as your base, and then personalize it as you wish. (Coconut flakes, chocolate chips, maple syrup). The possibilities are really endless.

5. Stay mindful when snacking. To avoid overeating and high amounts of sugar in your snacks, remember to keep your snacks around 100 to 250 calories. Also, try to snack without any distractions so that you can really focus on what you’re eating. This can lead to less weight gain and more mindful and healthy eating habits throughout life.

Quick and Easy Snack recipe:

Pumpkin Spice Granola
• 2 cups rolled oats (Old Fashioned Oats)
• 1 cup chopped walnuts
• 1 cup chopped almonds
• ½ cup packed brown sugar
• 1 cup pumpkin puree
• ¼ cup vegetable oil
• ½ cup maple syrup
• 1½ tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
• ½ teaspoon cinnamon

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees F. In a large bowl, mix together the rolled oats, walnuts, almonds and brown sugar. Set aside.
2. In a small bowl, combine the remaining ingredients until well mixed. Then pour over the dry ingredients and toss/mix until the dry ingredients are wet. Spread the mixture on a baking sheet and put in the oven.
3. Bake for 1 hour 15 minutes. Every 15 minutes, remove from the oven and stir the mixture to evenly bake.
4. Remove from the oven and allow cooling before transferring to a container.
5. Top with plain Greek yogurt and some pumpkin seeds and enjoy your fall cozy creation.

References:
http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/bad-effects-snacking-3832.html
http://www.livescience.com/36188-sugar-bad.html
http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/sugar-shockers-foods-surprisingly-high-in-sugar#3
http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2014/10/08/healthy-snack-recipes_n_5953660.html

Local Loves: PULP

By Tess Donnelly

Colorful acai bowls and smoothies are all the rage right now and lucky for us Harrisonburg has their very own organic acai bowl and smoothie place right downtown! Not many people know about PULP because oddly enough it’s found inside a bicycle shop. The Shenandoah Bike Company opened its doors in May of 2000 and has been up and running ever since. PULP followed in May 2010 to compliment the bicycle shopacai-bowl

It is no surprise that the main ingredient found in every acai bowl is Acai, pronounced ah-sah-EE. Acai is a fruit found on the trees in the Amazon region of Brazil. PULP blends Sambazon Acai puree packets that are packed with antioxidants, amino acids and essential fatty acids with ingredients such as organic non-dairy milk, apple juice and a variety of other healthy super fruits. The usual techniques used to prepare this fruit include pureeing and freezing. Freezing is a great technique to use in cooking and handling fruits because it preserves the fruits nutritional value.

PULP’s menu includes four different Acai bowls with the option to build your own bowl. My personal favorite is the “Short Mountain” which is a blend of acai, banana, almond butter, almonds, coconut milk and granola.

In addition to acai bowls and smoothies, PULP also offers a variety of Chinese teas from the Red Blossom Tea Company.

PULP is the perfect spot to check out if you’re in the mood for a healthy snack or in need of a pick me up. The atmosphere is so relaxed and inviting, you may even find yourself inspired to pick up a cycling habit!

Next time you find yourself in downtown Harrisonburg, make sure to pay this quaint downtown bike shop a visit and try out their delicious acai bowls for yourself!

Stressed? Try these!

By Megan Wine

It’s that time of the year when you have two midterms, five assignments, and three quizzes all in the same day and you feel like there are simply not enough hours in the day to get it all done. For many, eating seems like the last priority during these extremely stressful weeks in the semester, but what you’re eating could actually play a major role in your overall stress level. Many studies have shown a link between stress/anxiety levels and the foods that are consumed throughout a day. So next time you’re feeling stressed, try these healthy options rather than the bag of chips, or sugary processed snack you would usually try.

1. Dark Chocolate: I know what you’re thinking, Chocolate?! Healthy?! No way! But yes! Studies have shown that eating small amounts of dark chocolate everyday can actually boost not only your mood, but also improve your brain function! A 2009 study by the Journal of Proteome Research showed a direct link between daily dark chocolate consumption and a reduction in the stress hormone, Cortisol, levels in individuals. So it looks like mom was wrong all along, chocolate is actually good for you (in moderation, of course).

2. Foods containing Vitamin C: You know that old saying an apple a day keeps the doctor away? Well an orange a day could actually keep your stress away! Eating foods rich in vitamin C like oranges, grapefruits, or any other citrus fruits can help to lower not only stress hormone levels, but also lower blood pressure in stressful situations and can even keep your immune system strong as well!

3. Complex carbs: And no this doesn’t mean candies and sugary treats, a complex carb is something like whole grain bread, oatmeal, brown rice, quinoa, etc. these are broken down by your body much more slowly than sugars (simple carbs) helping your body to sustain energy for longer and also increase the levels of serotonin that your brain produces! Serotonin is a hormone that increases calmness, so the next time you’re feeling stressed, remember to opt for whole grain bread rather than white (which is much more processed).

4. Omega 3 Fatty Acids: This one might not sound as straightforward as the last three, but it’s still not a difficult thing to find! Good sources of Omega-3’s are fatty fish (salmon, tuna, etc.), nuts, and flax! These healthy fats can help to reduce cortisol levels, and also can help prevent long-term depression and heart disease!

While these four suggestions may not completely relieve the stress from your midterms, work, and life, they can definitely aid in reducing your overall stress hormone levels and keep you from that edge of overwhelming stress (believe me, we’ve all been there). One big thing to remember as well is that caffeine also triggers the release of cortisol, so even though that fifth cup of coffee is keeping you awake at 3 am to study, you might consider calling it a day and getting some good sleep instead to allow your body to rest and be ready for the day ahead! Go ace those finals and remember that what your put in your body can actually affect your health more than you think!

Reference:

Medicine, UCLA Center for East-West. “Eat Right, Drink Well, Stress Less: Stress-Reducing Foods, Herbal Supplements, and Teas – Explore Integrative Medicine.” Explore Integrative Medicine. Shannon Wongvibulsin, 2014. Web. 15 Oct. 2016. <http://exploreim.ucla.edu/nutrition/eat-right-drink-well-stress-less-stress-reducing-foods-herbal-supplements-and-teas/&gt;.