Skin-Loving Smoothies

 

smoothie picSmoothies are the ultimate convenience food – easy to make, portable and, usually, quite nutritious. But not all smoothies are created equal when it comes to our skin health, with some high in sugar and other potentially inflammatory ingredients.

The good news is there are plenty of ways to add skin-loving ingredients in our smoothies and skip the stuff that isn’t so great. Here are some ideas:

 

Add Vitamins
Vitamins A, C and E are the holy trinity of skincare vitamins, thanks to their ability to fight the free radicals that contribute to premature aging and other skin damage. Adding foods which contain these to your smoothies is one of the easiest ways to get healthy, glowing skin.

  • Vitamin A: Foods rich in carotenoids which the body converts to vitamin A include dark leafy greens, carrots and some tropical fruits such as mango, papaya and melon. Go easy on the latter as they can be high in sugar.
  • Vitamin C: Choose kiwifruit or dark berries for a low-sugar option, dark leafy greens, or a whole organic lemon; leaving the skin on for the maximum vitamin hit.
  • Vitamin E: Excellent sources of this skin-loving vitamin to add to your smoothie include almond butter, avocado, sunflower seeds and, again, those dark leafy greens.

Add Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Omega 3 is an excellent inflammation-fighter and inflammation is linked to many skin problems from redness to sensitivity and premature aging. Add these “good fats” to your smoothie with a sprinkle of flaxseeds or a glug of quality flaxseed oil, some blended walnuts or a handful of chia seeds.

Find a Skin-Loving Substitute
The all-important texture of your smoothie is often down to any liquid and thickening ingredients you add. Some of these, like fresh juice, milk and sugary fruits like bananas are okay in small amounts, but are easy to overdo when it comes to a guzzling a delicious smoothie! Try using filtered water or coconut water instead of juice, homemade almond milk instead of cow’s milk, and oats or chia seeds for the thickening effect of banana. All these will add to the skincare benefits of your smoothie.

Skip the Sweetener
Smoothies with a fruit element often don’t need added sweeteners like honey. Try leaving them out and train your tastebuds to adapt! If you do need a little bit of sweetness, add a medjool date to the blender. These do contain natural sugar but they have lots of other nutrients too.

Three Easy Morning Habits to Adopt

morning balloons-2Mornings are busy times and the last thing you might feel like you need is yet another task to complete. But what you do and how you feel in the morning sets the tone for the rest of your day and making a few simple changes can help with productivity, positivity and stress.

Here are some three strategies to try:

 

Start with a positive thought. Often we wake up and immediately start thinking about our long to-do lists. But if we consciously and purposefully turn our minds to something simple and positive upon waking, it sets a happier tone for the day. Even for just a few seconds focus your mind on someone you love, hum a bit of your favourite song or just take time to stretch out and enjoy the sensation of your warm bed.

Wake up your skin. Taking a little extra care with your skincare routine can do wonders for your complexion, and turn the mundane into the luxurious. Try removing your cleanser with a hot, damp muslin cloth, taking time to press it gently into your skin. This hot compress gives a deeper cleanse and brings blood to the surface of the skin, assisting with detoxification and radiance. Or, try applying your moisturiser or serum with a gentle facial massage, using small circular motions. This improves skin texture and muscle tone and helps products absorb faster.

The simple mindfulness of these techniques means you’ll both see and feel the benefits.

Eat That Frog. Having a daunting or unpleasant task hanging over our heads introduces a lot of unnecessary stress and worry to our day. Instead of putting it off, commit to doing that task first up – eat that frog – and you’ll set the rest of your day up for being more productive. Once you’ve structured your morning like this enough times, it will become second nature.

 

Make Your Own Creamy Nut Milk

AlmondsHomemade nut milk is nothing like the watery, preservative-laden stuff most people know from the supermarket shelves. It’s creamy, delicious and much better for us as it leaves out the fillers and packs in the nutrients.

Any nuts can be used, but almonds are a great place to start. Macadamias, hazelnuts and brazil nuts are nice too, just make sure they are raw, unsalted and organic if possible.

Homemade nut milk is very easy to make, and only requires a blender and fine sieve or muslin cloth. There are four simple steps to follow:

  1. Soak: Soak the nuts overnight in filtered water to make them easier to digest.
  2. Rinse: Rinse with fresh water.
  3. Blend: Blend the nuts with the same volume of fresh filtered water (i.e. if you used 1 cup of almonds, blend first with 1 cup of water.) Then add the same amount of water again, along with any other flavour additions you want to make, and blend further. Blending in two stages ensures the nuts are well crushed.
  4. Strain: Strain the mixture into a jar through a fine sieve or muslin cloth. Squeeze as much water out as you can.

 

*Adding a dash of maple syrup or natural sweetener, vanilla and a pinch of salt will enhance the flavour of your milk.

**Homemade nut milk will keep covered in the fridge for a couple of days. Just give it a shake before serving.

 

A Stress-Free Christmas

image1-4Christmas is supposed to be about giving and celebration, but it can also bring about plenty of stress and worry. Shopping lists, work deadlines, family commitments and holiday planning all combine to make it a hectic time of year.

Here are some ways to reduce the amount of stress you’re under:


Don’t Over Commit
From school awards ceremonies to work functions to get-togethers with the neighbours, this time of the year can see your social calendar get out of control. But is there any need to cram it all in before December 25? You’ll still be the same person in January, and probably have far more time to socialise.

Practise Gratitude
Instead of focusing on what you can or can’t afford to buy, take time to be grateful for all the things you have already. Gratitude takes practice and can be especially difficult when we’re constantly being asked to open our wallets, but it really can help to keep stress levels in check.

Avoid the Mall
Malls are frenzied places at this time of the year, and stress levels can peak just battling to find a park. Try making a commitment to buy fewer, better quality gifts from shops that you actually enjoy visiting. If you must go to the mall, go at off-peak times and work out exactly what you’re buying before you leave the house.

Take Time Out
Even though there are a hundred other things to do, scheduling regular time into your day to switch off and relax is important. Getting some exercise or reading a book will give you a chance to have some time out. If you’ve only got five minutes, try:

One of these three breathing exercises
One of these six super relaxing yoga poses
A simple cup of one of the Evolu team’s favourite herbal teas

 

Three Refreshing Summer Drinks

Summer DrinksEnjoying a cool, refreshing drink on a summer day is one of life’s true pleasures.

Here are three recipes for delicious summer drinks to try at home.

Lemon-Mint Sparkler
Make a simple sugar syrup and while it’s still warm steep with plenty of lemon zest and mint. Strain  and refrigerate (it keeps for up to two weeks.) To serve, pour over ice and top up with soda water. Add a dash of white rum or bourbon for an alcoholic version. 

Blackberry Fizz
Puree blackberries and sugar to create a smooth paste. Strain and pour into the bottom of a glass with a measure of gin or a splash of elderflower cordial, and top with soda.

Iced Tea
We’re big tea drinkers in the Evolu office and the best way to serve it on a hot day is over ice. There are some important things to remember when making iced tea – use filtered water, make sure the initial brew is strong and let the tea cool fully before you put it in the fridge so it doesn’t go cloudy. Here are some unexpected combinations to try:

Chamomile tea, lemon and jasmine flowers topped with apple juice
Green tea, lemon and pureed mango
Hibiscus tea, lemon and ginger sugar syrup
Earl grey tea, orange zest and a slice of orange

 

 

 

How to Get a Good Nights’ Sleep

image1-2Sleeplessness and insomnia are common complaints – but that doesn’t mean we should just put up with them. Regular, quality sleep is essential to our mental and physical health. There is often some trial and error involved with getting back into good sleeping patterns, but by making some changes and committing to them the vast majority of sleeping issues can be resolved.

  • Create a relaxing bedtime routine. Turn off all screens at least one hour before going to bed and have a bath, meditate or relax with your favourite face mask on instead. Try and go to bed and get up at about the same time every day.
  • Avoid coffee and other stimulants after midday. Eat your largest meal at lunch and a lighter meal at dinner to ensure your digestive system isn’t overloaded. Alcohol can help you fall asleep but can mean a restless night. Cut back or avoid it completely.
  •  If your thoughts whirr relentlessly at night, write them down. Then, give yourself permission to stop thinking about them right now – you can pick them up in the morning. Problems also seem bigger in the middle of the night. You’ll often wonder why you were so worried in the light of day.
  • Stress at work or in your personal life can play havoc with your sleep. Work out ways you can reduce unnecessary stress and commit to giving yourself regular breaks from stressful situations. This doesn’t mean relying on that holiday you take once a year, but rather giving yourself permission to head out for a walk or take time out for yourself as often as you need.
  • If you’ve tried all of the above, look into taking a supplement like melatonin or valerian, which many people swear by. When taking supplements it’s best get advice from an expert, and always start out with the lowest dose.

Three Easy Recipes

yogurt-763373_1280If you’re looking to make some positive changes in your diet, upping your vegetable intake, reducing processed foods and looking for healthy alternatives to dairy or gluten can all be beneficial. These three recipe ideas are all healthy, delicious and unbelievably easy:

Zoodles Julienned ribbons of zucchini are a low carb, gluten free, nutrient-packed alternative to spaghetti. Using a spiralizer is quick and easy but they can be expensive, so we recommend starting with a cheaper hand-held julienne peeler instead. You can always invest in a spiralizer later on if you want to make zoodles more regularly.

Raw zoodles only need a quick sauté in a pan – they go soggy if you overcook them. Toss through your favourite home made tomato pasta sauce or pesto, or serve them in soups or under fish or your favourite meat.

Coconut Yoghurt A delicious dairy-free yoghurt that’s great for gut health.

1 can of coconut cream
3 probiotic capsules or equivalent in powder
1 Tbsp honey or maple syrup

Warm a can of coconut cream in a saucepan until lukewarm. Pour into a sterilized glass jar and stir in probiotic powder and sweetener. Seal the jar and put it in a warm place for 12 – 24 hours, then store in the fridge to thicken. Different brands of coconut cream will have different results, sometimes a bit of experimentation is needed.

Cashew nut cheese This savoury dairy-free cheese is creamy and delicious.

1 cup raw organic cashews, presoaked
¼ cup water (adjust depending on preferred consistency)
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp nutritional (or savoury) yeast
Juice of one lemon or lime
Salt and pepper to taste

Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth and creamy, stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides. The cheese will be very soft at first, but pour it into a glass jar and keep it in the fridge and it will firm up after a while. If you’d like some additional flavour, you can always add tahini, shallots, garlic or chives. Spread it on crackers, toss it through pasta or zoodles or just eat it straight out of the jar!

It’s All About Balance

BalanceAt Evolu, balance is our mantra. Healthy skin is balanced skin – just as a healthy life is a balanced life. But when the negative, energy-draining parts of life are outweighing the positive, energising parts we start to feel stressed, tired and overwhelmed. Here are some steps to regain your balance:

Take Stock Set aside some time to really take stock of what you do in a day (or a week) from the moment you wake up to the moment you go to sleep. Identify which bits are making you unhappy or stressed and consider how to remove them or reduce their effect on your life.

Some examples of common energy-sappers are: Sitting in traffic, dealing with too many emails, eating processed foods that place a heavy load on the digestive system or constantly battling a messy house.

Detox Once you’ve identified the energy-drainers in your life, it’s time to detox from them. You might try staying off digital devices from 8pm to 8am, reducing the amount of processed food you consume or setting some chunks of time aside to sort through some piles of household clutter. Once you’ve successfully implemented some small things, you’ll find you have more mental energy to tackle some of the big ones like removing a toxic, energy-sapping person from your life or leaving an unfulfilling or overly stressful job.

Refocus Make time for the things that make you happy. Read a good book, resume a long-neglected hobby or catch up with an old friend who makes you laugh until your cheeks hurt. Be sure to take time to consciously recognise how good you’re feeling in that moment – mindfulness and gratitude need to be practiced to become a habit, and they will reinforce the positive effects of the activity.

Remember Searching for balance is not about getting to some magical end point where everything is perfect. Rather, it is a continuous process of making small and mindful shifts in your priorities to ensure the parts of your life that make you happy outweigh the parts that don’t. And while there will always be periods of your life that feel more stressful than others, don’t let them become the norm.

Do You Have Decision Fatigue?

Decision FatigueWe now have more choice than ever before in history. From what moisturiser we buy to which form of yoga we practise to which power company we use, modern life is full of decisions. But scientists have discovered that having to make too many choices leads to a particular and debilitating type of mental fatigue, called decision fatigue.

If you’ve ever had to make a large number of decisions in a relatively short amount of time, you’ll know exactly what it feels like. Things like shopping at an outlet sale or working out which insurance cover to buy can lead to us feeling exhausted, stressed and unsure of what we actually want anymore. Decision fatigue has also been shown to make us more susceptible to making bad decisions and avoid making decisions all together.

Even everyday situations can lead to decision fatigue. The overwhelming amount of choices at the supermarket can lead to us making impulsive decisions – that’s why the junk food is placed next to the checkouts. But there are ways to avoid decision fatigue and the negative impact it can have on our lives. By consciously creating healthy habits we can protect ourselves from some of this stress and free our minds up to pursue more creative and constructive thoughts.

Some ideas are:

  • Eat the same healthy breakfast every morning.
  • Stick to the same, simple skincare routine every day.
  • Write a comprehensive shopping list before you go to the supermarket, and stick to it.
  • Schedule a regular, non-negotiable exercise date with a friend.
  • Create a work ‘uniform’. Mark Zuckerberg and Barack Obama swear by it.