Tag Archives: Skin

Two Loves: Argan Oil and Abe’s Natural Market

18 Jul

Obviously, we are fans of Argan oil and its benefits. It is a star ingredient in several of our products. So, we were happy to see when it got some star treatment on Abe’s Market online magazine: “5×5: 5 Reasons to Love Argan Oil.”  http://bit.ly/W8p8qN.

And we were very proud to have one of our serums chosen to be featured.  Thanks Abe’s!

Head over to Abe’s for all your natural products and pick up some Yum Scrub Organics while you are there. 🙂  http://www.abesmarket.com/.  Also, in coming months check out their online magazine as we contribute to it with skincare articles.

DSC_0602_4_2Click to Buy Our Great All-Organic Skincare Line:

Yum Scrub http://bit.ly/1jKksLG

Abe’s Market bit.ly/1rueto2



10 Simple Tips for Glowing Skin this Holiday Season

7 Dec

The holiday season can take a toll on the skin.  ‘Tis the season for too much of everything–eating treats; drinking libations; planning holiday events; going to holiday events; figuring out what to get for everyone on your list; shopping for everyone on your list; decorating the tree and home; baking cookies; listening to family and friends’ drama….  And all of this has to fit into your normal activities.  Wow.  The skin can pucker and crinkle right up just at the thought of your to-do list.

So, let this also be the season to give your skin extra attention.  Really, you don’t want your skin to age or breakout because of a few weeks of cheer.  And since, we don’t want to add to your holiday burdens…um…fun, these are simple and quick things you can do.

Ten Holiday Tips for the Skin

1.  Water Make sure you are drinking plenty of water everyday, especially after drinking alcohol.   Water hydrates cells, reduces fluid retention and flushes out toxins, such as alcohol.  Alcohol is very dehydrating and interferes with the liver’s process to remove toxins.  In addition, reduce sugary carbonated drinks and replace them with water.  Consuming sugar is not good for the skin, using it as an exfoliator is a different story.  Want to spruce up water?  Buy some sparkling water and add lemon, lime, and/or orange slices.

3.  Supplements Consider increasing the amount of vitamins you take for the holiday period to boost your immune system.  Vitamin D is one vitamin many healthcare practitioners think people do not get enough of.

4.  Eat More Green Leafy Vegetables and Eat Fresh FruitIncreasing fresh vegetable and fruit intake will help balance the effects of eating some of the holiday foods and drinks that are not so good for you.

5.  Avoid Salty FoodsSalt draws moisture from the cells and leads to water retention that can result in puffiness around the eyes and drier skin.

6.  Legs Up the Wall/Cool Cloth Lack of sleep during the holidays is common and forget trying to sneak in a nap.  But ten minutes lying on the floor with your legs resting up against a wall will rejuvenate you so you can go on to the next thing.  Place a cool cloth on your eyes while in the pose.  Legs up the wall is also good to do prior to going to bed; it will help you get a better night’s sleep.

7.  Breathe During busy and stressful time most people breathe shallowly from the chest.  This can tire you, make your more prone to emotional outbursts, and will cheat your cells of some oxygenated nutrient rich blood.  Breathe deeply and slowly; expand the belly on the inhale and deflate it on the exhale.

8.  Just Say “No.” Say “no” to some of the sugary treats; you don’t need to eat everything that’s put in front of you.  Sugar affects collagen production, and collagen is very important for healthy skin.  While on the topic of no, also say, “no” to people and situations that will tax you and make you even more tired or stressed.  Remember the holidays come every year like clock work; there’s always next year….

9.  ExfoliateTake time to exfoliate your skin at least once a week.  Exfoliation removes dead skin cells leaving the skin smooth, soft, and ready for regeneration of new skin cells.  Don’t forget the feet.  Here’s a treat your feet will love: Sit on the edge of the tub and run some warm water (as warm as you can stand it) into the tub, enough to cover the feet.  Pour some body scrub on the bottom of one foot; take a body brush and now scrub your foot.  Do the same with the other foot.  Afterwards, just sit for a few minutes with your feet in the water.  You can also rinse the feet in cool water if you like.   It’s incredibly relaxing and really softens the feet.

10.  Laugh Laugh, sing, dance, find things to appreciate everyday.  You will glow and when you glow, your skin glows.

Click to Buy Our Great All-Organic Skincare Line:


Abe’s Market bit.ly/1rueto2

Skin and Fingernail Problems Can Indicate Disease

19 Sep

Skin and fingernail health reveal more of what’s going on inside of you than you may realize.  Many diseases such as lupus, cancer, kidney disease, hepatitis, and others can show up as discolorations and irregularities on your skin and fingernails.

Skin Health
One of the symptoms of lupus is a red butterfly rash across the nose and cheeks.  Rosacea is also indicated by a red rash around the nose and onto the cheeks.  A condition that involves the palms of the hands called tripe palm is usually linked to cancer.  The skin with tripe palm is thick and within the folds the color is velvety-white.  Tuberous scelrosis is a rare genetic disease that manifests on the  several parts of the body.  On the lower back, it will show-up as flesh colored orange peel skin; on the face there will be acne like bumps that are red or brown, and on the trunk of the body there are spots with oval at one end and pointy on the other.

Nail Health
Melanoma may be indicated when dark brown streaks show up under the nails.  Very pale nails can indicate anemia, congestive heart failure, liver disease, or malnutrition.  Liver disease can show up with very white nails with dark rims.  Yellow nails are usually a symptom of fungus.  But they could also indicate thyroid disease, lung issues, diabetes, or psoriasis.  Early signs of inflammatory arthritis can show up on the fingernails as ripples or pits along with nail discoloration and a reddish/brown color under the nail.

Check Out:

Web Md (http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/slideshow-what-your-nails-say-about-your-health) and

Mayo Clinic (http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/nails/WO00055 / http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/skin-rash/SN00016)

for their slide shows on different skin and nail conditions that are indicative of diseases.


Mayo Clinic http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/nails/WO00055

Web MD  http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/slideshow-what-your-nails-say-about-your-health

The Top 10 No-No’s for Beautiful, Healthy Skin

7 Sep

Beginning around age thirty, skin begins to lose its youthfulness. Collagen and elastin cells lose the capacity to regenerate.  For people with skin problems, the onset can even be earlier.  Considering that most people will live beyond their eighties–there are many years of living with your skin– it’s better to age gracefully than age fighting.  One of the best ways to age beautifully and gracefully is eating healthy.  This is even more important for the skin because it receives nutrients last.  Eating healthy begins with reducing or eliminating certain foods, ingredients, and other harmful substances from the diet that either deplete the body of nutrients and/or are detrimental to the functioning of the liver. 

Beautiful skin starts from inside the body. While products applied to the skin, facials, and other “outer” body skincare regimens are important, they cannot do it alone–no matter the marketing message.  Even surgery, Botox, and other skin manipulating processes do not give permanent results, and worse they make the skin look artificial. 
Here are the no-no’s to eliminate or reduce for healthy and beautiful skin.  Of course, they are the same things to stay away from for a healthy body.
  •  Alcohol – Dehydrates the skin and leads to increased wrinkles.  Alcohol also makes the liver work harder in removing toxins. The toxins that don’t get removed eventually end up on your skin.  Alcohol retains fluid and causes puffiness around the eyes. There are some suggestions that alcohol can cause hormonal changes in the body as well. 
  • Tobacco – Filled with chemicals and toxins.  Decreases oxygen in the blood; the skin needs oxygen–remember the skin receives nutrients last so if it’s not getting enough oxygen wrinkles will start to appear quicker than they would have.  You can also tell women who smoke or smoked for a long time by the wrinkles around their mouth.
  • Salt – Too much salt and the body will retain fluid.  This leads to puffiness around the eyes.  There’s some suggestion that salt encourages cellulite.
  • Processed Foods – Do not have enough and varied nutrients for the body.  The body needs a variety of nutrients to keep it in tip-top shape.  If your diet mainly consists of processed foods then you’re not getting enough nutrients.  The further away a food is from its original source, the more nutrients that are lost.   For example: fresh vegetables have more nutrients than frozen.  Frozen have more than canned.  Since the skin receives nutrients last, the skin could possibly end up not getting any nutrients.  So, foods that are fresh are the best; food that comes in boxes are the worst.  Foods preserved with nitrates and other chemicals are also bad for the skin.
  • Hormone and Antibiotic Containing Foods – Foods that have had hormones and antibiotics added in the production.  For example, dairy cows that have been given hormones and antibiotics; the same with factory-raised meats.  These ingredients get passed onto your body and can disrupt in on many levels, not to mention the stress on the liver they cause.
  • Fast Food – Where to begin?  Fast foods have usually too much salt, sugar, chemicals, residual hormones, transfats, and antibiotics.  Besides having chemicals from the preserving process, the flavors in the food are usually a chemical composition.
  • Caffeine – Caffeine is a diuretic, so it dehydrates the body, especially too much caffeine.  Dehydration dries out the skin, which increases the probability of wrinkles.
  • Granulated Sugar and Corn Syrup – Too much sweetener inhibits collagen and elastins production.  Advance glycation end product (AGE) is a result of glucose in the bloodstream attaching to proteins and creating harmful molecules.  The AGE’s damage adjacent proteins such as collagen and elastin fibers that keep skin firm and elastic.  Sugars also reduce antioxidant levels. Antioxidants are especially helpful for the skin and especially for acne, eczema, psoriasis, and seborrhea.
  • Hydrogenated Oil/Transfats – Found in margarine, fast food, potato chips, corn chip, candy, and many other snack foods. Hydrogenated oils create free radicals in the body and put a strain of the liver’s detoxifying capacity.  Free radicals also helps to create the scenario for cancer.
  • Soft DrinksSweetened and Artificially Sweetened – Soft drinks like fast food–where to begin?  The phosphorus in many of these drinks is becoming a health concern because phosphorus can upset the balance of calcium in the body, causing a calcium deficiency. The sugar-sweetened drinks have too much sugar and the artificially sweetened ones have too many chemicals to be body friendly.  There are other chemicals that flavor and color the drinks, putting too much strain on the liver.  One of these chemicals used for coloring and flavoring is coal tar.  These ingredients lead to clogged pores and aging the skin.  Diet sodas may also contain high amounts of sodium.

Yes, there is life after giving up or greatly reducing these substances.  These substances are not only bad for the body/skin, they limit the enjoyment of life.  

The Stealth Bomber in Your Skincare – Nanoparticles

14 Jun

Just as a stealth bomber can quietly enter an area and wreck havoc, so could some nano-ingredients in your skincare products once they get into your body. If you aren’t aware of nanotechnology, it’s time that you became aware.  Why should you care? Because more and more nanomaterials are making their way into your life.  And the scary thing is, the effects of this technology on the body or environment are not fully understood:

In one of the most dramatic failures of regulation since the introduction of asbestos, corporations around the world are rapidly introducing thousands of tons of nanomaterials into the environment and onto the faces and hands of millions of people, despite the growing body of evidence indicating that nanomaterals can be toxic to human and the environment.[i]

This quote is from scientist studying the toxicology of nanoparticles.

There is limited research on how nanoparticles affect the body and environment, but what research has been done have shown that many nanomaterials are toxic: They can cause DNA mutation, cross the brain-blood barrier, cause cell death, and go to the fetus of an unborn child from the mother. 

Disturbingly, the use of nano technology in products is unregulated.  This means that companies can use this technology without first proving its safety, and they also do not have to disclose their products contain, or use nanotechnology.

What Is Nanotechnology?

Pull out a hair on your head.  Ouch!  Look at the width of it–you can barely discern how wide it is, right?  Well, imagine if you can, the width of your hair being 100,000 times smaller than the size it is.  That’s the size of nanoparticles. Here’s another way to picture a nanoparticle from William Hofmeister of University of Tennessee Space Institute’s Center for Laser Applications: ‘If a centimeter is represented by a football field, a nanometer would be the width of a human hair lying on the field.’[ii]

Nanomaterials are smaller versions of their larger counterparts (titanium dioxide, gold, silver, copper, liposomes, etc.) that are manipulated to perform in a certain way or do a certain function. But, (a very important but) they differ chemically from their larger version and that is where the danger lies. Even the FDA recognizes this:

…due to their small size and extremely high ratio of surface area to volume, nanotechnology materials often have chemical or physical properties that are different from those of their larger counterparts.

In other words, nanoparticles can change color, strength, be more reactive, and react differently than their larger equivalent. This is what is known; what is not completely known is how these changes affect the body and our environment. 

Nanotechnology without a doubt is an exciting new scientific field of study and has many non-human applications.  They’re used in electronics; researchers at Rice University even made a molecular car using nanoparticles.  However, nanotechnology is also an incredibly powerful science that is being put to use to market products without knowing the totality of the science.  In other words, the horse is coming before the cart.  Sadly, not only are we the lab rats, we are uniformed and nonconsensual lab rats.

Cosmetic Manufacturers’ Nanotechnology Bandwagon

Titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are good examples of how cosmetic companies have gotten on the nanotechnology bandwagon.  Titanium dioxide is the compound most often made into nanoparticles.  The Environmental Working group estimates that there are approximately 10,000 over-the counter products using nanotitatnium dioxide.  Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide are not new cosmetic ingredients; they’ve been used for years.

Now using nanotechnology, these two ingredients have been manipulated at the molecular level.  When used in sunscreen and other cosmetic applications, the smaller particles allow for greater absorption of titanium oxide and zinc oxide, remove the chalky whiteness of these two ingredients, and is said to increase UV protection.

So, many sunscreen companies are using them, including products that are labeled natural and in some cases organic.  [Aubrey Organics was one company that was caught by Consumer Report to have had nanoparticles in their sunscreen when they claimed not to.  Aubrey’s has since said that they have changed their sunscreen formula–in April.]

This is also part of the problem with this technology, who to trust? It’s not like the average consumer can test their products to see if the labeling is correct.  Also realize that manufactures are not required to put this information on their labels.  The FDA only investigates ingredients in cosmetics after they are in the marketplace and after a safety concern has been raised–not before people use them–only after and if there is a concern. 

The FDA just released today its draft guidance on “Considering Whether an FDA-Regulated Product Involves the Application of Nanotechnology.”  As they state on their website, “FDA’s issuance of this guidance is a first step toward providing regulatory clarity on FDA’s approach to nanotechnology.”  This is just a beginning discussion on what constitutes nano-ingredients and not a regulation of nano ingredients in skincare products. It took years to get them to this point; it could take more years for regulations, if at all.

Some studies have suggested that the new mineral sunscreen using nanotechnology are actually more harmful to the skin.  In addition, experiments show that some nanoparticles can get absorbed into the lungs; cause cancer; build up in the body, and can cross from mother into the fetus, causing birth defects[iii].

Stealth Health Bomber

Nanotechnology has the potential of being the stealth health bomber of the modern era.  It is being introduced into more products daily with companies rushing for patents on new nanomaterials.  We are quietly being bombarded with this technology, and most consumers are not even aware of it.  With a slick slight of hand that’s the hallmark of marketing, a compelling message is sent.  We hear that “new science” or “bio-science” has shown a better way for ingredients to be absorbed into the skin to prevent aging, remove wrinkles, and carry nutrients deeper into the epidermis. 

We don’t question whether this is “good for us science” or just “marketing science.”  We say to ourselves: “Hey, the container it comes in looks pure and very pretty. And this is a major cosmetic company; they wouldn’t put anything harmful in there.”  Or, “the skincare line I use is very expensive with high quality ingredients; it has to be safe.”   We trust too easily.   The government does not regulate the use of nanotechnology. All the while, these nanoparticles are entering the body where they don’t leave, and could possibly alter genes.  Stealthily, these nanomaterials are doing who knows what to the body.

Because of their size, nanoparticles are more readily taken up by the human body than larger sized particles and are able to cross biological membranes and access cells, tissues and organs that larger sized particles normally cannot.[iv]

We may not even know for generations to come the unintended consequences of such ingredients. 

The Nanotechnology Catapult

The use of nanoparticle technology is catapulting into about every industry you can think of–medicines, electronics, clothing (wrinkle-free), toothpaste, pacifiers, biodegradable packaging to name a few. Some food companies are researching nanoparticles for use in ice cream!  But, it’s the cosmetic and skincare industries that are stepping up the use of this technology.

Most major cosmetic companies use nanotechnology in their products although most are not broadcasting it.

While they may use the same chemicals that they have for years in their products, they are now using smaller version of some of the same chemicals to deliver these ingredients deeper into the skin or new ingredients, such as nutrients. Remember smaller versions are not the same as their larger counterpart. There are at least nine different applications of nanotechnology cosmetic manufacturers are either using or researching and developing. 

The other thing with nano-ingredients is that they have other chemicals properties as a result of being created.  In other words, smaller versions of the larger molecules change chemically.

Research has shown that nanoparticles do pass into the body from the skin.  Research done on nanotubes (carbon nano particles or fullerenes) had the same affect as asbestos does on the lungs.  Although, the study was not done on humans.  While fullerenes are usually used in industrial applications there are some cosmetic companies who have also employed them. 

So, not only does science not fully know and understand what the smaller replicas do to the human body, cosmetic and skincare companies are using them indiscriminately–they don’t know what the chemical attributes of these smaller particles are capable of doing.

Fox Watching the Henhouse

The cosmetics industry says they do testing, but that’s sort of like the fox watching the henhouse.  Also, the use of nano technology for cosmetics is in its infancy. So, it could take years, decades, or even better medical investigative tools than we have now to objectively evaluate the unintended consequences of these infinitesimal particles on the body. 

As stated before, the possible unintended consequence is that these nanoparticles can get into parts of the body (cells, DNA) were they aren’t supposed to be and be harmful in some way that can not be foreseen at the moment.  Harmful effects could take years or possibly decades to show-up not only in the individuals using them but also in their offspring.

Size Matters

Jake Meyers at the Institute for Science, Law and Technology at Chicago-Kent College of Law explains on his blog:

The size of a nanoparticle is what makes it so useful, but size is also what makes a nanoparticle potentially dangerous.  At nanoscale sizes, materials exhibit very different characteristics, such as mechanical, optical, electrical, chemical, or magnetic properties not present outside the nanoscale.  These characteristics exist largely for two reasons.  First, nanomaterials have an unusually high surface-to-volume ratio which leads to significantly increased chemical reactivity.  For example, gold is inert at the macroscale, but at the nanoscale it is highly reactive and therefore potentially valuable as a catalyst for chemical manufacturing.  Second, materials exhibit quantum mechanical effects at the nanoscale.  These quantum mechanical effects lead to unusual electrical, optical, mechanical and magnetic phenomena.  For example, opaque substances become transparent (copper); inert materials become catalysts (platinum); stable materials turn combustible (aluminum); solids turn into liquids at room temperature (gold); and insulators become conductors (silicon).  Nanotechnology capitalizes on these new characteristics, but it also means that nanoscale-sized versions of familiar particles present new challenges and potential for harm to the human body.  The small size of nanoparticles also means that they can enter the body in numerous ways: they can be inhaled, ingested, absorbed through the skin or eyes, or pass to the brain through the olfactory nerves in the nose.  The nanoparticles can also enter cells within the body, pass between organs, get into the bloodstream, bone marrow, nerves, muscles, lymph nodes, and pass the blood-brain barrier.[v]

At the moment, it’s up to you as a consumer to not only demand oversight on this new industry, but to contact your favorite brands and ask what kinds of nanotechnology they’re using in their manufacturing.  Don’t take their word for it that their products are safe.  Radiation was once considered safe with government approved testing done on human subjects, cigarettes were once considered safe, as was asbestos.  Also you can comment on the the FDA’s draft guidance by connecting on the link at http://www.fda.gov/RegulatoryInformation/Guidances/ucm257698.htm.

[i] Miller, Georgia, “Nanomaerials, Sunscreens and Cosmetics – Small Ingredients Big Risks.” Friends of the Earth, United States: May, 2006.  Online:  http://www.foe.org.

[ii] Schneider, Andrew, “Primer: How Nanotechnology Works.” AOL News: 24 March, 2010. Online: http://www.aolnews.com/2010/03/24/hold-primer-how-nanotechnology-works/

[iii] Ibid.

[iv] Miller, Georgia, “Nanomaterials, Sunscreens and Cosmetics.” Small Ingredients Big Risks.”
Friends of the Earth, United States: May, 2006. Online: http://www.foe.org.

[v] Meyer, Jake, “Nano Ice Cream – Rich Texture, Low in Fat, and High in Unknown Risk.” On the Edges of Sciences and Law: 6 May 2010. Online: http://blogs.kentlaw.edu/islat/2010/05/nano-ice-cream-rich-texture-low-in-fat-and-high-in-unknown-risk-.html


Miller, Georgia, “Nanomaerials, Sunscreens and Cosmetics – Small Ingredients Big Risks.” Friends of the Earth, United States: May, 2006.  Online:  http://www.foe.org.

“Nanotechnology,” U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Online: http://www.fda.gov/ScienceResearch/SpecialTopics/Nanotechnology/default.htm

Environmental Working Group. Statement of Jane Houlihan on Cosmetics Safety. Online: http://www.ewg.org/node/26545

Meyer, Jake, “Nano Ice Cream – Rich Texture, Low in Fat, and High in Unknown Risk.” On the Edges of Sciences and Law: 6 May 2010. Online: http://blogs.kentlaw.edu/islat/2010/05/nano-ice-cream-rich-texture-low-in-fat-and-high-in-unknown-risk-.html

Schneider, Andrew, “Amid Nanotech’s Dazzling Promise, Health Risks Grow.” AOL News: 24 March 2011. Online: http://www.aolnews.com/2010/03/24/amid-nanotechs-dazzling-promise-health-risks-grow/

Yum Friday Recipe – Sweet Potato Cucumber Curry Salad

3 Jun

In our ongoing whole-body approach to skincare, weekly we share our healthy and delicious recipes

Are you going to a picnic this weekend and want to take something different?  Try this bright looking twist on the everyday potato salad. This recipe switches things up and will have people in awe of your talents. It’s super easy and quick to make. Not to mention the great benefits these ingredients have to offer.

Sweet potatoes are a fantastic source of carotene.  Carotene gets translated into Vitamin A in our bodies.  Vitamin A is an antioxidant, and antioxidants keep inflammation down in the body.  Studies show that illnesses, such as heart disease and cancer may be caused by inflammation in the body.

For the skin, antioxidants reduce redness and the irritation in skin conditions, such as acne, eczema and psoriasis.  It also help to reduce wrinkles by promoting collagen synthesis. Sweet potatoes are also a great source of copper; copper helps to support the elasticity of the skin.

Besides being very hydrating, cucumbers have vitamin C (asorbic acid), caffeic acid, and high amounts of silica all of which reduce swelling, soothe skin irritations, and improves skin complexion.  Now you know why we also like to put them on our puffy eyes. Bet you didn’t know that cucumbers have been around for thousand of years.  They are said to have originated either in India or China.

The Vegenaise in this recipe doesn’t just bind the vegetables together and taste good it also plays an important role in the uptake of the beta-carotene.  Studies show that the body uses more of the carotene when there is some fat eaten with the sweet potatoes.  And it doesn’t take much fat to make this happen.

Yum Sweet Potato Cucumber Curry Salad – serves 4-6

2 Large SweetPotatoes
1 Yellow Onion
1 Cucumber
1/2 C. Vegenaise (see suggestions below)
1 – 2 Tablespoon Yellow Curry Powder
Salt and Pepper to taste
Handful of fresh chives for garnish

Fill a medium saucepan with water; add a dash of salt and bring to a boil.
In the meantime, dice the sweet potatoes with the skins on into ½ inch cubes––about 5 cups.  Add sweet potatoes to boiling water and cook just until fork tender––about 7 – 8 minutes. You don’t want to over cook them because then they will get mushy.  Strain and set aside to cool. This can be done up to a day ahead.

Dice the onion––about ½ – ¾ cup.
Peel cucumber, cut lengthwise, and scoop out the seeds. Cut cucumbers into ½ inch cubes––about 1 – 1/14 cups.
Whisk Vegenaise and yellow curry powder together.  Add onion, cucumber and pepper. Taste before adding salt. Mix the vegetables and vegenaise/curry mixture thoroughly.  Fold in the sweet potatoes.  Garnish with chopped chives.  Cover and chill until ready to serve.  This salad is better when the flavors have time to meld together.


  • Vegenaise is a healthy mayonnaise replacement that’s quite good.  It’s dairy free and egg free.  We like to use the one made with grape seed oil.  You’ll find it in the refrigerated section of natural grocery stores.
  • Use fresh curry powder.  If your bottle of curry powder is older than 6 months, buy a new bottle.  Old curry powder gets bitter.
  • To make raw onions more agreeable on the digestion, blanch them quickly in boiling water for about 5-7 seconds and then submerge the onions in a bowl of ice water.  Drain, pat try, and use how you would raw onions.
  • Try using scissors to chop your chives; they make the chopping much easier.
  • Taking the seeds out of the cucumbers prevents the salad from getting watery.


Recipe by:  Lisa Mackenzie Karson
Copyright: Abhijit Chandra, LLC 2011

Friday Yum Recipe – Pico de Gallo Vegetable Polenta

20 May

Today we’re combing two cultures, Italian and Mexican, to make one delicious dish.  If you are looking for a healthy comfort food that’s gluten-free and low in fat, try polenta. Polenta is a cornmeal dish that originated in northern Italy.  It was originally made from different grains, but now is generally made with a coarse cornmeal. Polenta is one of those all day foods; you can have it in the morning topped with maple syrup (probably not with this recipe), or for lunch or dinner.  Here we pair it with another favorite, Mexican pico de gallo. Pico de Gallo, which mean rooster’s beak….go figure…, is a fresh salsa (salsa fresca) sometimes made with chilies and sometimes not.  We aren’t using chilis in this recipe, but you can.   Delizioso!  Delicioso!  No matter which way you say delicious, this dish is good for a healthy body and  healthy skin.

Pico de Gallo Vegetable Polenta – Serves 6-8
Polenta Ingredients
2 cups polenta corn (coarse corn meal)
2 – 2.5 cups chopped mushrooms – (try a variety of mushrooms)
1 young zucchini chopped
1 cup onion chopped
2 gloves garlic finely chopped or minced
2 -3 TBL chopped cilantro
3 -4 TBL ghee or butter
1 Tsp. salt
6 – 7 cups water

Pico de Gallo Ingredients
3 tomatoes
1 clove garlic
2- 3 avocados sliced

Polenta Directions
Preheat Oven 350 degrees
Prepare Pan – Liberally butter the bottom and sides of a loaf pan.
Place 6 cups water, zucchini, mushrooms, onion, garlic, cilantro, and 1 TBL of the butter or ghee in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil. Turn heat down to medium and cook vegetables for about 4- 5 min.  Slowly add the coarse corn meal, cook mixture for another 5 minutes stirring constantly, adding more water if necessary.  Add the rest of the ghee or butter.
Pour polenta into prepared pan, place in  350 degree oven for 35- 50 min.
350 degrees for 35 – 40 minutes.
After the polenta bakes, allow to cool for a few minutes. Run a knife along the sides of the polenta to help release it.  Turn the loaf pan upside down over a serving plate.  Or place a serving plate over the top of the loaf pan and carefully flip both.

Pico de Gallo
Dice the tomatoes
Finely chop the garlic
Chop cilantro for 1/4 cup
Mix the ingredients adding salt/pepper to taste
The Pico de Gallo for this recipe is made without onions.  You may add 1/4 cup chopped scallions.                                                      

Garnish and Plating
1. Pour the pico de gallo over the polenta and arrange avocado slices around the plate.
2. Slice polenta and arrange on plate; pour pico de gallo over the slices and arrange avocados.
3. Individualy plate with a couple of polenta slices, pico de gallo and avocado.
Recipe by: Lisa Mackenzie Karson
copyright: Abhijit Chandra, LLC, 2009

Another Reason to Exercise: Helps the Skin

16 May

It’s been pounded into our heads that without exercise we will be prone to a host of physical and emotional ailments.  Well, here’s another reason to exercise; it’s beneficial for the skin. Exercising helps by keeping wrinkles at bay and tones the skin through increased collagen production.  Exercise also helps remove toxins; this is especially good for acne or pimple prone skin.  Some doctors say exercise also helps with androgenic hair loss and with cellulite.

How Exercise Helps

By increasing blood circulation and by releasing toxins exercise helps the skin.  Increased blood circulation brings more oxygenated blood and nutrients to the skin while also helping to eliminate toxins.   The nutrients responsible for making collagen-producing cells (fibroblasts) increase as we exercise.  This is important because as we age these fibroblasts work less, making skin more wrinkle prone and dehydrated.

Our skin is one of the ways that the body releases toxins.  Release of toxins helps with skin renewal.  When we perspire through exercise we are helping the body to release pollutants taken in from our environment, chemicals in grooming products, certain foods, drinking, smoking, etc.  This is especially helpful for those who have skin conditions such as acne, eczema, or rosacea. 

Exercise also helps to reduce stress (unless you are an exercise junkie then it could have the opposite effect).  When our stress levels come down, our adrenal glands work less and don’t produce the testosterone-related hormones that are the cause for acne, pimple breakouts, wrinkles, furrows, and sallow skin.  You can probably relate to how stress can cause a breakout by recalling a time when under stress  you got pimples.  It was the increase in these stress hormones (DHEA and DHT) that was the culprit. 

What Exercises

There haven’t been any studies on specific exercises that improve skin.  However, aerobic workouts increase blood circulation to the skin and remove toxins.  Depending on your mental approach to aerobic exercise, they could also reduce stress.  You could also increase stress and hormone levels if stress is part of the work-out picture, such as hating working out or competing in such a way that the exercising is filled with tension.

Meditating, Yoga, and Pilates can reduce tension.  There are some styles of yoga that are also very aerobic.

The important thing is to get the blood flowing through aerobics, firm and tone, then zen-out for a bit.

Don’t Forget…

Hydrate before, during, and after exercising.

Work-out with no make-up, especially if you are prone to blemishes.

Thoroughly cleanse the skin after working out.

Acne or blemish prone? Look at your exercise routine (or lack of) and see if you are incorporating tension-relieving elements to it.

And:  Get your bikes out, put on your helmet and pedal to work.  May 16th through the 20th is bike to work week.  This an annual event sponsored by League of American Bicyclist.  You will be helping the environment and helping yourself. More info at http://www.bikeleague.org/programs/bikemonth/


WebMD, http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems…/exercise-your-body-your-skin

Psychology Today, www.psychologytoday.com/…/improve-your-skin-exercise

copyright: Abhijit Chandra, LLC – 2011

May Is Skin Cancer Awareness Month: What You Need to Know

11 May

May is skin cancer awareness month.  Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the U.S.  More than 2 million people are diagnosed with skin cancer every year.  The rate of skin cancer has been on the increase for the last 30 years.  But, the good news is that caught early it’s also the most easily treated form of cancer.  The bad news, if you are young, is that there’s been an increase in teens and twenty-somethings getting skin cancer. The types of skin cancer are usually not seen until people are in their 50’s or older.

The highest rate of melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer, has been among younger women.  Several reasons have been given for this rise.  Young women’s use of tanning beds and penchant for laying-out in the sun are the more obvious reasons.  Interestingly, sunscreen also contributes to the increase.  Huh? You ask.  It’s not that sunscreen contributes directly to increase risk.  It’s that people (not just the ladies) apply sunscreen and then stay out longer in the sun without reapplying it.  The other thing people do is not apply enough sunscreen.

Part of the confusion with sunscreen is in the labeling of these products. The Environmental Working Group analyzed sunscreens over a four-year period.  They found that only 39 of 500 popular sunscreen products provide sunscreen protection.  To be protected, a sunscreen should have ingredients that protect against both UVA and UVB rays.  And the SPF rating applies only to the protection against UVB rays and not UVA rays. 

Finally, after 30 years…the FDA has created truth in labeling regulations for sunscreen products.  But wait– while the regulations were finalized in October 2010, they don’t take affect until 2012. In the meantime, check out the Environmental Working Groups list of sunscreens that offer broad-spectrum protection with the link at the end of the article.

Interestingly, the U.S. City 100 Project reports that there is on average more tanning bed salons in U.S cities than there are Starbucks and McDonalds.   This is important because the World Health Organization has declared that tanning devices are just as much as a cancer-causing agent as tobacco is. WHO reports there’s a 75% increase in risk of melanoma from people who have used tanning devices.  The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) opposes indoor tanning for nonmedical purposes.  They support bans on tanning beds and on advertising that claim tanning devices are safe or not harmful.  The AAD says there is no such thing as a safe tanning bed, tanning device, or even a safe tan.  A tan no matter the source damages the skin…period.

Young people often think because they are young that over exposure to the sun or the use of tanning beds won’t affect them.  That’s, however, a false assumption.  The damage a person does to their skin when younger carries through as they age. This applies not only to the of skin cancer, but to wrinkles and sagging skin as well.  

Here’s a list from the American Academy of Dermatology on protecting yourself in the sun.

Be Sun Smart®:

  • Generously apply a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 30 [FDA will limit SPF to 50] or more to all exposed skin. “Broad-spectrum” provides protection from both ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) rays. Reapply approximately every two hours, even on cloudy days, and after swimming or sweating.
  • Wear protective clothing, such as a long-sleeved shirt, pants, a wide-brimmed hat, and sunglasses, where possible.
  • Seek shade when appropriate. Remember that the sun’s rays are strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. If your shadow appears to be shorter than you are, seek shade.
  • Use extra caution near water, snow, and sand because they reflect and intensify the damaging rays of the sun, which can increase your chances of sunburn.
  • Get vitamin D safely through a healthy diet that may include vitamin supplements. Don’t seek the sun.
  • Avoid tanning beds. Ultraviolet light from the sun and tanning beds can cause skin cancer and wrinkling. If you want to look tan, consider using a self-tanning product, but continue to use sunscreen with it.
  • Check your birthday suit on your birthday. If you notice anything changing, growing, or bleeding on your skin, see a dermatologist. Skin cancer is very treatable when caught early.


            National Cancer Institute, www.cancer.gov

            American Academy of Dermatology, http://www.aad.org/skin-conditions/skin-        cancer-detection

            Environmental Working Group, http://www.ewg.org/2010sunscreen/best-beach-   sport-sunscreens/

Friday Recipe Time! Quinoa Fiesta Taco Salad

6 May

This looks long and complex- but it’s not at all!  Super Easy and Super Fresh!  It’s in honor of Cinco de Mayo.  Yes, we know Cinco de Mayo was yesterday, but now it’s the weekend–we have more time to CELEBRATE.

This salad is  always a crowd pleaser when we serve it.  And the meat eaters are always impressed that it contains no meat.

The star of this food show is quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wha).  Quinoa rocks.  First, it’s looks like a grain, but it’s a seed that belongs to the same family as spinach and swiss chard.  Secondly, it delivers a powerful punch of protein, and it is a complete protein.  A complete protein has all nine of the essential amino acids the body needs. Quinoa is filled with other nutrients such as magnesium, calcium, vitamin A, folate, and others.  While it does have some carbs, they are complex carbohydrate aka good carbs. Thirdly, quinoa is versatile.  It can be eaten for breakfast as a porridge; it can be added to baked goods, or used in a savory dish like this recipe does.

This salad is chocked full of other skin loving nutrient such as avocados, tomatoes, lime, garlic, and onions.  Did you know that it is said that cilantro helps to remove metal toxins from the body?

Yum Quinoa Fiesta Taco Salad   6 – 8 servings

This salad has different components to it.  So, we’ve broken it down by each component, but we’ve listed all the ingredients for the entire salad first.  The parts of the salad are the dressing, pico de gallo, quinoa “taco” mixture, grilled vegetables, and putting it all together.  Of course, we believe in using organic ingredients whenever possible.

3 large or 5 medium ripe avocados
1 bunch cilantro (enough to make 2 cups chopped)
3 med. to large limes
4 cloves garlic
3 large tomatoes
6 scallions
1 zucchini (or yellow squash)
1 large green pepper
1 red pepper
8 mushrooms (enough to make 2 cups diced)
1 onion
8 – 10 oz of spring lettuce mix (can substitute other types of lettuce)
½ cup uncooked red or white quinoa
3-½ teaspoons chili powder (Mexican)
3-½ teaspoons cumin
2 cans pinto beans or black beans (can have a combination, but do not use chili beans)
Bag of tortilla chips
½ cup extra virgin cold-pressed olive oil plus extra for sauteing
Salt and Pepper

Soak the quinoa in a bowl of water; set aside.
Open the cans of beans; rinse them under water, and set aside to drain.
Wash all the vegetables (except garlic and onion) and set aside.  Wrap the cleaned cilantro in a paper towel or very clean kitchen towel.

Make Avocado-Cilantro Dressing-
Ingredients go in a food processor or powerful blender.
Cut 1 large (or 2 med) avocado in half; remove the seed and scoop out the fruit with a spoon and place in processor or blender.
Take a fistful of cilantro and using a pair of scissors cut pieces into the processor or blender.  (This is about 1 cup chopped, but much easier to do this way.)
Squeeze the juice of 2 limes (catch or filter any seeds) into the dressing mixture.
Add the 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil.
Add ½ teaspoon salt and some fresh ground pepper.
Process or blend the dressing until smooth.

You want to add enough water to the dressing to make it smooth and pourable.  Start with about a ¼ of a cup; gradually add enough water until you get a dressing consistency.
Taste and adjust seasonings.  Place finished salad dressing in a cruet or pourable container and place in the refrigerator.

Pico de Gallo
Place following ingredients in a bowl and mix together then set aside.
3 diced tomatoes
2 chopped scallions
1 finely chopped or minced garlic
1 cup chopped cilantro (can use the same system as for the dressing)
juice from ½ lime (set aside the other half)
salt and pepper to taste

Cook Quinoa
Retrieve the bowl of soaking quinoa; place you hands in the water and rub the quinoa between your hands several times to remove any possible remaining bitter saponins.  Place quinoa in a strainer and rinse under running water.

Place the quinoa in a saucepan with 1 cup of water.  Add 2 teaspoons chili pepper, 2 teaspoons cumin, 1 clove of garlic and a small piece of the onion.
Bring the quinoa to a boil; reduce heat to a simmer and cover.
Quinoa takes about 12 – 15 min. to cook.  It’s done when water is absorbed and quinoa has a soft/crunchy bite, and you can see little “tails”. 

Prepare Remaining Vegetables While Quinoa Cooks
If quinoa gets done before vegetables are prepared, set it aside.
Chop the remaining part of the onion.
Chop the 7-8 mushrooms (about 2 cups). Set aside on a cutting board or in a bowl.
Chop 2 garlic cloves. Set aside on a cutting board or in a bowl.
The scallions, zucchini, green and red pepper can all be placed in a bowl together after preparing them.
Scallions – after removing the root part and any damaged green parts, slice on the diagonal about 2 inches in length.
Zucchini – slice the zucchini so that you have thin “stick” slices about 3 inches long.
Green Pepper – cut in half remove seeds and stem.  Cut into 3 inches long thin slices.
Red Pepper – same as green pepper.
2 Avocados – cut in half, remove seed and scoop out the fruit.  Slice each of the halves lengthwise in thin to medium thick slices.  Place in a bowl.  Squeeze the juice from the remaining lime over the slices.  Cover and set aside.

Quinoa Taco Mix
You’ll need the diced onions, mushrooms, chili powder, cumin, quinoa, salt and pepper, and about ¾ cup water.

In a heated skillet, add 2 Tablespoon of olive oil, add the diced onion.  Sautee onions for 2 minutes, then add the mushrooms.  Sautee until the onions and mushrooms are golden brown–about 10 minutes.  Add 2 teaspoons chili powder, 2 teaspoons of cumin, salt/pepper to taste, the chopped garlic, and quinoa. Stir and cook for 1 – 2 minutes.  Then add the water.  Cook until water is absorbed.  Taste and adjust seasonings.  Set aside.

 Grill Vegetables
This is a handy way to grill vegetables without using a grill.  Try to use as little oil as possible and stir continuously.
Have scallions, zucchini, green and red pepper ready.
Over medium high heat to high heat, place 1 -2 teaspoons olive oil in a large skillet.  After pan is hot, carefully add scallions, zucchini, green and red pepper.  Stir-fry vegetables until they reach a soft/crunchy texture.  Some vegetables will have a nice brown grilled look to them.

Bringing the Fiesta Together
In a large salad bowl add in layers:
drained beans
quinoa “taco” mixture
grilled vegetables
avocados (lay slices decoratively in the bowl)
pico de gallo

You can add the lettuce, crushed chips, dressing, and toss.  But we like to serve the lettuce and chips in separate bowls from the layered vegetable mixture and have each individual fix their own bowl of salad. 

To serve individually, each person fills their bowl with chips (can crush them), the vegetable mixture, and lettuce.  Pour the dressing over.  How do you say Yummy in Spanish??  Apetitoso!

Suggestions:  Serve sliced pickled jalapenos on the side.
Serve wedges of lime on the side to squeeze over the salad.
Instead of Avocado/Cilantro Dressing, drizzle about ¼ cup EVOO and juice of a lime over the salad.
Use pinto or black beans made from scratch.

Recipe by: Denise Karson
copyright, Abhijit Chandra, LLC 2011

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