Living Tea: All About Kombucha

Let’s talk kombucha! Perhaps you’ve seen kombucha in the grocery store or have seen someone drinking it at a restaurant, maybe you have no idea what it is! Kombucha is one of my absolute favourite drinks in the entire world! This delicious fizzy beverage not only tastes great but is also chock full of incredible health benefits!

Kombucha is a yummy probiotic tea beverage that contains amino acids, enzymes, antioxidants and polyphenols. Kombucha is made by fermenting tea with the help of our friendly SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast). SCOBYs look like strange tan coloured, gelatinous frizbees that are a starter culture that turns plain tea and sugar into our carbonated kombucha beverage. SCOBYs are referred to as “the Mother” and after each new batch of kombucha, the SCOBY will regenerate and create a new “baby” SCOBY. Kombucha has been around for thousands of years, in fact kombucha tea’s origins are found in China in the 3rd century BC. A heck of a long time! Kombucha can be made from black, green or white tea (any tea from the camellia sinensis shrub), and is made by brewing tea with sugar, adding it to a large jar with a SCOBY and allowing the tea to ferment for a week or more.    IMG_0824

Kombucha is a probiotic drink, meaning it is full of beneficial bacteria that supports healthy digestion and a strong immune system! Kombucha is also full of glucuronic acid (GA) which binds to toxins in the body and transforms them into waste that can effectively be voided by the body; highly detoxifying! The antioxidant behaviour in kombucha tea is much higher than can be found in regular brewed tea! In fact, kombucha contains high levels of vitamins C and E, polyphenols and other carotenoids. Those high levels of vitamin C (over 100x the amount of vitamin C found in regular brewed tea) are extremely effective at strengthening your immunity! Those antioxidants fight against free-radical cell damage and inflammatory disease! That high vitamin and antioxidant content protects numerous tissues from toxicity such as the liver and kidneys and can prevent such ailments as kidney stones! Kombucha also contains a multitude of B vitamins, including folic acid, which helps prevent headaches, migraines and dizziness. Because kombucha is a tea it shouldn’t be a surprise that kombucha increases energy! Kombucha tea works to improve iron absorption in the body (low iron can make you groggy and is also the cause of anemia), boost the flow of oxygen to tissues and increase blood levels of hemoglobin (protein found in the blood that is in charge of carrying oxygenated blood from the lungs to body tissues and organs). Kombucha is also incredible for gut health! Kombucha protects both the lining of the gut and the mucin content of the stomach (a protein responsible for gel and lubricant-like functions in the body, for example; saliva), protecting the stomach from developing ulcers. Did you know that your gut is linked to your mental health? The kombucha probiotics helping our your stomach health will work their way to your head reducing feelings of anxiety and depression, lifting your mood! Kombucha has also been successful at lowering levels of bad cholesterol (LDL) in the body, while systematically increasing levels of good cholesterol (HDL)! Not only that but kombucha has been associated with lowered cancer rates! It’s incredible! Kombucha can slow or prevent tumor growth at early stages of development due to it’s antibiotic properties and high content of glucuronic, acetic and lactic acids! Finally, kombucha can ease asthma, relieve arthritis pain, decrease blood sugar levels, balance the metabolism and combat infection! Not bad for a delicious fermented tea!

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Kombucha’s growing popularity means it is easier to access these benefits than ever! You can find kombucha in a wide variety of flavours and brands; my favourite flavour is Rise Kombucha’s Mint & Chlorophyll, it is extremely refreshing! When you’re looking for your favourite brand, you do want to find a kombucha that is organic and raw to get the most benefits! I drink kombucha several times a week and find that it can heal in an instant! Unfortunately, kombucha can be expensive so if you do not want to make it at home (I’m excited to tell you I have a post coming about that soon!), it can be a fun drink to indulge in on occasion. The fizzy taste works well as a substitute for soda and kombucha is special enough to enjoy if you are abstaining from alcohol! Though I have no problem drinking kombucha several times a week, there have been instances of people becoming sick after drinking kombucha. Because kombucha so effectively releases toxins from the liver, the body can react by getting overwhelmed and sick. If you don’t normally drink kombucha, it is recommended to start drinking slowly (once or twice a week) to allow to liver to rid of those toxins without flooding the body. However, once your body is used to it enjoy all the myriad of health benefits you will start to see immediately! I find that enjoying kombucha lifts my mood, re-energizes me and gets the digestive juices flowing! I love to treat myself to a kombucha with my after-yoga snack to reward myself for a tough practice and for making the right choices for my body, mind and my soul!

What is your favourite type of kombucha? Do you have a favourite brand or flavour? Do you make your own at home? Are you looking forward to my upcoming post about brewing your own kombucha? I can’t wait to hear from you!

Namaste.

(Note: I was not asked my Rise Kombucha or GTS Kombucha to make this post. I am not being compensated for this post and all yummy bottles of kombucha were purchased with my own money!)

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Spice is Nice Roasted Chickpeas

Today I’m sharing with you one of my absolute favourite snacks; roasted chickpeas! You may be familiar with chickpeas in their most famous recipe hummus, however chickpeas (or garbanzo beans) can be used in a variety of different ways! Chickpeas are high in fibre, essential vitamins and minerals and are full of protein, making them a great option for vegans and vegetarians! Roasting the chickpeas makes a delicious crunchy snack that you can munch on to replace chips and can even be used as a replacement for croutons in salad! Roasted chickpeas are fun because you can play along with many different flavour combinations to find your favourite taste. Today’s recipe is not only delicious and spicy but provides numerous health benefits due to the spices used!

Spice is Right Roasted Chickpeas - bit.ly/1LEeMTQ

You will need:

– 2  (15 oz) cans of chickpeas (drained)

– 1 tbsp olive oil + more for oiling the pan

– 1 tsp ea garlic salt, chili powder, paprika, cumin (I like quite a bit of spice so feel free to cut this down to 1 tsp ea if you think it will be too much)

– 1/2 – 1 tsp cayenne pepper & roasted red pepper flakes depending on your preference for spice!

– 1/2 lemon for drizzling

Now for the cooking fun!

Spice is Right Roasted Chickpeas - bit.ly/1LEeMTQ

1) Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F

2) In a bowl mix drained chickpeas, olive oil and your spices. Squeeze half a lemon onto your mixture. Mix thoroughly.

3) Place evenly on a pan so that the chickpeas form one layer. Allow to roast in middle of oven for 20 mins, flip chickpeas and roast for a final 20 mins.

4) Allow to cool and enjoy!

Spice is Right Roasted Chickpeas - bit.ly/1LEeMTQ

All the great health benefits from this delicious snack come from their spices! Paprika is an incredible spice filled with carotenoids, vitamin C and anti-oxidants. Paprika’s vitamin C is essential to eye health while it’s compounds work as anti-inflammatories, natural pain killers and aid in lowering blood pressure. Paprika is also high in vitamins A, E and K! Cumin is another powerhouse spice widely believed to prevent certain cancers. Cumin is fantastic at speeding up digestion and aiding digestive upset, is high in vitamin C (just like paprika) as well as vitamin E and iron. Cumin will give your moods a great boost as it is effective at easing mental systems of depression and anxiety! Finally, cumin is excellent at building up the immune system by both preventing colds and killing foreign invaders!

Enjoy your delicious chickpeas as a snack, part of your salad or let me know if there is another way you like to eat roast chickpeas! Maybe you have a favourite roast chickpea recipe that you’d like to share with me? I look forward to hearing from you!

Namaste.

Want Shiny, Soft Hair? Try Vinegar!

I recently noticed that my hair was lacking a little bit of shine, instead of buying one of the expensive conditioners from the store, I decided to try an apple cider vinegar (ACV) hair rinse! I’ve heard a lot about vinegar hair rinses, seen a lot of YouTube videos about them but was still a little skeptical. After trying it once however, I am hooked! No longer do I need to spend tons of money on conditioners laden with weird chemicals promising to “fix” my hair! The first day that I used my ACV hair rinse I even got asked if my hair was recently cut because it looked so healthy! Best of all, is that all you will need to join me in the land of silky, soft hair is some vinegar (white or apple cider) and water!

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You may be wondering why on earth anyone would use vinegar as a replacement for conditioner? Well the evidence is irrefutable! Vinegar has a similar pH as the ideal pH of your hair. Vinegar also works effectively at removing icky reside from your hair and while removing that build-up will close the hair shaft leaving strands shiny and soft! Not only that but the vinegar rinse can also prevent dandruff, itch and hair loss when rubbed into the scalp!

Now for the fun part! You can choose to use either white or apple cider vinegar, though apple cider vinegar has a slightly better smell. There is no exact science to the ratio of vinegar to water for your rinse. I have mid-length extremely thick hair (and a lot of it) so I filled a mason jar with 1/3 ACV and 2/3 water. Thinner hair would probably do with a few tablespoons of vinegar with a cup of water, however experimenting until you find your perfect ratio is best. Other than the density of your hair, another thing to keep in mind while figuring out your perfect ratio is whether or not your hair is dry or oily. Dry hair enjoys less ACV while oily hair drinks it up more.

Now you can use your rinse! Decide whether or not to shampoo beforehand, but you definitely will not need conditioner. As mentioned, the vinegar will remove gunky build-up from  your hair, which is great for those who don’t like to shampoo. After shampooing (or not) use the vinegar rinse on your hair, pay special attention to ends and roots (especially if you are looking for it to help with dandruff or itchy scalp). Allow the rinse to permeate your strands by putting your hair into a shower cap for 5 minutes. Once that five minutes are up you can choose to rinse the vinegar out of your hair or finish up your shower without further rinsing the vinegar out. Keeping the rinse in is great for longer hair as it prevents tangling. I like to lightly rinse my hair before getting out of the shower and always use lukewarm water. For the vinegar to do it’s best job, it is preferable that you don’t use super hot water, instead go for warm water and perhaps even rinse out your hair with cool water for added shine!

You may be wondering about the vinegar smell… Don’t worry it does go away! The odour was something I definitely worried about the first time I tried a vinegar rinse as the smell does linger while the hair is drying, but once your hair is dry the smell vanishes! I promise! However, if the smell is something that really bothers you or that you are worried about, try infusing your vinegar rinse with some essential oils or herbs. To make an herb rinse; choose your herb of choice, boil water and use water to infuse the herb for two or more hours, once your herbal liquid has cooled you can pour it into a jar or container and add your ideal ratio of apple cider vinegar. If you use essential oils, simply add a few drops to your water and vinegar rinse.

The great thing about a vinegar hair rinse is that it is safe to do as often as you like depending on your hair. Remember that everyone has different hair with varying textures, length and damage so do what works for you. I would not, however recommend doing a vinegar rinse every day as it can be drying. Instead start with once every two weeks and work your way down to twice a week once your hair has adjusted to the vinegar rinse! I do my vinegar rinse once a week and my hair looks incredibly healthy and shiny and feels extremely soft!

Have you tried a vinegar hair rinse? Do you find that your hair looks even more beautiful (and your wallet much thicker) after trying the vinegar hair rinse?

Enjoy beautiful hair!

Namaste.

Quick Healthy Tip: Morning Meditation

I’ve already talked about one of my favourite Quick Healthy Tips; Morning Yoga! If you have started a morning yoga practice, perhaps it is time to add a regular morning meditation to your daily routine!

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You may know that meditation is incredible for the body; physical, mental and spiritual. Regularly meditating encourages a healthy lifestyle, increases self-awareness, improves sense of self and confidence, lowers high blood pressure, reduces anxiety and increases overall happiness, among countless other benefits. One might think that because of all these incredible health benefits, a regular meditation practice would be difficult to start but it isn’t! I began my meditation practice by carving out the time in my mornings, before the activity of the day could sweep me off my feet and distract me! 5 minutes is all you need! You may think that it will be difficult to meditate and simply do nothing but focus on your breath for 5 minutes will be boring or challenging and that’s why I suggest starting for such a short period of time. Eventually you will be able to work up to 10, 20 maybe even 30 minutes of uninterrupted meditation, but that’s certainly a daunting place to begin! You will find that once you’ve begun practicing daily, you’re 5 minutes of meditation will fly by! You will begin craving that time just for yourself and will find yourself adding a couple more minutes to your meditative practice here and there.

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I added meditation to my morning routine in an effort to make every day start on a positive note. That is why I complete my meditation after at least 10 minutes of morning yoga, and bookend my meditation with a warm mug of lemon water and Journey to the Heart by Melody Beattie. I stumbled upon this book after a yoga class, when the instructor read one of Beattie’s daily meditations to close the class. The words were so inspiring and relevant that I immediately ordered the book to include in my morning routine. I include this book in my Quick Healthy Tip because you can use these daily meditations or mantras as something to focus on while you are meditating if you prefer to chant than to focus on your breath. I also strongly believe that starting your day with inspiring words, introspection and physical movement will help you wake up every day on the right side of the bed feeling beautiful, creative and radiant. Your light will shine outwards and warm everyone around you!

Do you take the time to meditate in the morning? Do you have a favourite morning routine that gets you energized and excited for the day ahead?

Namaste.

(Note: I purchased Journey to the Heart with my own money. All thoughts and opinions are my own, I was not asked to or paid to mention this wonderful book!)

Holy Grail Skincare: Witch Hazel

Lately my skin had been looking a bit dull, I had been trying all my normal tips and tricks but nothing was brightening my skin or stopping the occasional pimple. A friend and I went walking through our favourite health food store’s beauty and skincare section when I stumbled upon Witch Hazel. I had been hearing fantastic things about witch hazel for quite some time now and after my friend’s urging, I decided to grab myself a bottle. As you may have guessed from the title of this post; Witch Hazel is my new desert island skincare must have.

Witch Hazel is a natural astringent that comes from the bark and leaves of the witch hazel shrub (hamamelis virginiana). It is a natural skin cleanser and toner as it is anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial. Witch hazel has a long history of being used in natural medicine and has traditionally been used for a variety of reasons including cancers, hemorrhoids, burns, colds, fevers and of course, skincare.

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As mentioned, Witch Hazel is a natural astringent. It has high levels of tannins in the leaves which can help tighten skin by shrinking pores. Witch Hazel’s astringent properties also prevent blackheads and blemishes from forming because it effectively stops environmental pollutants from permeating the skin barrier and getting into pores. Using Witch Hazel as a toner is great because it also cleanses the skin, removing any excess oil and dirt.

Clearly Witch Hazel is excellent for oily and acne prone skin, but you may be surprised to find out that Witch Hazel is also fantastic for sensitive and dry skin! Witch Hazel can help ease the itchiness, redness and pain that comes with eczema and psoriasis and is an incredible moisturizer because it keeps hydration locked in the outer skin layer. Not only that, but Witch Hazel is great for aging skin! As we know, Witch Hazel tightens pores but it can also plump up fine lines and wrinkles!

When including Witch Hazel into your everyday skincare routine it is important to choose a brand or formula that does not contain alcohol as alcohol can really dry out the skin. However, once you have chosen the formula that you like, Witch Hazel is gentle enough to use every day, several times a day! I like to use my Rose Petal Witch Hazel every morning and night after cleansing my face (with a cotton pad), but often use it during the day to freshen up and remove any excess residue from my skin (simply put a some Witch Hazel into a clean spray bottle and spray liberally on the face).

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Not only does Witch Hazel help with these standard skincare complaints, but it also can be used for numerous other skincare problems. Witch Hazel is effective in taking the sting and pain out of burns (sunburn, razor burn), diaper rash in babies and bug bites. Not surprisingly Witch Hazel is also full of anti-itch properties meaning it is great at soothing discomfort from chicken pox and poison ivy. Finally, Witch Hazel has been known to disinfect and heal small cuts and other wounds. Though you can find Witch Hazel with a number of different natural scents, using plain Witch Hazel would be best for any medicinal reasons.

I have noticed a myriad of changes in my skin since beginning to use Witch Hazel and the benefits came very quickly. Within days I noticed my skin becoming brighter, softer and more even. Within a week the blackheads that have been a lifelong battle had begun to disappear and the darkness around my eyes had lightened! My skin looks absolutely incredible and I find myself skipping foundation!

You may find Witch Hazel as an ingredient in many drugstore (or high-end) skincare products, but all Witch Hazel is not created equally. Ideally, you want to find an all-natural Witch Hazel with few ingredients (especially avoid ingredients you cannot pronounce) as these formulas still contain all the fantastic tannins without any weird additives. Thayers is a great brand because they have numerous different types of Witch Hazel with several different scents. I chose Rose Petal because of my extremely sensitive and dry skin, but my friend loves Lavender! Witch Hazel is inexpensive so you can play around with scents to choose a favourite that works for you!

Do you use Witch Hazel? Do you have other favourite uses for Witch Hazel? Would you like to read about the other benefits of Witch Hazel? Let me know in the comments below and enjoy your beautiful skin!

Namaste.

(Note: I do not work for Thayers. I was not asked, nor was I compensated for making this post. I purchased my amazing Witch Hazel with my own money. It really just is a skincare game changer! Try it out yourself!)

Quick Healthy Tip: What are you Grateful for Today?

One of the favourite changes I have made in my life this past year is ending my day by listing what I was grateful for that day and I would definitely coax you to do the same! Grab a journal and end your day by writing down and taking into account anything and everything that made you feel grateful, happy or warm and fuzzy inside that day! These Gratefulness Journals are great if you do not have a daily diary because instead of writing paragraphs about your day, you just jot ideas! I personally like to write grateful “lists”. Your list may have more on it one day than on another and that is okay! One day may be filled with big moments (I ran a 5k! I conquered an advanced yoga pose! I baked a pie all by myself!) or filled with small moments (I had a nice cup of tea! I talked to my Mom! I read my book!) and all of these moments are valid and important.

Gratefulness Journal - www.omshantilife.wordpress.com

Gratefulness Journal – http://www.omshantilife.wordpress.com

I use a pink “Princess” journal because I associate happy memories with it (my Grandpa called Princess when I was a young girl) so I encourage you to choose a journal that makes you feel happy and excited to open! Maybe decorate your journal with favourite pictures from a magazine or pictures from your life that you enjoy and inspire you to open your journal and think about the little things that make you happy every single day!

Since ending my day in this positive way, I have seen numerous changes to my life and general outlook. I have found that even on the seemingly “worst” days there is always something that I can feel grateful for, sometimes there are even several things! I have learned to appreciate the little things, to savour each moment and understand that even if there are storm clouds eventually the sun will come out (even if it’s just for a moment!)

Do you keep a Gratefulness Journal? Have I inspired you to end your day on a positive note? Let me know in the comments below! I’m grateful for this blog and all of you lovely readers!

Namaste.

Artistic Meditation: Drawing Mandalas

Do you remember being a kid and doodling beautiful circles and shapes in your notebook instead of paying attention in school? Your pictures didn’t have to be perfect (heck, they didn’t have to be pictures!) but there was something healing about drawing those circles and lines, creating beautiful shapes. Those shapes may even have been mandalas and you would be right, they certainly are therapeutic.

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“Mandala” loosely translates to “circle” in Sanskrit. Mandalas can be found in Buddhism and Hinduism where they represent a spiritual and ritualistic symbol of the universe or the cosmos. Mandalas are often drawn acting as a tool in the artist’s spiritual journey or to unite the subconscious with the conscious. It should not be surprising then that drawing mandalas is a form of active artistic meditation. Because of the repetitive nature of drawing a mandala, the process can be quite hypnotic. You can choose to set an intention or mantra before drawing, or just let the mandala take you where you need to go. Though each artist’s mandala will differ in meaning and design, they all share the same general shape, the circle. Because mandalas are circular in structure, they signify balance, unity, harmony and wholeness.

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We already learned that mandalas are used as a tool in our spiritual journey but they are also used for a myriad of different reasons. Mandalas establish a sacred space, when you are focused on drawing your mandala you will feel safe and at peace, this what we consider a “sacred space” somewhere you can come back to again and again when you need to be grounded. Drawing mandalas relieves feelings of being overwhelmed, anxiety, fear, sadness and anger; as you are drawing, you will feel any negative energies drift away and will be left with feelings of clarity and peace. As with any type of meditation, drawing mandalas will heal the mind, body and the spirit. You may find new or repressed feelings arise while drawing, this is natural and invited as drawing mandalas gives you the leeway to express any feelings in a safe and positive way.

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How to draw a mandala? Well, there is no right way. Mandalas help encourage creativity! You do not need to be artistic to enjoy drawing mandalas (I certainly am not), just start with a circle and work outwards, drawing any shapes and using any colours that come to mind! If you like a little more guidance use quadrants; divide your paper (or canvas if you choose to paint) into as many or as few sections as you want, draw a circle around the base and work outwards (you can see an example of this in the colourful mandala at the top of the page, or below). Forget the idea of “perfect”, drawing mandalas are all about your needs while you are drawing them. What are you thinking about? What serves you now? Maybe you do not know, take your conscious thought out of it and see how the subconscious drives you!

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Do you draw mandalas? Enjoy the active meditation and feel free to share yours with me, I would love to see them! Or, if you need a little more inspiration, check out my Pinterest page, where I have tons of recipes, yoga routines and yes, a board dedicated to mandalas!

“A mandala is a sacred space, often a circle which reveals some inner truth about you and the world around you.”

Namaste.

Quick Healthy Tip: Morning Yoga

Today I thought I would share with you one of my favourite Quick Healthy Tips; Morning Yoga.

We spend much of our lives hunched over screens, whether at work or at play, we can become reliant on constant distraction and can easily become stagnant. One of the best ways to combat this is to start a morning routine that doesn’t involve immediately turning on the tv, scrolling through Instagram or checking email. My favourite way to do this is with a quick morning yoga routine.

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Starting your day with a little light yoga can really benefit you in ways you will not realize. Starting off with stretching, using your muscles and focusing on your breath can shift your focus and mindset into something positive. There is no such thing as the “waking up on the wrong side of the bed” if you wake up and take the time to yourself. Morning yoga isn’t the time to work on your hardest arm balances or deepest stretches, it is the time to move with your breath and be mindful.

When practicing morning yoga, you can choose to create your own routines or you can search “Morning Yoga” on YouTube and sift through the videos until you find a favourite. The videos range from 5 minutes to over an hour, meaning that you can find something no matter how much time you have! I love using Yoga with Adriene‘s channel to find morning videos and especially love her Travel Morning Routine for an under 10 minute routine to start my day!

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Do you have a regular morning yoga practice? How does it help you start your day? Start today and let me know how it goes!

Namaste.