Teas For Curbing Sweet Cravings!

IMG_0336-0so with the new year, many resolve to eat better.  if by now your resolve is weakening, i have a tip to share with you.  i have a big collection of teas that act as dessert alternative.  of course, you can also eat fruit as dessert.  with tea, however, you won’t have to worry about spoilage or pesticides, and some flavors come closer to a genuine dessert than fruit can.  unsweetened, they’re also a calorie friendly way to indulge and can provide health benefits such as boosting your antioxidants and metabolism.  rooibos tea also has a high mineral content.  i used to love Teavana, until i realized a lot of their flavored blends contained artificial flavors.  so i began my search for purer teas that use natural flavorings instead.  below are my favorites, many i’m on my second or third bag of.  considering i have about 3 Elfa hanging drawers stuffed with tea, you may be sure these are the cream of the crop!  none of these need to be sweetened; a few have stevia already incorporated.  i’ve grouped by brands in no particular order.

Art of Tea hand blends their creations, many of them certified orgranic or fair trade.  based in LA, you’ll find their tea in almost every note worthy artisanal coffee shop in LA.  trendy restaurants carry their teas too or commission their own custom blends.    if you see something you like, they’re currently offering a 21% off site-wide promotion (excluding Tea of the Month and gift cards) until Jan 31st with the code: 21Days.  if you live in LA, you can also choose to pick up your order to save on shipping.

  • Caramelized Pear: tastes just like it sounds.  my favorite dessert tea in my entire collection
  • White Peach: organic white tea (so there will be some caffeine content) infused with peach flavor and accented with osmanthus.  this is a delicate tasting tea with fruit and floral notes.
  • Lemon Meringue: lemony and creamy, it really does taste similar to its namesake pie!
  • Brûlée Mint: creamy with a delicate hint of mint.  my favorite coffee shop (Copa Vida in Pasadena) makes a great latte with this.  i also enjoy it cold brewed (steep the tea in room temp or ice water for 6-8hours) in the summer.  this tea won the Best Flavored Herbal Ice Tea award at World Tea Expo.
  • Brewed Awakening is actually a blend of tea and roasted coffee beans.  it has a rich taste with caramel and chocolate notes.

Sugarbird Sweets & Teas is another local success story in LA.  in addition to selling custom blended teas, the owner Kei Okumura also makes the most delicious scones.  if you’re based in LA, my favorite scone flavors are Strawberry Buttermilk, Pumpkin Spice, Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip and Chive Feta Pepper.  yes, a savory scone.  rewarm in the oven while you make some scrambled eggs, and you’ll have the most amazing breakfast.  Kei’s teas are simple and artfully balanced to bring sweet, soothing satisfaction into your life.  the teas i’ve listed below have great similarities in ingredients.  this is not to mean Kei’s tea selection is limited, merely that i’m focused in my preferences.  it’s kind of like when you open your lipstick drawer, and you see 5 MLBB shades that are almost indistinguishable from each other 😛

  • Tio: apple pie in liquid form.  enough said.
  • Olivia: chamomile, mint and vanilla.  chamomile and vanilla are the prominent notes in this tea.  the mint is mild and provides a refreshing element.
  • Zoe: a green tea with mint, vanilla, and cacao nibs.  this is like a liquid andes mint.  also makes a great iced tea in the summer.
  • Chai.  i’ve tried a lot of chai blends over time, but Sugarbird’s is my favorite.  it has just the right amount of cardamom, finely balanced with the other spices.

Mountain Rose Herbs is a wonderful source for spices, herbs, and aromatherapy products as well as teas.  prices are very reasonable, but be forewarned, most of their herbal teas taste… well herbally.  i drink many of their teas for health benefits, but the one below is the only one i’d consider enjoyable.

  • Hibiscus High Tea is a refreshingly tart drink and is good whether it’s served hot or cold.  this one is one of my boyfriend’s favorite.  not only does he enjoy the tartness, hibiscus is also a powerful anti-inflammatory as well as good for lowering blood pressure.

Tea Forté may be a brand you’re already familiar with if you follow Oprah or Dr. Oz.  it’s also the only brand i know that offers a reward program for purchasing teas.  you get 5% of your purchase in reward points that you can redeem for a discount later on.

  • Swiss Apple tastes like cinnamon apples.
  • Cherry Marzipan has a nutty flavor with a mild cherry note.  i don’t really drink this one as a dessert substitute, but thought i’d include it anyways as i do really enjoy its flavor

so that’s it!  i hope you’ve enjoyed this peek into my pantry and found a flavor or two that catches your interest.  i hate drinking plain water, so in addition to it curbing my dessert cravings, it also encourages me to get the proper amount of fluids.  a quick guideline for how much water to drink is taking your body weight (in pounds) and divide by 2.  that’s how many ounces you need in a day.  divide that number by 8 if you want to know how many cups that equals.  you can also tell if you’re dehydrated by the color of your urine.  if it’s anything darker than a pale yellow, you need to be drinking more fluids.

Readers, what is your drink of preference?  how do you deal with sweet cravings?  please share!

Nourish Your Skin and Eyes From the Inside

i’m sorry it’s been so long since i’ve posted anything.  i’ve been traveling, dealing with some unfortunate news, and fighting off my online gaming addiction, diablo 3.   i had sworn off any kind of online gaming (i find them too addictive and lose all perspective when it comes to time management).  many hours of gaming leads to incredibly dry eyes.  ideally, you should take a break every 20 minutes with a 20 second break by looking far away or closing your eyes.  you could also do a break every hour, though it becomes a 5 minute break to rest your eyes, but who remembers to do that when your wizard or demon hunter is busy melting down mobs?  this reminded me that i’ve been wanting to share with all of you some of the things i take internally to nourish my dry skin and eyes.

Krill Oil, Chia Seeds and MegaHydrate

Krill Oil, Chia Seeds and MegaHydrate

first up is the most common of the 3: omega-3 supplements.  i take it in two forms, both animal and plant.  why? because the bioavailability of the two is different.  i use the plant form when i need an extra boost, but i take the animal form daily.  i really should just take both daily, but i take a lot of supplements to help with my lupus, and sometimes i just get tired of taking stuff.  anyways, as i’m sure many of you already know, a good source of omega comes from fatty fishes such as salmon, mackerel, and cod.  grass fed beef can also be a good source of omega-3 but not corn fed.  when the cows are corn fed, the ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 oils inverts and causes more inflammation in the body.  i attended a lecture from an eye doctor who stated that you needed around 500mg of EPA + DHA (specific forms of omega-3) to avoid deficiency and 1g (1000mg) for proactive support.  you want to choose one bound in triglyceride form, as opposed to eythl esther, because it is more stable and absorbable by body.  i’ve heard omega-3 bound in eythl esther form can melt styrofoam! doesn’t that sound kind of scary to be putting into your body?  though triglyceride bound omega-3 supplements are more expensive, consider it as an investment in your health.  unstable omega 3s easily oxidize and actually cause more inflammation in your body.  the last thing you want is the supplement you’re taking to actually be harmful instead of beneficial.  certain brands also send their products in for 3rd party testing providing quality assurance and peace of mind.  the lecturer recommended the brands Nordic Naturals, PRN, and PhysioLogics for this reason.  another reason for taking supplements instead of just eating lots of fish is that all the toxins, for example mercury, are filtered out.  now you’re probably wondering why a krill oil is pictured instead of one of the omega fish oils i’ve listed above.  i bought these in bulk when they were on sale, so i’m just finishing them up.  krill oil is supposed to be more bioavailable, so you’re supposed to need less.  however, there haven’t been as many studies on it compared to fish oil.  i’ve also heard that krill has issues of sustainability.  though i haven’t looked into it that much, since i’m planning to go back to fish oil.  if issues of sustainability are a concern to you, i’d recommend further research into the subject.

my favorite form of plant based omega-3 is soaked chia seeds.  i soak 4 tablespoons of chia seeds in 2 cups of herbal or green tea.  why tea? i hate the taste of plain water (it’s just so boring!) and certain teas helps alkalinize your body.  the mixture will need to be stirred a few times in the first few minutes to prevent clumping.  after a few minutes, i will store it into the fridge where it will turn into a jelly/pudding like texture overnight.  you can either take spoonfuls of this as is or mix into more liquid (it will be like healthy version of the frog egg sized tapioca asian drinks).  there are also recipes on the internet that teach you how to make healthy pudding with chia seeds, or you can put into into baked goods.  you’re supposed to consume this mixture within a week, but honestly i’ve had it last 3 weeks in my fridge without any problems.  the chia gel also helps you feel full.  i like taking a 16oz tumbler and filling 1/5 of it with the chia gel mixture and the rest with some sort of liquid (usually tea or coconut water for me) when i attend my night class.  it helps prevent the hunger pangs i tend to get late in the night when i’ve eaten dinner too early.

last on the least is a supplement called MegaHydrate.  it’s an antioxidant supplement high in negatively charged hydrogen.  why hydrogen? according to the literature, the scientist discovered that the common factor in longevity of people living in remotes region of the world was that they drink water from melted glaciers.  the water from the melted glaciers, also known as glacial milk, had a lower surface tension allowing the cells to absorb water with greater ease thus facilitating hydration, nutrient intake, and waste elimination.  with further research, the scientist discovered what made the glacial milk so special was negatively charged hydrogen ions.  in addition to facilitating hydration, the negatively charged hydrogen is also supposed to be a powerful antioxidant, donating it’s extra negative electron to help neutralize free radicals.  there’s a lot more literature involved about the benefits, but that’s really too much science for me.  i’ve been out of school too long, and my brain just doesn’t want to work that hard.  i encourage you to do the reading if it interests you or want to learn more about it.  i’m not one to care too much about the science.  all i care about is the results.  i’ve noticed significant alleviation of the trouble i have with my extreme dry eye and itchy skin from my sjogren’s syndrome.  i need less eye drops and less lotioning when i take MegaHydrate.  this is the one supplement i make sure i never run out of in the house.  sometimes i get sick of taking pills and take a break from the rest of my supplements, but i always take this.  yes, that’s right.  that means i ignore the vit d and my omega-3s, and i just take this.  through various experiments with my supplements, i’ve discovered that the MegaHydrate has the most noticeable effect.  of course, long term, it’s not enough by itself, but if i want a short break from lots of pills, this is the one i take.


Readers, what are you doing to nourish yourself? please share your favorite tips and supplements down below!

Foreo Issa: A Silicone Electronic Toothbrush!

(L to R) Foreo Issa and Issa Mini

(L to R) Foreo Issa and Issa Mini

i’ve expressed my love for the Foreo Luna before, so i was more than willing to give their next gadget, an electronic toothbrush, a try.  i’ve owned Philip’s Sonicares and Zila’s Rotadents before, but i’ve never been 100% happy with them.  the Sonicare’s bristles were too harsh, which can cause your gum line to recede, and the vibrations too harsh.  my dentist recommended the Rotadent over the Sonicare.  i liked that the filaments of the Rotadent brush head were much gentler.  however, i didn’t like its poor battery life, and Zila’s customer service wasn’t great.  i’m happy to report that so far my experience with the Issa Mini has been great.  i’ll post a follow up a few months from now to report if my dentist notices a difference when he cleans my teeth.

Issa and Mini heads

the blue Issa you see on the left is a full size toothbrush intended for adults.  it has 8 different vibration settings controlled by the + button above the power button and the – button below.  the pink Issa Mini on the left is designed for kids.  it only comes with 1 vibration setting, but it has a smiley and frown face where the +/- signs are on the adult brush, which will flash to show the user or parent whether the user has brushed for the required 2 minutes.  i went with the Mini because i was worried the full size would be too bulky in my mouth.  the full size Issa brush head extends from my back teeth almost to my canines.  to my surprise, despite its giant size (relative to my mouth), it also did a very good job cleaning my back teeth.  however, the large handle wasn’t as comfortable in my small hand as the mini Issa.  because of the silicone, it will make a squeaky noise as you brush.  as with any new toothbrush, you have to play around with it a little to see how to angle it best for cleaning the hard to reach areas.  my Mini Issa pulses once every 15 seconds while the full size Issa pulses once every 30 seconds to remind you to switch quadrants.  personally, i like the 15 second pulses as i like to divide my teeth in 8 sections instead of 4 when i’m brushing.  it helps me pay special attention to the more difficult areas.  at the end of the 2 minutes, both Issa will pulse multiple times to let you know you’ve hit the required amount of time.  it does not, however, turn off.  again, this is to my preference as i usually brush my teeth a little longer than 2 minutes to make sure i’ve given my trouble areas enough attention as i’m prone to gingivitis.  the boyfriend reports that the full size Issa will turn off after an extra 30 seconds.  the silicone brush head feels soft against my gums and the vibration of the Mini is just right for me.  as i mentioned before, the full size Issa has adjustable vibrational settings.  at its gentlest setting, the Issa is more gentle than the Mini.  the Mini seems to be around the full size Issa’s 4th setting.

the usage of the Issa is foolproof.  there’s no need to worry about what angle you need to hold the brush head in relation to your teeth/gums.  it’s also impossible to exert too much pressure due to the flexible wand that the brush head is connected to.  there’s also a little bit of flexibility in the brush head itself allowing it to conform to the shape of your teeth better.  simply, do a mix of circular motions and back and forth buffing.

i appreciate its stream lined look, and the Mini’s handle fits comfortably in my hand.  one of my favorite things about Foreo products is the awesome battery life!  the Issa is supposed to be able to run for 300 uses before needing to be recharged and the Mini for 200 uses.  i’m not dedicated enough to sit there for hours turning it on and off to test this, but i can say it hasn’t needed charging in the 2.5 weeks that we’ve owned it.  Foreo says that the brush head only needs to be replaced once a year.  if you’re a traveler, i don’t need to tell you how great it is to be able to leave behind the charger.  i will also add how great it is that i no longer have to consider how to pack my toothbrush so the bristles don’t become kinked or have to worry about whether i’ve squeezed out enough moisture from the bristles to prevent mold.

i only have two minor gripes about our Issas.  one, it came with no instructions.  second, the customer service failed to contact me for color choice before they sent our Issas out.  despite those minor details, i’m very happy with my Mini Issa thus far, and the boyfriend really loves his too.  they’re available for purchase at http://www.foreo.com until aug 5th.  after that, you can only purchase it via invitation.  the Issa is priced at $199 and the Mini Issa at $119.  the purchase will come with 5 additional invitations to buy and if all 5 invites are used, Foreo will reward you with a Luna Mini.

Readers, what do you think?  do you like the hygenic benefits of silicone or feel like it’s a gimmick? do you prefer a manual toothbrush or electronic?