Month: March 2015

Coffee Hacks for Gorgeous Skin

Coffee Exfoliator 3Hi friends,

Show of hands, who here likes to start their day with a good cup of coffee?

I’m going to imagine that most of your hands just shot up into the air.

Now, how many of you are trying to kick the habit?

There is so much debate whether coffee is a health food or the devil. I think it really depends on your consumption. If you are drinking 5 cups a day, then, yea you are probably dependent on it and all that caffeine can cause anxiety and mess with your sleep, but if you stick to one to two cups a day, there are a lot of health benefits to your daily cup o’.

Coffee 1Did you know that coffee improves brain function and contains a ton of antioxidants?

In fact, coffee is the number one source of antioxidants in the American diet!

Coffee has been proven as a natural fat burner and a physical performance enhancer. (So, go ahead and have a cup 30 minutes before a workout.) Coffee also may protect against type 2 diabetes, liver cancer, Parkinson’s disease, and is good for the heart.

Coffee Exfoliator 1So I think I’ve established where I stand on the coffee debate. I, personally have about 2 cups of coffee a day. There’s something comforting and ritualistic about making a cup first thing in the morning that I really enjoy. I also sip my coffee slowly so it usually lasts an hour or two.

Coffee Exfoliator 4The health benefits of coffee are impressive, but I like my coffee to do even more. (Call me an overachiever.) I’ve come up with some beauty hacks for coffee that have made an impressive difference in my skin over the last few months and I’m going to share them with you.

Coffee Exfoliator 6 To start, I used to dump the coffee grinds into the trash after I made our morning pot of french press, but I now save them to use in the shower as an exfoliator. The grinds are too rough to use on your face, but they are perfect for the rest of your body and in addition to leaving your skin super soft, the caffeine may help to smooth away cellulite. Not admitting I have cellulite, buuuut

(Did anyone else catch that unintended pun? I swear, I didn’t do that on purpose haha!)

Bonus: If you self-tan then you know that it’s a good idea to exfoliate beforehand, but any kind of oils or moisturizers in your exfoliator can cause streakiness. Coffee grinds are the perfect solution 😉

Coffee with GelatinMy second coffee hack has made a huge difference in my face. I used to have some faint fine lines on my forehead that I could especially see when I woke up in the morning. Not cool.

I had a container of gelatin that I had only used a few times. Gelatin is having a huge moment right now, and for good reason. I’ll do a whole post on it soon, but to abbreviate, gelatin is pretty much pure collagen and has a number of health and beauty benefits. It helps with digestion and is great for joints, skin, hair and nails. The usual way to ingest it is by making it into fruit gummies or marshmallows, but I found that to be a little time consuming, so it was hanging out in my pantry NOT giving me any of those benefits.

One morning I thought to add it to my coffee and it worked perfectly! It’s flavorless and undetectable and I seriously see a difference in my skin. I’ve been using it every day and those little lines are gone!

There’s one key step to follow when adding gelatin to coffee. The gelatin needs to “bloom” which just means in order for it to dissolve fully, it needs to be stirred into something cold for about 30 seconds. I add about a tablespoon to hemp milk, stir it and then add hot coffee.

Coffee and Gelatin 1There you go! I love these coffee hacks. They are things I can do every day to see a real improvement in my skin, they are quick and easy, and I get to feel good about my daily cup.

Where do you stand on the coffee debate?

Do you like these types of posts? I have some more beauty and health hacks to share if you do, so speak up in the comments below and let me know!

 

With so much love,

Sam

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Blondies

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Blondies 5Hiiii,

You see that up there? That’s something special, let me tell you. That there is the answer to Mondays, bad haircuts, and armpits in your face on a crowded subway.

I realize I reference the subway quite a bit. A lot of weird stuff happens on the subway. And, I can’t be sure, but I feel like NYC subways are one of a kind.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip BlondiesJust this past week I witnessed a man on a moving train, between the cars, bang on the door and yell at us to let him in. The door was locked so we couldn’t and he just got angrier and angrier and kept banging. The train pulled into the station and, sure enough the man stomps into our car from the open doors. Fuming, he pushed past a woman, set up a folding chair in the middle of the car and pulled out a large drum from I-don’t-know-where. He announced that he was homeless and asked if we could find it in our hearts to help him. He said, “God bless” and proceeded to play an aggressively loud drumbeat for the duration of our trip.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Blondies 1He was pretty pissed when no one opened their wallets for him.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Blondies 3Anyway, I’m getting sooo off topic. THESE BLONDIES!

So freaking good! Moist and tender, they pretty much taste like peanut butter chocolate chip cookie dough. I won’t even suspend the surprise because you already know they’re made with beans! Chickpeas this time, along with flax seed for omega 3’s, oat flour for fiber, and chocolate…

Because, antioxidants.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Blondies 4Adapted from Chocolate Covered Katie

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Blondies

Vegan, Gluten-free

Makes 12 bars

1 15 oz can chickpeas, drained

1/4 cup peanut butter

1/4 cup coconut sugar

1/4 cup maple syrup

2 tbsp ground flax seed

2 tbsp oat flour

3/4 tsp baking powder

1/8 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

2 tsp vanilla

1/2 cup chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Soak the rinsed beans in water while prepping other ingredients. Grease an 8 x 8 glass baking dish with coconut oil.

Add all ingredients except chocolate chips to a high powered blender or food processor. Blend until smooth. Mix in chocolate chips and pour into the prepared baking dish. Bake for 30 minutes. Allow to cool for 10 minutes and slice into 12 squares.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Blondies 2I’d take an armpit to the face for one of those.

 

Any scary or funny subway stories?

Brownies or blondies?

I can’t choose. I love them both 😀

 

Have a great rest of your week friends!

With so much love,

Sam

 

Why Your Goals Aren’t Important, and What Really Is…

Hi my darlings!

Back in the day, I worked at Lululemon, and for anyone who isn’t in the know, Lululemon has a culture among its employees of fostering personal development. We had a library (i.e. bookshelf) in the break room full of books like “The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People” and “Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…And Others Don’t.”

We had team meetings and were encouraged to take “ownership” of certain tasks from dressing the mannequins to in-store events. We had weekend retreats that you got to go to if you were an A+ employee and workout challenges every month with a score board.

At the heart of everything we did were goals. If you have any experience with retail or commision-based jobs then you are familiar with goals: monthly goals, quarterly goals, yearly goals, mostly set by the higher-ups and placed on the employees shoulders to achieve.

At Lulu, we had sales goals like any other clothing store, but we were also encouraged to set our own goals. Well, not so much encouraged as expected to. Someone decided that it was imperative for everyone working at Lulu to set goals in a Personal, Work, and Health category and to have 1 year, 5 year, and 10 year goals for each. We were also made to date these goals and display them on a shelf visible to the entire store.

…No doubt this exercise came from one of the personal-development books on our library’s shelf.

Now I’m not knocking Lulu’s efforts to foster a certain culture. I’m all for personal growth and development. I read the books. I’m a fan of leadership, ownership and all the other ships. I just chose to cherry-pick the practices that resonate with me personally and leave the rest.

The problem I found at Lulu was that there was a certain underlying tension in the store. It felt like a need to do everything perfectly and to be 100% on-board with every method of achieving “Success”.

I went along with it because I thought I was supposed to. I made my 1, 5, and 10 year goals just like everyone else did. Some of those goals were real goals that felt important to me, but some of them I just filled in because I felt I had to.

I still have my framed goals in my childhood bedroom and I laugh at how silly some of them seem, like the one that says “I will be able to do 5 pull-ups by August 2011″…I wrote it because I couldn’t think of a health goal I wanted to achieve in one year and that seemed like a good one to fill in the blank line.

For some people it might be cool to be able to do 5 pull-ups, but it’s not really something important to me, so spoiler alert, I didn’t end up achieving that one.

Here is what I have since learned:

Goals are important. But the “why” behind those goals is absolutely essential. Without the “why”, goals have no meaning. The “why” is the fuel, it’s the spark, the gas in the engine of your goals.

Why do you want to achieve (________)?

Why is it important to you?

What will happen if you don’t go after this goal?

What will happen if you do?

If you want to achieve your goals, figure out the “why” behind them. Without the “why” your goals are like a car with an empty gas tank.

Since discovering the power of “why”, I’ve tweaked the questions I ask my clients. Before, I used to ask them to list 3 main fitness goals and I developed their workout program based on their answers, but I was only asking for half of the information I needed. Now, after I ask them their goals, I ask them why they want to achieve these goals.

That simple question has been a total game-changer.

I can see my clients go inside of themselves and dig deep for the answers, and what comes to the surface is much more honest than “tone up my arms” or “get a beach-body for summer”. Now I hear, “I want to feel confident for once in my body”, “I want to feel proud of myself.” “I want to live a long, healthy life.” “I want to see what I am capable of.”

So much juicier, right!?

Not only does this help me get a real, meaningful sense of what they want out of our sessions, it gets them to vocalize what is really driving them to make these changes.

Whatever your goals are, they are goals because they are just out of reach. If they were easy you would already have achieved them. It’s imperative to remind yourself when it feels hard and the motivation isn’t there, why you are going after these goals in the first place.

It becomes way to easy to let yourself off the hook if you don’t have a compelling reason to put in the effort, so please don’t short-change yourself. Give your goals power by figuring out the “why” behind them.

Write down however many goals you want to achieve right now. (None of this: You must have 1 health, 1 personal, 1 work for 1/5/10 years or it doesn’t count bullshit.) Write down what feels right to you and screw the rest.

After you have your goals written down, write all the reasons you want to achieve these goals. Use the questions above if you want as a guideline, but really think about why these goals are important to you and give them power by writing them down.

Put the paper someplace you will see it every day. You could tape it to your mirror if you want, or fold it up and put it between the sheets of your daily planner. You don’t need to take out a full-page add in the paper, or a freakin billboard for all the world to see.

This is for you and you alone. Do what feels right for you. These are your goals after all. They are your dreams and no one else will take care of them the way you will.

This is my favorite Ted Talk and the first place I heard of the power of why. I got so many “Ah-ha’s” from this video and I’m excited to hear if you do to. Tell me in the comments below!

It finally feels like Spring is here! Yay! Have a beautiful week!

With so much love,

Sam

 

 

 

 

Healthy Mocha Black Bean Brownies

 

 

Healthy Mocha Black Bean Brownies 7Oh hey there,

How has your week been so far?

Let me tell you about mine. It’s been snowy, and also rainy, and then slushy. I think this is brownie weather.

I know, I know, all weather is brownie weather, but in the first week of March, when you can just see the finish-line of winter and without warning you get dumped on with a mix of snow and freezing rain, brownies are seriously a necessity.

Healthy Mocha Black Bean Brownies 5If you like a light, cakey brownie, this is not the brownie for you. If, however you are a super fudgy chocolatey brownie lover who also happens to adore coffee then keep on reading, my friend!

Oh, yea and they’re healthy. Did I mention they are healthy??

Are you really surprised?

I think you know me by now 😉

Healthy Mocha Black Bean Brownies 8And because you know me so well then you know this is where I ask you to trust me…

Healthy Mocha Black Bean Brownies 4I’m putting beans in your brownies!

Healthy Mocha Black Bean Brownies 2Yay! Healthy black bean brownies that are vegan and gluten-free to boot. And delicious.

Seriously delicious.

If you made my Chocolate Chip Cookie Skillet Cake then you know how delicious beans in your baked good can be. If you haven’t tried it yet then these brownies will surely make you a believer.

High-fiber, gluten-free, and vegan. And don’t forget the chocolate.

It counts as a super food.

No really.

Plus, don’t brownies taste even better when they are guilt-free?

Healthy Mocha Black Bean Brownies 1Adapted from Minimalist Baker

Healthy Mocha Black Bean Brownies

Makes 12 servings

1 15 oz. can black beans, rinsed

4 tbsp water

1 tbsp coffee

2 tbsp ground flax

3 T melted coconut oil

3/4 cup cocoa powder

1/4 tsp sea salt

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 cup maple syrup

1/4 cup coconut sugar

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 cup chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8 x 8 glass baking dish with coconut oil. Soak the rinsed beans in water while prepping other ingredients.

In a small bowl stir together water, coffee and flax and let sit for 5 minutes.

Drain beans and add all ingredients except chocolate chips in a high-powered blender or food processor and puree until smooth.

Pour batter into the baking dish and top with chocolate chips. If desired use a spoon to swirl the chocolate chips down into the batter. Bake for 24-26 minutes. Cool for at least 10 minutes. Store in an airtight container for a few days or in the fridge for longer.

Healthy Mocha Black Bean Brownies 6Almost makes you wish for more slushy days.

Almost.

Not really.

 

Have you ever tried black bean brownies? Anything special you like to do on rainy days? I park myself on my couch with a cup of tea and a fuzzy blanket. Mmm, so cozy!

 

With so much love,

Sam