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I’m so in to muffins lately. They’re quick, easy, require only one bowl & you can make them very healthy with a few little tweaks. I adapted this one from the Taste website, by cutting back on the refined sugar and adding some protein & omega-3s from flax seeds. I eat them for breakfast, as an afternoon snack, or after dinner if I fancy something sweet. I hope you enjoy them!
Combine dry ingredients, then add wet ingredients, stirring as you go to combine. Finally, add fruit.
Spoon a (very) heaped Tablespoon into muffin tins (should make around 6-8 muffins). Top each muffin with a sprinkle of oats, sunflower seeds & brown sugar.
Bake at 180C for 25 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
One of my favourite things in a beauty product is flexibility. I wholeheartedly believe in using eye creams as after-shave lotions, face serums as hair treatments, and lipsticks as cream blushes – the more purpose you can get out of a product, the better!
So, when I discovered Hynt’s very multi-purpose Duet Perfecting Concealer, I was in love. It’s one of the most versatile makeup products I’ve come across – mainly because it’s so very concentrated and pigmented.
The Duet Concealer might look small, but boy, does it go a long way! It’s too pigmented to use on its own as a foundation (even if you need lots of coverage); so my recommendation is to mix it with Hynt’s Sun Prep SPF30 Primer on the back of your hand before applying. I use about 1 parts concealer to 2 parts sun prep for a light coverage, but if you wanted full coverage you could mix it 1:1.
Check it out here on Edie of XO Edie blog:
It can sometimes be very useful to have concealer and foundation products in a few different shades. Essentially, bronzer and contouring creams are very similar in formula to foundation products; just darker and warmer in tone. The Duet Perfecting Concealer makes an incredibly natural-looking contouring cream if you use a shade 2 shades darker than your normal concealer or foundation. And as a bonus, when the weather gets a little warmer and you need a foundation or concealer that’s a little darker than your winter shade, you can mix them to create the perfect colour. Having more than one tone in face products gives you the ultimate flexibility!
If you’re using an ‘eyeshadow primer’, you probably have one too many beauty products in your makeup bag! Concealers do the job just fine – in fact I prefer to use concealer as a base on my eyes because it also helps to cover any discolouration/visible veins etc on the eyelid, or between the eyelid and brow bone. My favourite way to do this is to first pat the Duet Concealer into the inner corners of my eyes, between my eye and nose. (I get some darkness here). I pat that in a few times with a concealer brush like this one, then I begin to ‘blend’ the outer edges of the colour and sweep it across my eyelid and under my eyes, where I don’t require so much pigment. It blends beautifully and creates a flawless base for eyeshadow – and as a bonus, it really helps shadows and liners to stay put during the day.
We grow up being told how to eat right, drink right, and exercise right to take care of our bodies. Somewhere along the way, skin seems to get left behind as an ‘everyday’ essential step to taking care of yourself. It’s a part of your body too, and deserves to be taken care of with a little TLC each day. These are 5 habits you should start TODAY, and are easy to implement regardless of budget, time, age - or inclination.
Always remove your makeup
This seems like a no-brainer, but I’m always surprised by how many people don’t always remove their make-up before bed, or cleanse their skin every night regardless of whether they wear makeup or not. Next to sun damage, environmental pollution is the biggest cause of the visible signs of aging. A good antioxidant protection moisturiser will help with a lot of that, but another step is to cleanse the skin every day.
You don’t need to do it twice a day, as once the skin has been cleansed at night, it just sleeps with nothing but your skincare on, so doesn’t need another cleanse in the morning (I just do a water rinse with a cloth).
My favourite cleanser is the Blissoma Fresh Mild Rice Cleanser (thanks to Eve for introducing me to it). It’s very gentle, and is perfect for congested or acne-prone skin (it really helps keep my skin clear of all congestion/blackheads!), or any skin type really for cleansing the skin of dirt, environmental build up and anything else you’ve been wearing for the day!
If you are wearing makeup, however, I always recommend doing a double cleanse - usually starting with an oil to remove everything first, then following with a cream, milk or lotion type cleanser (like the Blissoma one mentioned above). The Happy Skin Face Oil from Romeo & Madden is a good choice!
Moisturise, moisturise, moisturise!
I think even the laziest person amongst us would agree that when it comes to skincare, moisturising is essential. Face and body. Dry, dehydrated skin isn’t comfortable or good. And if you’re skin is oily, all the more reason to keep it moisturised, as your skin is overproducing sebum to try and do the job itself!
Moisturising doesn’t just keep your skin soft and supple. Dehydrated skin can prematurely age, show fine lines & wrinkles far more quickly, and skin can begin to lose that healthy, radiant glow.
For very dry or more mature skin, Earthwise Beauty’s Ferns & Moss Serum is a beautiful product. The Bless Balm from Leahlani Skincare is a good all-rounder for most skin types, including sensitive skin. And if your skin tends to be oily, you might prefer something lighter like the Blissoma Awake Morning Facial Moisture, as it’s fast absorbing and won’t leave a shine.
Get your mask on
I really can’t recommend a weekly mask to everyone enough. Regardless of your skin ‘type’, there’s a mask option for you and it’s a brilliant way to give the skin a thorough cleanse, exfoliation, and boost it with antioxidants and nutrients. I love masks so much I wrote an entire post on why you should be using one.
This one from The Little Alchemist is a great option for most skin types wanting to detox - so if you’re acne-prone, your skin is congested, dull or lacklustre. For dry or sensitive skin (or those who just can’t stand the feeling of a clay mask as it dries), the Mermaid Mask from Leahlani Skincare will be just the thing. With a raw honey base, it’s extremely gentle, hydrating, anti-microbial, and it’s filled with spirulina & chlorella which give it the amazing emerald green hue and feed the skin with antioxidants. It also has very fine granules throughout, which you can massage in to gently exfoliate the skin as you remove it. I personally use both of these weekly.
This is a bit like #2, except for your eyes. Dehydrated skin begins to show signs of aging much more quickly than if you keep your skin supple and moisturised. You should apply an eye cream or serum twice daily - beginning as early as possible. The reason you need to purchase a separate eye cream or serum, and can’t just use your regular moisturiser is because the eye area is delicate and sensitive. You need to use something specifically formulated for that area, so it won’t cause irritation or sensitivity, either immediately or with long term use.
One of my favourite products for the eyes is this serum from Earthwise Beauty. I wasn’t convinced it was doing much at first, because I was so used to “instant” firming creams etc, but after using this for several months now (although I saw a difference in a few weeks), I can say it really does help reduce fine lines & wrinkles, keeps the skin supple and helps reduce dark circles and puffiness. I also dab a little on my lips each night to keep them smooth and plump!
I know everyone and their grandma goes on about sun protection or SPF and how much damage the sun does to your skin. You don’t need to be afraid of getting some sunshine without wearing any SPF - it’s actually essential for our bodies to get Vitamin D. You do need to be sensible though. Always avoid the sun during the hottest part of the day (I live in North QLD so that’s from about 9am - 4pm in Summer, a little shorter during the Winter months for me), and cover up if you must be out either with clothing, SPF or a combination of both. Big floppy hats are my favourite style regardless of the sun, but an SPF that I like if I'm going to be in the sun all day is the Hynt Beauty Sun Prep SPF30 Primer. It goes great under makeup (or mixed with their concealer) and doesn’t feel tacky or heavy like so many SPF products can. You can also wear it alone, of course.
I also like the Earthwise Beauty Farizad’s Veil SPF30 Powder. I mix it with an oil to make an SPF lotion and apply as needed. You can also mix it with your body lotion/oil/moisturiser to make an SPF for the body!
Passionate about health and beauty, I began the Liberty-Green blog to prove that green CAN be glam. My aim is to educate women on the safer, healthier alternatives to the mainstream – that work. You needn’t sacrifice your health for beauty, and you don’t have to sacrifice performance for health.
Organic beauty has come a long way in the last few years, and I know from personal experience how overwhelming making “the switch” can be. Along with product reviews and brand spotlights, I share useful tools and handy resources that help make the switch to organic that much easier. Your skin will thank you.
I also have a handcrafted Flower Crown & Accessories label by the same name, so when I’m not writing on organic beauty and skincare, you’ll most likely find me in the studio up to my elbows in flowery goodness.
If you keep up with the latest in health & wellness, you've probably heard the term 'adaptogens' or 'adaptogenic' being used a lot lately. But what exactly are these healing herbs, and what can they do for you?
Adaptogens are a particular class of herbs that have a ‘normalising’ effect on the body’s processes, by supporting the immune and adrenal systems. The adrenal system is heavily involved in the production of hormones – and healthy adrenals are essential for mood, energy and stress management. Among other things, adaptogens prevent the over-production of cortisol (the ‘stress hormone’ produced by the adrenal glands).
While producing cortisol is necessary (it’s responsible for our age-old ‘fight or flight’ response to danger and helps to keep us motivated, awake and responsive to our environment), prolonged elevated cortisol is not healthy, and can cause anxiousness, irritability and mood fluctuations. Adaptogenic herbs can help to alleviate these symptoms by helping the body to regulate its natural stress response.
But, their benefits don’t stop there. They can also combat inflammation, have antibiotic, antiviral and antibacterial effects; and can even help to stabilise blood sugar levels via their effect on cortisol production (cortisol is involved in the body's conversion of proteins to sugars).
So, which herbs are ‘adaptogenic’? According to researcher Jan Whiticomb, there are 16 proven adaptogens - but some of the most commonly-available ones include:
Ashwaghanda or ‘Indian ginseng’ has been used for centuries in Ayurvedic medicine. It has immuno-moderating effects (it helps to boost the immune system) and can help to lower anxiety by regulating cortisol levels.
‘Asian’ or red ginseng is a potent antioxidant, and has been found helpful in lowering blood pressure and blood sugar levels
Also used in Ayurvedic medicine, tulsi grows in tropical climates across the globe & has been found to have thyroid, adrenal and immune-moderating effects.
Reishi mushroom is detoxifying and strongly anti-inflammatory. Research has found that reishi mushrooms act to normalise and regulate various functions and systems, including the endocrine (hormonal), immune, cardiovascular and digestive systems.
Maca, a malty-flavoured relative of radish, is rich in iron & often used as a natural energy booster.
Most of these herbs have quite a mild taste, and can easily be incorporated into hot drinks or smoothies (I have a teaspoonful of ashwaghanda most evenings with almond milk & some honey). You can also cook with them - maca, for example, has a smooth, malty taste & smell. I like to use a spoonful of it whenever I bake, to add a rich flavour and help to boost my iron levels.
I love a spot of baking. Unfortunately, the things I like to bake most are things that aren’t all that good for you – muffins, brownies, & all kinds of other sinful treats.
So, in the last few years I’ve been doing my best to incorporate healthier ingredients – and bypass some of the less desirable ones. Because, as you’ll find out with enough trial & error, there is a healthier substitute for everything. Sugar, flour – you name it. (This recipe for instance uses low-GI maple syrup & banana for sweetness, and almond meal in place of some of the flour.)
To get you started (or add to your recipe repertoire if you’re a seasoned healthy baker!), here is one of my all-time favourites – healthy banana maple muffins. They're moist & full of flavour, and you can customise them in so many different ways. Enjoy!
If you’re feeling fancy:
1 tsp maca powder (adds a slight rich, malty taste & provides an iron boost)
A handful each of dark chocolate chips & chopped walnuts/fresh berries & dessicated coconut
Combine all dry ingredients and mix well, then add eggs and beat one by one. Pour in milk, vanilla extract & finally, mashed bananas.
Spoon 1 heaped tbsp. of mixture into patty cases.
Sprinkle remaining oats & sugar on top of each muffin.
Bake at 180 (160 fan-forced) for 25 minutes, then remove, leave to cool, and enjoy!
The first time, I was in my teens and at an Introduction to Buddhism & Meditation course which my Dad & I signed up to together. We’d spotted this beautiful, huge Buddhist temple on a family outing once & wondered what it was all about – so we decided to go and find out.
I thoroughly enjoyed the course and still carry some of its teachings with me today (I enjoyed it so much I actually went back a few years later and completed it again by myself). But the ‘meditation’ bit was lost on me.
One particular session I remember, we were sitting in a room full of around 100 completely-silent people on cushions (my Dad was on the cushion next to mine), and all I could hear was his stomach rumbling. It was so loud, and the only noise in the room. A few minutes into the 30-minute meditation, I started laughing under my breath; and that was it. I couldn’t stop. I ended up having to walk out of the room in case my distracted laughing interrupted anyone else’s state of zen.
If anyone sucks at meditating, it's me. I find it really hard. Since that experience I’ve tried to learn again numerous times and tested countless breathing techniques to find the one that’s right for me. Some work a little – but it certainly doesn’t come easily. When I try to meditate, my mind either drifts off and starts reciting to-do lists or recounting the day’s experiences (i.e, I’m ‘too awake’), or, I end up feeling so relaxed that I fall asleep (i.e, I’m ‘too sleepy’). I can never seem to find that sweet spot in the middle where I’m conscious, but calm - that is, meditating.
But, I wholeheartedly believe in the benefits of meditation; and I want the improved mental and physical wellbeing that comes with a regular meditation practice.
....So what’s a girl who sucks at meditating to do?
Well, luckily for me (and for many others who share the same struggle!), there are a number of ways to focus and calm the mind in a similar way to meditation, that don’t involve sitting & doing nothing. Here are a few of them:
You knew it would be on the list! The thing that yoga does that makes it so effective (and it is extremely effective at reducing stress) is that the rhythmic movement of the body during a yoga flow gives the mind something to focus on that quite literally makes all other thoughts disappear. If you're a regular yoga-goer, you’ll know what I mean. Because there’s so much emphasis on the breath and how this coincides with each movement, yoga requires a huge amount of focus. It’s relaxed focus; but it’s focus. Sounding familiar?
Yoga and meditation have a lot in common – and for most people who lead busy lives, the hour or so that you spend in yoga might be the only hour in the past week that you’ve not been thinking, planning or worrying about anything. And, like any meditation practitioner will tell you; an hour of not thinking about anything has incredible health benefits.
Reading (an actual book; not a screen!) also has meditative qualities. When you’re reading, your mind is forced to focus on the words on the page, and comprehend them – leaving very little room for mental monkey chatter. Again, it’s a relaxed form of focus - it takes your mind somewhere else. Just like the muscles in our body, our mind needs exercising and stretching – and reading is a wonderful way to do this.
Finally, it is possible to train your mind to be more present and focussed while you’re doing every-day things. Essentially, ‘mindfulness’ just means concentrating only on what you’re doing in each moment, and nothing else (I’ve talked a little about this on the blog before). It’s such a powerful thing to do, and an easy way to encourage happier living in general. When you’re sitting on the porch having a cup of coffee, really concentrate – on the sights around you, the sound of the birds, the taste of the coffee, the feel of the breeze on your skin. It might sound a little hippyish, but it really works. Train your mind to appreciate the here and now, and eventually you’ll find yourself doing it automatically (and in turn, worrying about the past or the future much less).
Current reading: 'The Little Book of Hygge' by Meik Wiking
Hibiscus is a natural source of alpha-hydroxy acids, which accelerate cell turnover - excellent news for anyone with dark spots, uneven pigmentation or pores that are easily clogged. The natural acids in hibiscus help to clear congestion, renew skin tone and refine skin's texture. Yes please!
Hibiscus contains components that inhibit the breakdown of enzymes in the skin, including ‘elastase’, which contributes to skin’s elasticity. Hibiscus is often included in anti-ageing formulations for this reason.
Hibiscus is rich in antioxidants called anthocyanocides, which not only help to combat the free radicals responsible for premature ageing, but also reduce inflammation and have a soothing effect on irritated skin.
Last but not least, hibiscus has an unusually high mucilage content. Mucilage is a substance produced by plants that helps them to retain water – and it has a similar effect on the skin. Say hello to a hydrated, softer, more supple complexion!
Now that you’re aware of what an incredible all-rounder this pretty flower is; where can you get it? Well, most health food stores will sell Hibiscus Tea if you're a tea lover (it goes a bright pink colour & has a tangy, fruity taste), and you can include powdered hibiscus extract in smoothies & recipes. If you'd rather apply it on the outside, here are some of my favourite hibiscus-themed beauty products: