A blog about happiness and healthy living...

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

"Brain Fitness"

It is easy to exclusively associate the word “fitness” with physical activities like running and biking. However, I have recently been reading up on the concept of “brain fitness,” and I have been finding it quite intriguing.

When you work out your body you push your muscles to their limit on a regular basis so that they slowly get toned up and are capable of more and more. Well, this same exact concept holds true for your brain. Mental “workouts” with crosswords or Sudoku puzzles challenge your thinking and over time can make your brain sharper.

While you get the immediate mild mood boost from the sense of accomplishment after completing a puzzle, an exercised brain over time also has a better memory, is a faster decision maker, and is more capable of maintaining focus. Cool huh.
Keeping your brain sharp also has more tangible health benefits in the long term including warding off dementia and Alzheimer’s.

I personally am partial to my nice little Sudoku app on my iPhone, but there are plenty of online sources for brainteasers and puzzles to keep your brain in shape.

Here are a few articles I found online about this if you are interested in further reading:


Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Hurricane Sandy

Well, Hurricane Sandy came… and now I have no power L

All in all where I live did not get hit that hard in comparison to many other places. I drove around town and concluded that the 400 foot stretch of road right in front of where I live was the worst hit of the entire town.

A huge tree fell across the main road and yanked out all the power lines. Then the electric box blew up and was spewing sparks all over the road. Luckily no one was hurt, and like I said most of the rest of the town looks fine this morning.

Here is my list of activities for when the power goes out!
Paint your nails

Read a book

Play a board game

Stare out the window and wait for the Nstar truck to show up.

Good Luck to anyone who has any damage from the storm and I hope you all stayed safe.


Thursday, October 25, 2012

Healthy Halloween Candy??

More like healthiER Halloween candy. Let’s get real.
We all know that we will be having our fair share of candy. Here is what I came up with after a bit of research as far as what choices are “less bad” than others.

3 Musketeers. The filling is lighter than most other chocolate bars, so the calorie and fat count is slightly lower. They also make these in the tiny square size, which lets you have the yummy treat, without over doing it.

Peanut M&Ms. The peanuts take up a good portion of the volume of the candy and contain as much protein as any other peanut.

Hershey’s Special Dark. Dark chocolate has less fat than milk chocolate. Plus it’s packed with vitamins and minerals.

Pay Day. I happen to LOVE these. Once more, much of the volume of the bar is made up of plain old peanuts and there isn’t any chocolate which is one of the main sources of fat and calories in most other candy bars.

Smarties. One roll of these has only 25 calories and no fat. No complaints here.

York Peppermint Patty. These are lower in fat than most other chocolate bars. The outer shell is also dark chocolate which is an added plus.

Starburst. A single square piece has only 15 calories and is fat free and a serving size has about HALF the sugar of a serving of skittles.

So that's just some food for thought. No need to avoid candy like the plague! Happy Halloween!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Feeling down? Simple ways to cheer up.

Clean up. It takes a certain amount of focus, but also is very rewarding when you finish. It is good to have a sense of control of your surroundings, but I also find I get quite proud of myself when I can maintain a nice clean space.

Give someone a gift. Someone you rrreeeaaaalllllly love and care about. Get them something they aren’t expecting and that you know will put a smile on their face.


Buy yourself flowers. Treat yourself for once! Pick the prettiest ones in the store and plant them right in the middle of your dining table so you can see all the bright happy colors.

Take a walk. And really notice everything about your surroundings. When you are more attentive like this the world looks so much more beautiful.

Make a schedule. If you have a seemingly impossible amount to do, break it down into smaller pieces and stick to it. You can do it.

Cook some really complicated fancy food. Take a lot of time and care putting it together and make sure it looks stunning on the plate. Heck, take a photo and share it with all your friends so you can be as proud as possible of your work.

Do yoga. Or any sort of slower exercise requiring a lot of focus. Exercise releases happy endorphins, and yoga is calming. This is a great combination for turning up your mood.

Hope this list is helpful. What do you do when you are feeling down to cheer yourself up?


Monday, October 22, 2012

Güd by Burt’s Bees Lotion

Hello everyone! As the weather has gotten a bit colder, my skin has gotten progressively drier and drier (ugh.). I have been previously a loyal user of all the Burt’s Bees lotions but recently I noticed that a bunch of the lotions have different formulations now and I find a lot of the new smells off putting. This was seriously bumming me out until I noticed a new line of lotions pop up next to the Burt’s Bees display at Walgreens!
The Güd line is actually by Burt’s Bees so there are no parabens, phthalates, or petrochemicals and nothing is tested on animals just like the original line. The bottles have bright designs on them and everything is scented (deliciously if I say so myself.) On top of that they are not expensive at all.
I have the body lotion in Orange Petalooza. The lotion is thick but still manages to soak into my skin without making me feel greasy. Thank goodness. There are also two others that were also yummy: Floral Cherrynova and Vanilla Flame.

Check it out for sure if they have it at your local drugstore. I am so excited about this new line of all natural skin and hair care products!


Friday, October 19, 2012

How do I snack healthier?

I’d love to give myself all the credit in the world and say that in the face of a candy bar I will always have the will power to choose a carrot stick instead. But it is just not so.

I have found with snacking it is all about best equipping yourself to make the healthy choice most of the time. The most effective way I have found to keep myself snacking as healthy as possible is to keep plenty of healthy and delicious snacks in the house that don’t require too much prep time to munch on.

Here are some of my favorites.

Sabra Roasted Garlic Hummus

This stuff is so yummy. I love it on carrots, pita bread, or tortilla chips. I absolutely cannot get enough of it. I think there are three tubs of it in my refrigerator right now haha.


Otria Greek Yogurt Dip

This stuff tastes just as good, if not better, than dip made with sour cream. My favorite is the caramelized onion for dipping veggies into.


Skim Mozarella String Cheese

There are plenty of brands that make this. Yeah, there’s some fat in it, but you also get a good dose of calcium and it tastes deeeelicious.

Fresh Fruit

I try to make sure I always have some fresh fruit to eat. It has lots of vitamins, the healthier kind of sugar, and tastes better than a candy bar or potato chips. To make things easier, I sometimes even buy the kind that is pre cut up for me. My seasonal favorite has got to be apples.


Apples With Peanut Butter

Ok ok, this one kind of ties into the previous one, but adding a little peanut butter to apples is an old favorite of mine. Sprinkling some raisins on top of that is a trick I learned on Zoom a zillion years ago, but it is just too yummy not to mention.


Chobani Greek Yogurt
How could I not mention this stuff? It is so thick and creamy and tastes so good. My favorite flavors are peach, vanilla, and pineapple.


What are your tricks for snacking healthier?

What are your favorite snacks?


Thursday, October 18, 2012

Food for thought...

Expect nothing, and suddenly the world is more beautiful than it has ever been.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

How do I feel better when I'm sick?

I’ve had an awful cold for the past few days. Not so much fun. What helps me most when I am feeling stuffy is a hot cup of tea.

Conveniently I got some sample bags of tea in my Birchbox this month, go figure. (maybe it was an omen...) The brand is called Mighty Leaf and they make their teas from all natural and ethically sourced ingredients which is nice to see.
On top of that, nargibfgijbfdangnafiu it is the swankiest darn tea bag I have ever laid my eyes on. What kind of tea comes in a fancy pants organza pouch?! I think the package describes it as a “handcrafted silken biodegradable pouch” but whatever the bag is actually made of it is definitely several notches up from the typical thin paper tea bags for sure and the little touch of fany made me feel that itty bitty bit better.

The teas were really yummy and overall I like the concept of these but, they are just a tad bit pricier than I think I’d be willing to spend on everyday tea for myself on a regular occasion.That being said, these would be a fantastic Christmas present for sure, at least I would be psyched to get some of these fancy silken teabags.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

What are some healthy date ideas?

The classic dinner and a movie is so stale. For me, more active and unique dates are much more fun, and in turn romantic. Here are some of my favorite “healthy” date ideas.

1.       Go bike riding. I’m a bit partial to this just because I love riding my bike so much, but it can be really fun on a nice day to explore a new bike path or bike to get a bite to eat for lunch.

2.       Visit a farmer’s market. The lively atmosphere lends itself nicely to a date. Sometimes there’s even street musicians which is always a nice touch.

3.       Take a dance lesson. This could be a tad bit uncomfortable if it is only a first or second date, but otherwise I think this is a fantastic idea. And remember, it’s not about being super graceful it’s about laughing and trying something new together.

4.       Cook together. I think that cooking is one of the most romantic things to do with someone. You get the fun of preparing the meal plus the romantic dinner afterwards. What the heck, light a couple candles and make it fancy.

5.       Go apple picking (or any other fruit/ vegetable I suppose). Who doesn’t love getting out in the nice autumn weather and enjoying the season? Heck, double it up with the cooking date and bake some apple crisp after!
6.       Go bowling. A little bit of competitive energy never hurt anyone. Even better, see if you can’t catch the bowling alley on a disco bowling night.

7.       Have a picnic and then take a walk in the park. This just might be my personal favorite because it is low key, inexpensive, and still manages to be just as romantic as any big night in the city.

8.       Have a spa day. (Because mental health is just as important) This one can get really expensive, but I figured I’d throw it in here anyway. Even if he says he won’t like it, he won’t know until he tries. My boyfriend happens to love the spa (even a little more than I do I think...) so it is definitely worth trying.


Well, that’s my list! Hopefully you found it useful.
What are some other fun, healthy date ideas?

Friday, October 12, 2012

Can you really bake with applesauce?

Well, I guess the question isn't really can you bake with applesauce, because you can bake with whatever the heck you want. It's more a matter of if it will taste any good. I have heard over and over the trick of swapping in applesauce instead of butter to cut the fat in your baking but I have never tried it out myself. I'm not well versed in vegan cooking by any means and I typically take the viewpoint of if you want a cookie, have a COOKIE. However, if it tastes the same/ just as good this could definitely be a good trick to have up my sleeve.

When I told my boyfriend I was going to try this out he warned me that it would turn out dry and recommended I use only half applesauce and half butter, but in the interest of seeing how this trick really works I'm going to use all applesauce.

Also in the interest of conducting a fair experiment I am going to use the classic tollhouse chocolate chip cookie recipe as my test subject because I am very familiar with how this one bakes and tastes with all butter.

Here’s the recipe. It’s just one cup of applesauce in place of each cup of butter:


2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup apple sauce

3/4 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup packed brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 large eggs

2 cups
Bake for 9-11 minutes at 375.

(I made only a half batch since I wasn’t sure how they’d turn out.)


I added the applesauce right in with the wet ingridients.

Even after adding the dry ingredients the dough was much runnier than with butter. It smelled a little apple-y too which I guess is to be expected.

I popped the dough in the freezer for about ten minutes to stiffen up the dough so it'd be a bit less messy to work with.

They look like cookies! That's a good sign.

The biggest difference is in the texture. They were chewier than with butter, but chewy in a sticky way... if that makes sense. They were also much less dense, which I personally don't mind. Dipped in milk they were actually fantastic because they soaked up the milk better than the traditional recipe.
I'd use this trick again, but probably with half and half to make them a bit gooier. All in all, they were much better than I expected though and if you haven't already tried baking with applesauce I highly recommend it.

Yum :)
See you later,

Thursday, October 11, 2012

How do I look awake in the morning?

There is nothing worse than a lovely case of zombie face in the morning. Yep, we are all susceptible.

I am personally not the type of girl who is up for caking on a full face of makeup each morning. However, over the years I have found some quicker fixes that wake up my face in the morning before I run out the door.

1)      Eye cream. Eye cream. Eye cream. It does not only hide signs of aging, but it also prevents fine lines and wrinkles down the road if you start using one younger, so I have heard. That being said, I use mine purely for the fact that it makes my dark circles vanish. I love the Burt’s Bees Radiance Eye Cream. It’s made of natural ingredients, smells good, and gets the job done better than anything else I have tried.


2)      Mascara. A quick swipe of mascara works wonders to open up my eyes in the morning. I often times prefer a brown colored one because it looks much more natural than black.

3)      Tinted Lip Balm. A sheer wash of color always looks natural and hydrates at the same time. The tiny itty bitty bit of barely noticeable color actually packs a big punch in waking up your entire face. My favorite is once again from Burt’s Bees. They smell like Twizzlers, hydrate really well, and come in great colors.

4)      Blush. If you are feeling up for it adding a tiny bit of color to your cheeks can perk up your face quite a bit. Covergirl Classic Color Blush in Rose Silk is my favorite because it is the color I naturally flush up to and blends well.

5)      Pull your hair back. A ponytail is the cheapest face lift ever. Whenever I am looking especially droopy-faced this is a great option.


Easy and effective. Can’t beat that.