Beauty: Why you should care about what you put on your body!

Back in March I was able to attend a wonderful event at the Whole Foods in Lynnfield for the Hello Beauty Week! The event featured three experts with local brands to talk about the importance of clean beauty products and how their brand commits to that. Let me start by saying that anyone could attend the event and it was free, you just had to register in advance.

Slowly, I have been trying to switch over to a more natural skin care/hygiene regimen. I make it a priority to eat clean, make sure I buy the dirty dozen organic, and make sure I know as much about my food as possible. The one message that all three experts said was that, what goes on your body is just as important as what goes in your body.

shamanuti

The first brand discussed was Shamanuti. The company was started because of the owners love and respect for nature. She also shared that most common (and cheap) products do more harm than good. Most products strip the skin, dry it out, and then replace the natural oils. It makes you feel like your need more of that product to keep your skin healthy.

Just like with food, understanding what’s in the product should be high on your priority list. If alcohol is one of the first 3 ingredients, it will strip your skin, like I mentioned above. The difference between food and beauty products is that beauty products tend to use the latin terms for the plants that are used in the product, so you may not be able to pronounce the word, it could still be good for you.

When asked what is the #1 product she would suggest using every day, it would be charcoal. Charcoal products have recently started becoming very popular, what they do is bring your skin to a pH neutral balance.

laughingtree

The second company that spoke to us was Laughing Tree Organics. They have only been in business for about a year, but they already have a lot of products available and a great following. The products are 100% plant-based and have no artificial ingredients. They are trying to offer cost-effective, plant-based products with a sustainable approach. So many of these products we use, not only is the product made of chemicals, but the packaging and some of the product ending up in our landfills, water supplies, etc…

The owner talked about how it takes only 26 seconds for chemicals to enter the blood stream and the average person puts on seven products a day! Seven, that is a lot of chemicals! She talked about how some beauty & hygiene products have a role in issues with fertility, birth defects, early puberty in offspring, etc… While I haven’t done a ton of research in that area, it is definitely something that I plan on delving deep into and making my self extremely informed.

The products are created through a cold press process with no fillers so that a little of the product goes a long way! I was able to try their Natural Organic Lip Balms (coconut is my favorite) and I have to say it made my lips, which tend to try out easily, nice and soft, and I didn’t feel the need to put on lip balm 75 times a day.

thesis

These are hand-made artisanal skin care products. As with most, the owner started with switching to organic food and slowly moved to switching to skin care.

While researching beauty products she couldn’t find anything chemical or preservative free, and she also couldn’t find organic brands that were affordable. So she developed her own brand after a full year of research.

They also use a cold press process to make their products, no synthetics used at all. Part of the reason this company was started was to make products that pregnant women could use and feel comfortable with. While she suggested switching to a natural skin care routine prior to getting pregnant, you can start any time.

This company was the only one that kept its products in glass. Dark brown glass keeps the product fresher for longer, but it is more expensive. The bath products however, use recycled plastic.

Samples

After the talk, we were each given a swag bag with tons of samples and some of the brands above gave out extra samples to attendees. I have tried most of the brands you see above, and still have plenty of samples, so if you’d like to try something you see, don’t hesitate to ask me!

Weleda

I was also gifted this basked of Weleda products to test out. My absolute favorite is the Sea Buckthorn Creamy Body Wash. My skin doesn’t feel dried out and I love the way it smells! I’ve gone back and purchased this product for me to keep using.

MyChelle

I was also given the opportunity to try a few full size items. After talking to the Whole Beauty expert, I picked these three products for myself. My face was always feeling dried out. So I picked the MyChelle Honeydew Cleanser which is unscented and for sensitive skin. I wash my face twice a day and the product lasts forever. You don’t need a ton of product, trust me, I learned the hard way! I started using these products in the winter when my skin, especially my face, would flake like crazy. Ever since I started using this regimen, my face has felt moisturized and healthy.

Post-cleanser I use one of two products. If I am spending a ton of time outside or it is going to be a hot and sunny day I opt for the Mineral Fusion Mineral SPF 40 Face Moisturizer. Due to being a tad bit Irish, I burn easily, but the worst is always my face. For me it is vital to have a moisturizer that also doubles as a sunscreen because I just don’t have time for 65 beauty products in the morning.  If I wasn’t really going out, which happened a lot due to modified bed rest, exhaustion, etc…. or I was washing my face before bed I used the MyChelle Deep Repair Cream. This cream is wonderful, I never feel like my  face is dried out and the product is not oily which I love. My only con about these two products is that they have a light scent. It doesn’t stay with you for more than a few minutes, but it is something to bare in mind.

The Whole Beauty Expert was so helpful in picking out the three products above that I also asked her about baby and kid products. Unfortunately, B1 has my dry and sensitive skin. The expert showed me some bath wash, shampoo, bubble bath, etc… that would be great for infants and toddlers, the prices were even cheaper at Whole Foods than at Target.

emily

I also took home a sample for Emily’s Baby & Adult Skin Soother. This is a very local product that is similar to vaseline in consistency. It is great for dry patches, whenever B1 has a dry patch of skin, I put a tiny dab on the area before he goes to bed and 90% of the time the dry patch is better after 2 days of application. It has been a life saver not just for B1, but also for me. I get extremely dry knuckles in the winter and this has helped me not to only stop the cracking and bleeding, but also to stop the skin from drying out at all.

I am still in the process of looking for natural makeup, so if you have suggestions send them my way!

Do you use natural body products? If so, what are your favorites?

It’s open, now what?

Thank you for all the wonderful comments on my Whole Foods post. I am happy to say (well Nick may not be happy) that since it opened on Wednesday I have been twice, once on Wednesday and once this morning.

IMG 6348

Opening Day, these are the lines to go inside. The lines wrapped all around the side of the building. It took B and I awhile to get inside, it was hot and people were pushy. I hung out in the back and waited until the crowd thinned a bit. Though this did mean that once I got inside it was PACKED.

Bonus of waiting? I scored one of these awesome reusable bags.

IMG 3626

I didn’t really explore that much on Wednesday, I will say that every aisle and counter were packed. The employees were extremely helpful and took customers straight to the item they were looking for instead of telling them what aisle it was in. Great customer service already, I dig it.

IMG 6339
The Butcher & Seafood counters were PACKED. I ended up in front of the butcher counter and splurged on two in-house made stuffed burgers (spoiler, they were amazing).

I basically walked the perimeter and decided I would come back later in the week. However, I did grab a picture of the Antipasti bar!

IMG 6340

So what did I get?

IMG 6342

B’s applesauce pouches (impulse buy, on sale at the register), Nick’s favorite cracker assortment, Balsamic Vinegar (on sale for $3.99 for a bottle that will last me a few months, at least, score!), 2 cookies from the buy by the pound section — those were for B, he was a trooper, 1/4 watermelon — we still had some at home so I didn’t want to buy a whole one, the burgers, a bunch of asparagus, and Ben&Jerry’s for Nick and So Delicious bars for me. I ended up spending $31.91. Not bad for my haul. Some items were pricier (burgers, cut watermelon, desserts), while some were a great deal (cookies, applesauce, vinegar).

IMG 6352
French Onion burger, stuffed with Gruyere cheese and I roasted some asparagus.

My biggest problem with the store was parking, it took me 20 minutes to find a spot and I know it took others longer. It also took me awhile the day I had my tour, so that was a bit frustrating, but really not in the store’s control.

This morning I went back, I forgot to grab enough veggies for the entire week so I went back. I also decided to turn our left over chicken into taco’s for tonight’s dinner so I needed to get some supplies for that as well.

IMG 6353
I don’t really eat mushrooms, but I thought this display was awesome, I think it was great that they separated and labeled all the types of mushrooms. I bet that will be a hit, especially with those that are just starting to cook with different types of mushrooms.

IMG 6354
Sorry my Greek wife is showing. Tzatziki. The Whole Foods in Glastonbury, CT made theirs in house and the Whole Foods, I shopped at up here (Medford & Woburn) did not, it was a store speciality. I am so happy that Melrose will be making and carrying it. It is the best store made Tzatziki I have ever tasted.

Today, it was definitely less crowded, I found a parking spot right up front easily (thank goodness) and I was able to take my time through the store. I have to say I was really excited when I saw my favorite fish guy from Medford behind the counter at the Melrose store. Sorry, Medford, but I hope he is here to stay. He was super helpful with giving information about different cuts of the fish and giving ideas on multiple ways prepare the fish I was purchasing that day.

I also wanted to buy tortillas for taco night, I checked the aisle with canned beans, no luck, so I made my way to the bread aisle, and the woman stocking said they are kept in the produce section. She offered to show me, I said no, I figured it would be an easy find. I went back to produce and couldn’t find them, I asked another team member and he thought they were in produce, then we went to the dairy and prepared cheese aisle, also not there. Turns out they were with the hummus, the team members were extremely apologetic and helpful. It wasn’t crowded so it wasn’t a big deal to me, but it was great to know that they will make sure you get exactly what you are looking for. The team member also explained that everyone came from different stores or were new completely so it will take a few days to figure out exactly where everything is.

The look of the store is bright and colorful, very cheerful, I am so happy that this store is opened!

Have you made your way to the new Whole Foods yet?

Whole Foods Market: Melrose, MA

If you live in the Greater Boston area you probably heard about how Whole Foods acquired 6 Johnnie’s Foodmasters. I didn’t live here long enough to really get attached to Johnnie’s and I love Whole Foods, so for me it was a win.

When we moved from our condo to our house we were either going back to Medford or to Woburn to grocery shop, while I enjoyed the stores it could be a trek, especially if B was cranky. I did try shopping at our neighborhood chain but I was spending the same amount of money for products that were not as high quality.

Then I remembered that Whole Foods was coming to Melrose. Melrose is a few towns over, but in terms of mileage not very far at all. The store is located at 880 Main Street in Melrose, MA.

IMG 3615

Through my relationship with other area Whole Foods I was able to partake in a one-on-one tour of the new location. I want to start by thanking Heather, who is the Public Relations Manager for the North Atlantic Region, and Carrie, who is the Marketing Team Leader which is a community liaison, she handles the activities, social media, the giving back, etc…

Also, the store is opening July 24, that is tomorrow! They start with the traditional bread breaking ceremony at 9:45 am. Mayor Robert Dolan and the Store Team Leader both say a few words and they break a giant loaf of braided bread, that you can of course can sample, and then the store is open. Be a part of  the Whole Foods Market History! The community market’s version of a ribbon-cutting, the bread breaking ceremony has been held at the opening of every Whole Foods Market store in the world.

Before I give you information on the Melrose store, I want to give you some over all Whole Foods information. Some of it was new to me and I have been shopping at Whole Foods pretty exclusively for 4 years.

  • Any product can be sampled in the store. This applies to body, grocery, etc… If you come across a package of crackers that you aren’t sure about find a team member and they will let you sample the cracker. This applies to everything, cheeses, olives, etc… If you aren’t comfortable trying the item in the store, bring it home and try it, if you do not like it, bring it back. Whole Foods has a satisfaction guaranteed policy.
  • At any given time there are over 1000 items on sale, and if you follow Whole Foods Melrose on Facebook or Twitter you will notice they have Flash Sales in the stores, these sales are for things like fruit, veggies, fish, meat, etc..
  • There are over 80 items banned from Whole Foods stores, things like HFCS and aspartame to name a few. Going to our chain store trying to find a BBQ sauce without HFCS was like finding a needle in a haystack, Whole Foods definitely makes shopping a little easier.
  • Whole Foods offers more than organic items, they also offer conventional items, but those items are still high quality. To add to this, many think that Whole Foods is TOO EXPENSIVE, I know for our family I was spending the same at WF that I was spending at the nearest national grocery chain. A great example is this:

IMG 3580
Whole Foods EVOO is $5.99, pretty reasonable.

IMG 3581
If you want to try a higher end EVOO you can, for $24.99

There really is something for every budget.

Now for the tour and some information so you know what to expect when heading into Whole Foods Melrose for the first time, keep in mind some areas are still under construction and so my pictures are an accurate portrayal of what was going on before the opening.

The store is 31,000+ square feet and has 125 employees, 70% of which are Full-Time, FT for Whole Foods is 30 hours a week. They do this so that more employees are eligible for FT benefits.

IMG 3571

The produce department, empty at the moment, but it will soon be full of fresh fruits and veggies!

IMG 3572

Whole Foods has tons of signage throughout the store, like the above, that is telling you where an item comes from. All the stores have artists that create these signs, they are trained in a specific font and create these signs. Very cool!

IMG 3574

Check out this Bulk Bins area! This is probably the largest bulk bin area I have seen. Carrie told me that they plan on putting out booklets on how to cook the different items that you can buy in bulk. I know for me personally that I can become intimidated by a new to me item. Uh, hello Quinoa! By providing these booklets they are hoping that as consumers we can expand our cooking and even save money! This is also where you can buy your nut butters and they have 3 nut butter grinders, one plain peanut, one honey peanut, and the third is yet to be determined!

IMG 3576

As we move down the store we end up at the Fish Market & Butcher Shop.

All Whole Foods adhere to the MBA and BOI standards on all wild caught seafood so that customers can make informed decisions about the seafood they are purchasing.
The seafood is delivered to all the MA Whole Foods from Gloucester 6 days a week.

Now off to the Butcher Shop, it is a real butcher shop, the employees are experienced butchers, and if you don’t know how to cook a type of meat, any of the butchers would be willing to give you tips or recipes, so don’t be afraid to ask! The items (sausages, burgers, kabobs, etc…) are all made in store. The meat is labeled with the Animal Welfare Standards, 1-5, it is a way of knowing how your animal was raised before buying.

There are also freezer sections with seafood and meat, great places to pick up or stock up with items when you don’t want to go to the store!

IMG 3577

Next we see the Whole Body area. Heather was right on the money when she said those who work in Whole Body are some of the most passionate, their motto is “What goes on your body is just as important as what goes ON your body”. They even have swap out events, these events are free and you can swap out things like deodorants and toothbrushes for better ones from the Whole Body section.

IMG 3583

Here is the frozen section. They have local products, vegan products, frozen meals, etc…

IMG 3584

Milk, Eggs, Yogurt and Butter. All eggs are cage free and all milk is rBGH free.

IMG 3588

One of my favorite sections is the cheese! They have multiple kinds of cheeses, a charcuterie, and will have a pasta station. The pasta will be cut to order {edited the pasta will not be made in house, just cut in house}…and now you know where to find me on the days I am carb loading!

IMG 3584

You can find blocks and shredded cheeses pre-packaged!

IMG 3589

They also have wedges of cheese pre-cut, but if you need one smaller or larger they will cut it for you in the store.

IMG 3594

The empty antipasto bar!

IMG 3602

But again, running late to your party, grab some pre-packaged olives and be the star of the party!

IMG 3592

On to the bakery! Something new I learned was that even in the cakes and pastries baked at Whole Foods there are no artificial flavors or colors. If you custom order a cake with red or green frosting, they might use beets or kale to make the coloring, how cool is that?

IMG 3595

I’ve never seen this at a Whole Foods before, a bulk candy bin, but have no fear it is natural candy, again with no artificial flavors or colors. As a mom, I love this. Kids want candy sometimes and in moderation it is definitely okay. I would feel very comfortable letting my son get candy from here (well in a few years anyway).

IMG 3599

This is where you will find items that are for those who have allergies!

IMG 3600
The bread is made in a bakehouse in Medford, very local!

IMG 3605

In the prepared foods, they have a pizza area that has its own dedicated phone line, so you can call in your order, shop, pick up your pizza, pay and head home! They will also have baklava and barbari bread which is an Afghan flatbread. As well as sandwiches, Panini’s, and little crock dishes, like pot pies. The crock dishes will change based on what the chef decides to put out. Lastly, there will be the in-house made Kikka Sushi.

Of course there will be your traditional hot and cold bars. Breakfast will be on the bar from 8-10 am and then lunch & dinner options for the rest of the day.

IMG 3606

When you see the label “From Our Kitchens” that means the items were made in their larger kitchens in Everett, MA (again super local) and shipped to stores.

IMG 3609

Anytime you see the Health Starts Here sign, this is an indicator for those who are starting their healthy eating journey. These items are healthy options with no oil, minimal salt, no added sweeteners. There are also experts in the store that can help you make smart choices.

IMG 3612

Near one of the 7 registers there is a community calendar, you find store events as well as fun community events!

Whole Foods is also great at giving back, four times a year they have what is called “5% days” 5% of the stores daily total is given to a community charity that the Marketing Team Leader helps pick.

IMG 3607

On opening day, WF Melrose has picked 5 recipients to receive 1% of the day’s sales. Those recipients are: The Melrose Educational Foundation, The Mayor’s Melrose Emergency Fund, The Friends of the Aging Group, The Bingham Community Playground at the Lincoln School, and the Servant’s Heart Food Pantry. The register coupon for the first month will be for the Bingham Community Playground.

Each of these charities will have representatives on opening day at Whole Foods Melrose if you want more information.

I love that Whole Foods isn’t just about getting good food in our bodies, or products for our bodies, they are about being a part of the community in which they are located, and not just another chain grocery store.

Are you going to head down for opening day? What is your favorite thing about your local Whole Foods?

Black Friday Deals

I hope all my American friends had a great Thanksgiving and all my other friends had a great Thursday!

I am sharing with you a few of my favorite companies that are having Black Friday deals!

SHOWERPILL

Photo 8

You can read all about the product here, but here’s the nitty gritty. Go to Amazon, when you buy TWO (2) boxes , you get ONE (1) free! Put THREE (3) boxes in your cart and enter code: SPFRIDAY to receive the third box free. This Offer valid from 11/23/12 – 11/25/12, boxes are $9.99 each.

SPARKLYSOUL HEADBANDS

If you follow me on instagram, you’d see at least one photo of me in a sparklysoul headband once a week.

IMG 4278
The white (thick size) is one of my favorites!

You can get 20% off your ENTIRE order with the code BLACKFRIDAY, this deal is effective until 11:59 pm EST on Friday, November 23, 2012. The thin headbands are $15 and the thick headbands are $17.

NUUN

I can’t drink a lot of the sports recovery drinks out there because they are frankly just too sweet for me. I tried Nuun at the recommendation of another fellow runner. These are my go-to beverages for hydrating. You just put the tablet in your water, the suggestion is for 12 oz, I put mine in 24 oz.

IMG 4030

Their booth from the NWM Expotique.

A box of 4 tubes is usually $24.00, even more if you buy the tubes individually at your local sporting goods store. The box of four is $19.99 and the website is all set up, no promo code to enter.

This deal ends Tuesday, November 27, 2012 and is only valid for Nuun Hydration and Nuun All day.

PRO COMPRESSION

IMG 4089
wearing hot pink marathon socks post NWM

I am a huge proponent of compression socks, I wore these on the plane to the Nike Women’s marathon, I wore them to bed every night and on the plane home, and my leg soreness was typical of a long run. I have heard horror stories about runners flying post-race and having serious swelling and pain in the legs.

Also, the customer service is beyond great at Pro Compression, they will answer any questions, make sure you have the right size, etc…

The Black Friday deal is on the Marathon Calf Sleeve, it is usually $45 and is now $30. Compression can be expensive but is worth it, grab your pair now.

WHOLE FOODS

IMG 3530

Of course I had to include my favorite grocery store.

My friends at River Street sent me the ONE DAY SALE flyer. There are a lot of BOGO deals for you.

Photo 10

You can get a ton of your Christmas or Holiday goodies on sale, Gingerbread House Kits, Candy Canes, Cider, Trees, Wreaths, etc…

So now you tell me, what companies that you love are having Black Friday deals?

Healthy Living Summit 2012: What I am looking forward too!

Healthy Living Summit starts in less than 72 hours! Oh my goodness it seems like it was a few days ago when I bought my ticket!

Since this is my first conference I thought I would share with you all the top five things I am looking forward too. I have to say there are more then five things that I am looking forward too, but I don’t think you want to read a 4 page post!

In no particular order here are the TOP FIVE:

1. Wild Harvest Breakfast Showdown

To say that I was shocked that I made the Top 5 for the breakfast showdown would be an understatement. Regardless of the outcome I am very happy of my success thus far and I want to say good luck to Kristin, Alicia, Heather and Amy. I am very proud of my recipe, and I know whatever they choose, the breakfast spread at HLS will be AMAZING.

2. Meeting other bloggers

While this is probably the scariest thing for me, I am very shy around new people, this is also very exciting. Very few of my real life friends are as into blogging as I am and have made it a part of their life. I am very excited to meet such like minded people. If you see me being quiet, I am just shy not rude

WIAW: Cupcake Camp Boston 2012 & Guest Post

Before we get to the cupcakes, make sure to check out my guest post on Real Life Travels where I open up my diaper bag for all the parents to see!

________________________________________________________________

On Monday, I was FINALLY able to attend Cupcake Camp. I had grandiose plans last year to make it and wasn’t able to. I thought I would have time to bake for it this year and I wasn’t able to, I was glad that I was able to at least attend this event this year.

My sister and I got VIP tickets, which meant we were able to attend an hour early, and I am so glad we did. There were plenty of cupcakes and the line for the regular start time, started when we got there, a little before 6!

Our method was to try one cupcake at every station. We picked one flavor and each took a bite. We did this for two reasons, that is an awful lot of fat and sugar and two we wanted to be able to taste a bunch of different cupcakes without getting sick. I will say I felt guilty when we threw away almost an entire cupcake because we both took a tiny bite. Note to self: make minis when I finally get my act together and apply next year.

DSCN1860
obligatory cupcake eating photo

Instead of going through the masses of cupcakes I will hit you with our collective top 5. We disagree on the order in which they fall but we agree with what ones are in the top 5. So in no particular order:


1. Chocolate Espresso from We Made Cupcakes

This was actually the first cupcake we tried and it was amazing. Sadly, I have no pictures and couldn’t even remember the name. I had to track it down through twitter

2. Tiramisu Cupcake from Lulu’s Sweet Shoppe

DSCN1864

They also had a rep from the Boston Chocolate Tours, who now also has a cupcake tour, at their booth and my sister won a free tour and I get $4 off.

3. Root Beer Soda Pop Cupcake from Whole Foods River Street

DSCN1861

They had many flavors but we stayed true to our agreement and tried just one, root beer. It tasted just like a can of root beer, it kind of had that fizzy taste as well. Yum.

I also, finally, got to meet the face behind the twitter!

DSCN1862

4. Fruity Pebble Cupcake from Two Guys Baking

DSCN1876

What was really unique about this was the milk frosting. I highly suggest finding these guys and getting your hands on one of their cupcakes!

5. Raspberry Lime Rickey from Janna Bee’s

DSCN1845

I am the first to admit that I typically hate fruity cupcakes because the taste is artificial, these were not. The baker told us they actually use a reduction that has blackberries so there is no artificial flavoring at all.

We also got a shout out on their twitter page!

Full and ready to leave!

DSCN1880

At the end we met up with a friend for beer because we needed something bitter to cut the sweetness.

IMG 3046

Cupcakes, friends, family and beer, what a fabulous Monday.

What cupcake would you want to eat from this list?