Apple Spiced Infused Tea

I baked an Upside-Down Apple Cake last night.  Part of the directions was to boil water and then add the sliced apples, cloves, and cinnamon stick, turn it down and simmer for five minutes…then discard the cloves, cinnamon stick, and water.  Well if you know me, you know I don’t like to waste, as well as I LOVE getting more than one “thing” out of something.  So instead of dumping out this amazing apple/clove/cinnamon infused water, I made tea!

I remembered a tea that http://hariqhuang.wordpress.com/2013/08/02/apple-cinnamon-tea/ Hari made and it sparked my brain, “Brilliant I know what I can do with this apple spiced infused water”!  Oh my! It was so good, that I am doing this every time I make this cake. In fact perfect compliment to it.  When I was a kid and not feeling well, i’d add sliced ginger to this concoction.  Ginger is very soothing for the tummy!

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Apple Spiced Infused Tea

Now even if you are not making this Upside-Down Apple Cake you can still make this infused tea.

Boil 6 cups of water.  While water is boiling…

Peel, core, and slice two apples.  I used granny smith. I like the tartness to them.

After the water comes to a boil…

Add the apple slices

Add 8 cloves

One stick of cinnamon

Simmer for 8-10 min.

Strain out the solids.  Enjoy!

Makes 4 nice mugs full of apple spiced tea!

FYI: If you want you can grate the apple like (Hari) did.  Or, you can slice the apple, then chop up the sliced apples, to expose more of the apple for a deeper infusion. I found just slicing them and simmering them for the 10 minutes did the trick. No real right or wrong.

The flavors will depend on the types of apples used, but if you are an apple lover, then any type of apple will make for a nice tea.

An herbal infusion is a tea that is steeped longer than a couple of minutes and usually more than one herb is used in a larger amount.  By steeping it longer you get the maximum amount of essential nutrients from that particular herb/flower/etc.

Herbal tea is really any “tea” that is non-caffeinated made from an infusion process using any herb, flower, or spice. 

True teas come from the tea bush (Camellia sinensis), which is where we get our green, black, oolong, etc. teas from). 

By the way…The upside -down apple cake was a hit.  Family had it for dessert, then the next morning with half and half poured over top!

This was a happy cake.  We all couldn’t help smiling while eating it.

Here’s to you all having a happy day, no matter what kind of cake your are eating!❀

Flavored Water…Simple and Inexpensive!

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An easy way to drink more water…Get a container, preferably a large one with a lid.  (The one pictured is a 56 oz. bottle). Fill up the container with good clean water.  (I say that because not all water is created equal!)  I don’t always; but drop a tea bag in, any flavor; this one happens to be a passion tea by TAZO.  And sip away.  I will drink one to two of these bottles a day.  And that doesn’t count the hot teas or a cup of coffee I may have throughout the day.

Water is so important for the body.  Did you know that hunger pains you feel could also be a sign of needing to be hydrated?  Water is necessary for many functions of the body; for proper elimination, for great skin, for energy (yep, feelings of sluggishness can be a sign of needing more water). So go grab a bottle and sip throughout your day.  Make it into a game.  My sister-in law and I will text each other back and fourth….”Drank another glass!”  It makes it silly fun 😉

That’s my version of flavored water.  Simple and inexpensive!

What do you do to help you drink more water?

Here’s to Awesome Health,  Koko❀

Chia Seed “Pudding”

Remember the …. Cha cha cha Chia!–The funky clay heads you plant seeds on its head and it grows “hair”?  Same seed, but really a food!

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Magic seeds! Not really, but still amazing! 😉

Chia seeds; This endurance enhancing super-food is one of my top faves. Energy and stamina booster, I so crave and need. These amazing seeds are pumped up with fiber. One ounce gives you 11 grams, as well as 4 grams of protein! Also rich in omega 3 fatty acid, not to mention manganese, phosphorus, and calcium.

You can use Chia seeds as an “egg” replacer in a lot of your baked goods…Hear that vegans?! 😀 Use a 1 to 6 ratio of seed to water. Making a “gel” with it. This replaces one large egg! Very cool right?!

All you do is grind chia seeds in a coffee grinder/spice grinder.  Then measure out 1 tablespoon of chia seeds to 3 tablespoons water. Let stand until it forms a gel like consistency! The magic takes about  5 minutes.  Wah lah! 

When liquid is added to chia seeds, they swell up to 12 times it’s weight! It’s great for helping to feel full longer, to keep you hydrated, which is why they are so popular with athletes. I wish I knew about these in my long distance running days.  A gel like substance actually forms around the seed!  It’s like the seeds own protective bubble. This gel substance is full of nutrients.

Chia is an herb. Salvia hispanica-or-Chia; native to central and southern Mexico and Guatemala. This super food was cultivated by the Aztec in pre-Columbian times. And some historians say that the Chia plant was just as important as the maize crops were in that time period.

You can add these awesome seeds to puddings, on top of hot oatmeal, cold oatmeal, in dressings, in your smoothies, tossed in yogurt, add them to sauces for a thickener, in lemonade; the possibilities are endless. Use them in place of poppy seeds too! You can also use them in place of flaxseed meal in baked goods. I like them best in my drinks, smoothies, oatmeal, and my favorite: a refrigerated no cook “pudding” that I eat for breakfast, lunch, or snack, and sometimes dinner!

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Refrigerated overnight “pudding”. Healthy, energy packed goodness!

Chia pudding can be made a million ways! Really! Made as a dessert or healthy snack.  Even when I say dessert; I still make it healthy-good-for-you-amazing!  The basic recipe is below.  The possibilites in what you put in it really are endless.  Bananas, chopped apples, berries, any fruit really can be added.  Any nuts such as chopped walnuts, toasted almonds, sunflower seeds, roasted pecans…are you getting it? 😀  Even the liquid you use can vary; almond milk, coconut milk, moo milk, water even!  Can you sweeten it? Yep, try honey, agave, maple syrup, cane sugar, brown sugar….whew!  Oh and you can spice it up too; cinnamon, Himalayan sea salt, nutmeg…see how this can go on and on and on? 😉

Okay here’s what I put in my pudding that I had for breakfast today:

Chia Pudding

1 cup of coconut milk

2 tablespoons of Chia seeds (I buy NOW foods and Nutiva brands as well as a few others. Nutiva Organic Chia Seeds, 12-Ounce Bag is what I use right now.  I am partial to anything ORGANIC! You can buy these at most health food stores.)

2 tablespoon of Organic Goji Berries

1 tablespoon of Organic Coconut Flakes

Stir and put in refrigerator overnight.  I mix mine in a glass dish that has it’s own lid.  Pop the lid on, put it in the refrigerator…next day take lid off, give it a stir, and enjoy!  If you want to eat this for lunch, snack, dinner, you can make this about 3 hours before you want to eat it.  Overnight is just easy for me.  I will make a few variations at night and the next day or two I will have them ready.  I wouldn’t make more than I can eat up in 2 day period.  This doesn’t take long to set up; really you are waiting until it gets cold and the chia seeds soak up all the liquid goodness.

Just keep in mind 1 cup of liquid to 2 tablespoons of Chia seeds.  If you want it thicker or thinner; just adjust the liquid.  Try this amount and go from there. 😀

FYI: I try and buy everything organic when I can.  If you see a recipe/ingredient/anything consumable-edible that I write about; if I’ve left out the “organic”, just know I try my utmost best to buy organic.  Because I didn’t write it doesn’t mean it’s not.  So what I am saying is, try and eat organic as much as you can.  😀

Hope you’ve this post and if you make this amazing pudding and or your variation on it; PLEASE let me know. I’d love to hear what you’ve come up with!

In Awesome Health, Koko

Shoulder Press Exercise, Sneak Them In!

Are you especially chatty?  Talk a lot on the phone?  Here’s another great way to easily sneak in some exercises throughout your day. (Tip number 10!)

Shoulder Press is a great way to strengthen the deltoids, those muscles that cup around your shoulder.  You know the muscles at the top of your arm.  Toning those muscles will give your arms that sexy look when wearing a strapless or sleeveless top/shirt.

Talk on the phone hands free and while you are doing that, grab some light weights and do shoulder presses.  What’s that? Glad you asked.  Here goes; get a set of 3, 5,or 10 pound hand weights.  If you don’t have hand weights then go to your pantry and get a couple of soup cans.  (But really, invest in a set of proper hand weights. Heck, go ask a neighbor, chances are he/she will have a set in their basement collecting dust and will happily send them your way.)  You can also find some nice dumbbells on Amazon like these Reebok Speed Pac 25 Adjustable Dumbbell Pair which I own a set of.  I have vinyl dumbbells, as well as, solid hex dumbbells.  I do love the adjustable weights because of the simplicity; I can easily go from 10 pounds to 25 pounds with just shifting the plates.  Also it’s nice not having a lot of dumbbells lying around.

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Vinyl dumbbell. Well loved as you can see.
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Hex weights. They are called that because of the “hex” shaped ends. You can get these in increments from 2 pounds to over 100 pounds each!
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Adjustable dumbbells. See the pin? It slides to adjust for weight increments. Very handy when doing trickle down sets.

Hold a weight in each hand. Bring hands to shoulder level. Palms facings forward.  Tighten arms and pull in that tummy!  Push the weights straight up towards the sky and back down in line with your shoulder.  That is one rep! Yay….now do that movement until your muscles start to burn.  Rest for a few seconds and do it again.  If your conversation runs long, hey take advantage of that and do other exercises we’ve talked about!  Get your workout in while chatting. How cool is that?  Make every day count and sneak in those exercises!  In a future post, I will have total body workouts you can do in under 20 minutes!

In fabulous health, Koko 😀

Cacao or Cocoa…or Potato or Pa-tah-to…

It’s like saying potato or pa-tah-to…tomato or ta-ma-to…

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Chocolate experts say that cocoa should be pronounced ka-kow. When you hear cacao (ka-kow); that usually is referring to the tree itself, the pods, and the bean inside of the pods. When you hear of cocoa (ko-ko) that is usually referring to the by-product of the cacao bean; which are the cocoa powder and the cocoa butter.

Cacao nibs and cocoa powder both come from “cocoa beans”. The difference is cacao nibs are still in the “raw” state. It hasn’t been cooked or processed, whereas cocoa powder has been cleaned, roasted, and processed.

As for the taste; I just did a taste test…I am probably not a good person to ask this as I can eat both plain and not mind it at all, since I do add both organic cocoa powder as well as organic raw cacao nibs to my yogurt and smoothies. The taste doesn’t come off as unpleasant. But If I had to describe it, I would say both have somewhat “bitter” taste. But again, I don’t mind that at all. I eat a lot of things for the health benefits. And actually now I enjoy the taste of them plain.

I hope this clears up a little about the differences in raw cacao nibs and cocoa/cocoa powder/cocoa butter, all stemming from the same little bean. 😀

Cacao Nib Smoothie

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Happiness Smoothie!

I enjoy smoothies.  It’s fun to experiment and also a great way to get down more nutrients in a single glass.  My smoothies change with what I know I need nutrient wise and what I am doing in any given day.

Today my smoothie consisted of about 6-8 ounces of milk, one whole banana, 25 almonds, 1-2 tablespoons of raw cacao nibs, and a scoop of whey protein powder. All blended up in a high-powered blender until…well….smooth.  Hehehehe 😉

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FYI…..

Cacao nibs: Rich source of antioxidant flavonoids.  Great for promoting cardiovascular health.  It fights against toxins that we constantly face. The flavonoids in raw cacao nibs can help improve circulation and blood pressure.  My favorite is it helps assist the body to repair and resist against free radicals; a toxin no one needs in their body.  There are other benefits too, being a good source of manganese; which helps to oxygenate the blood and a fab source of magnesium which helps with brain power, (I so need that!).  Cacao nibs are rich in sulfur and that means stronger hair and nails and awesome skin. Consuming cacao nibs helps with PMS and depression.  It stimulates our endorphins boosting our mood naturally! There’s 5 grams of protein in an ounce serving, not to mention 7 grams of fiber.

Try them in smoothies, granola, cookies, just popping them into your mouth!

Are you a smoothie drinker?  Any favorites?

I’m off to bike the hills in my neighborhood.  I shoot for 5 miles; that makes me happy, 8 miles I am excited, 10 exhausted, but super satisfied.  We will see what I can do today.  The weather is beautiful. The sun is out and sky is blue; touched with white puffy clouds. It will be a good thinking day as I ride.

Have a happy day, Koko 😉 ❀ ✿ ❁ ✾

Sexy, Sculpted Legs!

Ways to sneak in exercise throughout your day without much effort…tip number (9)

Folding laundry can be boring and for those of you that know me, know I like to make a lot out of each moment, so here’s a great exercise that will keep your legs toned and sculpted while you fold piles and piles of laundry…

Standing lateral leg lift.

Stand tall.  Pull in tummy (Always pull in those abs. Helps protect the low back.).  And simply raise leg out to the side.  I like to tighten the muscles in the leg with each lift.  Again, I go from one leg to the other so I don’t have to count repetitions.  This exercise is a great way to strengthen the tissue around the pelvic joint, hip flexors, and those pesky saddlebags!

Of course you can do this while brushing your teeth, watching t.v., talking on the phone…Point is to get up; get moving.  Come on, you can do this.  Sexy, sculpted legs are yours for the taking!

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Clean Without Toxins And Clean On The Cheap!

To clean my home can be a challenge seeing how not only are there humans running around (and a revolving door for friends); there are eleven furry beings, one reptilian, and oh I can’t forget the itty bitty dwarf hamster my son got me for a birthday gift almost 4 years ago. I clean, clean, and when I think I am done, I clean some more.

There are many products we buy at the market that can be very poisonous to our pets and if they are poisonous to our pets just think how toxic they are to us. I’ve been making my own cleaners for better part of two decades as my daughter came into this world sensitive to most everything. Before my little bouncing joy was here I can remember as a girl getting out the mop bucket and vinegar. What vinegar didn’t clean away there was baking soda. Over the years I learned and added some other things to my arsenal cleaning; peroxide and essential oils, oh and can’t forget the power of lemon (yep the whole fruit and nothing but the fruit, skin and all!

I will be posting recipes and what I do to clean my home in a part one, two, three…well you get it? I don’t want to bore you completely by giving it to you all at once!

Okay this is what I do for my sinks and tub (anything with a drain that can get gunk build up over time).

Drain cleaner—A great drain cleaner I use is baking soda, white vinegar, and hot water. I boil two pots of water. Pour one pot down the drain to loosen up debris, oils, just normal gunk that accumulates in a drain. Then I sprinkle 1/2 cup baking soda around the area (I usually take the time to rub the baking soda around (sink bowl) and clean (sink bowl) while I’m at it. Follow up with a cup of white vinegar poured all around the sink bowl. Then I pour a second pot of hot water down the drain. (You don’t have to follow up with a second pot of hot water; I just do). I do this to all sinks and tubs. Kids love watching the foaming action between baking soda and vinegar. Science project! (btw…I do this once a week or two. Better to keep the drains clean and clear then to call a plumber!)

This cleans brilliantly and just smells clean. 🙂

     Hint: If you want a “smell good” smell; drop a drop or two of lemon, orange, or lavender essential oil down during last pot of water.  These essential oils disinfect too; killing those nasty germs!

Baking soda is awesome! It scrubs nice and easy without scratching. It removes most stains (I have yet to meet a stain in my house I couldn’t get out) and gunk. It is amazing polisher for shiny things like my faucets. What I love…it deodorizes! Does all that and is inexpensive too!

White vinegar is my workhorse. Gets through a lot of scum. It disinfects and is a deodorizer as well. Oh and that stuff is inexpensive as well.  Love that!

Try the drain cleaner and please let me know how it works for you…

……In fabulous health, Koko

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Awesome Abs!

Ways to sneak in exercise throughout your day without much effort…tip number (8)

Another great one; when you find yourself standing in line somewhere…Pull your belly button towards your spine.  Hold for as long as you can. Rest for a few seconds and do it again.  Wanna go into the exercise deeper? Of course you do; exhale as you pull in your tummy!  I do this when I am on the computer, preparing dinner, doing dishes, pretty much anywhere and anytime.  Great for in public, no one knows what you are doing and you get to gain sexy abs! Win-win. 😉  *insert whistle here*

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Lavender-Peppermint Lip Balm

Lavender and peppermint essential oils; I never run out of theses two oils. They are so good for so many concoctions that I make.

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Butters, essential oils, and finished lip balm in tin (still warm) 😉

Here’s a great lip balm using these two essential oils.

1 teaspoons shea butter
3 teaspoon cocoa butter
5 drops of lavender essential oil
8 drops of peppermint essential oil (don’t worry if you put a drop or two more of either oil in; I’ve put up to 10 drops of peppermint oil in this recipe)

*This makes a soft lip balm.  If you want a harder lip balm; add 1/2 tsp of beeswax (melt down with the butters.)

*You can buy tins or jars to put the finished product in or just reuse an old lip balm container. Just wash it well (sanitize it).

*As for the ingredients; there are many places you can purchase essential oils. Just make sure they are essential oils and not scented oils. Huge difference. Stay away from scented oils/scented anything. (Toxic stuff; in my humble opinion) Mountain Rose Herbs sells many things besides essential oils. Check them out for teas too! Swanson Vitamin (on line) sells essential oils and oils such as, almond, sesame and avocado; I use for my face serums. Whole Foods has essential oils and other oils like olive oil.  I’ve bought pure cocoa butter from them before. Just read labels. Make sure you are buying the real stuff.

How to:
Melt shea butter and cocoa butter. You can use a small pot with heat set on low. You can also use a heat proof glass dish set in a pot of boiling water. What I do is use a glass measuring cup and set it in a pot of boiling water to melt my oils, butters, any facial product, or salves that I make. Makes it easy to pour into containers.

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Small pot filled half-full of water. Heat proof measuring cup set in pot.

After your butters are melted let cool for about 5 minutes. You don’t want the heat to evaporate all your essential oils away!

Add your drops of essential oils.

Stir and pour into container. Let cool completely before capping.
There are a virtually thousands and thousands of ways to make lip balm. Experiment on your own and have fun. Orange essential oil and cocoa butter makes for a deliciously chocolaty smelling lip balm!

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Finished lip balm. Solidified nicely! 😀