Archive for the ‘Health’ Category

Arbonne, vegan and gluten-free personal care products

Sunday, October 20th, 2013

arbonne_logoFirst, let me say that I do not gain, financially or otherwise, from the sale of Arbonne products. A local Arbonne consultant, Sarah Jukes, asked me if I’d like to try some of their products and write about my experience with them on my blog. I’m not a great person to review personal care products because I don’t use very many of them. But I’m always happy to plug new vegan products, especially if they are gluten-free, and only if they are actually any good. All Arbonne products are vegan and gluten-free.

So with that, here’s what I think of the Arbonne products I tried, in order of my enthusiasm for them.

Hair products: No joke, after using either the Nourishing Daily Conditioner or the SeaSource Hair Mask, my hair never looked so healthy in all my life. They both work great as detanglers on my super fine, tangly hair as well. I also tried the tea tree oil shampoo. The smell is great and it works well, although I wish it lathered up a bit more than it does.

Deodorant: I’ve often wondered if different people’s chemistry responds differently to the various deodorants on the market because so many of them don’t seem to work at all. Some even make things worse.  Arbonne’s Pure Mint Deodorant is the first aluminum-free deodorant that seems to actually do its job, even when I’m breaking a sweat. Thumbs up.

Facial products: I’ve been washing my face with my regular soap for years, which means that just about any facial cleanser is going to be a vast improvement, so I don’t think my opinion carries a lot of weight here. But I did like the one I tried – the RE9 Advanced Smoothing Facial Cleanser – it didn’t dry out my skin and it feels like it washes off completely. I tried some other samples of moisturizers, masks, serums, and others, but I so hate putting lots of stuff on my skin that I was never  able to truly give it a chance, so I can’t offer an opinion on those.

Nutrition bars: I don’t delude myself into thinking the various nutrition bars on the market are really that good for me, but sometimes I want a treat and I do think they are far better than what’s in the candy aisle. The Arbonne chocolate nutrition bars taste good and are not overly sweet, which is hard to find these days. But they contain oats, which don’t happen to agree with me, even though they are gluten-free. They also contain a small amount of sugar, which I’m willing to eat on rare occasion, but I am strict about not making a part of my regular diet. If those issues don’t apply to you, you might want to give them a try.

Fit chews: These are little treats that are supposed to stop you from giving in to food cravings. They do that well. Both the chocolate and the lemon taste pretty good too. The chocolate tastes just like tootsie rolls to me. But again, they contain a small amount of sugar, and I’m personally quite strict about that. If you find yourself unable to resist the call of tootsie rolls or some other unhealthy candy, these are a good alternative. Keep them in a cool place so they don’t stick to the wrapper.

Anti-aging stuff: Arbonne specializes in anti-aging products. I’m at a point where I’m starting to notice my age, but perhaps not old enough where these kinds of products show a big enough difference for me to notice in a short period of time. So I can’t really offer an opinion.

In conclusion, Arbonne seems like a high quality product line to me. They are pricier than what you’ll find in the grocery store, but I’ve gotten used to the idea of paying more to get better products. They also have a lot of ways to get discounts. Again, I have nothing to do with Arbonne and make nothing whether you buy their stuff or not.

If you’re interested in this sort of thing, contact Sarah. She’s not pushy in the slightest. Just a nice and interesting woman who’s on her own health journey as well.

Sarah Jukes
Arbonne Independent Consultant
ID # 13155218
Tel: 828.707.1610

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Advice for vegans in Montreal

Saturday, July 28th, 2012
Old Port in Montreal

Old Port in Montreal

I was only in Montreal for 10 days, so I’m not an expert by any stretch. I’m sharing some advice that would have helped me, had I known. Even with Happy Cow, and other helpful veg websites, it’s hard to know in advance where the good restaurants and grocery stores are, and how to make sure you have access to them when you need them. If you’re a vegan planning a trip to Montreal, particularly if you like to eat healthy and/or gluten-free, here are a few suggestions for you.

Where to stay

Don’t get a hotel in the Old Port area. Sure, it’s incredibly charming, but there’s almost no food there. All the good vegan food is centered around Saint Laurent Blvd. and Rue Saint Denis, and west of Sherbrooke St. You might think you’ll enjoy the 30 minute walk, but it gets old real quick. And when the weather is uncomfortable or you have lots of things you’d like to do that day, you want your hotel to be close to your food.

Are you already stuck with a hotel in Old Port or other inconvenient area? That’s OK, so was I! Here’s the great thing about Montreal – it’s super easy to get around quickly if you’re willing to spend just a few bucks on transportation. Learn to love the BIXI bicycle system and/or the Metro subway system. After suffering through about 10 minutes of confusion, both offer affordable multi-day passes that allow you to easily hop on a bike or subway any time you like to get within a few blocks of wherever you’re going. Montreal has truly got public transportation figured out.

On a related note, think twice about booking a hotel through You pay in advance, and the hotel has no way to reimburse your payment if you want to switch hotels. Expedia’s policy is to give no refunds after your reservation has begun.

Where to shop for groceries

Happy Cow has quite a few “stores ‘n more” listed for Montreal, but most of them are not true grocery stores. If you like to keep some food in your hotel room, rather than eating out for every meal (good luck finding a vegan breakfast), there are 3 groceries I found that can get you through your trip. There do not seem to be any Whole Foods type stores here, so manage your expectations.

Tau on St. Denis has the best variety of groceries. If I lived in Montreal, this is probably where I would do most of my shopping. Take the Metro to Mont Royal and walk from there.

Le Couffin Bio at Sherbrooke and Park Ave. is a nice little health food store that has tons of breakfast cereal, frozen meals, energy/breakfast bars, bread, produce, and more. Tons of gluten-free food. It’s the most convenient store to Old Port, if you’re walking.

Rachelle Bery is a chain of health food stores. The one I went to is located at the corner of Rachel and Berri. It’s a bigger store with a lot of variety, but I didn’t find much more there that happened to be to my liking than I found at Le Couffin Bio. Very convenient by Metro – get off at the Mont Royal station.

Where to eat a healthy meal

Weekend brunch polenta at Aux Vivres

Weekend brunch polenta at Aux Vivres

Everyone’s definition of healthy is different, even amongst vegans. What I mean by healthy is a meal that is not a pile of carbs, and has little or no gluten. When traveling, I always seem to end up eating a ton of sugar and processed junk, so a few days into the vacation, I’m gittery and dizzy. The following restaurants were life savers.

Aux Vivres on St. Laurent is an all-vegan restaurant. Gluten-free food is plentiful and labeled. They have a nice selection of “bowls” that are healthy and very satisfying.

Liquid Nutrition is a smoothie and juice chain with multiple locations. They have Vega brand proteins available to add to any of their smoothies. It isn’t the most exciting meal, but I ate there a couple of times out of desperate need for a little protein.

Ming Tao Xuan is a tea shop in Old Port that also serves a few light vegetarian entrees. They have a really nice mango and greens salad that is great for a light healthy dinner. Sometimes they’ll put some unsalted cashews on top. The owners are wonderful.

Here’s a separate post listing all the restaurants I tried

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Bill Clinton is a full-fledged vegan

Friday, August 19th, 2011

When I read the headlines, I thought the reporters probably just didn’t know the meaning of vegan. But it appears that Bill Clinton really is a full on vegan! Check it out in the Boston Herald. He’s vegan for his health, but no doubt swayed in that direction by his daughter Chelsea, also vegan. Way to go, Bill!

The infamous junk food lover, who underwent quadruple bypass surgery in 2004, is now a full-fledged vegan. He consumes no meat, no dairy, no eggs and almost no oil.

“I like the vegetables, the fruits, the beans, the stuff I eat now,” Clinton told CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

So what motivated Bubba to change his lifestyle? After he needed another heart operation last year, he realized exercise and cutting calories wasn’t enough to battle his family history of heart disease.

“I essentially concluded that I had played Russian roulette,” Clinton said, “because even though I had changed my diet some and cut down on the caloric total of my ingestion and cut back on much of the cholesterol in the food I was eating, I still — without any scientific basis to support what I did — was taking in a lot of extra cholesterol without knowing it. So that’s when I made a decision to really change.”

Now an advocate for cardiovascular health, Bubba’s Clinton Foundation has joined the American Heart Association to promote exercise and offer better lunches in schools.

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Wingbean: Asheville’s All-Vegan Meal Delivery Service

Saturday, July 23rd, 2011
Wingbean meal delivery

Wingbean meal delivery

From Wingbean’s website:

Wingbean makes tasty vegan cuisine and delivers it right to your door. We know you’re busy, that’s why we do the cooking for you.

I’m busy, and I like tasty vegan cuisine, so I figured why not check it out. They even have a non-gluten option, which I ordered. The menu for this week was:

  • Senorita Pasta – Delicious pasta dish with a creamy cheesy sauce, mixed with black beans and other veggies. Possibly the best meal of the week.
  • Mini BBQ with Coleslaw. Surprisingly good. Much more interesting and satisfying than I thought it would be.
  • Portobello Tapenade – Kind of weird. I ate it, but I’m not sure I liked it.
  • Chickpea of the Sea – A chickpea “tuna” salad, similar to what Earthfare sells but a little better. Very good.
  • Green Man Lasagna (with rice lasagna noodles) – Super delicious and fun. I don’t get to eat lasagna often.
  • Summer Kale Saute with Shitake Bacon – LOVED the bacon. The kale was OK.
  • Steamed Baby Carrots with Herbed “Cream” Sauce – Very good, but no one could be expected to eat that many carrots in a week.
  • Minestrone Soup – I haven’t tried this yet, there’s just so much food.
  • Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies – Delicious, of course. They’re cookies. But they all stuck together so it was more like a bag of cookie pieces.

The service is $70+tax. For this, you easily get enough food for 10 good-sized lunches. The food quality is on par with eating left-overs from a really good restaurant. It’s certainly far better than I would make for myself.

There are a couple things I would change, if it were up to me:

  1. I’d eliminate the cookies, or make the “tasty treat” something that is sugar-free. As it is, I will probably ask to leave out the cookies next time. It’s hard enough to avoid sugary desserts, without having them delivered to my doorstep.
  2. It sure would be nice if the food was delivered on Sunday so that I could have it for my lunches Monday-Friday. It comes on Monday, so I don’t get to use it until Tuesday, and now I still have food going into the weekend, which isn’t quite as useful.

I probably won’t sign up to order meals every week, but I will certainly order again soon. It’s a high quality service, and a good price for what you get. Check out Wingbean here.

Wingbean's lasagna

Lasagna (photo from Wingbean's website)

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Vegan Republicans, unite! All 2 of us!

Sunday, March 7th, 2010

I’m a vegan who turned Republican. Here’s an article from a Republican who turned vegan. OK, well, almost vegan. He’ll get there.

Read the article: Rise Up, Vegan Republicans!

Yes, I know what you’re thinking – you’re either vegan or you’re not. But he is going vegan the same way I initially went vegetarian. I said I would eat vegetarian unless my dad was making me dinner. It’s called a transition period. So give the guy a break, and the benefit of the doubt, and read the article for the interesting points that he raises.

Here’s an excerpt:

Cultural anecdote two: “You can be a Republican who eats a vegan diet, but you can’t be a vegan and a Republican. Vegans value the sanctity of life, which is in conflict with Republican values.” So said a poster named Bart on Bart was adding to his thread called “vegan ideas and info are a threat to corporations, hence a threat to the GOP, hence Bush allows spying on vegans.”

I hadn’t noticed spy cams at my local Whole Foods in Los Altos, Calif., so I will be sure to glance up next time I’m inspecting the arugula. President Bush’s successor, we know, is both pro-arugula and pro-Patriot act. Surely that conflict is cleaving President Obama’s very soul. Bart could be right; the spy cams might still be up there.

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Gluten Intolerance – Not just for Celiac sufferers

Saturday, January 2nd, 2010

If I’d had the benefit of an article like this 5 years ago, I could have saved myself months of illness, frustration, and anxiety. The battery of tests that doctors performed on me failed to diagnose that it was my diet that was making me feel chronically fatigued and “under the weather”. Sore throat, headaches, muscle aches, and a general fatigue apparently do not fit into doctors’ narrow view of what gluten intolerance looks like.

This article, entitled “Gluten: What You Don’t Know Might Kill You” touches on a lot of different aspects of gluten intolerance, beyond just the immediate symptoms associated with it. If you have any issues with chronic illness, however slight, I highly recommend reading this article to see if gluten could be a part of it.

Remember, gluten intolerance can be a real blessing. It forces us to remove a lot of unhealthy foods from our diet, although not quite as much now that there are so many gluten-free junk food products on the market.

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What’s her longevity secret? Peta’s sexiest veg woman over 50

Sunday, October 18th, 2009
Mimi Kirk, 70 years old

Mimi Kirk, 70 years old

Peta’s sexiest vegetarian woman over 50 is actually 70 years old! Mimi Kirk went vegetarian 40 years ago, was vegan for much of that time. About a year and a half ago her blood pressure was up and her doctor wanted to put her on medication. Rather than accept that fate, she turned to a raw vegan diet.

Check out a video of Mimi on a local news station here.

Check out SuperVegan’s interview here

Mimi looks amazing, even for 50. But she’s 70.

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Invisalign – Not So Unhealthy For Gums And Teeth Afterall

Sunday, August 23rd, 2009

In May 2006, I chose Invisalign for my orthodontic work because I thought it would be easier to clean my teeth and gums if I could remove my braces to brush and floss. You can read my earlier post on Inivisalign for some of the drawbacks.

I’ve been wearing my Invisalign tray, which serves as an ongoing retainer, every night since I ended my treatment in April 2007. I had planned on replacing it with a traditional retainer because I felt like I was putting a disgusting petri dish in my mouth every night, destroying my teeth and gums over time. Of course I clean it thoroughly before using it each time, but still.

Turns out, my concerns were probably unfounded. I’ve finally had enough money coming in to both afford a dentist visit and also new retainer. So I went to my (completely awesome) dentist for a checkup for the first time in 3 years, expecting to need a few fillings and a root canal or two. Seriously. I also brought my Invisilign tray along to ask him about alternative retainers.

First of all, I did not have a single cavity. And keep in mind, I have had terrible problems with cavities my whole life. My mouth is a mosaic of fillings. And my gums had all 1 and 2 measurements with that little pokey thing they use to check gum health. 1 is best, and 5 is the worst.

And secondly, Dr. Young, who is an outstanding wholistic, natural hippie type of dentist, believes that Invisalign trays are fine for healthy teeth and gums. And actually said that having multiple types of metal in your mouth can cause health issues. I already have a metal retainer wire from when I had braces as a kid. A traditional retainer also has a lot of metal. So he recommended against it.

So, in the end, I’m keeping my Invisalign retainer. At least until some other better option is invented. My mind is at ease now.

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Oprah takes veganism mainstream

Sunday, May 25th, 2008

OprahYou know if Oprah is doing it, then half the soccer moms in the Western world are soon to follow. Oprah Winfrey is several days into a 21-day vegan cleanse. She will eat no meat, dairy, eggs, sugar, gluten, or caffeine. Good for Oprah!

Read the full story on People

This is the same woman who went to court with Howard Lyman, the “Mad Cowboy,” over her comments that information about cows being fed to other cows “stopped me cold from ever eating another burger.” Does anyone know if she stuck with that promise?

You go, Oprah!

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Migun massage bed improves circulation

Sunday, March 30th, 2008

Mood ring - good circulationThe first time I ever tried on a mood ring in junior high school, I was sure that it was broken. It stayed black – didn’t change color at all. But when my friend tried on the same ring, it immediately turned blue. I touched it again and it turned right back to black. My whole life I have had freezing hands and feet. I have always had to wear socks to bed so I don’t accidentally shock my partner with my ice cold feet at night. I knew it was a sign of poor circulation but I never knew what to do about it.

Last week, I was in a toy store, shopping for my nephew’s birthday when I spotted a shelf full of little mood rings. Reminiscing on my childhood, I tried one on. To my amazement, it turned a deep, dark blue! Thinking, again, that it must be broken, I tried on several rings, all with the same result. I purchased a little snail-shaped mood ring for $2 and have been wearing it all week.

I can’t prove it, but I believe this great improvement in circulation is the result of my daily visits to the Migun massage bed store. Improved circulation is one of the health benefits that the FDA allows them to advertise, because research has supported the claim. Well, I’m supporting the claim as well.

I’ve also stopped wearing socks to bed.

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