Monthly Archives: June 2015

Gluten-Free Protein Pancakes

I am a HUGE pancake lover and I am always on the hunt for healthy pancake recipes that taste good and aren’t the consistency of cardboard. I also prefer my pancakes to have some protein although I am not a huge fan of pancake recipes that include protein powder, so it is tough to find a recipe that can meet all of my picky requirements. But, at long last, I found one!! And it is so easy to make!

Here it is:

1/4 cup gluten-free oats (you can use regular oats if you don’t need a GF recipe)

2 tbsp. Greek Yogurt

1/2 cup egg whites (or 3 egg whites)

2 tbsp. coconut flour

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1-2 tbsp. agave or pure maple syrup

1 tsp. coconut oil

1/4 cup blueberries, dark chocolate chips or whatever you like in your pancakes!

Steps:

1. Using a Nutribullet (or similar type of blender), mix the oats, Greek yogurt and egg whites together. You only need to blend for about 1 second. It’s best if it’s a bit thick and all the oats aren’t totally mixed in.

2. Next, stir in the coconut flour and baking powder.

3. Add your berries, chocolate chips or whatever else you like.

4. Heat up your pan on a low heat and add the coconut oil to coat the pan.

5. Make 3 pancake blobs. Cook for a few minutes. They will firm up a bit and then not stick to the pan – that’s when it’s time to flip.

6. Voila! Add syrup!

The trick with these pancakes is the consistency. That is why I blend the ingredients at different steps. It helps the consistency be smooth and semi-liquid without being too liquidy or too thick. Enjoy!!

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Project: Fast Hair Growth

Let’s talk hair, shall we? I love long hair and I’ve been trying to grow my hair long for years. It was very long my entire childhood, down below my butt actually. Since then, it has been somewhere between just below my shoulders and about mid-way down my back. Last year around this time I went in for a trim with a new hair stylist and he chopped off all of my hard work.  I was devastated. He did a nice cut but it wasn’t at all what I wanted. He gave me layers and chopped off way too much…rookie mistake on my part. NEVER get layers if you want to grow your hair!!  So anyway, I went home and cried, and spent the last year growing it back. Since then it had grown several inches and it was about time for a trim. It had been about 5 months since my last cut when I went to yet a new stylist the other day for a “trim.” I asked for 1/2 an inch.

YEP you guessed it. I came out with my hair about 5 inches shorter. And without layers. So it wasn’t even a nice cut…just a butcher job. I was SO pissed off. I can’t believe this happened again, almost exactly a year to the date of the last awful cut. Note to self: no more hair cuts in the month of April.

Once reality set in that there was nothing I could do to get my hair back, I started trying to focus on the positive. The one good thing that came out of it is that ALL of my split ends were gone. Completely. I had a ton of them before since my hair is really prone to them for some reason. So at least now I had a fresh start to promote new hair growth. Right?

When I get excited/motivated to do something, I go full force. So I threw myself into full-blown hair growth mode immediately. I did loads of research to figure out what to do to make it GROW. I started ditching all of my bad habits immediately to focus on making my hair as healthy as possible so it would grow and not break off. I spent a crap load of money.

Now I know this sounds crazy, but what I did actually worked. In the first few weeks, I got about 1.5 inches of hair growth. In the following month, I got another inch or so. I can’t say for sure that this was due to my hair growth experiment, or maybe a boost in growth from my really aggressive cut, but I got almost 3 inches back in 2 months. I’d say that is a huge success. Since then the hair growth has slowed but I am just about ready to start another Inversion (see below) so we’ll see what happens.

This was the my 4 week progress (from late April to late May):

Screen Shot 2015-06-27 at 9.23.20 AMScreen Shot 2015-06-27 at 9.23.35 AM

 

 

 

 

 

 

Like I said, I got about another inch or so in the next 4 weeks after this. So I’d say my plan worked pretty well.

Here is the full extent of what I did:

  • Inversion method 1x a month for 7 days with Hairdrenalin concoction (more on that below)
  • Took daily multi-vitamins, Biotin and CoQ10
  • Daily exercise – mix of weights and cardio
  • Ate lots of protein and tried to eat more of fruits/vegetables (especially the ones rich in B vitamins, iron and zinc)
  • Drank bamboo tea daily (it’s known to promote hair growth)
  • Minimize heat (blow dryer / curling iron) – if you do this, get used to wearing lots of pony tails and buns
  • Protein treatments 1x per week – It took me months to realize my hair was weak, not dry, and conditioning treatments were actually making it worse. I switched to protein treatments.
  • Massaged coconut oil onto scalp and down hair shaft the night before washing (leave on overnight if possible).
  • Massaged argon oil onto tips each morning.
  • Always used a heat protectant products if blow drying or curling but I only did this twice I think, when I was going out somewhere nice and actually needed my hair to look decent.
  • I tried to wear my hair in a loose bun to prevent damage / exposure / stop touching it so much.
  • Used a silk/satin pillowcase at night to protect hair (I actually only did this for about a week)

So first let me say that as I mentioned earlier, getting a really solid haircut probably did help. But let me talk about what I really think worked the best and that was the first thing I listed: the Inversion method. Google it and find a video on it so you can get a better idea of what it is. Apparently women have been doing this for centuries. It’s basically a process whereby you rub an oil concoction on your scalp and turn your head upside down (not totally – just an angle) and wait 4 minutes. The blood rushes to your head and your scalp freaks out and causes the hair to grow… or something to that effect. I don’t know. But it’s worked for a lot of women.

I watched a bunch of YouTube videos and noticed a lot of girls do this differently. Some either don’t use oil or do it longer than 4 minutes (or even twice a day). The whole point is to do it enough to shock the scalp but not so much that your scalp gets used to it and stops reacting to it by making the hair grow. What seemed to work for me was using the Hairdrenalin potion (see recipe below) and turning over while massaging my head for an entire 4 minutes (no longer). Some girls don’t massage the whole time but I think it helps. You should only do this once a day for 7 days and then not again for at least 4 more weeks or you run the risk of your scalp getting used to it and it won’t work. Hairdrenalin is a concoction of different ingredients that have been known to increase hair growth or otherwise promote healthy hair.

Here is the Hairdrenalin recipe:

  • 16oz clear castor oil or Jamaican black castor oil – Castor oil is great for regrowing bald spots in people suffering from alopecia.
  • 45 black tea bags – Black tea contains caffeine which stimulates hair growth.
  • 30 biotin pills 5000mcg – Biotin is the original hair growth supplement and also stimulates hair growth and thickens hair too.
  • ½ bottle cayenne pepper – We wrote something recently on cayenne pepper being used as a hair growth aid
  • 4 large squirts of onion oil – Onion is also commonly used to stimulate hair growth and we recent wrote a post on an onion juice hair growth aid.
  • 2 large squirts of garlic oil – Garlic is known to stop shedding and is commonly used in some medicated shampoos.
  • Stocking or cheesecloth to strain the oil (you can use knee high nylons)

Preheat your oven to 200 degrees F. Pour all the castor oil into an oven proof dish. Use a loaf pan if you have one or something with tall enough sides that the oil won’t spill over since it will remain liquid in the oven. Add the contents of the tea bags, NOT the bags themselves to the oil. You have to cut them open and pour in the tea. Also, pour the contents of the biotin capsules into the mix but not the whole capsules. Break them open one by one. This part takes a while!

Mix the concoction really well with a spoon. Then put in the oven for 5-5 1/2 hours. Yes you read that right. Hair growth takes time, people!! The cooking time allows the ingredients to fully infuse into the castor oil. After the time has elapsed, let it cool enough so you can strain the oil through the stocking/nylons into a bottle. It can still be pretty warm, just not burning hot to the touch. Basically, you will end up with nylons full of clumpy oil/tea goo. Throw that stuff out. All you want is the oil and you should end up with a good amount of it.

Now, add the onion and garlic oils in a 2:1 ratio to your strained oil mix. (4 squirts of onion oil and 2 squirts of garlic oil). I, of course, got distracted and did this  part all wrong. I totally forgot about these oils until my oil was already cold in the refrigerator. I added them after the fact so they didn’t mix well at all and my hair reeked every time I used it. Do this step while your oil is still warm!

Shake the bottle to combine the oils. Keep in the refrigerator. Use a small amount for the Inversion method and make sure to heat it up in the microwave (20 seconds or so and no longer since oil heats up FAST and gets super hot).

 

30 Books in 30 Days Challenge

Being unemployed has its perks! I decided to make better use of my time and challenged myself to read 30 books in 30 days because I want to always be learning and growing. I’d seen someone in Instagram do it and thought, wow that’s an accomplishment! I had it in the back of my head that I wanted to do it for a while and when I would watch TV, I would see all the dusty books on my book shelf. One day I realized that in the last 5 months I’d only read 2 of them. I didn’t have an excuse anymore so I wanted to take some time for myself while also challenging myself. I took a step back from the things that were weighing me down and then went through my bookshelves to choose a variety of books – lighthearted, deep, thoughtful, mind-bending, fictional, self-help, etc. just to keep things interesting.

Here are the books I read along my thoughts about each one (mainly so I can keep them straight and remember the takeaways after I’m all done):

  1. The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom – A melancholy story about an old man who dies and goes to heaven only to meet 5 people that impacted his life, or vice versa. It’s a sad tale and made me cry, but it’s a good one and it’s very impactful. It reminded me not to take anything for granted and more importantly, to realize/remember that everyone has a purpose and that we are all interconnected in some way. Everything you do has an impact on the universe and people around you. It is so true! I liked it a lot but this was a pretty heavy book to start a reading challenge with.
  2. How To Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie – One of the best books I’ve ever read considering I have a very hard time relating to people, making friends and holding jobs. The tips are for the most part very basic and make a lot of sense. He gives lots of examples of how this works in the real world and proved to me that all the education in the world doesn’t matter if you know how to deal with people. I can honestly say I do almost none of the things he teaches, which I guess explains a lot!
  3. Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself by Dr. Joe Dispenza – This book is phenomenal and I’d recommend it to everyone. It offers lots of information about neuroscience and quantum physics and basically, which is a bit heavy, but it’s good because it teaches you how you can rewire your brain to make your life better (and best of all, how simple it is). The premise is that your energy, good or bad, affects your brain and body, how stress leads to disease and unhappiness, and how you can change the way your brain functions in order to become a happier, healthier person. A big part of the book is about meditation and how to use it to make positive changes in your life. I’ve heard it before but not until reading this book did I realize how/why meditation works. Kind of a mind bender and tiring to read at times, but it was very interesting! I’d like to read it again over a period of time to give myself more than a day to absorb it all. It is absolutely fascinating stuff.
  4. The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari by Robin S. Sharma – This is a story about a workaholic attorney who has a heart attack, quits his job and goes to India on a spiritual journey. He returns to share his wisdom and life lessons with a younger former colleague. It’s all the stuff you’d expect – lessons on how to live a more joyful life, fulfill your purpose and reach your destiny. At times it felt a bit corny and over the top, like the author was trying WAY too hard, but the lessons are good and I appreciated the overall theme. Note: since I’m a grammar nerd, the incessant quotation marks drove me mad!
  5. Post Office by Charles Bukowski – The story of a somewhat degenerate postal worker who loves drinking, horse racing and women. Pretty sad at times, but also quite funny. It reinforced the fact that I never want to work at a “real” job again.
  6. What Is My Cat Thinking? by Gwen Bailey – Self-explanatory book about cats to satisfy my inner crazy cat lady!
  7. What To Say When You Talk To Yourself by Shad Helmstetter – This is exactly what it sounds like – a book about self-talk and how to pump yourself up to be better, happier and more successful. I liked it but it felt like overkill after a while. The author is a huge advocate of listening to motivational talks on tape and that even if you aren’t fully listening, you take it all in on a subconscious level and it changes how you think and feel. It was a good read overall, but I can save you the time and trouble of reading it: basically, just start talking out loud to yourself and repeatedly list lots of specific reasons why you are awesome/smart/successful (in present tense), even if none of it is true in your eyes and you don’t believe it….and do it as often as possible. You’re welcome.
  8. How To Stop Worrying and Start Living by Dale Carnegie – This book was definitely my least favorite book so far. It was almost 300 pages of anecdotal stories all of which had the same gist: if you stop worrying, your life will improve. Not a ton of takeaways from this one and it was WAY too long and repetitive sounding, in my opinion. Onto the next.
  9. Warrior of the Light by Paul Coelho – This is supposed to be a companion book to “The Alchemist” but felt like a total reach to me. It lists all the ways that a person can be a “warrior of the light” and to me, it just felt like one long run on sentence and was not that interesting. “The Alchemist” is a phenomenal book and I loved it, but sadly this one missed the mark for me.
  10. Women, Food and Desire by Alexandra Jameson – After reading pretty heavy books (with the last few being pretty disappointing), I just needed a change of pace. This book wasn’t exactly what I expected and was geared more towards people who have a toxic relationship with food. I got a few good tidbits out of it but overall wouldn’t recommend it.
  11. The Stranger by Albert Camus – This is a novel about a man who gets caught up in a murder case in Algiers. I actually really liked this book but I honestly can’t put my finger on why.
  12. Rework by Jason Fried & David Heinemeier Hansson – Great advice for anyone running a small business/startup or who has an idea for one. I loved all the talk of how pointless meetings are and other dumb things companies/managers do. I agree with so much of this book!! Good stuff.
  13. Whale Done by Ken Blanchard – This book describes techniques used by animal trainers to train whales that can also be used to create positive, productive relationships with people. It’s kind of a lame book to be honest, but the concept is good – basically, it proves yet again that positive reinforcement works best for behavior change.
  14. The Healthcare Fix by Laurence J. Kotlikoff – The author proposes a solution to the healthcare problem in the U.S. He suggests getting rid of Medicare/Medicaid and replacing it with universal health insurance which basically entails everyone getting a voucher for healthcare. Interesting read.
  15. The Man Who Mistook His Wife For a Hat by Oliver Sacks – My brain was way too fried to be reading something like this. It seemed like he wrote it for other doctors, not normal people. I didn’t enjoy it AT ALL.
  16. Animal Farm by George Orwell – I loved this book. A satirical novel in which a farm is run by the animals themselves after overthrowing the human owners. Such a wonderfully scary and accurate metaphor for the way this country (and world) operates.
  17. A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller – A book about the author’s journey in helping make a film about his own life and in turn, creating his own personal story that involves challenging himself, taking risks and pushing beyond his comfort zone. He teaches the reader how to “write a good story” both literally and figuratively. A very good read.
  18. Once There Was a War by John Steinbeck – I was excited because I bought this book at the Steinbeck House in Salinas. It was one of the only Steinbeck books that I hadn’t read and it looked good. What Steinbeck book isn’t? I read it in on Memorial Day so it was fitting. Basically, every chapter is some ironic event that happened during the war. There’s not a whole lot of flow to it. It was just ok. Definitely not one of Steinbeck’s best.
  19. Love Saves the Day by Gwen Cooper – This is a very bittersweet book about a cat named Prudence and her. She narrates most of the book although some parts are narrated by her owner. I really liked this book. It was cute and sweet and emotional because of all the ups and downs the cat and her family go through. I admit it made me cry. A lot. Ok, I bawled my eyes out. I love cats so much and always think of them as being totally innocent little fuzzy and sweet beings with feelings and it just made me so sad that this cat lost her owner and didn’t understand why. I realize it’s fiction but still! This was another reminder of how awesome cats are.
  20. Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl – Viktor Frakl was a psychiatrist and neurologist from Austria who spent 3 years in Auschwitz. This is a fascinating account of how people in concentration camps dealt with the horror of their experiences. In the second part of the book he explains logotherapy, a type of psychotherapy that he created. The concept is that everything humans do is driven and motivated by our will to find meaning in our lives. I am always in awe of stories about concentration camps. It’s truly unbelievable how evil some humans can be and how triumphant and resilient others can be in spite of it.
  21. The Secret Language of Cats by Heather Dunphy – More awesome info about cat behavior! Meow!
  22. Who Moved My Cheese? by Spencer Johnson – A super simple, short book (I was short on time this day). The gist of it is that the best way to deal with change is to embrace it since it’s inevitable and can lead to bigger, better things.
  23. The Miracle of Mindfulness by Thich Nhat Hanh – As the name implies, this book is all about meditation. It’s pretty repetitive and at times boring. I like the overall message but it was very drawn out.
  24. What I Know For Sure by Oprah Winfrey – Great book about appreciating the little things, having gratitude and becoming your best self. It’s definitely very “Oprah” and who doesn’t love Oprah?
  25. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou – Ahhhh! Maya Angelou is such a poetic writer!! I love the way she describes things. It’s magical. This is a very bittersweet story about her upbringing. I enjoyed reading it a lot.
  26. Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka – This book was so bizarre. I can’t even.
  27. Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom –  I loved this book. This is a MUST read for anyone and everyone. Very touching, sweet and thoughtful.
  28. Sweet Thursday by John Steinbeck – Basically a sequel to Cannery Row. It was ok but not my favorite Steinbeck book.
  29. Cat Daddy by Jackson Galaxy – This is basically Jackson’s autobiography and explains his love of cats and how he became a behaviorist. It’s pretty interesting and unexpected. I loved the chapter where he talked about working in an animal shelter. It’s all so true.
  30. A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle – Wow, this was a heavy (and long) book. I read it because Oprah has said it’s her favorite book of all time (and who better to recommend a good read than her?). The gist of the book is to show how important it is to let go of toxic thoughts/feelings/behaviors and basically become more “enlightened” (and in turn, happy) by letting go of ego, not placing value on material things, being present, breathing, and accepting and/or enjoying each moment of your life. Great way to end the challenge!