Wednesday, 19 February 2014

DIY Skin Soothing Bath Mix

I've always been a fan of showers, mostly because they're just quick and easy. However, I've recently discovered how amazing taking a bath can be. I always knew it was (supposed to be...) relaxing and all, but I never realized it could also have so many health benefits!

My body has definitely undergone a few changes since I got pregnant; sore muscles, incredibly dry and itchy skin, and twitching legs were some of the things I was struggling with. So I knew I had to make changes to my regular 'routine' and started researching my options.

I was committed to find a pregnancy-safe, all natural, easy and cheap solution and I'm so excited to share my discovery:  a quick mix of a few simple ingredients resulting in a miracle bath!! To create the basic bath mix, simply poor the following ingredients into a medium warm bath:

Yes, it is really as easy as that! Of course you can add all sorts of things to this basic mix, like essential oils, fresh herbs, ground oats, honey, milk, vinegar, you name it… But honestly, just these basics will do the trick. This is how they work:

Epsom Salt is rich in minerals (especially Magnesium) that can help you relax and rejuvenate. By adding the salt to your bath, you give your body time to soak up the minerals that will soften your skin, help detoxify your system and sooth your muscles.

Baking Soda has a softening effect on the skin and will help relieve the dry and itchy feeling. It's said to be a natural cleanser, balance your skins natural pH values and sooth irritation.

Coconut Oil is something I swear by (I also use it to make my Hand & Body Scrub and it's one of my Pregnancy Skin Care Favourites). I love the moisturizing and softening effect it has on my skin, without leaving it oily. By adding it to the bath, it will dissolve into the water and slowly soak into your skin.

A few things of note:

  • Avoid a hot bath, especially if your pregnant! While taking a warm bath has many benefits, a hot bath can raise your overall body temperature, which can be harmful to your baby. Also, the hot water will not do your skin any good. Before getting in, I make sure the temperature isn't above 37 °C.
  • The oil can make the tub a little slippery, so be careful getting in and out!!
  • There is no need to overdo the ingredients, you don't want the bath to be too strong. This is not a one-time-fix-all type of thing. However, results will start to show by taking regular baths about 2-3 times a week.
  • Staying in the tub for about 12-15 minutes is enough.
  • Because the bath also detoxifies the body, it's important to stay hydrated and drink enough to help your body get rid of the toxins that your releasing.
  • If you want to help your body detoxify, you can dry brush your skin before getting into the tub. This will stimulate the lymphatic system that helps release the toxins. Learn more about dry brushing in this article on Huffington Post.
  • Some say Magnesium deficiency is the real cause of morning sickness. If you're interested in reading more about Magnesium deficiency, try this article on Cheeseslave or this article on Mommypotamus.
  • If you're pregnant and want to add essential oils to the bath, make sure they are safe. This article on Modern Alternative Pregnancy and this article on Smile and Wave have some nice guidelines for using essential oils while pregnant.
  • Interested in reading more about Epsom Salt baths? Try this article on Discovery - Fit and Health.
  • I'm sharing my personal experience and opinion in this post. I'm not a doctor and this is not a substitute for medical advice. If you're nervous about any medical condition you (may) have or about your pregnancy, please consult a qualified health care professional.

    Wednesday, 29 January 2014

    Two Delicious GUILT-FREE Chocolate Recipes

    Feel like having a treat, but rather avoid the extra calories? Try one of these delicious, chocolate filled recipes! Both contain healthy ingredients and are super easy and quick to make. Guaranteed to satisfy your cravings :)

    Skinny Double Chocolate Muffins

    Ingredients (for 12 muffins):

    1 3/4 cup oats - I used the smaller 'quick' oats
    3 egg whites
    3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
    1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
    1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
    1/2 cup vanilla greek yogurt 
    1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
    1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
    1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    1 cup hot water
    1/2 cup sugar
    1/4 cup honey
    3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
    coconut oil for greasing the pan - any oil with little to no flavour will do


    Preheat your oven to 350°.

    Grease the muffin/cupcake pan.

    In a large bowl, simply mix all the ingredients together, except the chocolate chips.

    When the mixture is blended, stir in 1/2 cup of chocolate chips.

    Scoop the mixture into the pan, dividing it evenly over the 12 cups.

    Bake for 10 minutes.

    Take the pan out of the oven and sprinkle the left over chocolate chips (1/4 cup) on top of the muffins. Place the pan back into the oven and let it bake for 5 more minutes.

    Take the muffins out of the oven and let them cool in the pan. When cool enough to touch (after about 20 minutes) take them out of the pan and place them on a cooling rack. 

    Muffins freeze well.

    Healthy Chocolate Chip Cookies

    Ingredients (for 12 cookies):

    1/2 cup oats
    1 cup whole wheat flour 
    1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/4 cup vanilla greek yogurt 
    1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
    1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
    2 tablespoons honey
    1/4 cup brown sugar
    1/2 cup raisins
    1/2 cup chocolate chips


    Preheat your oven to 350°.

    Prepare baking sheet with parchment paper.

    In a large bowl, mix together the oats, flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Set aside

    In a small bowl, mix together the yogurt, applesauce, vanilla, honey and sugar. When blended and smooth, poor the mixture onto the dry ingredients and stir until you have a lumpy, sticky dough. Dough will be quite dry.

    Fold in the raisins and the chocolate chips. 

    Scoop 12 balls onto the baking sheet and slightly flatten.

    Bake for 12 minutes.

    Take the cookies out of the oven and let cool on a cooling rack.

    Cookies freeze well, or store in an airtight container.

    Friday, 24 January 2014

    DIY Easy Knit Baby Booties

    In my opinion handmade baby things are the best! I love the idea of being able to create something for my little one. However, I have absolutely no experience with knitting or sewing, so I needed an easy project to start with.

    I found a cute knitting project for baby booties, here. It seemed very basic, so I decided to give it a go. I bought a set of bamboo knitting needles in size 5.0 mm / size US 8, yarn that matches this needle size - I picked a type of yarn that is machine washable, and a tapestry needle with a large eye for weaving the ends and sewing the pieces together.

    When I started the project I realized the original instructions weren't really working for me, so I had to adjust things a bit. I decided to create two individual 'squares':
    - For the first square I cast on 6 stitches and knit 22 rows;
    - For the second square I cast on 26 stitches and knit 10 rows.
    I ended up with two little patches.

    After weaving in the ends, I had to connect the two pieces together. In the diagram below you can see that I put the smaller piece on top of the bigger piece, making sure they overlap right in the middle of the bigger piece. Using the tapestry needle and the yarn, I sewed them together (sewing along the dotted square).
    Once the two pieces were connected, I connected A with A, B with B, and C with C, making sure all the edges were tightly fastened.
    When the first side was done, I did the same for the second side and attached it right over top of the first.

    Because I had zero experience with knitting, I looked up some tutorials on youtube. I found the following videos were very helpful:
    1. Slip Knot
    2. Knit Stitch and Bind Off
    3. Weaving the Ends
    4. Joining Squares
    The tutorials are made for kids, so a little childish, but very easy to follow.

    Following all the steps, I ended up with two cute little baby booties. I have to admit, they are definitely not perfect; One is a little bigger than the other and the edges don't all look equally 'nice'… But it was a great first project and I'm super happy I finally took the step to create something for my baby. Can't wait to put them on her little feet in a few weeks!