Chicago in White: Exclusive PopUp Picnic Dining

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Enjoy the beauty of Chicago summer and Chicago’s people at an intimate evening of wine, white dresses and checkered picnic blankets. Chicago in White returns for its 6th annual celebration this Saturday, August 6th.  Be dressed to the nines to be part of the most lively gathering since its launch in 2011.

Chicago in White is inspired by the 1893 “City Beautiful” movement, designed to bring the city together in appreciation of its incredible aesthetic and design.

Every year, Chicago in White finds a location to stage its pop-up picnic style dinner party. They provide the tables, chairs and entertainment. You provide the lovely conversation and classy look.  This year’s secret location (Hint hint: Greater Hyde Park area, home of beautiful Promontory Point and President Obama) will be announced via email to all ticketholders the morning of the event.  Guests then pack their picnic baskets, dawn their all white attire, and head to Chicago in White’s outdoor location to begin an evening of breaking bread with old and new friends.  There will also be two types of ticket options this year.

  • $35 for General Admission
  • $150 for VIP Chloe Wine Collection Experience: be pampered with a delicious meal and wine pairing for two!
  • Both ticket holder types can pre-order Chloe wine from the collection or sample/purchase wine on-site
  • Think you got the look? Compete in the #ChloeInWhiteBestDressedContest 

Extra experiences can heighten your picnic party with Eataly!

At Chicago in White, Eataly will provide samples of their housemade gelato, and guests can also enjoy a complimentary demonstration and tasting of their housemade mozzarella (6-7:30pm).

Menu and pairing details, along with ticket info, are available at 2016chicagoinwhite.eventbrite.com

Don’t be Chi alone! Join Monica and her knight in white for an unforgettable evening this Saturday!

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BluePrint Cleanse Giveaway

Aww hello Fall.  We love you and your pumpkin spice lattes.  Before you get plumpkin, however, a change of seasons is a fabulous time to adopt new healthy habits and shed old ones.  A juice cleanse may help you transition and reset your cravings.  We were invited to try BluePrint cleanse for free to eval the benefits of a fall juice cleanse.  This ain’t our first cleanse rodeo so we can tell you a thing or two about how this cleanse compares.  Let us remind you that neither one of us is a medical professional (we just play them on tv…jkjk) so these are our personal opinions and we can’t guarantee anything similar…except you may become a unicorn.  Here are our JAQs (Juicily Asked Questions):

Why do a Juice Cleanse:

Ummm…most co-workers look at you with curiosity and/or incredulity when you show up to the break room with your lunch bag o’ juice.  Proponents of juicing contend that it provides a waterslide of vitamins to your body and flushes out toxins.  We aren’t really sure but juicing is a good way to quickly get your 5 servings of produce a day, pulverize unhealthy habits and squeeze out a clean eating regimen.

What to do before:

Not the best idea to do that 2 am White Castle before you start a cleanse.  Ease into it and keep it light.  BluePrint recommends you avoid animal proteins, dairy and processed foods before AND after a cleanse, so don’t jump into a pudding cup after you finish.  Basically become a rabbit, a healthy rabbit who loves avocado, olive oil and crunchy greens.

Where did BluePrint come from anyways?

Sneezing and coughing can lead to a thriving business!  In early 2000, Zoe Sakoutis, a certified nutritional consultant, caught a monster cold and looked for solutions from a raw foodie friend.  The answer?  A strict 7 day cleanse.  The answer worked but Zoe wanted a way to replicate without all the daily juice machine cleaning.  Zoe paired up with her friend, Erica Huss, and thus BluePrint came to fruition.  Their cold-pressed juices are a blend of USDA-certified-organic fruits and vegetables.  Ingredients are sourced from local farms (including BluePrint’s own acreage).

What was BluePrint Cleanse like?

User friendly for sure!  Juices are numbered for ease of drinkage.  Like Brian McKnight says “Start at 1” and then move your way through the day to 6 in the evening.  You drink a bottle about every 2 hours.  Juices come in recycled plastic BPA free bottles and we also received a cute juice carrying lunch bag to tote our way around the day.  You need access to a fridge or ice packs in your bag to make sure your juices stay frosty.

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Our renovation cleanse was recommended for the beginning juicer and featured 5 different juice combos to shun juice-logged feelings: 1) Green Juice 2) P.A.M.-Pineapple, Apple, Mint 3) Green Juice 4) Spicy Lemonade 5) C.A.B.-Apple, Carrot, Beet 6) Cashew Milk

“Best of Bottle” Juices?

Kate: Ok, so me and beet juice…not always friends.  Usually, it’s my most hated juice in the cleanse repertoire.  BluePrint’s C.A.B. juice has more ginger and lemon overtones and the beet doesn’t beat up your taste buds.

Monica: I love the idea of alternating juice with heavy fruits and vegetables to light lemon with a kick of either cayenne or ginger juice so I don’t get bored. The night ends perfectly with delicious rich Madagascar vanilla cashew milk….yumm.

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Any side effects?

Constantly cold!

The distinct drooling effect over your co-workers garlicky noodles at lunch.

Missing the little things…like chewing.

What were the benefits?

Kate: I noticed I could taste everything more intensely (in a good way).   After the cleanse, veggies and fruits tasted more rich and vibrant.  I lost 2 pounds (probably water weight but heyooo, makes you wanna keep up the health and wellness juice jive).  I got a ton of vitamins directly deposited into my body bank account.

Monica: I was giddy and perky on 2nd and 3rd day, so much so that my coworkers thought it was due to a new guy in my life (though true haha but I’ve experienced the exact same thing during my first juice cleanse).  I didn’t need any caffeine to get through the day even post cleanse.  No more bloating and slimmer waist!

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Now it’s your turn!

You can WIN a 3 DAY CLEANSE from BluePrint!  Click here to enter and start commenting.  You can still be “winning!” without winning with Gilt City BluePrint Cleanse Dealio.  Extra bonus news: BluePrint cleanse is debuting limited time fall dranks so ditch the Pumpkin Spice and try a six pack of 1 of 4 new juices for FREE when you buy a three day cleanse and enter the code “HARVEST“.

Don’t forget to enter our Rafflecopter giveaway!

Get crafty and charitable with CrEATeFest: A Day of Arts and Eats

Food truck, arts activities and dancing, oh my!  Foodies, artists and families can all co-mingle ar CrEATeFest on August 9th at the Bridgeport Arts Center to support Changing Worlds.  Changing Worlds is a non profit organization that supports in school … Continue reading

Throw Shade at Food Allergies with Sun Cups

Ah the pleasures of being Aunties!  You get to see your nephews, hug them, play games with them and give them back.  Both of us have outgoing nephews under 3 who love to snack.  Sadly, both of them have food allergies.  Nut, dairy, shellfish, gluten and more can all lead to unhappiness for many people.  This is precisely how the fabulously chocolatey dessert, Sun Cups, came about.  In 2008, Seth Ellis Chocolates opened their door to find a determined dude with chocolate and sunflower seed butter in hand who wanted a comparable Peanut Butter Cup substitute for his nut allergic son.  Challenge accepted and thus Sun Cups were birthed from a chocolate womb…or maybe created in the store.

Sun Cups are not only nut free (and pack with sunflower butter goodness) but also gluten, egg, shellfish, soy and fish free.  If that wasn’t enough wholesomeness to sunny your disposition, Sun Cups are non-GMO Project Verified, Certified Kosher, and they help the environment by using Rainforest Alliance Certified farms for their chocolate.

We were given illuminating Sun Cups to sample and brought them to a park picnic to share with our peeps.

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Milk Chocolate Sun Cups

Dark Chocolate Sun Cups

The dark chocolate cups had a nice balance of sunflower butter filling and a firm semi sweet dark chocolate shell.  There are 2 in a pack and we refused to share.  Dark chocolate is a great choice for getting your healthy flavonoids while treating yo’self.

Caramel Sun Cups

Our male comrades are caramel hounds and gobbled these up before we could even breathe on them.  One tester commented: “The caramel tastes like buttery melty toffee”.  We are happy it made his soul shine but jealous too.

Mint Sun Cups

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Mint and sunflower seed? Uhh let’s see how this works.

Sun Cups also sell milk and dark chocolate bars for the simplistic types.  C’mon who doesn’t like a good cup!? You can find Sun Cups online or at health food locations nationwide.

Be a Natural Beauty with Whole Foods Lincoln Park!

Now is the time to bare shoulders, freckled cheeks (face cheeks silly people) and calves as summer in Chicago has officially begun!  With all that exposed skin, you gotta look your best but wouldn’t it be fab if you could baby your skin with natural products?  Big box stores often have a smattering of natural skin and hair care but Whole Foods Lincoln Park has trumped them by expanding an entire section of the store for your holistic beauty regime.  Men, don’t feel left out!  They have a section for you and your bearded self too.

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Last Thursday, we were giddy to experience a sneak peek of the extension of the department.  First, we indulged in some rooftop yoga with Moksha Yoga, Mamma Chia vitality drinks and Whole Foods staff.

Afterwards, we put on our pink hard hats and toured the new beauty section and sampled holistic products.  Here are some highlights!

Fit and Active:

Looking to protein it up but not ready to commit?  Whole Foods Lincoln Park will offer a new Active Lifestyle section with both plant and whey based proteins that avoid the dreaded artificial sugars, colors or hydrogenated oils.  A superfood bulk (think maca, mangosteen or moringa) and protein powder selection will be available as well so you can taste and try a small amount before shelling out protein bucks.  We tried vegan protein samples from Vega and even got to spin our recovery drink flavors out with a green energy blending bike.

 

Stopping by after a workout?  You can belly up to the new juice and smoothie bar to get a post workout boost or ditch the sports drinks and try Nuun, a fizzy electrolyte filled tablet to enhance your water.

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Let Your Inner and Outer Beauty Shine:

Whole Foods Beauty section doesn’t only include vitamins and supplements.  Check out natural mineral based makeups, paraben-free hair cares and lotions and formaldehyde free nail polishes (among 6 other chemical free ingredients) in the new widened glowing aisles.  Feel like getting some tips on where to start?  A beauty concierge will now be waiting to address your coconut oil curiousness or coral lip color consulting needs.  We smoothed some BB cream from Pacifica while meandering around the store.  Pacifica products are 100% vegan and many use coconut water or milk (can you say “hello, I smell like a heavenly tropical island”?)  We also love that the products aren’t expensive in comparison to department store brands so you can do good things for your body and your wallet if you have a tight budget.

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A Manly Regime:

Men, you have no excuse to not be metro…or just kempt and not dirty…with Whole Foods Lincoln Park’s exclusive men’s section.  No more digging through the aisles to find the sad men’s corner at the end.  This area of the store has face, hair and body care products free of gross chemicals and just for you.

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Ready for Action!

Whole Foods kicks off their beauty celebration with a bag o’ beauty goodies, “Ready for Action” Bags, valued at $50 bucks for only (Wait for It!!) $12!  Packed in a hand printed zipped active clutch (as we like to call it) printed by RIJI Green, a company that works to end human trafficking, you will find your summer survival kit!

  • Toms of Maine Long Lasting Deodorant, Natural Powder Scent (2.25 oz)
  • Aubrey Pure Aloe Vera (4 fl oz)
  • Boiron Arnicare Gel (.5 oz)
  • Amazing Grass Amazing Meal, Vanilla Chai (.88 oz)
  • Goddess Garden Organics Natural Sunscreen SPF 30, Everyday or Kids (1 oz)
  • Garden of Life Perfect Food Raw Organic Green Super Food, Real Raw Chocolate Cacao (.34 oz)
  • Nuun Active Natural Electrolyte Enhanced Drink Tabs, Lemon + Lime (10 tabs)
  • Spectrum Essentials Seed Blends – Orchard Fruit, Savory, Tropical Fruit, or Warrior Vitality (.5-.7oz)

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Ready to become a natural beauty?  Visit Whole Foods Lincoln Park on Saturday June 27th to step into action.

Whole Foods Lincoln Park,1550 N. Kingsbury, Chicago, IL 60642

You can be extra cool like us and shop and do rooftop yoga this Sunday with this special charity event!

YOGA + CHEESE + WINE

SUNDAY, JUNE 28TH
10:00 AM – 12:00 PM
ROOFTOP, $30
Experience the lighter side of yoga with YogaQuench!  After a 1-hour relaxing yoga session, sample wines and cheeses while learning about these pairings from our Certified Cheese Professional.

BYOM: Bring your own mat.  Proceeds benefit local nonprofit, Yoga for Recovery.  Register here.

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Be Bold with Brooklyn Boulders and Luna Bar

It’s FITNESS FRIDAY and if you’re stuck in a fitness rut, we know just the way to climb out!  Try indoor rock climbing!  Being bold on the boulders not only challenges your body, it can also calm stress and amp up your brain.

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Last Wednesday, Luna Bar continued it’s #LUNAChiReveal with their Salted Caramel Protein Bar, Brooklyn Boulders and a host of talented and strong Chicago women to give us a chance to try indoor rock climbing.  Brooklyn Boulders Chicago is one of facilities in the U.S.  Not only can visitors try traditional bouldering, auto belay or rope climbing, but they can also sample fitness classes like Acro-Yoga, weight training or bring a laptop and get some work done in between climbing in the relaxing upstairs meeting space.

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Luna Bar mixed it up with 3 stations for us rookie climbers:

Bouldering

Bouldering is a form of rock climbing sans a harness or ropes.  Ob-v, Brooklyn Boulders loves safety so there’s a crash mat waiting for you in case you can’t find your way down.  There are various routes, called problems in the rock climbing world, with easy level climbing and ultra hard climbing.  First, BKB staff had us practice falling.  We call it the upside bug technique.  Basically, the goal is to land face up with the impact on your cushiony butt and your extremeties curled in like a insect that’s been flicked over.  Next, we scurried our way up the simpler routes.  Monica is a natural as she made her way to the top and back no problem (or maybe she’s part squirrel).

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Auto Belay Certification

The auto belay, an automatic rope connected to a harness that supports the climber, is a daunting yet thrilling. BKB instructors demo-ed the proper way to connect the auto belay to the harness as well as how to descend (although none of us Luna participates did it quite as gracefully).  Once connected, you freely ascend up the problem of your choice and when you feel you can’t move up any longer, you let go.  The auto belay catches and lowers you safely.  Once certified by staff, visitors of BKB are allowed to move about different courses with auto belays.

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Dream Space

We named this ourselves but Luna put together some inspirational crafting, delish new Salted Caramel Protein Bar samplin’, and blogger minglin’ in the upstairs work space.  Postcards with antique style ink stamps were set up in a cute mailboxes and we were encouraged to write encouraging words to our selves!  There was also a colorful chalkboard set up to channel your motivational side by writing when you feel the most strong.

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We highly recommend rising (ahaaa) to the challenge of indoor climbing.  BKB staff are friendly, professional an truly made us feel safe as first timers.  Step up to Brooklyn Boulders with a Salted Caramel Protein bar to replenish yourself after a grueling but rewarding advance!  Has anyone else been to Brooklyn Boulders?  What do you think!?

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Easy Peasy Omega 3ies! The Healthy Fat for your Brain

We’re sure many of you have heard about the benefits of fatty acids.  Yahhh fat isn’t all bad!!  But you have to choose the healthy fats to keep your body happy (so back away from those processed cupcakes and chips).  Some fats, such as Omega-3 fats, can combat heart disease, dementia, depression, ease the pain of arthritis and more.  Omega-3s are your brain’s super friend!

SO…where do you find them?  Your body doesn’t produce Omega-3s so you can only get them through food or supplements.  Fish contains two forms of Omega-3, DHA and EPA, which seem to have the best benefits.  But what if you don’t like fish or you’re concerned about mercury ingestion?  We certainly aren’t seafood peeps due to personal preferences.  Luckily, a vegetarian form of fatty acids, ALA, can be found in flax seed, spinach, walnuts and vegetable oils.  Although supplements are not ideal, sometimes they work better for a busy lifestyle (especially if they are tasty and in gummy form).  We aren’t big fans of chalky pills or burping up fishy oil flavor (eww) so we recently added Be Bright to our regimen.

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Be Bright, a Coromega product, is a non-GMO superfood oil blend with coconut, avocado, chia seed, hemp seed and black cumin.  Even with it’s rich coconut flavor and pudding like texture, it is still plant based, dairy free, vegan AND gluten free, all tucked into a squeezable eco friendly package.  Be Bright can be integrated in your morning smoothie, stirred into your oatmeal for a sweet touch or just eaten off the spoon as we like to do for a quick fix in the morning rush.

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Coromega sells other Omega-3 products such as gummies for the candy chewy type of person as well as tropical, mango or orange flavors for the sunny citrus types.  You can find these Omega-3 goodies online or at GNCs and Vitamin Shoppes throughout the Chicagoland area.  Free one week samples available on Coromega‘s website.  Happy Squeezin’ for Brain Pleazin’! (yeahhhh we did that :P).

*We were not compensated for our opinions but were provided with a free sample of Coromega’s Be Bright Superfood Oil Blend.

Help Bring the Herb-N-Juice Truck to life in Chicago!

One of the highlights of living in our great city is the bevy of food trucks we have.  What we don’t have, however, is an eco-friendly juice and smoothie truck!  Imagine your summer yoga sesh in Millennium Park and walking out to find a delicious organic juice blend waiting for you in the Chicago heat.  Herb-N-Juice is a startup company created by Joe Wehrli.  Wehrli, originally a Midwesterner, moved to California for a bit and was inspired by the holistic juicing culture.  His focus is on organic, local produce, and homemade vegan protein blends, delivered in a green juice truck (a cool tech-ed up golf cart).  Wehrli intends to expand to a store front eventually and will include healthy bowls, cold pressed juice and smoothies.

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We had the pleasure of trying the goods this past Saturday at a Chicago Food Bloggers Tasting Party alongside Wehrli’s amiable family and friends.  We were treated to 4 different juices, 2 smoothies and 1 bowl.  Here’s all the juicy details!

Juice 1:

Orange, apple, carrot, celery, ginger

The color was a vibrant tangerine with a sweet carrot smell.  Wehrli intends this to be his morning blend to give you a quick jump in the morning as a substitute for your morning caffeine fix.  The taste was a good balance with no overpowering fruit or veggie flavors.  It has a clean finish with a sweet aftertaste.

Juice 2:

Beet, Apple, Pomegranate, Lemon, Cucumber, Carrot

This is the detox heavy hitter of the bunch.  Kate’s not a huge fan of beets and found the juice to be palatable and less earthy (thankfully) compared to other beet blends.  Monica loved the bright rosey color (contributed by the pomegranate) and loved the light texture.

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Juice 3:

Granny smith apple, celery, kale, cucumber, lemon, pineapple, pomegranate

This green blend is surprising with it’s limey color and balanced flavor.  It is neither too tangy nor too sugary.

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Smoothie 1:

Chocolate almond milk, organic peanut butter, banana, homemade vegan protein powder, greek yogurt

We both loved the smoothie which is surprising as Monica detests all things banana.  The protein powder (Wehrli’s own mix of hemp seeds, chia seeds, lucuma, maca and a few other vegan high protein sources from a natural provider, Nuts.com) is mild and doesn’t detract from the flavor of the chocolate and peanut butter.

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Smoothie 2:

Coconut-almond milk, acai puree, banana, mango, strawberry

This tropical blend is delicate and bright.  Both of us enjoyed the frozen purple milk-shakey texture and the coconut touch.

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Wehrli also served up a diabetic friendly juice with green apple, mint, parsley and other greens.  Although it is not as fruit filled, it is pleasant and maybe even preferable for veggie lovers with it’s alkaline nature.

By now, we’re sure you’re begging to find out where the truck is waiting to grab some easy nutrients.  Well, that’s where help is needed.  Wehrli’s truck is still in process as it is electric, has solar panels AND, unlike most food trucks, the juices and smoothies are made on site.  Many food trucks make their product at a stationary location and then bring it out, pre-cooked, into the world.  This emission free concept has run into some financial snags as Wehrli is attempting to be green with every aspect of his business.  Wehrli will also utilize plant made cups that are fully compostable.  So what are you waiting for?!  If you can, help get Herb-N-Juice on the road by donating to their kickstarter campaign.  Depending on your donation, you may get a rad Herb-N-Juice Tshirt or every hipster’s fave (including our own), a mason jar with the cute Herb-N-Juice logo.

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Juice up!  Winter will be over soon and your swimmy suit is waiting in the wings. 🙂

3 Natural Immune Boosting Ideas

“Hooray Cold and Flu Season!” said no one ever (sorry we had to jump on the meme bandwagon).  Yessir, we here in the shivering Midwest are under an alien invasion.  Just kidding, it’s a germ invasion but we think that’s just as scary.  So what are some ways to boost your protective body shield, aka your immune system?

You often read about superstars like ginger, lemon, and honey but their are some lesser known herbs and spices that people throughout ancient history have used to improve their health.  Recently, we were given 3 different immune boosting products to try, all hailing from India: Tulsi Tea, Chyawanprash Organic Herbal Jam, and Turmeric Supplements from Organic India.

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Organic India is a pretty amazing company too.  Organic India was formed in the 1990’s by a group of visionaries who according to their mission “establish a sustainable business model to support the livelihood of thousands of impoverished farmers in India by providing training and education, enabling self-sufficiency and skills that could be passed on to future generations.”  Couldn’t have said it better ourselves!  All of their farmers are taught about and practice organic and biodynamic farming and all of their products are certified organic.  In addition to the samples we were offered, they also sell organic ghee, organic whole husk psyllium and organic sugarcane syrups.

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Tulsi, also known as “Holy Basil” was said to be discovered in India almost 5000 years ago.  Of course, the Tulsi in our tea wasn’t that old…we hope.  Various research studies have suggested that Tulsi can help with respiratory issues, fevers, diabetes and digestive problems as well as everybody’s enemy, stress.  Tulsi may also reduce coughs and cold and could act as a replacement for your daily ‘tussin intake.  Organic India‘s Tulsi tea is quite the stress reliever.  It has an earthy herb flavor that seems decadent, like a nice hot bath with candles and bubbles.  Tulsi tea can easily become part of one’s morning routine or afternoon unwinding time after work.  For more info about Tulsi tea, check out this article.

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Betcha didn’t know turmeric was ginger’s cousin.  What a small rooty world right?  Turmeric has a powerhouse component called curcumin that has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.  Turmeric has been linked to the following positive health benefits: improved brain function, lowering risk of cancer and heart disease, reduced joint pain, and improved digestion.  Turmeric powder can be easily integrated into cooking delicious dishes, making quick detox drinks, or even just mixing the powder with honey and eating it. If you don’t feel like getting creative in the kitchen, you can get a daily turmeric fix with Organic India‘s turmeric supplements.

And now for something new, Chyanwanprash.  Now, Monica grew up with this little herb dandy but this was Kate’s first time trying it.  Chyanwanprash an ayurvedic herbal tonic made in a jam like mixture with over 35 herbs in it. Wowsa!  It’s been linked to improving respiratory function and getting that digestive system working properly by reducing flatulence (commonly known as the toots) and other maladies like diarrhea.  It is also believed to promote anti aging so we are looking forward to immortality (mwahahaha).

Organic India’s products, their history and mission, as well as some informative and nifty blogs about health are available on here. What are some favorite herbal remedies you use to boost your health?  We need all the health we can get!