Author Archives: Debi Calabrese

  • Why Minerals Should Be in Your Beauty Arsenal

    HairMinerals are a must in a healthy diet—they’re essential for keeping our bodies in balance and our cells functioning properly. But did you know that minerals in our skin and hair products provide important benefits, too?

    Titanium dioxide and zinc oxide protect you from the sun.
    Titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are the perfect natural sunscreens, because they physically block the sun’s damaging rays on the surface of skin. That means they don’t penetrate the skin like chemical sunscreens (i.e. avobenzone and oxybenzone) which can cause hormone disruption or allergies, according to the Environmental Working Group (EWG).

    Try Andalou Naturals All-in-One Beauty Balm, SPF 30, a sheer BB facial cream with 20% zinc oxide that protects, moisturizes and strengthens skin. Coola Sport Mineral Sunscreen Moisturizer is a full-body SPF 35 cream that’s water-resistant (and orange and tangerine extracts make it smell great! For hair, try Mineral Fusion Lasting Color Shampoo and Conditioner, which protects locks from sun damage and fading, and moisturizes with super-hydrating argan and mongongo seed oils.

    Mineral makeup is kind to sensitive skin.
    Without skin-irritating parabens, dyes, synthetic preservatives or talc, natural mineral foundations are often recommended by dermatologists for patients with sensitive skin or rosacea, according to WebMD. Because mineral foundations are oil-free, they’re good for acne-prone skin and less likely to cause breakouts. As an added bonus, these foundations contain titanium dioxide or zinc oxide that provides an extra level of sun protection.

    Try jane iredale Amazing Base Loose Mineral Powder SPF 20, which protects skin from UVA and UVB rays, provides silky, luminous coverage and comes in 13 skin-matching shades. ZuZu Luxe Dual Powder Foundation is good for acne-prone skin with oil-absorbing and purifying kaolin. Mineral-based W3LL People Elitist Eye Shadow Powder is gentle, lasts all day and can be layered for sheer or more dramatic looks.

    Kaolin and bentonite detox and purify.
    Kaolin and bentonite mineral clays are created from naturally weathered rocks and volcanic ash, and are good for drawing out impurities and toxins without causing dryness or irritation. These natural clays also calm inflammation and neutralize bacteria, making them ideal for congested or acne-prone skin, according to research studies published by the National Institute of Health. Clay can be found in dry shampoos, too, reducing oiliness and freshening hair.

    Treat your skin to Michael Todd Kaolin Clay Detoxifying Facial Mask, a powerful blend of skin detoxifying kaolin, bentonite and red clay that deeply cleanses skin while soothing and healing breakouts. Get good coverage for oil skin with ZuZu Luxe Dual Powder Foundation featuring oil-absorbing minerals and purifying kaolin. And One Love Organics Healthy Locks Dry Shampoo with kaolin clay is the perfect take-along while traveling or camping.

    Dead Sea minerals restore moisture and repair skin.
    Salts found in the Dead Sea area are rich in minerals that bring overly dry, cracked skin back to suppleness reports the International Journal of Dermatology. Dead Sea salt features high concentrations of magnesium, calcium, potassium and zinc, which strengthen your skin by drawing moisture and nutrients from deeper dermal layers to the surface, and locking moisture in. Dead Sea minerals also help skin cells renew faster, ideal for healing damaged skin.

    Try Ahava Dead Sea Osmoter Concentrate, a concentrated serum applied under moisturizer that leaves skin glowing and supple. Or draw a bath and add Pharmaca Bath Salts in Ylang Ylang & Ginger, which help nourish and repair dry, itchy and flaky skin with Dead Sea salts and soothing ylang ylang botanical oil.

  • Easy Switches for Chemical-Free Cleaning

    CleaningWomanNews flash: Scrubbing bubbles, chlorine bleach and strong chemicals are out. These days, a sparkling clean, great-smelling home comes courtesy of natural household cleaners that safely, effectively remove dirt and grime. Here’s more about healthy swaps to make in your cleaning cupboard.

    Say NO to asthma-inducing spray cleaners.
    Many of the all-purpose spray cleaners lining grocery store shelves contain “asthmagens” (i.e. substances that can cause asthma) like ammonia or ethanolamine and have poor safety ratings, says the Environmental Working Group (EWG) in its Guide to Healthy Cleaning.

    Say YES to plant-based spray cleaners.
    Natural all-purpose spray cleaners made with plant-based surfactants break down dirt and grease safely and are free of petroleum, phosphates and ammonia. Try Earth Friendly Products Parsley Plus Surface Cleaner (with a fresh parsley scent!) or The Honest Company Multi-Surface Cleaner that fights dirt with coconut and organic grapefruit oil.

    Say NO to chlorine bleach, ammonia or sodium borate in laundry detergents
    Chlorine and ammonia can cause a host of breathing problems, as well as reproductive system toxicity and skin irritation, according to the EWG. And sodium borate (i.e. borax) is banned in Europe for potential endocrine and reproductive risks.

    Say YES to natural enzyme and clay laundry products.
    Naturally derived and biodegradable ingredients clean clothes and remove stains effectively without irritating skin or releasing dangerous fumes. Try Grab Green Fragrance Free 3-in-1 Laundry Detergent Pods, which are especially good for those with sensitive skin or those prone to allergies or asthma. To whiten clothes, try Biokleen Oxygen Bleach Plus, which is highly rated by the EWG for safely brightening clothes with natural clays and non-chlorine whiteners.

    Say NO to toxic drain cleaners.
    Warning labels on many common drain cleaners and clog removers should be just that—warnings to avoid the chemicals inside, like sodium hydroxide. Severe burns, blindness and dangerous chemical reactions can occur if these products are misused or mishandled.

    Say YES to enzymes and helpful bacteria to open drains.
    Solid wastes in clogged drains and septic tanks quickly and safely dissolve with natural enzymes and bacterial products. Try non-toxic, non-polluting Earth Friendly Products Earth Enzymes Natural Drain Opener on kitchen sinks, bathroom drains and garbage disposals.


    Say NO to phosphate-laden dish detergents.
    Although most states ban the use of phosphates in detergents, some companies still manage to add phosphate-laden additives, according to the EWG. Phosphate compounds are harmful to the environment because they wash into waterways and cause extensive algae growth, leading to massive “dead zones” in our waterways.

    Say YES to dish detergents with natural minerals and plant enzymes.
    Detergents with natural, non-toxic sodium minerals and plant-based enzymes break down dirt and grease and remove dried-on food easily. Try Grab Green Fragrance Free Automatic Dishwashing Detergent Pods, which are gentle but effective on all household dishes, even baby bottles. Another good choice is Mrs. Meyer’s Liquid Dish Soap in Rosemary, which degreases with soap bark extract and naturally disinfects with rosemary and peppermint leaf oils.

    Say NO to air fresheners that just mask odors
    Spray air fresheners cover odors with chemical fragrances that can trigger allergies or asthma attacks, and some contain the suspected endocrine disrupter sodium borate.

    Say YES to natural odor absorbers.
    Botanical essential oils like lime, pine and tea tree oil neutralize and eliminate odors naturally, even strong pet and mildew smells. Try Fresh Wave Natural Odor Eliminator Crystal Gel or Kanberra Gel Clean & Green Combo Pack Odor Remover and Air Purifier.

  • Beauty Without Borders

    HerbHandsEvery country has its own beauty culture…we’ve traveled the globe to find unique ingredients, philosophies and practices that inspire us to embrace the best of beauty worldwide. Here are a few of our favorite global beauty lines.

    Biodynamic farming produces pure and potent plants.
    The biodynamic farming movement was founded in Germany on the concept that plants and herbs grow best and maintain the highest level of potency when farms are regarded as complete, self-sustaining organisms. Healthy soil, natural composting, chemical-free fertilizing and pest control are the basis for biodynamic farming. Nature’s rhythms, the phases of the moon, sun and planets, guide planting and harvesting cycles.

    Weleda was started by the father of biodynamic farming, Dr. Rudolf Steiner, who believed that mind, body, spirit and earth are connected. Today, Weleda’s 50-acre medicinal plant garden in Germany and other biodynamic farms throughout Europe and in South America and New Zealand grow potent organic botanicals in sync with nature. (Try their Skin Food, an ultra-hydrating body cream with organic rosemary, calendula and chamomile.)

    Dr. Hauschka, an early leader in the biodynamic farming movement in Germany, grows more than 150 medicinal plants at its biodynamic farm in the Swabian Mountains and is committed to keeping us and the earth healthy. Dr. Hauschka has expanded its programs to the highlands of Ethiopia where Damask roses are grown on sustainable biodynamic farms. (Try their Rose Nurturing Body Oil, featuring Damask roses and natural jojoba oil to calm dry, irritated skin.)

    Jurlique found unspoiled, healthy soil for its biodynamic farm in the hills of South Australia. They use ancient alchemy techniques to distill, seep and ash botanicals, ensuring that all essential oils and vital nutrients are captured and translated to their potent skin care. (Try their Herbal Recovery Advanced Serum, packed with 15 botanical extracts to firm, smooth and moisturize skin.)

    Healing waters calm.
    In the mountains of France, Avene taps mineral waters that have spent 40 years underground—making them rich in trace minerals and silicates, perfectly balanced for treating sensitive skin. (Try their Thermal Spring Water Spray to soothe redness and itching.)

    And in southwest France, Klorane creates their award-winning products with local cornflower plant-infused water. (Try their Floral Water Make-Up Remover, which tones, soothes skin and reduces inflammation.)

    Indigenous botanicals heal.
    Native African plants like baobab, argan, marula and shea butter are regarded as some of the most skin-nourishing botanicals on the planet. Many companies work with small cooperatives to better the standard of living of native Africans who harvest these ingredients. Shea Terra sources its nourishing shea butter from a women’s coop in northern Uganda and pure anti-aging argan oil from a women’s coop in Morocco. Pressing seeds from ancient African baobab trees, Shea Terra creates its superfruit Baobab Oil that’s rich in omega fatty acids and antioxidants. (Try their Nilotik Shea ButterMoroccan Argan Oil and African Baobab Oil).

    Alaffia relies on ancient recipes to create its purifying and detoxifying Ossa Dudu black soaps made with West African palm kernel oil and shea butter. (Try their Authentic Black Soap)

    Nubian Heritage crafts its Anago black soaps from palm ash, plantain peels, tamarind extract, organic oats and shea butter. (Try their African Black Soap Body Wash)

    Marula Pure sustainably harvests and cold presses nuts from wild marula trees to create its pure, non-greasy facial oil that’s proven to improve skin elasticity. (Try: Marula Facial Oil)

    In France, Pre de Provences artisans craft body care products using traditional methods perfected generations ago. Locally sourced lavender is blended with natural shea butter and triple milled to create long-lasting and fresh fragranced soaps and creams. (Try their Lavender Bar Soap )

    An environmental focus restores balance in nature.
    In Hungary, Eminence maintains its originality by creating skin care products based on recipes created by the founder’s grandmother. And for every item sold, a tree is planted in a developing country. Eminence also uses biodynamically grown ingredients, and packages them in post-consumer recycled materials. (Try their Bearberry Eye Repair Cream to hydrate, firm and protect the delicate eye area.)

    And in Africa, Klorane’s Great Green Wall Project is planting more than 10,000 trees a year to help repair the damaged ecosystem in the Sahara-Sahel region.

  • Choosing the Best Multivitamin for You

    MultivitaminsTaking a multivitamin is a great way to get essential nutrients that are hard to get through diet alone. But with so many different choices available, how do you choose the best one? We consulted with Nutritionist Elyssia Schaeffer at our Portland store about how to pick the best one for you.

    Consider how it’s made and what ingredients are used.
    Whole food multivitamins are more easily absorbed and can be taken on an empty stomach, according to Elyssia. Made from organic fruits and vegetables, MegaFood One Daily is a good all-around complete multivitamin that supports cardiovascular, digestive, cognitive and immune health (look for MegaFood One Daily formulas for men, women and adults over 40, too).

    Raw multivitamins are not heated during the manufacturing process, which helps keep probiotics and enzymes intact—thereby supporting a healthy digestive tract and providing essential vitamins, says Elyssia. Garden of Life Vitamin Code Raw One for Women or Raw One for Men are good for adults of all ages and suitable for vegans and vegetarians.

    Pharmaceutical-grade multivitamins are made with ingredients that mimic the nutrients found in whole food that are biologically active (e.g. readily absorbed by the body). Look for high-quality, high-potency multivitamins without artificial colors, hydrogenated oils or magnesium stearate, which inhibits the absorption of nutrients. Thorne Research Basic Nutrients III is rich in antioxidant vitamins C and E, and is made without preservatives, sweeteners or artificial colors. It’s also gluten, corn, yeast, soy, dairy and egg free so it’s ideal for those with allergies or GI sensitivities, according to Elyssia.

    Consider your age and sex.
    Women Under 50 should look for multivitamins with extra iron and folic acid, which helps reduce the risk of birth defects during child-bearing years. Garden of Life myKind Women's Multi meets daily requirements for iron and folic acid and are made from fresh, organic ingredients.

    Women Over 50 in pre-menopause or menopause stages of life need little or no iron, but do need extra calcium, magnesium, vitamins D, B6 and B12 (since we don’t absorb these as well as we age). Try MegaFood Women Over 40 One Daily Tablets with age-defying antioxidants and hormone-balancing nutrients, or Rainbow Light Menopause One Multivitamin with superfood nutrients, digestion-helping enzymes and herbal botanicals that help relieve menopausal symptoms like hot flashes and memory loss.

    Men Under 50 need to keep their hearts healthy, maintain energy and keep their cancer risk low. Nutrients lycopene, grape seed extract and green tea extract like those found in Pharmaca Men’s Multivitamin meet these needs. For guys on the go, Rainbow Light Men’s Energy Multivitamin Gummy is a complete whole food chewable vitamin with energy-boosting B vitamins and ashwagandha, packaged in easy grab-and-go packets.

    Men Over 50 should look for multivitamins that feature nutrients that can lower the risk of prostate cancer (i.e. vitamin D), and also support brain and heart health with vitamins B3, B6, folic acid and magnesium. Lutein and bilberry are also helpful additions to keep eyes healthy, says Elyssia. Integrative Therapeutics Clinical Nutrients 50+ Men is a good choice, since it has 44 nutrients that support healthy aging and vitality.

    Kids and Teens who are fussy eaters or eat a vegetarian diet can benefit from a multivitamin, especially whole food chewable ones like Nordic Naturals Nordic Berries Multivitamin or Bluebonnet Super Earth Animalz. Young women in their teens who are still growing should choose multivitamins with nutrients that support their needs, says Elyssia, like Rainbow Active Health Teen—it has vitamin K for bones, B vitamins for energy and a specialized herbal blend that supports healthy skin.

  • Play up your best feature

    LipstickAll of us have a feature that makes us uniquely beautiful, be it eyes, lips, cheeks or skin…learn to celebrate it with targeted skin care treatments and natural, good-for-you makeup!

    Play up: Sparkling eyes
    Focus attention on your eyes with—believe it or not—navy blue mascara. ZuZu Luxe Mascara in Navy is surprisginly wearable and works with all eye colors, making the whites of your eyes appear brighter and your eye color more intense. B vitamins and sea fennel extract thicken and strengthen lashes, and its non-smudging lasting power makes it a customer favorite.

    Smoky shadows are another good way to showcase your eyes, says esthetician Tessa Wilson at our Berkeley store, who likes jane iredale Smoke Gets In Your Eyes Eyeshadow Kit with neutral, smoky dark and highlighting gold shadows that work for both day and night looks. Treat the delicate eye area with One Love Organics Vitamin E Active Moisture Eye Balm, Tessa adds; it’s an all-in-one cream that reduces puffiness, smooths fine lines and hydrates like crazy.

    Play up: Cheekbones
    If you’ve been graced with sculpted cheekbones, emphasize them with dual-purpose creams that highlight and moisturize your skin. Pacifica Radiant Shimmer Coconut Multiples Highlighting Creams is a do-it-all palate of light iridescent, shimmery pink and golden bronze colors. To use, apply the lightest cream at the top of your cheekbones, rosy pink on the apples of your cheeks and bronze for underneath the cheekbone. These coconut-based creams blend into each other easily for a natural, dewy look.

    For a more minimalist approach, Vapour Organic Beauty Aura Multi Use Classic is an all-purpose stick that highlights cheeks, eyes and lips in one easy swipe for a genuine-looking glow. It’s nourishing, soothing and full of organic botanicals like holy basil, myrrh and lotus leaf extracts.

    Play up: Luscious lips
    Does your smile light up a room? Play up lips with jane iredale’s PlayOn Lip Crayon in Luscious, a creamy rose brown that looks great on all skin tones, says Tessa. For on-trend red lips, try Dr. Hauschka Inner Glow Lipstick in Red Quartz—customers love its satin finish and staying power. And keep lips smooth with Jurlique Love Balm, which Tessa likes for its fresh tangerine scent and moisturizing olive oil.

    Play up: Luminous skin
    Hydration and protection are essential for showcasing skin and keeping it healthy. Get skin glowing with Juice Beauty SPF 30 Tinted Mineral Moisturizer, Tessa’s recommendation for a lightweight lotion with a hint of color, sun protection and natural botanicals that provide age-defying benefits.

    If you prefer a mineral powder, try ZuZu Luxe Mosaic Illuminator to create a light-reflecting glow and infuse skin with natural moisture from avocado and jojoba extracts. And to keep your skin radiant even without makeup, Tessa likes DeVita Hyaluronic SeruGel used under moisturizer for extra hydration. This oil-free gel combines 65 percent hyaluronic acid with soothing aloe to draw water into the skin to make it plump, firmer and with less noticeable lines and wrinkles.

  • Quick Treatments for Damaged Hair

    Brown hairHas your hair lost its bounce? Shine? Thickness? Tackle the problem with some serious hair repair treatments that work fast. Here’s what you need to know about the anatomy of your hair and what to do when things go awry.

    It’s all about follicles and cuticles
    Hair grows from hair follicles in our scalp, and the hair shaft is made up almost completely of a protein called keratin. Each shaft is comprised of three layers: the inner most medulla, which determines the thickness of the hair, the middle cortex, which gives hair its color, and the outer cuticle, which forms a protective barrier. By keeping our scalp healthy, our follicles can produce hair that’s stronger, and by nourishing the exposed cuticle (it’s semi-permeable so products can penetrate), we protect the hair shaft from damage.

    Help for: Processed or color-treated hair
    Chemicals like hydrogen peroxide used in permanent coloring and highlighting products, glycolic acid in straightening products and even formaldehyde by-products that are present in certain salon Brazilian straighteners, open the cuticle and allow color or a relaxing agent to be deposited into your hair’s cortex.

    These chemicals also make your hair strands weaker, drier and lackluster. That’s where a serious conditioning treatment comes in, like Earth Science Olive & Avocado Deep Conditioning Hair Mask. It penetrates and smooths hair cuticles with moisturizing coconut, avocado and olive oils, while silk proteins form a protective barrier on strands to improve elasticity and shine. Plus it works on both fine and thick hair. Another one to try: Alba Botanica Hawaiian Deep Conditioning Minute Mask, which restores hair with super nourishing argan oil and cocoa butter, and smooths with plant-sourced keratin.

    Help for: Sun and wind damaged hair
    Outdoor enthusiasts know that the elements can take a toll on our hair, leaving it dry and brittle. That’s because the sun’s UVA and UVB rays break down the keratin proteins and pigment in our hair, and wind can cause tangles and split ends. Treat your hair to Peter Lamas Youth Revival 5 Oil Hair Treatment Mask, a blend of five botanical oils that remoisturize hair, smooth cuticles, increase elasticity and protect the hair shaft from UV rays.

    Help for: Thin or slow-growing hair
    Thinning hair is often the result of heredity, hormonal changes like pregnancy or menopause, or even certain hairstyles that pull hair too tight. A healthy scalp can keep your follicles functioning optimally and help encourage hair growth. Peter Lamas Chinese Herbs Regenerating Scalp Serum massaged in to the scalp twice daily invigorates hair follicles and detoxifies the scalp with herbal swertia extract and apple stem cells.

    You can work on thinning hair from the inside out, too: Try incorporating supplements rich in the B vitamin biotin—like Pharmaca Biotin Capsules—to strengthen hair and help it grow faster.

    Help for: Flaky, itchy scalp
    Itchy scalp and dandruff can be caused by several factors; the most common are dry skin, seborrheic dermatitis or a yeast-like fungus. But embarrassing flakes and itchiness can be treated with products that restore your scalp to health. John Masters Lavender & Avocado Intensive Conditioner blends organic arnica and white tea to detoxify your scalp, while lavender oil hydrates and calms skin to relieve symptoms of eczema or dermatitis. Badger Organic Jojoba Hair Oil for Dry Scalp is another effective treatment, quelling itchiness and dandruff with nourishing plant oils, scalp-stimulating rosemary and peppermint essential oils, and antibacterial and anti-fungal tea tree oil.

  • Fermented Foods: Add Some Culture to Your Diet

    EatingYogurtCan’t tell your kombucha from your kimchi? If you’re wondering what’s behind the buzz about fermented foods, here’s what you need to know.

    Bring on the bacteria!

    Fermentation is all about the chemistry of breaking down a complex substance into simpler parts, with the help of bacteria, yeast or fungi. It’s a process that’s been used for centuries to preserve food and aid in digestion.

    There are two common ways to do this: lacto-fermentation, which converts sugary lactose into lactic acid and gives food a distinctive sour taste; and alcohol fermentation, which uses yeast to convert natural sugars in fruit and grains into alcohol.

    Good for your gut, skin and mood

    Fermented foods have a wide range of health benefits, but perhaps the most important is their function as a probiotic. Fermented foods with active bacterial or yeast cultures supplement the many beneficial strains of bacteria that live in our gut. And because our gut houses the largest part of our immune system, keeping it healthy with fermented foods can help us fight infections, allergies and inflammation, say experts at Tufts University.

    Another benefit of fermented foods? A mood boost. If you’ve been feeling slightly down or anxious lately, fermented foods can help, nutritional psychiatrists tell us. That may be because 95 percent of serotonin, the chemical in our bodies that regulates mood, is produced in our digestive tract. A healthy, probiotic-rich diet plays a big part in keeping the production of serotonin strong, helping reduce anxiety and improving our mental outlook.

    Skin conditions such as acne, eczema and rosacea may also be improved through consumption of fermented foods, as dermatologists are looking at the relationship between a probiotic diet and good skin health.

    Kimchi, kombucha and more                                                         

    There are more fermented food options than you may realize—just be sure to look for labels featuring “live” or “active” cultures, meaning the food hasn’t been pasteurized, a process that kills good bacteria. (Note: Even though beer and wine are fermented, their active bacteria is killed off during production, sorry!)

    Try adding some of these into your diet for a probiotic boost.

    Kefir and kombucha beverages both have beneficial yeast and bacteria cultures. Kefir is usually made with cow or goat milk, coconut milk or water; it tastes tangy and packs a powerful punch of gut-helping probiotics. Kombucha is fizzy and made from fermented sweetened black or green tea, and has a slight vinegar smell—but fans love that it’s also high in antioxidants.

    Other fermented favorites: Yogurt (look for ones with low sugar content) and tempeh are readily available and are excellent sources of protein and calcium. Tempeh, a whole soy food with a nutty flavor, can be used as a meat or tofu substitute. Sauerkraut and kimchi (a popular Korean condiment) are made from fermented cabbage, offering not only probiotic power, but also high levels of glucosinolate (which may lower the risk of cancer, say researchers at University of New Mexico). Just make sure you look for “live cultured” versions of sauerkraut and kimchi (pickles, too!), usually found in the refrigerated section of the grocery store.


    Fermented nutrition is becoming a popular component in supplements, since the fermentation process helps make nutrients more bioavailable, and easier to digest. Ones to try: Genuine Health’s Fermented Whole Body Nutrition and Genuine Health’s Fermented Vegan Proteins+, made with fermented grain proteins and organic vegetables.

  • Easy Switches for a Healthy Thanksgiving

    SaladEaterIf you’ve got dinner guests following a Paleo, Gluten-Free or Vegan diet—or just anyone concerned with all the calories that come with Thanksgiving dinner—planning a meal that will suit everyone’s needs is no small task. But fear not: A few easy switches can accommodate them and help everyone celebrate and enjoy the holidays! We got ideas for simple swaps from Nutritionists Liz Gilliam in Albuquerque and Toni Eastwood in Redmond.

    Traditional trade outs
    Thankfully roasted turkey (white meat without the skin) is low in fat and calories. But traditional side dishes can be loaded with hidden fat and sugar. Canned cranberry sauce is full of high fructose corn syrup, Liz says. She suggests making a cranberry side dish with fresh cranberries (like this Cranberry Apple Sauce—it’s super easy, tastes better and is loaded with healthy antioxidants).

    Other healthy ideas

    • Bread stuffing comes packed with carbohydrates that can leave us feeling bloated, says Liz. Instead, try a stuffing made with whole grains that are rich in protein (like this Quinoa Stuffing).
    • Homemade gravy can be high in fat, so be sure to skim the fat off before using pan drippings.
    • For dessert, Liz tell us to choose pumpkin pie over pecan; it has about half of the calories and pumpkin is rich in vitamins A and C, and potassium, to boot. Fruit desserts are an elegant and healthy option, too—try these Vanilla Poached Pears that are naturally high in fiber to aid digestion.

    Paleo swaps
    Paleo dieters enjoy all things that could be hunted or gathered in the caveman era. Roasted poultry or meat and root veggies are ideal, but grains, dairy and refined sugar are a no-no—so traditional foods will need some tweaking. Bread stuffing can easily be Paleo-fied by using only chopped onions, apples and celery. Or try a pork, apple and cranberry recipe like this Best Ever Paleo Thanksgiving Stuffing.

    Instead of mashed potatoes whipped with milk or cheese, try blending boiled or steamed cauliflower with a little butter or almond milk in a food processor, then adding roasted garlic or chives. Finally, think nut crusts when you’re looking for a flavorful switch for pies. This Grain-free Pumpkin Pie is Paleo-friendly with an almond and coconut grain-free crust and yummy pumpkin-honey filling.

    Vegan swaps
    Adding a veggie, grain and bean dish will keep vegans (and non-vegans, too!) happy at holiday meals. Fall produce like squash, apples and pumpkin are especially welcome. Stuffed butternut squash filled with rice, Brussels sprouts, garbanzo beans and flavorful spices is an easy make-ahead dish. Traditional Style Vegan Shepherd’s Pie cooked in individual baking dishes is a full-flavored side or main dish (and can easily be made with regular dairy products for vegetarians). And celebrate the fall harvest with Vegan Pumpkin Pie Blondies, moist brownie-like bars with a spicy twist.

    Gluten-free swaps
    For those with celiac disease, or gluten sensitivities, think beyond traditional bread stuffing for a side dish and try protein-rich ancient grains or rice, Toni tells us. Baked Rice flavored with shitake mushrooms and saffron pairs beautifully with roasted poultry or meat dishes. Or choose a quinoa-based salad like Quinoa with Currants, Dill and Zucchini. Using nuts instead of flour, this Pecan Nut Crust is a perfect accompaniment to your favorite creamy pumpkin filling.

    And don’t forget about digestive support
    Regardless of what foods you eat, keeping your digestive tract functioning well is important, especially during the holidays when stress and over-eating is more common. Pharmaca’s Chewable Papaya Enzymes feature natural papaya and pineapple enzymes that help break down food so it’s more easily digested. And vegetarian-friendly Doctor’s Best Digestive Enzymes and Enzymedica’s Digest Gold with ATPro (great for Paleo and gluten-free diets) are a good bet for helping your body digest fats, proteins and carbs.

  • Five-Minute (or Less!) Stress Busters

    SnowPlayThe holidays are coming! It’s easy to get overwhelmed and stressed during this busy season, so take five with these quick and easy stress relievers.

    Take a walk, breathe fresh air.
    Sometimes the best way to reduce the emotional intensity of stressful feelings or events is to take a break and remove yourself from that environment. A brief 5-minute walk can help clear your head as you breathe in fresh air and take more oxygen in, letting you deal with stressors more calmly (check out this recent study about how engaging with nature can physically change the brain). Even just using that 5 minutes to take slow deep breaths on an outside balcony or terrace works since measured breathing prompts our nervous system to stop releasing cortisol, the stress hormone.

    Diffuse calming scents.
    Aromatherapy helps relieve stress because when we smell calming scents, receptor cells in our nose send signals to the part of our brain that regulates emotions, lessening feelings of anxiety. Try Pharmaca’s Be Calm Lavender Essential Oil Blends, balancing Bergamot or relaxing Rose Moroccan in SpaRoom Essentials’ new Natura Diffuser and within minutes your air will be filled with soothing scents. This beautiful diffuser is crafted from fallen trees in Thailand and uses ultrasonic technology to provide a fine aromatherapy mist for up to 4 hours.

    Sip a cuppa.
    Take it from English mums and nannies who know that when you’re upset or stressed, sitting down for a few minutes and sipping a cup of tea makes the world seem right again. Scientists agree that a cup of black tea brings stress hormone (cortisol) levels back to normal. Pamper yourself and try Tea Forte’s Noir Single Steeps Black Tea Sampler, blends of hand-picked black tea leaves with scrumptious flavors like Blood Orange and Chocolate Rose. If you prefer herbal teas, chamomile and lemon balm are natural soothers and both are found in Traditional Medicinals' Organic Chamomile with Lavender, made with organic, Fair Trade certified chamomile.

    Chew something.
    Simply chewing a stick of sugarless gum can help relieve stress. It can also make you more alert and help you multi-task, say researchers from Melbourne's Swinburne University who saw anxiety levels drop 17 percent and efficiency during multi-tasking exercises improve 67 percent when people chewed gum. Flower remedies calm and reduce anxiety too; Bach’s Rescue Remedy Pastilles blend five emotionally balancing botanicals into one tasty drop.

    Rub your feet.
    There’s an acupressure pressure point on your feet called Bubbling Spring that can calm and ground you during stressful times, or even help with insomnia. To find the Bubbling Spring point, use your thumb to find the natural depression about 1/3 of the way down your foot from the base of the toes, directly under the second and third toe. Firm pressure and kneading on that point will release tension and relax you. Add to this massage’s bliss factor by adding in Pharmaca’s Massage Lotion in Lavender…and try to have someone do it for you!

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