Holiday Gift Guide

2015-12 Holiday Gift Guide

Hi Everyone,

I put together a short list of seven great holiday gifts that your family or friends will love. These are all items that I own and have had great experiences using. They have either helped me improve my wellness or enjoy the things I love much more.

1. Clarisonic Mia 2® $149.00

The Clarisonic Mia 2 helps clean your face by removing impurities effectively, leaving your skin clean and bright. I use it twice a day, morning and night and have noticed my skin looking much smoother and brighter than ever before. Check out Jacklyn Hill‘s video, she does a very thorough review on the Clarisonic Mia 2.

2. Grid Foam Roller $39.99

If you have troublesome spots or sore muscles after workouts, this Grid Foam Roller does an excellent job in breaking up knots and loosening tight muscles. I like to use it on my back and shoulders, as well as my glutes.

3. Waterpik Flosser $54.99

Flossing is essential to the health of our teeth and gums. This cordless Waterpik Flosser does a great job in removing yucky food particles from your teeth. What I love about this Waterpik Flosser is that it is cordless. You can take it with you when you travel, and the charge will last for several uses.

4. Fitbit Charge $129.95

The Fitbit, I believe, is one of the best gifts you can give someone on this list. It helps motivate you to be active and in turn help you achieve your weight loss or fitness goals. Plus, if your friends or family have Fitbit, you can help each other become or stay fit. For me, I use the Fitbit to measure my sleep activity to help me obtain better sleep quality.

5. TaoElectornics Elune LED Dimmable Desk Lamp $26.39

In the evenings, I enjoy snuggling up to a good book, but some lights are too bright and can strain the eyes. I love that this desk lamp has dimmable options and even a night light, as well as a timer.

6. HelloFresh gift card starting at $69.00

I love HelloFresh.com. If you do not have time to prepare meals or are just learning to cook, HelloFresh.com can help you get started. You select your meals for the week; they deliver fresh local ingredients to your door that are already portioned out, and all you have to do is follow the recipe given. You do not have to spend time grocery shopping and calculating how much you need, especially when you’re already leaving work late, and feeling too hungry to shop patiently for groceries. HelloFresh.com makes cooking quick, easy and fun.

7. Spotify gift card starting at $10.00

I have been a Spotify user for a few years now and have never been disappointed by all the playlists and artists they have available. You can listen to playlists based on your mood, activity, or your favorite artists. Also, you can customize a playlist and share it with your friends to listen to or add some of their favorite tunes.

I wish you a wonderful holiday season!

What You’ll Learn from NOT Wearing Makeup

It all started when I was 13. I applied black eyeliner for the first time, looked in the mirror and saw a different person. My eyes looked more defined, fierce, and noticeable. It made me feel confident, and since then, eyeliner became my best friend.

It followed me throughout high school and into college. After many sleepless nights from pulling all-nighters, wearing eyeliner made me feel invincible to remarks like “you look tired”, “what’s wrong?” or “are you ok?”

Then after college, I began to experiment with more cosmetics and added more makeup to my collection. Eventually, I perfected my look with the use of concealer, foundation, blush, bronzer, brow pencil…etc., all with the help of spending one year at a beauty school and watching popular makeup tutorials on YouTube video. It is amazing how makeup can easily cover up imperfections.

Fast forward five years. I realize that I’ve relied too much on makeup. It almost has become a crutch to feel and look good. So I challenged myself to stop relying on beauty products and instead concentrate on enhancing my natural beauty.

If you ever feel like beauty products have been your tower of strength to help you look and feel good but doubt that not wearing makeup can make a difference in your life, challenge yourself to go makeup free for a period.

Here is what you’ll learn from NOT wearing makeup:
1. You’ll appreciate your uniqueness and natural beauty. I don’t consider makeup an enemy, but wearing it every day hides your natural beauty, such as the real color of your lips, cheeks, and freckles.

2. Your face can tell you a lot about your health status. Dry skin and baggy eyes indicate dehydration. Uneven skin tone could mean a lack of nutrients. A lack of sleep could attribute to dark circles under your eyes. Acne can be a result of stress and hormones. Swollen eyelids or bloated cheeks could be a sign of a high-sodium diet. Not wearing makeup allows you to see what your body needs or is lacking then you can alter your lifestyle accordingly.

3. You’ll save time in the morning. Not wearing makeup can help you save time in the morning and instead you can sleep in a little bit more or have more time preparing breakfast.

4. You can improve your focus. Rather than spending time applying makeup or shopping for it, not wearing makeup gives you the opportunity to change your focus and concentrate on healthy ways that bring about true beauty naturally. Remember, beauty comes from the inside out, and it starts with good nutrition and doing what’s good for the soul. Make it a habit each day to do the following:

  • Eat 5-7 cups of colorful fruits and vegetables
  • Drink 8-10 glasses of water
  • Sleeping 7-9 hours
  • Exercising at least 30 minutes
  • Journal by writing down three positive thoughts about your life and three things you are grateful for each day.
  • Meditate at least 10 minutes

5. You’ll learn that confidence comes from within and not from makeup. No amount of makeup can give you the confidence you want. It all comes from the positive thoughts you tell yourself. Work on building that mindset.

I challenge you to go makeup free for seven days. It won’t be easy at first, but after a day or so you’ll start to feel empowered when you begin to take more control over your health!

After writing this blog, I found this article “This is what I learned going make-up free for a week” on BuzzFeed written by Erin La Rosa. It’s a great reflection of what she learned from going makeup free, and it’s exactly the perspective that I gained too. Couldn’t have said it better myself.

How do you feel about going makeup-free? How do you think you could benefit? I would love to hear from you. Please leave me a comment below.

Go Off the Wall, Nuts!

Picture of Walnuts

While I was munching on Diamond of California’s glazed walnuts at my desk this afternoon, an e-mail from California Walnuts coincidentally showed up in my inbox, alerting me about the newest study on Walnuts and Cognitive Function. In the study, people who ate walnuts each day – even as little as half an ounce, performed cognitively better than those who did not eat any. Those who ate higher amounts of walnuts performed even better. What great news! So, for a healthy brainy cognitive boost, find it in Walnuts. Walnuts are also higher in antioxidants than other nuts out there, which can help with immunity and aging. If you ever feel like quite the snacker at your work desk like me today, snack on a handful of wholesome walnuts; but just like everything else, don’t over do it!

Check out the study here.

Shrimp Fried Rice

Shrimp potatoes, shrimp burger, shrimp sandwich…

what about shrimp fried rice?

Today I want to share with you a recipe that my mom showed me how to make that eventually became my go-to comfort food for many many years: Fried Rice made with what Bubba called “fruit of the sea”, Shrimp.

Shrimp, the fruit of the sea

This shrimp fried rice recipe is not only delicious and full of flavor, but also quick and easy to make. It serves for a perfect dinner after a long day of work.

Shrimp Fried Rice

Shrimp Fried Rice

Yields 4 servings

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 1/3 Tbsp plain vegetable oil
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • ¼ cup onion, diced
  • 12-15 pieces Tiger shrimp
  • 1 Tbsp butter, unsalted
  • 3 cups cold cooked jasmine rice
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce, lite sodium
  • 2 tsp black soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup green bell pepper, diced
  • 1/3 cup yellow bell pepper, diced
  • 1/3 cup red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 Tbsp green scallions, thinly sliced (optional)
  • Salt and pepper

Fried Rice by Chef Yoko

Directions

Heat a large heavy-bottomed non-stick wok over high heat. When hot add 1 tablespoon of the oil. Add eggs and season with salt. Stir the eggs constantly and cook until almost set but still moist, then transfer cooked egg to a bowl.

Return the wok to the heat and add 1 tablespoon of oil. Add onions into the wok, season with salt and cook for 1 to 2 minutes until onion is lightly cooked and fragrant. Then add shrimp and butter. Cook until shrimp is medium rare then transfer contents to a bowl on the side.

Return the wok to the heat and add remaining oil. Add the rice to the wok and use a spatula to break up any clumps. Then add soy sauce and black soy sauce into the rice, mix together until the rice is evenly coated with the oil and color of the sauces. Then pour in shrimp and egg contents back into the wok. Stir-fry for 1-2 minutes. Then add in green bell pepper, yellow bell pepper, red bell pepper and green scallions; stir-fry all ingredients together for 1 minute. Add a dash of salt and pepper for taste. Serve.

Cooking Tips

  • The best way to cook fried rice is on high heat
  • You can use a variety of veggies when cooking fried rice. Choose veggies with low water content, such as carrot, peas, snow peas, or corn. This will prevent the fried rice from getting too moist. If veggies with high water content is preferred, wait until the last minute to add in the veggies
  • For additional flavor, use mushroom soy sauce instead of black soy sauce
  • To preparation time, use cold left over rice from the night before. In fact, using day-old rice creates better texture for fried rice.

What I love about fried rice is its versatility, you can exchanged the ingredients as you like; just by using other veggies or types of protein, such as tofu or chicken, you’ll have your very own customized fried rice recipe.

If you tried and liked my shrimp fried rice recipe, please leave me a comment below. I would love to hear how it turned out.

Makeover Your Fridge

Spring cleaning is a great way to freshen up our homes and liven up our spirits partway into the year. It is an opportunity for us to get rid of old closet items and clean up around our living space. By doing so, we brighten up our rooms and can make way for the new things we want in life.

Besides tidying up around the house, one area that we often leave behind is the inside of our fridge. Cleaning and reorganizing our fridge is a must, because it will not only help make our food safe, but also last longer.

Here’s what you can do once you start tackling “clean fridge” on your spring cleaning checklist.

First things first: Do a temp check on your fridge. If your fridge does not come with a thermometer, make sure you buy one that can attach to the inside of your fridge. The inside of your fridge should be at a consistent temperature of 35 – 40o F (2 – 4o C). Any temperature greater than that can cause food spoilage, and temperatures below that range can cause freezing issues. Doing temp checks often is one of the best preventative ways to help keep food safe and lasting longer.

Next, get rid of expired items and leftovers that are more than three to four days old. Expired items and leftovers are lower in nutrition compared to fresh foods and can increase your chances of food poisoning, so it is a good idea to check dates and get rid of old foods. Plus it helps free up space in your fridge, allowing air to circulate better which can help keep the temperature in your fridge more stable, helping it run on less energy.

Then, reorganize food items to help lengthen the life of your perishable items in your fridge and keep them safe.

  • Condiments that contain preservatives and beverages can go on the top shelf or in the door of the fridge, areas that are least temperature stable.
  • The coldest part of your fridge is the bottom back shelf, which is the best place to put any leftover foods, fresh-squeezed juices such as unpasteurized orange juice and dairy items such as milk, yogurt and cheeses.
  • Eggs can go on your middle shelf, where the temperature is the most stable. Make sure to keep your eggs in the carton that it was purchased in. Eggs are porous and can absorb the odor from surrounding foods. The cartons will help protect your eggs.
  • If you have any packaged raw meats, place them on the bottom shelf, in a large bowl or plate to keep any juices from the meat from leaking onto other foods.
  • Place your sandwich meats or cold cuts in the deli drawer, which is slightly colder than the rest of the fridge. If you do not have a deli drawer, use your bottom shelf instead.
  • Veggies like to stay moist; store them in the drawer with the highest humidity. Fruits on the other hand like to stay drier, so keep them in the drawer with the lowest humidity and keep them separate from your vegetables. Also, it is a good idea to leave your fruits and veggies unwashed until you use them. Water can promote mold and cause bacteria to grow.

Once you have an idea of how your fridge is organized, consider getting a turntable for your fridge’s shelves to easily find items and keep them accessible as well as expiration dates visible. Also, if you do not have these handy already, get clear stackable containers for leftovers; this will help keep your fridge neat and organized. Lastly, keep a permanent marker close to your fridge to label items with the date that it was opened as a reminder for how long it has been open and when to eat it by before it needs to get tossed out.

Lastly, make sure to clean your fridge often. You can repeat the steps above when going through your fridge. In addition, empty and clean each drawer, wipe up spills right away before they dry up and store an open box of baking powder in your fridge or freezer to help eliminate odors – replace every three months. When your fridge is neat and clean, it will not only help you stay within a budget by knowing what you already have before making a run to the store, but also keep your family safe from foodborne illnesses.

Good luck spring cleaning your fridge!

If you found this blog helpful, I would love to hear your comments, just leave me a message in the comment box below. Also, if you’ve done some rearranging send me a before and after picture of your fridge, I would love to see what you’ve done!