Avo Maria

No, I didn’t make any spelling errors. I’m referring to one of my favorite produce items on the planet, the avocado. I can avocado any way it’s given to me–plain, in a smoothie, as guacamole, on myriad savory dishes, and now…in pudding.

If you’ve been reading my blog, you’ll know that I have a serious ice cream problem and am on a quest to find as many healthy substitutions to assuage my cravings. Since my chia seed pudding post (click here to read), I’ve made several different variations and make batches on a weekly basis. It hasn’t gotten boring at all and the versatility of the recipe is impressive–I’ve even made a pumpkin version and fell deeper in love with the recipe as a result. However, while in Chicago a couple of weeks ago, I was reminded of how much I missed drinking avocado smoothies from one of my favorite Vietnamese restaurants, T.A.N.K. I don’t know what voodoo they do, but no one makes an avo smoothie quite like them. Trust and know, I’ve done my research and have the healthy hair, skin and nails to prove it! Sipping the green goodness triggered me to think of other ways to incorporate avocado into my diet, namely as an ice cream substitute. Once again, the internet and diet gods chose to bless me, for I came across a great recipe for a chocolate pudding that uses avocado as its base. Experimentation was calling my name! For those of you that are interested in giving this pudding a try, here’s the recipe:

Ingredients (2 servings):
– 1 large, ripe avocado
– 2 tbsp. of cocoa powder
– 1 tbsp. Stevia (or sweetener of choice)
– 4 squares of dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa)
– Almond milk (or milk of choice)

Directions:
– Cut the avocado in half, remove the stone and scoop the flesh into a dish.
– Add the cocoa powder, Stevia (or preferred sweetener), and mix well.
-In the meantime, melt the dark chocolate in a microwave, then pour it into the avocado mixture.
– Give it another good mix.

The texture should resemble a traditional pudding. If not, add almond milk a little at a time, until the pudding reaches your desired consistency.

Not only is this pudding delicious, it’s also loaded with healthy fats and fiber. Good times all around!

I’ve made this pudding a few times since my initial trial and am in love with the recipe. It’s simple, quick to make, and quite versatile. For second attempt, I added some coconut flakes and was very happy with the turnout. The third time, I sprinkled a small amount of pink Himalayan sea salt on top for added health benefits and because I’m a sucker for sweet/savory combinations. It. Was. DIVINE. A couple of nights ago, I was feeling ambitious and decided to combine my chia seed pudding recipe with this one and was blown away–it worked awesomely well.
20150422_223240I simply had to add more almond milk and use less seeds. I will definitely be adding avocado pudding to the dessert rotation as I continue on my quest for more easy healthy sweet treats.

If you decide to use this recipe, let me know what you think!

I’m Peeling!

Well, actually, I’m shedding. Which leads to the necessity of an at-home peel. Whenever I’m giving myself different skincare routines or treating skin problems, or even when the weather changes (as it is now, from winter to spring), my skin starts to look like a snake that’s shedding off its scales–not a pretty picture. I’m not trying to scare everyone in my office and lose my job! Therefore, I must get rid of these scales dead layers with a quickness. I ain’t got time for nature! Thank the skin gods for this Korean gel peel called IPKN Pore Essence Peeling Gel, that I came across while at my Chinese spa (why they don’t have Chinese products is a puzzlement to me, but I won’t analyze it–I love Korean beauty products).

Previously, I used a different peel that required me scrubbing my face till it was practically numb (click here to read), but I loved it because it worked. Now I don’t have to use my skincare routine to grow my biceps, so I’m a happy woman for this added bonus. I work out enough as it is. The IPKN gel is affordable, easy to use, smells nice, and it neither irritates the skin nor does it make you irritate/agitate it. One pump of this magic works like a pencil eraser on those scales. It literally makes them roll off like balls of gunk. Don’t believe, just watch!

I hope you saw the “skin balls” that I tried to show in the clip–I moved the camera too quickly. The peel took off the entire layer of dead skin that was just sitting on my face like a mask. I’ve been using IPKN for a couple of months to make sure my initial infatuation with the product didn’t wane. Nope! I’m still loving it and using it regularly. Until I find something that can top this, it’ll stay in my medicine cabinet.

So for now, deuces!
The Vickylicious

Natural Smiles Are the Best!

Anyone who’s known me long enough is very aware of my obsession with teeth. They’re on the top of my list of things I notice first about a person, aesthetically: how healthy, even, white/bright, and clean they are (because hopefully when people meet me they’re smiling, haha!). This also goes for my teeth; a hypocrite, I am not. I dutifully go to the dentist twice yearly, brush, floss, use mouthwash, and I even have a couple of my own dental tools! However, I drink a lot of tea and coffee, so keeping my teeth white and bright is a task that I must deal with carefully. Bleaching products are harsh, expensive, and dangerous, so I’m always looking for natural and inexpensive ways to handle the job. Most people brush with baking soda and hydrogen peroxide–I’ve been doing this for more years than I can count–but I want something that works better and stronger. Besides, using peroxide and baking soda long term can be too abrasive for your teeth and can ruin enamel over time. Well, my wish was some mystery god’s command!
WP Natural RinseThe above pic is all you need to naturally whiten your teeth without having to spend a fortune or subjecting your teeth to harsh chemicals. Unbeknownst to me, this concoction has been used for ages! Bonus: this recipe is also great for removing harmful bacteria from your mouth, which in turn strengthens your teeth and gums. See the recipe and directions for this formula below.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups – distilled water
  • 2 tsp – baking soda
  • 1 tsp – sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp – walnut or sesame oil

Directions:
Heat 2 cups distilled water, remove from heat and add baking soda, sea salt, and oils.

Add 1 cup distilled water and mix together until ingredients are fully dissolved. Transfer mixture using a funnel into a jar with a top and store in the refrigerator until you are ready to use. Shake well before using and swish around in mouth for about 1 minute, spit out (make sure you don’t swallow any of the mixture), and brush your teeth as you normally would.
***Because this is an all natural concoction, please remember to discard the mixture after two weeks and make a fresh batch.***

Unlike many store bought rinses, this natural method contains no bleach and is perfect for removing tartar and leaves your mouth fresh and clean. Will it whiten your teeth after one treatment? No, it won’t. It will however, gradually whiten and strengthen your teeth and gums over time in a healthy, safe and natural way that won’t harm your gums and tooth enamel. This will save you a lot of money and pain in the future when you realize everyone that’s been bleaching has to buy a whole new mouth, can’t eat or drink foods due to gum erosion and intense gum sensitivity, or worse, finds out they have mouth cancer from all the chemicals and unsafe treatments. Like most things in life: slow and steady wins the race!

Because I’m always looking for home remedies for all things health and beauty related, I will probably be posting more regarding keeping our smiles healthy, happy and pearly!

Stay tuned until then (and feel free to send me pics if you try this remedy and want to share your results)…
The Vickylicious

Ancient Aztec Secret

On rainy nights, I either turn my little apartment into a spa or a private theater. Last night after an amazing workout that made me sweat like crazy and had my pores open like sinkholes, I chose the former. Not only have I been excited about the addition of my new Clarisonic Mia 2 face brush to my skincare routine, I’ve been loving the new products I bought a while back for my weekly facials. Incorporating these lovely machines and concoctions to my daily and weekly regimens has done wonders to my skin and I’m eager to share them with you.

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After cleansing with the Clarisonic Mia 2 and face wash, I towel-blot my skin and apply a thin layer of Reviva Labs’ Non-Chemical Light Skin Peel (bought from ulta.com). Following the directions, I wait 3-5 minutes before rubbing my face so that the peel starts rolling off under my fingers—much like dried glue (I know I can’t be the only one who played with glue as a child, peeling and rubbing it off like dead skin…c’mon!). After all of it has rolled off, I rinse and towel-blot my skin again. The dead skin has been sloughed off to reveal the clearer, brighter layer of skin underneath. Now my face is prepped and primed for my clay mask.

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I’ve been loving Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay lately (bought from amazon.com), religiously using it every week with great results. In a non-metal mixing bowl, I scoop the bentonite clay powder and the same amount of organic apple cider vinegar (as the directions state: equal parts of each). After mixing them together, I immediately spread it over my face like thick cake batter while my skin is still moist and receptive. As the mask dries, it starts to tingle when it tightens on the skin, so much so that you might be alarmed your first time trying this. Have no fear; that just means the clay is detoxing your skin while drying. I leave it on as long as I can stand it—roughly 20 minutes—then rinse it off with a wet cloth and warm water. After I’m finished, my skin is always blotchy and red for a few minutes, which is common among must users of this powerful clay, but again, have no fear: it will go away and your skin will be clearer and brighter, with tighter and cleaner pores. Please remember the final step: moisturize diligently!

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Over time, my complexion has become more even; I have less breakouts, and my pores are less noticeable. When I do get an occasional breakout, it heals faster and the scarring diminishes at a quicker rate. If you would like more information on the benefits of bentonite clay, let me know in the comments section and I’ll be more than happy to write about all of its benefits and uses.

Not only are these products effective, they’re also quite affordable and natural. They’re winners in every aspect—you can’t beat that!

Taming the Beast…the BEAST?!

Women of every ethnicity under the sun ask me how I straighten my hair and how long it takes to get the job done. “All of those curls! It must take forEVER to straighten them.” “Can you even COMB your hair?” “You must have some strong arms to deal with all of THAT hair…” (Don’t you just LOVE all of the emphatics?) I have strong arms because I lift weights, not because my hair is tumbleweed (my hair isn’t even close to being such a thing). Trust and know there’s a lot less to straightening my hair than meets the eye, as I will describe herein.

Since I don’t have video capabilities set up yet, the following pics and my deft use of the English language will have to suffice for the time being.

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Firstly, I always straighten my hair a day after I wash it; for some reason, flatirons are more effective on [at least] day-old hair, in my experience. The process starts by gently using a wide-tooth comb to address any tangles. Next, I mist heat protectant all over my hair and run the comb through it one more time to make sure the spray has been evenly distributed and not one strand has been missed. I have very fine hair that is quite damage-prone without proper care.
After separating my hair into four quarters, I begin the straightening process on a small section of the first quarter with my pre-heated flatiron, placing my comb underneath it as a guide and to keep my strands in place; the smaller the section of hair, the easier and quicker the task becomes because the heat penetrates the hair shaft more effectively and thoroughly.  I repeat this step until one half of my head is completed, usually about 10-12 minutes, then mist the straightened hair with shine spray while the strands are still warm. I repeat these steps with the other half, making the entire process clock in at less than 25 minutes. To finish it all off, I slap on a headband to tame any fly-aways; I don’t want to look like I stuck my finger into an electric socket, I mean c’mon. I might be crazy, but I don’t have to look crazy!

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…And then I make myself look crazy anyway.

Home Spa

It’s a rainy Friday night. Zumba class was great, as usual, and I worked up an amazing sweat. I figured I might as well capitalize on all of this by treating myself to a little luxurious pampering.

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After a hot shower that kept  pores open, I applied Remede mineral exfoliant to my clean and damp skin by massaging it all over my face for a few minutes until it started drying up and rolling off my skin–this process was very reminiscent of playing with glue as child. After most of the Remede had rolled into my sink, I rinsed my face with warm water and posted my skin dry with a towel. Yay for fresh and squeaky clean skin! Next, I spread a nice even layer of the famous Glam Glow Super Mud all over, avoiding my eye and mouth area. By the time I finish writing this post, it will be dry and ready to be rinsed of with warn water and a towel. My pores will be tighter and cleaner, and my face will be smoother, clearer, and brighter! However in the meantime, I’ll be sitting on the couch looking like this:

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I just wanted to give you a good laugh/scare, haha. Toodles!

Back to the Lab

A while back, I posted about using rubbing alcohol to fix pressed powders, shadows, etc., that had been shattered in their palettes/compacts*. I decided to revisit this chemistry experiment when I completely ran out of my NYC Smooth Skin Pressed Face Powder in Translucent. This has got to be one of my all-time favorite drugstore setting/blotting powders; it’s widely available, sets and blots extremely well, and only costs about $2! You can’t go wrong at that price. I mean, seriously. On this particular day however, its awesomeness proved to be a double-edged sword because it was sold out at my beauty depot (i.e.: Duane Reade, my too conveniently located 24-hour drugstore and enabler)—I guess the word is out!

Meandering down the beauty isle on my way to pick up my other favorite, Rimmel Stay Matte Pressed Powder in Translucent, an idea occurred to me: why not buy the NYC Smooth Skin Loose Face Powder and use it to fill my compact? This way, the loose powder can be used at home and I can tote my homemade pressed powder. Yes, this is exactly what should be done. Back to the lab!

As you can see from the pictures below, I poured the loose powder into my empty compact and added a capful of isopropyl alcohol.

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While mixing, I realized that wasn’t nearly enough to moisten that amount of powder and kept on adding more alcohol a little at a time. Once a paste-like consistency was achieved, I smoothed the mixture evenly in the compact with the back of a spoon and my [clean] finger.

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I was a little worried at first because the color of the mixture was quite pink (see left); it’s supposed to be practically white! All I could do was hope that when it dried, it would be usable. A couple of hours later, voila! My compact looked like it came straight from the factory (see right). OK, not exactly, but close enough. Now, I’m sure you’re asking: Will it work like the original, or did The Vickylicious make a huge mistake? Guess what. IT WORKS LIKE A DREAM!

Go ahead. Keep doubting my genius. I see you…

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(*Referred-to Post: “Dust to Dustbin…? I Think Not.”)