Monday, December 30, 2013

Mystery Superfood Highlight: Taro Root

taro root nutrition

Native to South India and Southeast Asia, the taro root has been part of diets as far back as 5,000 B.C. Today, it is a staple in Southeast Asia, Africa, India, China, the Caribbean and the Polynesian islands. In Hawaii, it is even the theme of an annual food festival. Taro root is easy to digest and healthy. However, don’t eat it raw! As healthy as it is cooked, taro root is just as toxic uncooked. Read on to learn the nutritional benefits of this highly underrated root vegetable.

Taro is the root of the taro plant and is full of nutrients. But, the root cannot be eaten raw due to its calcium oxalate content. (Calcium oxalate is associated with gout and kidney stones). Taro root is nutty in flavor and similar to the regular white potato, although it’s much richer, and it cooks much in the same way, although it is commonly used in dessert recipes as well.

While taro root is higher in calories than potatoes, it contains three-times the dietary fiber. Some 100 grams of taro root offers 11 percent of the RDA of dietary fiber, which is beneficial for optimum digestion. Unlike the potato, it has a low glycemic index, which means that it does not cause blood sugar levels to spike after consumption. It ranks in the “low” category, with an index of 18. Potato, on the other hand, ranks “high” with an index of 111.

Taro root is also a great source of potassium, vitamin C, calcium, vitamin E, B vitamins, magnesium, manganese and copper. The leaves are also rich in vitamin A and C as well as protein. Like the root itself, the leaves require cooking before consumption.

To prepare taro root, peel it with a vegetable peeler under running water. The juices in the root may irritate your skin when it is raw, so use a towel or gloves to help protect yourself. Cover the peeled taro root in water until you are ready to use it. When ready, it can be fried, baked, boiled or roasted. Try out any of the following recipes to get started:

Photo Credit: GregWattTraveller

Related on Organic Authority:

How to Store Root Vegetables for the Winter

Meatless Monday Roundup: 4 Celeriac Recipes

A Guide to the White Winter Vegetable: Parsnips

View the original article here

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Art + Botany: Designer Pumpkins

Wielding his sculpting tools to find a personality in the pumpkin, artist Ray Villafane carves detailed portraits of frightfully wonderful characters. His pumpkin faces capture movement and convey expression, and they read like snapshots from a storyboard of a Halloween tale. How will the chilling drama unfold?

The portraits are fantastical and realistic; one almost expects the faces to blink He's been hailed as the "Picasso of Pumpkin Carving" by Wall Street Journal, and his video commentary and tutorials have been featured on The Martha Stewart Show.

View the original article here

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Of Course He Did: The Top 10 Reasons Al Gore Went Vegan (Finally)

al gore

Several years ago, Al Gore’s pal Bill Clinton went vegan. (You know, the guy who used to jog to the hamburger joint on the job.) It was pretty shocking news, and even though Clinton’s not technically 100 percent vegan, he looks healthier now than he did ten years ago. And now, Al’s made the switch, too? What gives?

In case you haven’t noticed, the vegan diet is no longer just for misanthropic teens and dreadlocked hippies. It’s a diet and lifestyle choice that’s reached mainstream audiences. Forbes magazine called high-end vegan cuisine its top food trend for 2013. So, Al may be a little late to the game, but the climate change poster boy has much to gain in making the transition. In fact, here are a few things we think influenced Al Gore’s decision to go vegan:

Rising global temperatures made him too hot for meat-eating.Bill Clinton promised to take him to a vegan strip club.He wants Joan Jett to return his calls already.Mike Tyson promised to teach him how to bite ears off. (*See #9)Trying to fit into that bathing suit. (His new lady friend lives in California.)Bacon just reminds him way too much of hanging chads.Always had a secret desire to be a seitan worshipper.Wants to lose a few pounds before having his portrait done by George W. Bush.One word: ManBearPig.He finally watched that Oscar-winning movie about climate change, and realized diets focused on animal products negatively impact the environment.

Keep in touch with Jill on Twitter @jillettinger

Related on Organic Authority

Bill Clinton’s Gone Vegan, Really?
Al Gore’s At It Again With
A Bean By Any Other Name is…a Burger? Should Faux Meats Have Faux Names?

Image: Mitch King

View the original article here

Friday, December 20, 2013

Which Potato Makes the Best Mashed Potatoes?

mashed potatoes

All potatoes are not created equal. Spuds can vary in flavor, color and texture, particularly when you delve into the heirloom versions available at local farmers markets. But when you’re aiming for perfect mashed potatoes, it’s no time to play games; here is the guide to how to select the potato that will make your mashed potatoes swoon-worthy. Bear in mind: what’s perfect for you might not be perfect for someone else. But if you’re looking for creamy, fluffy or rich potatoes, we’re here to show you how simple it is to get there just by choosing the right ingredients.

For creamy mashed potatoes, a medium-waxy variety, like Yukon gold, is a good option. As they break down, they release their starch, and particularly when combined with butter and cream, make for deliciously creamy mashed potatoes. Because Yukon gold potatoes tend to have a strong potato flavor, they hold up well to the addition of a variety of dairy products to get the texture right. And Yukon golds can hold up well with cooking, meaning that if you like lumps in your mashed potatoes, they’ll hold together fine. Alton Brown’s creamy mashed potato recipe calls for a food mill, but if you want lumps, mash at least some of your potatoes with a good old-fashioned masher.

If you’re looking for good old-fashioned fluffy mashed potatoes, a mealy potato like a russet is your best bet. Removing as much starch as possible, like in this fluffy mashed potato recipe, is ideal to get a texture that is fluffy without being gluey or sticky. The process may be a bit more labor intensive than a more traditional mashed potato recipe, but the fluffy result will be well worth the effort.

Joel Robuchon is known by some as the king of mashed potatoes; his super rich mashed potato recipe calls for half the volume of butter to potato, no small feat! Incorporating all of the butter necessary calls for a very special variety of potato: the ratte. Yukon golds can be substituted in a pinch, but the waxy texture of the ratte will help hold together all of the butter in this ultra-rich purée.

Once you’ve got your potatoes the way you want them, feel free to doctor your mashed potato recipe, using add-ins or other ingredients. Our mashed potato and celery root or roasted garlic mashed potatoes are two great places to start.

Related on Organic Authority:

Meatless Monday Roundup: 7 Potato Recipes

3 Potato Varieties and How to Use ‘Em

Hold the Mayo: 3 Potato Salad Recipes, Minus the Mayo

Image: Brown Guacamole

View the original article here

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Gluten Free Cookies Recipe with Quinoa, Cranberry and Stevia

quinoa cookies

This delicious guest post and gluten free cookies recipe comes to us from Debbie Adler, author of Sweet Debbie’s Organic Treats: Allergy-Free & Vegan Recipes.

One day I found my cupboards empty, save for quinoa flakes and dried cranberries. What kind of mother am I?! So in need of some comfort, I used what I had and made my son some Quinoa Cranberry Cookies. Let me tell you, what a surprise it was to find that the blending of nutty-flavored quinoa flakes with sweet and tart dried cranberries was like a match made on JDate. Hey, don’t knock online dating. That’s how I met my husband. Anyway, even more than my tax return filing status, you should appreciate that when your kids eat these cookies, you can pat yourself on the back for getting them to eat their spinach. That’s right. Quinoa is a complete, gluten-free protein grain that is related to the spinach family. And just so you know, these cookies are best right out of the oven, because they melt in your mouth like “butta.”

Makes about 12 cookies


15 x 13-inch sheet of parchment paper
1 cup quinoa flakes
¾ cup hot water
¾ cup all-purpose gluten-free flour (see page 13)
½ cup amaranth flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon cinnamon powder
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon guar gum
¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
¼ cup coconut oil
¼ cup coconut nectar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/8 teaspoon stevia powder
¾ cup dried cranberries


Preheat oven to 325°F. Line a 15 x 13-inch cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Pour the quinoa flakes into a medium-size bowl, add the hot water and let sit without stirring.

Whisk together the two flours, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, guar gum and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the middle.

Microwave the coconut oil and coconut nectar in a 2-cup measuring cup for 20 seconds. Add the vanilla and stevia and stir to combine. Pour the coconut oil mixture into the flour mixture.

Next add the quinoa flake mixture and stir to combine. Fold in the dried cranberries.

Take about 1½ tablespoons of the dough, shape it into a ball, and place it on the prepared cookie sheet. Repeat until you have used up all the dough, placing the balls about 2 inches apart on the cookie sheet. Flatten each ball gently with the bottom of a measuring cup.

Bake the cookies for 16 to 18 minutes, or until they are a light golden brown around the edges. Rotate the cookie sheet from front to back after 10 minutes of baking.

Transfer the cookie sheet from the oven to a wire rack and let sit for about 10 minutes before removing the cookies to cool completely.

Keep in an airtight container for up to 3 days, or wrap and freeze for up to 3 months.

Nutrition Information Per Serving (1 cookie):
145 calories, 5 g total fat, 0.0 mg cholesterol,
18 g carbohydrates, 80 mg sodium,
2 g fiber, 2 g protein, 10 g sugars

Sweet Truth:

Use extra-virgin coconut oil if you want the final product to taste and smell like coconut. Otherwise, use refined coconut oil.

View the original article here

Monday, December 16, 2013

From Our Friends: December 13, 2013

From Our Friends: December 13, 2013

Welcome to this week’s installment of From Our Friends, a weekly roundup where we highlight some of our favorite posts, published by our friends and partners around the web. This week’s edition includes a look at what will be on trend in fitness for 2014, great holiday gifts for yogis that won’t stretch your budget, a compilation of utilitarian and conscientious gifts for tough-to-buy-for guys, how to encourage your children in meditation, the best way to appear polished at dinner parties by using your utensils correctly, an easy way to contribute to our planet with your online purchases, and the top picks in handmade and vintage holiday items from Etsy. Enjoy!

1.  What exercise crazes can you see putting the “it” in 2014 fitness? Well+GoodNYC gives us a glimpse at what will be big for health and wellness trends in the new year, including next-gen indoor cycling, a green-juice-a-day mentality, a stylish shift in yoga pants, and a growing awareness about (and distaste for) fake food, and more!

2. Need a gift for a yoga lover that you’ll both feel zen about? Blisstree‘s Gift Guide: Perfect Presents For Your Yoga Obsessed Friends compiled the most adorable and thoughtful items to delight even the most enlightened yogis in your life. Om.3.  Sweet but stoic dads, brothers, and even boyfriends and husbands can be tough to find holiday gifts for sometimes. Still struggling to figure out what to score for some of the men on your holiday shopping list, too?  Luckily, MightyNest gathered up the greatest gifts for the gentlemen in your life, from aspiring chefs to guys-on-the-go, simple and useful pieces they’ll really appreciate (even if they have a hard time saying so!).4.  As children learn about their bodies through yoga postures, they can also learn about their minds through guided meditation. Mindful little ones can better control their thought patterns, emotions, and their overall well-being. YogiTimes discussed introducing enriching meditation and spirituality to kids.5. Part of being an informed foodie is knowing proper table etiquette and use of your utensils! Just in time for the multitude of holiday meals, Experience Life Magazine shared a great video on how to polish up your silverware knowledge so you really shine at this season’s dinner parties.

5. The Organic Whey wants to make a difference, and is proud to contribute 1% of its sales to 1% for the Planet. Look for their logo when you shop, and consider membership for your company!

6. Does Santa need to pick up some last-minute ho-ho-homemade and retro gifts?  Etsy has set up their yearly holiday shop full of awesome handmade and vintage fashion gift ideas, decorations and of course some of the coolest styles for the Christmas season and EcoSalon featured their top picks.

You can follow Spencer on Twitter @SpencerKent

Image via

View the original article here

Saturday, December 14, 2013

A Bit of Japan in the Netherlands

East meets west in this quaint Japanese-style garden located in the Netherland city of Gouda (yes, the same town famous for its cheese).

Normally to travel from the Netherlands to Japan, you’d have to cover a distance of more than 5,700 miles. But for Netherlander Ramon Smit, a trip to Japan is as easy as stepping out into his own backyard. While the distance is short, it took Smit over eight years to complete his journey.

“We bought our 1920s red-brick home in Gouda nine years ago because of the price and the size of the garden behind it. Even before we signed the contract, I already had in mind that it must be a Japanese-style garden,” says Smit.

Bonsai trees
One of Smit’s favorite hobbies, and the inspiration behind his garden, is growing Bonsai trees. Here, he applies the art on a large scale.

Inspired by one of his other hobbies -- growing Bonsai trees -- Smit had the ultimate goal of creating a Japanese garden true to Japanese standards. He embarked on his ambitious project in the spring of 2005, working with a low budget, scant gardening experience, and a little help from his friends.

Hand-laid rock formations
Hand-laid rock formations create a small pond and waterfall. A Japanese-style lantern and Japanese maple add oriental flair.

The size of the garden is about 215 square feet, with nearly every square inch covered by meandering stone pathways, Japanese-themed statuary, and nearly 20 different species of plants and trees. Over 10 tons of rock were used to carve out ponds, a stream and small waterfalls. Smit hauled all the materials into the garden himself, by hand and wheelbarrow.

Garden Element
Plants that grow well in Gouda’s climate and befit a Japanese theme include yews, cedars, spruce trees, boxwoods, azaleas, ferns and astilbes. Natural moss growth thrives in the shady areas of the garden, adding soft yin to the yang of the hard stone.

Because the weather in Gouda can be quite extreme, with below-zero temperatures and heavy snowfall in the winter and temperatures as high as 96 degrees in the summer, Smit was limited in the types of plants he could use. “Because of our climate, I did not use tropical or Mediterranean plants. I do have 100-year-old olive tree in the small garden right beside the house, but it did not do well over the winter and lost a few branches,” he says.

Specimens he’s had great success with and that complement his Japanese theme include various types of yews, cedars, spruce trees, boxwoods, ginkgo trees, azaleas, ferns, astilbes, and Japanese maples. “I also had some hostas, but the snails got the better of them, so I got rid of those,” he says.

Stepping Stones
A pleasing combination of round granite stepping stones and desert black flagstones carve meandering pathways throughout the garden.

Smit acquired most of his unique Japanese lanterns locally at various garden centers and outdoor markets, using them as focal points throughout the garden. The granite bridge and stepping stones came from a natural-stone wholesale company. “For paving, I used granite stepping stones and desert black flagstones, selecting them for the color and shape. In Japanese gardens, straight lines combine with more natural forms for contrast,” he says.

Smit’s future plans include building a Japanese-style teahouse to replace his shed. “When the temperature is right, I can sit outside and eat, or simply enjoy seeing the garden mature with the years,” he says.

See more photos of Ramon’s garden.

Ramon Smit
Garden designer and owner, Ramon Smit.

View the original article here

10 Super Easy Weight Loss Motivation Tips

Woman measuring waist

The number one way to get your weight loss motivation back? Ditch the word “diet” from your vocabulary: Last year, Dr. Brian Wansink conducted research that confirmed consistent changes in our daily eating behaviors over time (as opposed to hit-and-miss diets) result in gradual weight loss and the development of healthier eating habits. While the results take longer, once your new habits are automatic they’ll become a permanent way of life – no more struggling, and no need for weight loss motivation.

Below are 10 teeny-tiny, itty-bitty changes you can make to your daily routine that will boost your weight loss motivation – big time:

According to a recent study out of Australia, people who shop with a grocery list are more likely to lose weight over those who don’t. Doing so keeps your weight loss motivation level in check by keeping you focused and encouraging you to stick to healthier food choices.

Don’t look at your diet with a sense of deprivation: You’ll lose your weight loss motivation faster than you can say Häagen-Dazs. In fact, remember your last ice cream binge and how it caused you to spend the next few hours in the fetal position? The next time you’re about to despair binge, remind yourself of how great the healthy food makes you feel… and how the former turns you into a walking Pepto-Bismol ad.

I’m not saying ditch everybody who’s ever eaten a chip in front of you (I’d have to disown my entire family), but in times of stress when you’re most likely to fall back into bad habits, spend time with people who have healthy eating in the bag. Especially use this technique when dining out: A recent study found those who eat together and have to state their food choice out loud tend to choose items from the same menu categories.

When you do decide to indulge, use the rule of one: One piece of chocolate. One piece of pie. One scoop of ice cream. Just after Halloween’s the perfect time to stock up on fun-size everything: It’s an easy way to keep your portions in check and stick to protocol.

If you cut buying junky foods of any kind out of your routine, over time your cravings will fade. Back in the day when I started my healthy eating adventure, if I was having a wicked craving for something sugary, I’d have to walk to the store to buy something – luckily, my disdain for exercise overpowered my cravings and the process worked like a charm.

I used to struggle with the whole chewing thing – I was always trying to finish eating as quickly as possible so I could get back to what I was doing (womp, womp). One of the ways I finally learned to enjoy eating was by putting down my utensils between bites. The process was so annoying I took longer and longer breaks between bites and finally tasted the food I was eating.

If you want your weight loss motivation to go south, don’t just eat in the kitchen: Eat in every part of your house so no matter what activity you’re doing, you’re triggered to start eating. Confine eating to your kitchen to help nix chronic cravings.

One of the primary ways I’d trick myself into exercising more was through inefficient cleaning practices: Instead of hauling every bag of garbage to the dumpster, I’d take one at a time. If it was time to declutter the coffee table (again), I’d put away one item at a time. It’s a simple way to get your heart rate up and technically, you’re multitasking (cha-ching!).

I’ve always sucked at exercise – it gives me PTSD flashbacks of elementary school gym class. To get over it, I started small by exercising during the commercial breaks of my favorite shows, which indirectly helped me eat healthier too – by not watching the commercials, I stopped wanting to lick the screen every time a fast food commercial came on.

Give prep-free, healthy snacks a front row seat in your kitchen. When you’re feeling famished and the first thing you see is a bowl of fruit, for example, you’ll be more likely to grab an apple and mosey on with your day.

Which weight loss motivation tips do you swear by?

Related on Organic Authority:

5 Weight Loss Mistakes that Could be Sabotaging Your Diet

Can Eating Twice The Healthy Breakfast Speed Weight Loss?

Lose Weight Faster: 5 Ways to Boost Your Metabolism

Image: Charlotte Astrid

View the original article here

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

3 DIY Christmas Centerpieces (Simple and Elegant in 10 Minutes Flat)

holiday centerpiece in tifanny blue photo

If you’re looking to put your best face forward with the holiday season, you may want to try one of these DIY Christmas centerpieces. Because while taste matters, presentation can be equally as important. Choose one of these simple and elegant Christmas centerpieces that come together in just a few minutes. Think minimal effort, minimal cost, and totally DIY.

cranberries and greenery photo

What You’ll Need:

Clear glass bowl vase, enough fresh cranberries to fill the vase depending on the size,
holly leaves, pine needle branches, white hydrangea blooms.


1. Fill the vase almost to the brim with cranberries.

2. Arrange the holly leaves, pine needles, and hydrangea so they’re evenly distributed along the top of the vase.

holiday ornaments and wine glasses holiday centerpiece photo

What You’ll Need

Table runner that matches the color scheme of the holiday ball ornaments, holiday ball ornaments in various colors and sizes, tall clear glass vase, two wine glasses.


1. Set table runner up on the table lengthwise.

2. Place the tall vase in the middle and the two wine glasses equidistant in either direction.

3. Fill the vase and two wine glasses with holiday ball ornaments.

What You’ll Need

Medium-sized rustic tin can, light green ball bead necklaces, faux reindeer antlers, holiday ball ornaments in light blue, tall white candle, holly or pine branches.


1. Place tall candle in the tin can.

2. Fill in around the tin can with holly or pine branches.

3. Place reindeer antlers and decorate with holiday ball ornaments.

4. Drape beads from the tin can.

Related on Organic Authority:
Truly Happy Holidays: 3 Easy Ways to Give Holiday Season Thank Yous
The New Jell-O Mold: Jiggle-Chic for the Holidays
Give Holiday Gifts Galore with Organic Authority’s 2013 Holiday Goodie Box!

Images: love Maegan, jessicahtamm, caitlyn regan

View the original article here

Fast Food Mind Control: Two-Year-Old Kids Ask for McDonald’s Daily


Fast food restaurant chain advertisements are targeting children as young as age 2 finds a recent study, and the children are not being encouraged to eat healthy foods.

The study found that at least 40 percent of children between the ages of 2 and 11 ask their parents to take them to McDonald’s weekly, and a startling 15 percent ask to go daily, according to CBS News, “In what is billed as the most comprehensive study of fast food nutrition and marketing ever conducted on the nation’s 12 largest fast food chains.”

The study researchers looked at the calories, fat, sugar, and sodium in more than 3,000 kids’ meal combinations and 2,781 menu items, says CBS. “They also looked at how the $4.2 billion spent on advertising by these companies in 2009.”

Conducted by The Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, the study was released last month. “Out of 3,039 possible kids’ meal combinations, only 12 meet the researchers’ nutrition criteria for preschoolers. Only 15 meet nutrition criteria for older children. Teens ages 13-17 purchase 800-1,100 calories in an average fast food meal, roughly half of their recommended total daily calories,” reports CBS.

While many of the restaurants advertise having options for kids, the study found that most of the restaurants don’t offer the healthy dishes or beverages as the default. “For example, even though McDonald’s and Burger King show only healthy sides and beverages in child-targeted advertising, the restaurants automatically serve french fries with kids’ meals at least 86 percent of the time, and soft drinks at least 55 percent of the time,” CBS noted.

Keep in touch with Jill on Twitter @jillettinger

Related on Organic Authority

Is This Photo of a Raw McRib Really That McShocking?
6 Gross Things You Never Wanted To Know About Fast Food Restaurants
McDonalds Collects $1.5 Billion in Profits While Its Employees Collect Federal Aid

Image: Danila Bedyaev

View the original article here

Saturday, December 7, 2013

From Our Friends: December 6, 2013

From Our Friends: December 6, 2013

Welcome to this week’s installment of From Our Friends, a weekly roundup where we highlight some of our favorite posts, published by our friends and partners around the web. This week’s edition includes real advice from an up-and-coming young yoga guru, big news about a beloved A-list actress’ new gig sharing lifestyle inspiration from real women, herbal tea infusions to benefit expectant moms and their little ones, a look at 2013's feminist milestones, an easy way to contribute to our planet with your online purchases, a perfectly cozy chemical-free pajama brand to warm up your kiddos this holiday season, and a fun throwback workout to inspire 1980s nostalgia. Enjoy!

1. Rock on! Go behind the scenes with Experience Life and get a sneak peek at their feature of  ‘Punk Rock Yogi’ Sadie Nardini, which won’t be available in full until next spring!  The founder of  Sadie Nardini’s Core Strength Vinyasa Yoga and author of  ”The 28-Day Yoga Body” sat down to talk life, death, depression, downward-facing dogs, macaroon recipes, and cultivating your “inner badass.” Savor these snippets until the full article comes out.

2. Tune in: goop blog lifestyle guru and actress Gwyneth Paltrow alongside her famous personal trainer Tracy Anderson are set to host a new healthy living web series, The Restart Project. Well + Good NYC says that  duo spends time with women who’ve “overcome hardship, injury, and setbacks to triumph in the face of adversity,” using health and fitness.

3. Botanical and herbal infusions can promote the prenatal health of both mother and child. Take a sip of these four herbal infusions for healthy pregnant moms, from Yogi Times.

4. From Wendy Davis’ now famous filibuster to cultural milestones like Netflix’s “Orange is the New Black”, as the year draws to a close, EcoSalon reflected on 2013's most memorable moments in feminism, so far.  What has been your favorite feminist headline this year?

5. The Organic Whey wants to make a difference, and is proud to contribute 1% of its sales to 1% for the Planet. Look for their logo when you shop, and consider membership for your company!

6.  Ho-ho-hold it! Before Santa scoops up new jammies for your little ones this Christmas, learn about children’s organic cotton pajamas at MightyNest.  Created to give parents a social- and style-conscious kids’ sleepwear alternative, Skylar Luna combines superior comfort with contemporary design and the peace of mind provided by chemical-free, 100%-organic cotton.

7. Dude and dudettes, for a fun aerobics throwback, workout like it’s 1986 with Jane Fonda. BlissTree compiled this, like, totally rad set of old, but awesome, aerobics clips to give new meaning to ‘sweating to the oldies’.

You can follow Spencer on Twitter @SpencerKent

Image via

View the original article here

11 Easy Habits That Will Change Your Life

Woman lying on the grass

When you want to change your life it usually takes several (hundred) attempts. That’s because about 99 percent of what we do every day is automated by our subconscious. Unless you stick to a new habit long enough and transfer it from your conscious mind to your subconscious… well, let’s just say the outcome isn’t pretty. You won’t end up living in a van down by the river, but you’ll feel like just as big a failure.

I could tell you that in order to change your life you need to get up earlier. I could tell you to exercise more. I could even pull a Captain Obvious and tell you to eat healthier – but I won’t. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from my epic fails in these departments, it’s that you need to change your smaller bad habits before you tackle the larger ones. Otherwise, they’ll sabotage your progress and your confidence will plummet… and you might seriously end up living in a van down by the river.

Automate the 11 habits below (don’t worry, they’re super easy), and you’ll have cleared enough debris to tackle larger changes with more energy and efficiency:

Email is one of the biggest time sucks we have to contend with. Change your email habits, change your life. If you check your email while standing, you’ll be less likely to get sidetracked – you know, because you’ll really really want to sit down. You’ll focus on your priorities and briskly move on with your day.

While this is a tiny habit, it’s amazing the impact it has on your well-being. When you focus on how tired you are, and talk about it, and then nod along to stories about how tired your friend is – well, it’s exhausting isn’t it? Yawn.

Answer the phone only when you’re expecting a call or if you legitimately have time to answer; the same goes for your texts and emails. When your concentration’s constantly broken, not only will your productivity suffer but so will your poor, tired brain (which will lead to more of #2).

If that doesn’t work, say you already have plans. If that doesn’t work, fake an illness. If that doesn’t work, completely ignore the 10,000 phone calls they’re making and the 53,000 texts they’re sending to try and change your mind. When it comes to taking control of how you spend your time, ignoring can be very good for the soul.

It’s important to stop talking about how you want to change your life, and, you know, start changing it. Make yourself a deal: For however many minutes you spend on learning about your goal, spend the same number practicing it.

One email address, one bank account, one credit card, one step at at time… you’ll be surprised how much simpler your day will become and how much energy you’ll have to spare.

Seriously, why do we always have time for what we don’t like, but never time for what we do? My only theory is that we’re taught to see work as dreadful drudgery, so any time we’re enjoying ourselves we feel as if we haven’t “earned” it. This is a load of crap. Take a page from every player you’ve ever dated and do a slow fade.

How are you supposed to make yourself a healthy breakfast when all that’s clean is one fork? There are very few things worse than waking up to clutter – it’s not how to start your day. If you want to change your life you have to dispose of yesterday’s leftovers (both figuratively and literally).

If your money disappears so fast you haven’t even deposited your check yet, use cash to run your errands. You’ll stop going over budget, which means you’ll stop pulling your hair out when it’s time to do your bookkeeping.

What’s the rush exactly? Perpetual restlessness might seem normal, but in the long-term can trigger a smorgasbord of serious health problems. When you’re trying to focus and your mind wanders, cut it off: Remind yourself to be mindful. Tell yourself you’re working on this one task and nothing else exists until it’s done. Period.

When you really, really, really don’t want to do something, tell yourself you’re only going to do it for five minutes. No big deal, right? This will get you started, and I guarantee you’ll keep going long past five minutes. This is a skill that will see you through every aspect of how you want to change your life.

Experts say it takes anywhere from 21 to 66 days to solidify a new habit. If thinking that far ahead gives you chest pains… well, then don’t. In the short-term, use the “instead of” technique: When you feel compelled to indulge in one of your bad habits, indulge in a good one instead.

Instead of watching television, crack open a book. Instead of going through the drive-thru, pick up a ready-made meal from the grocery store. Instead of putting off cleaning the bathroom, dive in – you know, before it becomes a bio hazard.

Before you know it, your conscious mind and subconscious will be getting along like the Goofy Gophers: “Indubitably!”

What daily habits are helping change your life?

Related on Organic Authority:

Life Planning 101: Goals for a Successful Future

Make a Life Map: Color Your World

Time for a Major Life Change? 6 Ways to Chart the Course

Image: RelaxingMusic

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Monday, December 2, 2013

Artificial Fragrances are Poison: 99 Reasons to Stop Wearing Perfume


We have a body odor problem in this country. But it’s not what you probably think. Yes, some of us stink pretty badly (thanks, Standard American Diet), but that’s not the problem. The issue is our relentless pursuit to cover up our body odor with artificial fragrances and perfumes.

Somewhere down the line we decided that detergents and chemicals smell more pleasant than our armpits. We traded in natural botanicals for hazardous materials. We let celebrities sell us perfumes because we think that’s what they must smell like all the time, and if we use their perfume, we’ll smell like a celebrity too.

While we’re now protected in most every public place from cigarette smoke’s hazardous effects, we have no protection against toxic fragrances. If you asked a flight attendant to reseat you because the person seated next to you reeked like Hannah Montana perfume, they’d smile apologetically. Yet fragrances pose serious health risks on par with cigarette smoke.

Think your Axe Body Spray is doing us all a favor? Think again. Here are 99 reasons to stop wearing artificial fragrances and perfumes.

A single perfumed product can contain thousands of fragrances.And none of them have to come from a natural botanical source.So can: laundry detergentAntiperspirantDeodorantShampooConditionerLotionSoapCandlesSkin care productsCleaning productsMakeupAnd feminine hygiene productsA self-regulated industry, manufacturers do not need to disclose these ingredients (they’re “trade secrets”).Fragrances contain phthalates.Phthalates have been linked to reproductive issuesEarly puberty in girlsOrgan damageBirth defectsImmune response issuesEndocrine disruption.Fragrances can cause headachesMood swingsDepressionAnxietyHyperactivityBrain fogAllergiesSore throatWatery eyesEczemaRashesCoughingAsthmaErratic blood pressureNauseaVomitingAbdominal painAnd cancer.According to Dr. Mercola, synthetic musk, which is widely used in fragrances, can contain several harmful chemicals including:XyleneKetoneHHCBHHCB-lactone (the oxidation product of HHCB)AHTNTonalideAnd galaxolide.Fragrances contain benzene.The American Cancer Society considers it a cancer risk.According to safe cosmetics, “one in every 50 people may suffer immune system damage from fragrance.”And “once sensitized to an ingredient, a person can remain so for a lifetime, enduring allergic reactions with every subsequent exposure.”Many fragrance ingredients are considered neurotoxins (damaging to the brain).Where there’s artificial fragrance, there are also parabens.Parabens can interfere with hormonal functions.They’re linked to cancer.And they may actually make your skin look older, faster.Dioxane is a common ingredient in detergents.Tests done on the popular Tide brand of detergent, showed that it contained 55 parts per million of dioxane.Levels as low as 5 to 10 parts per million have been shown to pose health risks.Dioxane even appears in some products labeled as “organic” or “natural.”Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) or sodium laureth sulfate (SLES), short for sodium lauryl ether sulfate, are common in fragranced products.More than 16,000 studies show that SLS in any form causes eye and skin irritation.And organ toxicityAnd neurotoxicityAnd developmental toxicityAnd reproductive issuesAnd endocrine disruptionAnd mutations…And cancer.NPE (nonylphenol ethoxylate) found in fragranced products has been linked to kidney damage.And liver damageAnd growth issuesAnd metabolic issuesAnd underdeveloped testiclesAnd low sperm count.Fragrance-containing products are often tested on rabbits.And miceAnd ratsAnd monkeysAnd cats.Our love for fragrances has an impact on the environment as well.Synthetic musk is accumulating in wild animals in toxic levels.Water filtration systems can’t remove some of the more toxic fragrance ingredients from our water supply.Some fragrances come from animals, taken in harmful ways.Amebergris comes from sperm whales.African Stone or Hyraceum comes from the hyrax (a very small, cute cousin to the elephant).Deer musk and civet cats are also exploited for their fragrance.Castoreum comes from the anal gland of a beaver.Fragrances don’t actually relieve your body odor problems anyway.They just mask it.Temporarily.Sometimes they just co-mingle with your body odor, making for very strange smells.Fragranced products cost you more money,While putting your health at risk.Fragranced products are often used to attract people, but the toxins can have the opposite effect…Repelling love interests.Making them feel sick. Literally.Even if they truly want to feel otherwise.

 Keep in touch with Jill on Twitter @jillettinger


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