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Monthly Archives

February 2014

The Chocolate Covered Truth

During the month of February there are huge sales of chocolate everywhere! Heart shaped chocolates, chocolate cake, chocolate ice cream, chocolate wine, chocolate chicken…and the list goes on and on. Chocolate is just one of those tasty treats that we all (or most of us) love. Not only that, but there have been studies about the mental and physical health benefits of chocolate. The only downside to the sweet treat is too much of it can cause weight gain, upset stomach or even breakouts…just to name a few.

When you think about it, the chocolate positives seem to outweigh the negatives, right? Unfortunately, no. There is a whole different side to chocolate that is often unseen. It is only in recent years that here in the U.S. the average consumer has gained exposure to the alternate life of chocolate. Not the chocolate that you see just sitting on store shelves ready for the taking, but everything that happens before it hits stores. Where chocolate comes from, how it’s produced, and why it’s so important to know these things are some of the bigger questions to ask.

Chocolate

Where is chocolate from?

A more accurate question is cacao, which is the main ingredient in chocolate products.  Most cacao is produced along the equator, especially in Mexico, the northern region of South America, the Caribbean islands and in West Africa (the major exporter).

How is it made?

Cacao is developed from a cacao pod grown from cacao trees. When properly matured the pod is cut from the trees, fermented, dried, and roasted.

Why chocolate production is important?

The folks responsible for manual labor are often children and poor farmers. That’s right! Children, some who are a part of slavery or trafficking are harvesting these cacao beans for the world’s pleasure. Farmers also produce cacao and too often receive very little compensation and remain impoverished.  Also, the working conditions are extremely difficult and handling machinery and tools can be extremely dangerous (especially for children).

What’s being done about it?

Here is where the growing interest in the production of cacao comes into play. You might have already heard of the phrase “fair trade.” Fair trade basically means that the product produced was done so by individuals that were provided with safe working environments, fair wages and other provisions.

More and more companies are joining the movement in bringing awareness to the chocolate that is fair trade.

I am a huge chocolate fan myself, and would still like to enjoy my chocolate, but not at the violation and expense of other’s human rights. The next time I make a chocolate purchase, I’ll make sure it is from a fair trade company.  Check out more info below about fair trade companies and those raising awareness.

Peace, Love, & Coconuts

~ Nalani

The Feel Good Diet: 7 Foods That Improve Your Mood

Food: it fills us up and makes us feel all good inside. Sounds about right, right? Well, that “goodness” we feel is not just in our head. In fact, some foods have been proven to elevate our gloomiest of moods. So, when you start to feel a bit crabby or even bummed out, try one of these delicious treats to boost your mood naturally:

Bananas:

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Ever feel like your going to flip your s**t? Close the door, shut your eyes and enjoy a banana. Bananas contain Tryptophan, an amino acid shown to improve our mood and promote relaxation. Our body needs Tryptophan in order to produce serotonin and melatonin which promotes sleep and a stable mood.

Egg Yolks:

Egg Yolks are full of the ultimate mood booster: Vitamin D. Studies have found that low levels of Vitamin D have been linked to depression. If you are looking to consume more Vitamin D, try egg yolks. One yolk contains about 37 IU (International Units) of Vitamin D. The recommended daily intake of Vitamin D depends on your age but many agencies recommend between 600 IU and 5000 IU per day. Be careful to not consume too much egg yolk since it is high in cholesterol! (A few hours in the sunlight is another great way to absorb Vitamin D!)

Dark Chocolate:

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Eating just 1.4 oz of this yummy goodness a day has been proven to lower the levels of the stress hormone Cortisol, while stimulating the production of endorphins. Sounds too good to be true? I think not! Try looking for the organic brands that aren’t filled with chemicals or crazy amounts of sugar. A few suggestions? Green & Black’s, Theo, and Chocolove are all yummy brands!

Oats:

If you can’t live without your oatmeal in the morning, there is a good reason why. Oats contain magnesium, which has been shown to calm nerves while relaxing tense muscles. Since magnesium is so wonderful at helping us relax, it helps us fall asleep! The oat choices in the supermarket are endless so keep your eye out for steel-cut oats since they are less processed than our typical “brown sugar and cinnamon” oatmeal packs.

 Mussels:

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These delicious mollusks are full of DHA (Omega 3) and Vitamin B12. DHA maintains our normal brain functions while supporting a positive mood. Just 3 ounces of mussels contains 430 mg of DHA. 430 mg!! The recommended dose? Just 200 mg/day! Vitamin B12 takes part in producing the chemicals that affect our mood. Low levels of Vitamin B12 are linked to depression, poor mood and memory loss. Oh and did we forget to mention that mussels contain high levels of Selenium, another nutrient proven to boost moods?

Swiss Chard:

Much like oats, this lovely green leaf vegetable is full of magnesium, a nutrient that has been shown to have a positive impact on depression. Swiss Chard is also full of folic acid, a vital nutrient that is seen as a “natural mood booster”.

 Coffee:

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If you can’t start your morning without your cup of  joe, don’t stop now! Caffeine has been proven to boost our mood and our brain functions. In fact, women who consumed 2-3 cups of caffeinated coffee a day, decreased their risk of developing depression by 15%! Drink up, java heads!

 

So, there you have it folks! We are all just one meal away from happiness! Dig in! 🙂

-Zeena

What’s the deal with Coconut Water?

What’s the deal with Coconut Water?

Coconut water is popping up everywhere! This super refreshing substance has been showing up more and more often in stores and retailers and who can blame them?! Coconut water is a tasty and healthy beverage. Nutrition wise (per 8 fl oz) it generally contains:

  • 30-50 calories
  •  250 mg sodium
  •  5-10 g sugar

coconut water

Reasons why it’s often considered a “super drink” …

Reason #1:

The natural electrolytes. It contains loads of potassium and a good amount of calcium, vitamin C, iron, and sodium. These vitamins and minerals are essential nutrients needed by the body.

Reason#2:

It’s natural! Coconut water is nothing new to people where coconuts are grown natively, but here in the US (excluding Hawaii) natural foods often take a back seat to the processed. Hopping on the natural, organic trend, coconut water has made its debut and become so popular because it is a natural, healthy, refreshing option for those who dislike more processed drinks like Gatorade.

Reason #3:

Coconut water is tasty! It’s a mildly sweet and salty yet fruity combination that manages to work so well together. Also, it is available in super convenient to go containers, which I will support as a MUCH better option than grabbing a soda or other healthy, but high calorie drinks like orange juice.

Recommendation:

Overall coconut water is great and I do enjoy it. It’s important to know that there are different brands out there with wide variance in taste. One of the most popular brand is Zico.  The coconut water featured in my photo is AMAzon, this is a mix of coconut water and white tea …delicious!)

What’s your favorite healthy drink? Comment below or let us know on Facebook!

Peace, Love, & Coconuts

~ Nalani

The Ultimate Clay Mask for Glowing, Radiant Skin

Clay masks are the BEST masks, EVER. Okay, that may be a slight hyperbole (I don’t know what came over me), but this mask is extremely powerful. How so? Well, have a seat, my friend…I’ll explain:

mask 2

Bentonite clay works its magic by absorbing toxins and impurities when activated by liquid. The clay is essentially ridding your face of the impurities that can lead to breakouts, blackheads, and dry, dull skin. Pretty cool, huh? As for our friends Cinnamon & Nutmeg? Well, these two spices are just too lovely to pass up! Much like bentonite clay, when applied to the skin cinnamon increases circulation and plumps the skin. This antimicrobial spice does wonders for fine lines and wrinkles, not to mention acne & blemishes! And nutmeg? Oh sweet, nutmeg. This baby works hard to fade those acne scars on our beautiful skin. Acne doesn’t stand a chance against the antibacterial goodness in nutmeg. Take THAT, Acne!

Now, don’t just take my word for it. Get ready to give your face something to glow about!

Directions:

For this clay mask Mix the bentonite clay, nutmeg, cinnamon and apple cider vinegar until combined. The consistency should resemble that of your favorite greek yogurt, with bubbles. If your consistency appears otherwise, simply add a bit more bentonite clay to thicken it up or ACV to water it down.

mask 3

Apply the mask to a freshly washed face.  I find that a thick coating tends to work best, so don’t be stingy! Allow the mask to work its magic for 20 to 30 minutes. You will feel slight tingling–that is simply the bentonite clay and wonderful spices beautifying your skin. If the tingling becomes unbearable, rinse off the mask with cool water.

After  20 to 30 minutes,  gently wash away the mask with cool water. I prefer to do this part in the shower since clay can be rather tedious to remove. You may find it helpful to use a clean washcloth to aide in the removal of the mask.

Once your skin no longer resembles Kermit the Frog, pat dry and apply a soothing moisturizer. What do I use? Well, I swear by my argan oil. This gentle yet effective oil is perfect for the sensitive skin types who crave deep moisture.

If your skin is slightly red, do not panic. That is simply the result of the  bentonite clay and cinnamon increasing the blood circulation near your face. Nice, right? The redness fades within 30 minutes.

P.S. If you suffer from highly sensitive skin or allergies to cinnamon and nutmeg, please steer clear from this mask. 🙂

Enjoy!

-Zeena

Top 10 Reasons Love is Good for Your Health

In the spirit of things, Brown & Coconut wanted to share the top 10 reasons love is good for your health. Love can be found in many places: with family, friends, a partner, and even a pet and expressing your love is equally as important as feeling love and affection from others.

And hey, if it makes us healthier, why not do more of it?? Loving that is..Couple kissing, valentine sketch for your design

But, without further ado, here are the top 10 reasons love is good for your health:

  • Reduced risk for certain diseases (like Alzheimer’s, and certain cancers)
  • Lower levels of stress
  • Lowers your blood pressure
  • Decreases risk of depression
  • Gives your immune system a boost
  • Love making burns calories to keep you fit (hey, just saying… 🙂 )
  • Reduces your sensitivity to physical pain.
  • Longer life span (this is likely the product of all of the benefits that loves brings, including stronger immune system, fewer diseases, and lower stress levels.)
  • Love makes you happy and overall, that’s a very healthy mental state to be in. A healthy mind often translates into a healthy body!

What’s interesting is that all of these benefits are interrelated. You can’t seem to have one without the other — you have a better immune system so you have fewer diseases. You are less stressed, which is what makes your immune system better, you are happier, which makes you less stressed and less depressed…and around and around we go.

Heart

It’s important to note that these are benefits of pure and true love, not negative personal relationships that you might share with family, friends, a significant other, etc. In our opinion, you shouldn’t keep those types of relationship or people in your life because they are only damaging your health.

With that being said, go kiss, hug, cuddle up, make love, or spend quality time with your loved ones today. — your body with thank you. 🙂

Happy Valentines Day Coconuts!

Peace, Love….Hugs…Kisses…Cuddles,…oh, and COCONUTS!!

~ Letisha

Top 10 Vegan Sources of Calcium

Has your doctor ever said, “Are you getting enough calcium?”  I’ve been asked that question every year, even more so since I went dairy-free!

There are countless commercials and advertisements that emphasize how wonderful dairy is for you because it contains so much calcium (30%)! Hip-hip hooray for milk! Don’t get me wrong: calcium is a necessary nutrient for a healthy body and everyone should aim to get their recommended amount. In fact, check out this nifty chart from the National Institute of Health that highlights how calcium you really need:

chart

So now that we know how much calcium we should be consuming, how do we go about it?

Simply put, what about those of us who are lactose intolerant, disagree with dairy consumption or simply just don’t like dairy? Should we just forgo the recommended amount and take whatever we can get? No!—there is good news.

There is a  plethora of wonderful vegan-friendly sources of calcium! Some of these sources are vegetables, fruits, and grains that have been fortified with calcium.

Here are top 10 vegan sources of calcium:

  1.  Collard Greens
  2. Plant milks (Soy milk, almond milk, rice milk, flaxseed milk, hemp milk)
  3. Tofu
  4. Kale
  5. Almonds
  6. Orange Juice
  7. Figs
  8. Blackstrap Molasses
  9. Soybeans
  10. Broccoli

What are your favorite vegan sources of calcium??

Peace, Love, & Coconuts

~ Nalani

 

Chart source: Source: National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements, http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Calcium-QuickFacts/

National Women’s Heart Health Day

Heart Health
Did you know about every 60 seconds, a woman will die from heart disease? In honor of National Women’s Heart Health Day, we want to bring awareness to women’s heart health and offer 5 tips for better heart health.
Heart disease, by definition, can encompases many different diseases/condtions of the heart and can affect the heart muscle itself or the area surrounding the heart, heart valves, vessels, or arteries.While heart disease seems to be thought of as a disease that mainly affects men, the harsh reality is that it kills just as many women.I think we often make the mistake of thinking that bad things will never happen to us. We see horrible things happening to people on the news and internet and think that that is where it will stay, on the news and on the internet. This could be one of the most dangerous mindsets to have, because believe it or not, heart disease can happen to every single one of us.
Have you ever listened to your own heart beat? It is quite a humbling experience. Listening to your heart beat puts things into perspective. It actually helps to bring back your sense of mortality. Here is this muscle, working 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to keep you alive. What happens if it stops working? What happens to you?
It makes you look at what you put into your body a little differently and how you treat it.
It’s time to listen up ladies…
  • Lose Excess Fat. This seems to be a no brainer, but something that a tremendous amount of people struggle with. It’s not hard, it just takes time and dedication — something that’s becoming a rarity in a world that increasingly wants instant gratification with little to no effort. Join a gym, work out at home or outdoors, lift weights or do resistance training,  do more cardio, get your heart rate up, sweat, cut out excess calories. Just tell yourself “YOU WILL DO IT.” After you’ve reached a healthy weight, continue to exercise. It should be a regular part of your life.
  • Eat Better. How many times a day do you tell yourself you are going to eat better, and then you don’t? This is another thing that is not hard to do, it just takes dedication. Cut out: saturated & trans fats, fried and fast food, and simple/white carbohydrates & sugars. We’ve got to stop making excuses for ourselves. It’s your hand that is feeding you, so you are the one in control of what goes into your body. Make better choices. Do it for that heart of yours working so hard in your chest. Pumping to keep you alive…
  • Get more sleep. Simply put, when we deprive ourselves of sleep, we put stress on our body and on our heart. We all love to sleep, so why not get more of it? You’ll feel more energized and happier during the day, you’ll look better, and you’ll probably have an easier time maintaining the motivation to exercise because you won’t be so tired!
  • Remove External Stresses. Get yourself to a point where no matter what, if something is contributing constant and unnecessary stress to your life, get rid of it! Life is too short to spend it unhappy and stressed. Don’t like your job? Quit. Yea Yea, but you need the money, well, find another job. There are plenty of other jobs out there, but staying at one you hate is merely you sacrificing your health for monetary reasons. The difference is, you can get money from somewhere else, you can’t get a new heart. This goes for any thing else causing you stress in your life, toxic friendships/relationships, get rid of them. It’s really as simple as that.
  • Kick the habit. This may seem obvious, but drugs, tobacco products, and alcohol put an incredible amount of stress on the body and heart. If you are an excessive drinker, smoker or drug user you have to kick the habit, and soon. Seek help as doing it alone may seem impossible.
For more information on women’s heart health and Women’s Heart Health Day, please visit GoRedforWoemen.org

 

Peace, Love, & Healthy Hearts

~ Letisha