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Health & Fitness

What the heck is MSG?

Okay, so we all know we are supposed to avoid MSG like our life depends on it…but what the heck is it??

MSG aka Monosodium Glutamate is basically a food flavor enhancer. It is a free amino acid salt that is designed to trick the brain into thinking that whatever we are eating is nutritious, flavorful and full of protein.


Food companies add it to their products to essentially save money. The more MSG they add, the less of a need to create nutritious and tasty food products. Why spend more money on actual ingredients when they can just add MSG??

Glutamate is found naturally in our bodies and other foods like mushrooms and tomatoes but it is different than monosodium glutamate. MSG is “free” meaning it acts as a neurotransmitter whichs stimulate processes in our body, the same neurotransmitter used by our nervous system.

But it doesn’t end there. MSG also stimulates the pancreas to produce insulin; higher insulin levels are correlated with fat storage and aging. MSG also stimulates our appetite which encourages us to eat. Because MSG makes us think that what we are eating is nutritious and healthy, we end up hungry only a short time after eating the meal with MSG because of the drop in blood sugar.

What are the potential side effects from consuming MSG products?

  • Headaches
  • Migraines
  • Sweating
  • Chest pain
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Asthma Attacks

…just to name a few!

Always read the ingredient labels to protect your body from the harmful effects of MSG. However, we cannot only look out for the ingredient “Monosodium Glutamate”. We must be wary of its other nicknames including:

Autolyzed Yeast, Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein, Hydrolyzed Protein, Hydrolyzed Plant Protein, Plant Protein Extract, Sodium Caseinate, Calcium Caseinate, Yeast Extract, Textured Protein (Including TVP), Hydrolyzed Oat Flour, Corn Oil

After a while, checking ingredient labels becomes a habit. Soon you’ll be checking everything you put in your cart for MSG!

Check out these helpful links for more info:




Peace, love & coconuts!

– Zeena

Beginngers Booty Workout!! No Gym Required!

It can be very overwhelming for some people to enter a gym, let alone, figure out how to work all of the machines and equipment they have. Exercising outdoors or in the comfort of your own home can be more enjoyable for some, but it can often be difficult to find workouts to do, especially if you are just starting out. Here is a basic but VERY EFFECTIVE legs and butt workout for beginners. For others who may be slightly more advanced, you can do these moves too, just add weights or more reps to intensify the workout.

These moves are tried and true and are perfect for building & toning your muscles, giving your legs and butt great shape!

This routine will:

  • Define your calves
  • Lift and round your butt
  • Tone the front & back of your thighs

Remember that cardiovascular exercise is just as important as strength/resistance training, especially if you are looking to lose extra fat. Shedding those layers of fat will make your newly toned muscles more visible! So be sure to include some cardio with your workouts.


  • Move 1) 100 Squats
  • Move 2) 100 Stationary lunges per leg
  • Move 3) 100 Plié Squats
  • Move 4) 100 Minute Wall Squat
  • Move 5) 100 Reverse Pelvic Thrust
  • Move 6) 100 Calf Raises

**Each individual move can be done in 1 set of 100 reps, or broken up into multiple sets where the reps all total 100. (Example: 100 jumping jacks or 4 sets of 25 jumping jacks, with a small break in between each set)**

**Rest 1-2 minutes between sets**


1) Squats:

Targets – Butt, Thighs

Stand with heels shoulder width apart and toes pointing slightly outward. Begin to sit backwards like you are trying to avoid touching a dirty toilet (yea, I said it!) Extend your arms out in front of you as you do this. Keep your back flat The move should be exaggerated and your knees should NOT extend past your toes. If you’re a beginner you probably wont be able to do all 100 at once, so try 4 sets of 25 or 3 sets of 33, plus 1 for good luck 😉 . Push yourself, but not to the point where you will cause injury.

photo 12 Squats

2) Stationary Lunges:

Targets – Butt, Thighs

Stand with feet shoulder width apart. Take one step forward. Keeping your feet planted in position, bend your front leg and lower your body as low as you can then stand back up, straightening both legs without moving feet. Repeat! After 100, switch legs. Again, feel free to do 4 sets of 25, or 2 sets of 50, etc. **Be sure your knees do NOT pass your toes**

photo 1 photo 2

3) Plié Squats

Targets – Butt, Inner Thighs

Stand with feet wider than shoulder width apart, and squat as if you were doing a plié in ballet class, only be sure to go all the way down, sinking as low as you can. (Your knees should NOT pass your toes.) Repeat.

photo 16 photo-1

4) Wall Squat:

Targets – Thighs (also abdominals & back)

With your back against a wall, lower yourself so you are essentially in a squatting position. Your back should be flat against the wall and your legs should form a 90 degree angle. Again, your knees should NOT extend past your toes. Hold this position for a total of 100 minutes (aka 1 minute and 40 seconds), however you’ll need to break this up into sets. Try 5 sets of 20 seconds each, to start. Don’t forget to rest in between each set!

photo 14 photo 15

5) Reverse Pelvic Thrust:

Targets – Butt, Thighs

Lay with your back on the floor, keeping your feet planted, bend your knees so your legs form a 90 degree angle. Place your arms by your sides. Curl up your feet so only your heels are touching the floor, now lift your butt off of the floor an push your pelvis up as if you wanted to touch the ceiling, then lower it back down, BUT don’t let your butt touch the ground. Repeat this move, really pushing your pelvis to the sky and squeezing your butt as you do this.

photo 9 photo 10

6) Calf Raises:

Targets – Calves (aka hamstring)

Standing upright, lift your heels off of the floor and onto the balls of your feet, lower yourself back down but do not let your heels touch the floor. Repeat this move 100 times, break into sets if you need. You can also stand on a stair step or another raised surface of some sort, where your heels hang off the edge. The move is performed the same way, only the move is intensified.

photo 3 photo 5

Repeat this entire circuit (ALL 6 moves) once more! 🙂

Listen to your body and don’t strain yourself! The LAST thing you want to do is injure yourself! If you can’t complete a move, gradually build up your strength until you can complete it fully!

There you have it! A beginner’s workout, great for getting toned and sexy legs and butt! Again, pair this routine with cardio and a clean & healthy diet and you will see results in no time!

Don’t forget that for a more advanced spin on these movies, you can add weights, do more reps, or hold your position in the middle of a move to intensify your workout! Be sure you are challenging yourself and once you begin to feel like a workout has become easy, it means that it you have gotten used to your routine and either need to add more resistance (ie: weight) or switch up the move entirely!

– Letisha

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Amazing Benefits of Castor Oil

We’ve previously talked about the ability of castor oil to aid in hair growth, but what are some other amazing benefits of castor oil? Read on…

1) Castor oil is great for the skin. It is easily absorbed which makes is a great Benefits of Castor Oilmoisturizer and if often added to skin care and cosmetic products.

2) Can fade scars with regular application and can help prevent the formation of new scars when applied to cuts and scrapes, for example. It is also great for wrinkles, stretch marks, and dark under eye circles.

3) Has antibacterial, antimicrobial, and anti-fungal properties. Can heal cystic acne and even scored low on the comedogenic scale so it isn’t extremely pore clogging.

4) Can increase lymphocyte production, detox the organs, and relieve constipation. See here.

5) Castor oil has also been shown to reduce inflammation and aid relieve arthritis symptoms.

>> Opt for cold pressed castor oil, as this process of extracting the castor oil preserves the benefits from the oil’s phytonutrients.



Click here to purchase your bottle of castor oil!

*Be sure to use castor oil in moderation and do a patch test on your skin to assure you do not have an allergy. May cause abdominal cramping, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and skin irritation. Always consult your physician before incorporating a new treatment into your lifestyle, particularly if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or have an existing condition, or illness.

– Letisha

Brown & Coconut on Facebook!

Detox Your Taste Buds!

When it comes to eating clean and healthy, a major deterrent is giving up our favorite unhealthy/junk foods.

A diet made up of processed, chemical-filled, sodium-rich, & sugar-loaded foods has berliner-17811_640desensitized our taste buds, making the foods that are healthier for us seems bland and unappealing. A piece of fruit which is naturally sweet, suddenly doesn’t taste so sweet because your taste buds grow accustomed to the extremely sweet “not-so-good for you” foods.

Once you detox your taste buds, you’ll notice that foods taste differently, more vibrant, and you’ll even find the foods that are overly salty or sweet to be somewhat unbearable.

For myself, even a very small amount of sodium tastes very salty to me. Same goes for crisps-71157_640sweet foods. On the rare occasion I happen to eat processed and/or chemical-filled foods, I can immediately taste the unnatural substances in the food. YUCK! Usually, I can’t even bring myself to swallow the food and will spit it out. (I don’t even chew gum anymore.)

You will also notice that as you eliminate these processed and unhealthy foods from your diet, you will crave them less and less, to the point where you don’t crave them any longer. That is the goal, isn’t it?? Simultaneously, you will find that fruits and vegetables taste sweeter and more appealing! It’s like you are eating an apple for the first time. I bet you will begin to enjoy and even crave vegetables, some of whichapple-17092_640 you used to hate, trust me! It’s like your taste buds are waking up after a long slumber.

It can take approximately two weeks to notice a change, but this time frame can vary from person to person.

What do you think? Are you up to the  clean eating challenge?

We’d love to hear your thoughts!

– Letisha

Brown & Coconut is on Facebook!

How to Control Your Post-Workout Appetite!

Has this happened to? You have a great workout and soond after you finish, your appetite turns into a raging monster with a mind of its own! I can tell you that I am no stranger to this. Women more so than men in fact, tend to have a much larger increase in their appetite post-workout.

So what should you do to control your appetite so that you don’t completely undo your workout session by eating more calories than you should?

Here are a few tips that should keep you on track:

1. If your last meal is several HOURS before your workout, Be sure to have a light snack an hour or so before you workout. If you happened to have a heavy meal, you should be fine without a snack

2. Stay hydrated throughout your day so you have enough energy to last through your workout. It is better to have enough energy to get you through your workout so you can maximize your calorie burn or strength training as opposed to going into a workout with little energy and putting in only half of the effort. Half the effort means a LESS effective workout.

3. Properly hydrate after your workout. Stick to water if you’re workout doesn’t last longer than an hour or so and avoid sugary sports drinks. They are empty calories and won’t keep you full/satisfied and you will end up hungry not long after. People often confuse hunger pains with signals of dehydration. Be sure to drink 8oz of water before baked-fish-80083_640you eat if you are unsure if you are truly hungry. If after 15 minutes your hunger pains come back, then you should go ahead and eat something.

4. Don’t wait too long after a workout to refuel. Waiting will only send your appetite into overdrive and you are MUCH more likely to overeat, especially foods that are high in fat and calories.

5. After your workout, when you are refueling, only consume about HALF of the calories you burned. This is more so for anyone who is trying to lose or maintain weight. If you are tying to bulk up/gain muscle mass, I would not recommend this.

6. If you workout for 60 minutes or less, consume only water during your workout. If you are doing an intense workout that lasts longer than an hour, you should probably have a sports drink handy so that the carbs in the sports drink can replenish you depleted glycogen stores.

7. GET MORE SLEEP! Aim for around 8 hours, no less than 7 to keep your appetite at bay.

8. For you post workout meal, consume protein and carbohydrates to replenish your energy stores as well as provide you body with the protein needed to repair your muscles. You should consume little to no fat and aim to consume your post workout meal 30 – 60 minutes after your workout.

What do you do to control your post-workout appetite?

– Letisha

Brown & Coconut on Facebook

My Top 5 Sources of Protein for Vegetarians!

A healthy diet is so important to living a healthy life. One way that many people (including myself) have developed healthier eating habits is by becoming a vegetarian. Now, I know being a vegetarian doesn’t = healthy diet. Many vegetarians eat junk food like many others would, because technically “it doesn’t contain meat” (that can be up for debate at times).  Another aspect of vegetarianism that is brought to light is the issue of protein sources. To some experienced vegetarians or vegans this may be a no brainer, but to others that are new, it can be a little challenging finding those key protein sources (currently I am eating eggs, until I can fully replace them with other sources).

My top 5 favorite vegan sources for protein are:

1. Nuts (these bad boys also contain healthy fats, antioxidants, and many nuts-96232_640other crucial vitamins)

2.  Beans (Many beans contain additional fiber and iron)

3. Almond or Soy Milk (dairy free milk can be an easy way to sneak protein into your diet via coffee, smoothies, cereal, whatever!)

4. Chickpeas (This ingredient is so versatile and tasty)broccoli-5736_640

5. Veggies! (Contrary to popular belief some veggies like mushrooms, lettuce, broccoli, and corn do contain some protein…and every gram counts!)

What are your favorite sources of protein? And how do you prepare them?

Let us know! Comment below or visit our Facebook page!

Peace, Love, and Coconuts.

– Nalani

The Skinny on Artificial Sweeteners

The big debate on artificial sweeteners and their health risks continues on, with the FDA claiming that there are no known health risks & others arguing that they indeed have harmful effects on the body.

Let me start by saying that the argument stating there are no known health risks of artificial sweeteners is not a good enough answer to get me to ingest them. Period.

In fact, I’m more inclined to side with the argument that artificial sweeteners can cause a whole slew of negative health effects, which are backed by several studies. Especially since the companies & organizations advocating for the safety of artificial sweeteners generally has a financial stake in the matter, and thus something to hide.

Now although I am using the term “artificial sweetener” broadly, you should know that reduced calorie sweeteners (sugar alcohols) differ slightly. Artificial sweeteners, which are made in a lab, are completely void of calories and do not raise your blood sugar whereas sugar alcohols do have a caloric value and can raise your blood sugar level.

Some of the more commonly known artificial sweeteners are Sucralose, Aspartame, Acesulfame, & Saccharin.

A few reduced calorie sweeteners, or “sugar alcohols” are Xylitol, Isomalt, Maltitol, Mannitol, & Sorbitol

Here are just a few of the side effects that can be caused by some of the above sugar alcohols and artificial sweeteners:

  • Saccharin: Cancer, should be avoided by people with Eczema and other skin conditions. This artificial sweetener can also be found in Aspirin & Acetaminophen (about as much as a diet soda)
  • Aspartame: Seizures, Headaches, Attention Deficit Disorders, mood swings, depression, panic attacks, nausea heart palpitations, constipation, swelling of body parts, dizziness, respiratory issues, weight gain, body fat percent increase, tumors, certain types of cancers, & vision problems
  • Sucralose: Enlarged liver & Kidneys, shrunken thymus (plays a role in the development of the immune system), other kidney problems, and a reduced red blood cell count. It also can cause headaches, dizziness, bloating, panic, rashes, depression, nausea, stomach cramps, diarrhea, & seizures, headaches, along with mood swings, depression, panic attacks, nausea, dizziness, and temper problems
  • Acesulfame: Headaches, nausea, liver & kidney problems, vision problems, depression, & cancer
  • Xylitol: Low Blood Sugar, Hypoglycemia, kidney stones & increased levels of uric acid in your blood, rashes/itching, diarrhea, gas, difficulty breathing, tumors,
  • Sorbitol: Heart and lung related issues, breathing difficulties, diarrhea, gas, compromised ability to absorb nutrients, & an over production of urine

Some more facts

  • In the brain, there is a direct link between the taste of a food and the caloric intake your body expects from that food. By ingesting a low calorie, no calorie (not including water), or “diet” food, your body essentially gets confused which can lead to more cravings and thus weight-gain.
  • Artificial sweeteners can over stimulate your sense of taste for sweet foods so what you consume foods that are naturally sweet, they don’t seem as sweet, like a banana for example. Also, foods that are not sweet can begin to taste completely unappealing. This can leave you unsatisfied and more likely to overeat.

All of the risks stated above are merely the known possible risks…what about the side effects that we aren’t even aware of due to lack of information or lack of studies? Is that one beverage or snack really worth the risk?

Skipping the calories but getting a whole plate full of health risks hardly seems worth it, only to end up with the risk of gaining weight anyway, the very thing you were trying tolemon-91537_640 avoid from the beginning.

A better, natural option?

  • Molasses
  • Honey
  • Pure Maple Syrup (Aunt Jemima doesn’t count)
  • Sugar in the Raw
  • Agave nectar

*Try cutting back on sugar altogether (real or artificial). If you want something sweet, opt for fruit, but if you must use sugar, try the ones I listed above.”

Gradually try to reduce sugar & artificial sweeteners from your diet until you reach a point where they are hardly or never used.

So, what do you think? Will you skip out on that next packet of Splenda or diet soda??

– Letisha



~Brown & Coconut on Facebook~

Getting Your Diet BACK ON TRACK!

When I start to feel sluggish and out of balance, I look towards my diet to help me PastedGraphic-1get centered again. My diet influences so many parts of my health and life overall.

When my diet starts to go south (i.e. more sweets, processed, fatty foods, drink less water) I notice:

  • More facial acne
  • Greater water retention
  • Feeling of sluggishness
  • Headaches
  • Cravings of even more bad food!

In order to get back into the swing of things with a healthy diet, I like to wipe the plate clean and start fresh…literally! For one week, I eat non or minimally processed meals and drink cleansing beverages.PastedGraphic-2

A sample of one day’s menu is:

  • Lemon Water
  • Banana
  • Walnuts
  • Blueberries & Blackberries
  • Salad: (walnuts, craisins, lettuce, orange pepper. Salad dressing: mustard and olive oil)
  • Apple
  • Egg, Avocado & Tomato
  • Lots of water!

When I cleanse my body I begin to crave candy less, experience a decreased desire for processed food, gain more energy, wake up more easily in the morning, notice fewer breakouts, and produce less facial oil and shine throughout the day.

This may seem like an unrealistic or intimidating diet to consume for a week. If you arePastedGraphic-3 nervous, try swapping one or two less-than-ideal food choices like a donut, for a healthy sweet-tooth satisfying banana.

I will be updating my progress with this new rejuvenating dietary cleanse and I’m sure I’ll be good as new in a week’s time!

– Nalani

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Eat CLEAN: The 80/20 Rule for Maximum Fitness!

I’m sure you’ve heard of the 80/20 Rule when it comes to fitness. For anyone who

Image courtesy of Grant Cochrane/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Grant Cochrane/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

hasn’t, it’s simple. The key to achieving optimum fitness is 80% what you eat and 20% physical exercise.

What does this mean? Realizing your fitness goals, whether they be weight loss, toning upbuilding muscle, or improving cardiovascular endurance is greatly affected by what you fuel your body with.

Junk IN = Junk OUT

Some people get bogged down or stressed trying to figure out what or how to eat. The perfect way to simplify everything is to EAT CLEAN. Cutting out processed foods is half the battle. Once you’ve done that, making sure you are eating a healthy balance of fruits, vegetables, complex carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats is pretty much all there is to it.

Now I’ve heard many times that people don’t understand how I can eat what I eat or eat how I eat. Let me say that once you make a habit of something (hopefully a good habit) it becomes a part of you, a regular part of your daily life, and you don’t look at it as some unimaginable thing, you just see it as what you do, like brushing your teeth.

Image courtesy of nixxphotography/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of nixxphotography/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Don’t forget to have fun with this! Eating cleanly doesn’t have to be something you dread. Buy foods that you enjoy and find ways to prepare food that, while healthy, you may not enjoy as much. For example, spinach has never been a favorite of mine, but its incredibly good for you, so what do I do? I sometimes make a spinach and egg white omelet. I put a healthy spin on a food that, alone, I don’t enjoy. My egg white spinach omelets with a little feta cheese…DELICIOUS!

With that being said, do I cheat? Of course. We all do. The difference is to know how and when its okay. Self control is a biggie, but the cleaner you eat and the longer you practice clean eating, the easier it is to stick to.

Try it out. Take a look at your average daily diet and make a change. Pick one or two things you can swap out and replace with something better, cleaner. Start slowly and build your new diet one meal at a time. If you can make one huge overhaul of your diet in one swoop, go for it. Remember to always do what works for you, and do what you are going to stick with. No sense in forcing yourself to do something you will only do for 1 day, then quit.

Don’t just pick a healthy plan, pick YOUR healthy plan. It will take some work, hard work, and a few times falling off the horse, but guess what? You’d be surprised at what you can accomplish. I’m surprised by myself all the time.

Good Luck!

Please share with me what you are doing to improve your diet, or what you already do! I want to hear!

– Letisha

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Tips for a Healthy Weight!

Regular physical exercise as well as a healthy diet are a big part of losing and/or maintaining a healthy weight.

Have you been trying to lose weight or maintain your healthy weight and things don’t seem to be going according to plan, despite your best efforts?

You could be sabotaging yourself without even knowing it.

I have some tips that are sure to help you cut out exrta calories where they aren’t needed and ultimately help you get to and maintain a healthy weight.

There’s a catch though. You actually have to DO these tips listed below for them to work. How many times do we listen to someones advice and say “Yeah, Yeah I know..” or “Hey, that’s a great idea!” and then never actually do a thing or make any changes to improve.

Pick 1 or 2 things on this list and work on them, then once they become habit, and a regular part of your daily life, add 2 more. Some you may already know, some maybe not. Ready?

© Photoeuphoria | Stock Free Images & Dreamstime Stock Photos

© Photoeuphoria | Stock Free Images & Dreamstime Stock Photos

Here they are:

  • Choose wheat instead of white. ALWAYS
  • Use Apple Butter in place of Jelly or Jam (much less sugar & calories, but make sure its just plain apples in the ingredient list, NO added sugar or corn syrup)
  • Watch your condiment intake. The calories add up VERY quickly. Don’t overdo it.
  • Replace your cups, bowls, plates, forks, & spoons with smaller versions. Smaller plates, cups, & bowls hold less food so it automatically decreases the size of your portions. Smaller forks and spoons make you eat slower (more time to feel full/less likely to overeat)
  • Drink a glass of water before you eat. The water will take up space in your
    © Joseasreyes | Stock Free Images & Dreamstime Stock Photos

    © Joseasreyes | Stock Free Images & Dreamstime Stock Photos

    stomach which leaves less room for food. You feel fuller faster. Staying hydrated will also curb your cravings. (It’s True!!)

  • Get more sleep! Sleep deprivation makes you crave sugar and other junk.
  • Never eat directly out of a box or bag of food unless it is already a single serving. Otherwise you can end up not paying attention and eating way more than 1 serving
  • Lean protein, healthy fats, and fiber help you feel full & satiated. Add them to your diet.
  • Take a look at the nutrition facts label. We often consume foods that are in 1 package but are actually meant to be 2 servings. You may think that bag of chips you ate was only 140 calories but it was actually a 2-Serving bag of 280 calories.
  • Cut back on the juice or cut it out altogether. You don’t need it. Occasionally is
    © Imyme | Stock Free Images & Dreamstime Stock Photos

    © Imyme | Stock Free Images & Dreamstime Stock Photos

    fine, but regularly consuming 2 or 3 glasses of juice a day, those calories ADD UP FAST. And be sure to watch your serving size.

  • Don’t go grocery shopping when you’re hungry. You’ll end up leaving with the entire store in your shopping cart.
  • Choose fresh food over processed food as often as possible.

Happy Friday! 🙂

– Letisha