Tangy Watermelon Salad with Feta and Mint

One of my favorite foods to eat during the summer is watermelon.  It’s refreshing, hydrating, nutritious, and oh-so delicious!  This savory-sweet recipe is another way to enjoy nature’s treat that beats summer heat.

Recipe for Tangy Watermelon Salad

3 pounds cubed watermelon (6-7 heaping cups)

3 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar

Herbs de Provence, to taste

Black pepper, to taste

2 tablespoons fresh chopped mint, tightly packed

4 heaping tablespoons chopped/crumbled feta cheese

Place watermelon in large bowl or separate into serving bowls.  Drizzle white balsamic over watermelon.  It’s important that you cover as much watermelon as possible, as the balsamic will soak directly into the fruit, so use something that allows you more control for pouring.  Add spices and mix gently.  Sprinkle feta and mint on top.  Don’t mix at this point as feta and mint tend to fall to the bottom.

Just add olive oil and you’ve got watermelon vinaigrette!

Important note:  This recipe doesn’t keep well so eat it right away!  It will still taste yummy, but the lake of liquid that forms in the container and the darkening of the watermelon doesn’t make for a nice presentation.  If you do find yourself in that situation–and how do you think I know about this?–there is an upside.  Drain the liquid into a glass jar, add some olive oil, and you’ve got homemade watermelon vinaigrette!  It’s a nice dressing on mixed greens, and imparts all the flavors of the recipe.

Juicing for Health

I’m happy to say I’ve started juicing again…you know I’m talking about fruits and veggies, right?  Summer is a perfect time to juice, when the goal is to enjoy the warm weather while showing off glowing skin…in a bathing suit.  Not there yet?  Adding fresh juice to your daily routine might be able to help.  If you’re new to juicing, or need a reminder of all the benefits, let me share why juicing may be right for you…

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  1. Juicing is the easiest, quickest, and most efficient way to absorb all the nutrients in fresh fruits and vegetables.  The process of heating food destroys nutrients in varying degrees, depending how you cook them.  Eating raw vegetables in the amount that’s ideal can cause digestive upset.  Juicing produce yields micronutrient-rich liquid that’s doesn’t require much effort from our digestive system.
  2. Juicing is easy.  Yes, juicing does take some prep work.  But after you select and clean your produce, it takes little time or effort.  And your meal is totally portable, able to be enjoyed on the go.  I love my Breville juicer (Juice Fountain Plus, recommended to me by Joe Cross) because it’s quick to assemble, extracts all the juice possible from fruits and veggies, is easy to take apart, and a cinch to clean.
  3. Juicing is tasty.  Freshly juiced produce is absolutely delicious!  If you’re new to juicing, it can be a little daunting to figure out what combo makes a tempting, nutritious concoction.  But after consulting the many tasty juice recipes out there, you gain the confidence to know which produce to use, and perhaps even try out your own recipes.  I recommend The Big Book of Juices by Natalie Savona for ideas and guidance.  With more than 400 recipes, you’ll never get bored. I love the nutrients list and benefits rating for each recipe, as well as the index in the back that suggests which juice recipes are helpful for what’s ailing ya.
  4. Juicing is sexy, because it makes YOU sexy.  With skin-glowing nutrients, cleansing properties, and slimming qualities that make a difference people can see…how can you not feel great about how great you look?

Although juicing does awesome things for your body, you do need to keep a few things in mind….

  1. Juice is not nutritionally complete.  There is very little to no protein, and no fat, in juice.  You need both in your diet.  I use juicing to complement my diet as a vitamin-rich snack or a detoxifying elixir.  The only time I use juice to replace meals is when I’m doing a cleanse, and in this case, I’m purposefully giving my digestive system a break from protein and fat.
  2. Fruit and sweet vegetables contain sugar.  Too much sugar, even from healthy sources, is still too much sugar.  If you’re trying to watch your weight or have blood sugar issues, use sweet veggies and fruit sparingly.  I use a carrot, beet, or apple (or half of one) for a touch of sweetness to greens-laden juices or to tone down strongly flavored vegetables like cabbage.  Adding lime or fresh ginger is a great low-sugar way to add depth to your juice or “cover up” strong vegetable flavors.  If you do use sweet produce to juice and want to keep calories/sugar on the light side, drink a small glass instead or dilute your juice with water or club soda.
  3. Use organic produce as much as possible.  Juicing requires a lot of produce…which means you’re consuming a lot of produce.  So make sure what you’re ingesting is free from pesticides and chemicals!  The worst offenders are on the Dirty Dozen list, so definitely choose organic for those.
  4. Fresh juice has a quick end date.  Freshly juiced beverages have a small window of time in which to drink them.  It’s best to drink fresh juice right away, but if you want to make juice for later, here are a few tips:
  • Store juice in a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid and refrigerate.  Make sure the juice fills up the entire jar to reduce oxidation.
  • Freeze the juice for later use.  Pop in a couple cubes of juice, frozen in an ice tray, when you’re making smoothies, shakes, and other cold beverages.
  • Taking juice with you but not drinking it right away?  Add a teaspoon of vitamin C powder or squeeze of lemon to the container to keep juice from turning brown.

Happy Juicing!

5 All-Natural Solutions to Summer Skin Problems

Ah, summer.  Golden skin, warm rays, outdoor frolicking.  But summer isn’t all fun and games…it can cause havoc on your skin.  To make the rest of your summer worry-free in the skin department, here are effective, all-natural solutions to five of your summer skin woes.

Problem #1:  Sunbathing has left your skin too tight and/or scaly for comfort.

Coconut oil in glass bottle with pump makes application easy

Solution:  Coconut Oil.

Not only is coconut oil a healthy fat to use in the kitchen, it’s all-natural, traditional moisturizer for skin that gives you a lovely glow!   To keep things sanitary, either get a separate jar of coconut oil to use exclusively for your skin, or take a portion from a new jar of oil before using it in the kitchen.

The best way to use this oil without ending up like an oil slick is to apply this right after the shower, before drying off.  Pour the oil into a glass bottle with a pump (I saved mine from a skin cleanser and just cleaned it out).  Spray a pump into your hand and spread it lightly over wet skin to distribute as far as it will go before rubbing it in.

Keep in mind that it does take an hour or so to soak in completely.  And if you’re heading right out to a function where you’ll be doing lots of hugging, you might just want to play it safe and skip your arms to avoid any explanations.

Problem #2:  Skin has passed “glow” and landed in the pink/red zone.

Solution:  Lavender Essential Oil.

Uh-oh.  Has too much sun left your skin blushing?  Lavender essential oil to the rescue!  It’s an antiseptic and anti-inflammatory, and was traditionally used to treat burns.  When I get too much sun, I combine a few drops with a carrier oil–another use for coconut oil!–and smooth over my stressed skin.  I then apply it several times more that day and the next, if needed.  The redness always goes away, and I don’t peel.  Not that it’s an excuse to get sunburned, but it really is amazing how well it works on those rare occasions!

Treating burns is only one of the multitude of uses of lavender oil.  Click the link below and download the PDF file on the Overview tab to see all its uses.

Try this:  100% therapeutic-grade Lavender Essential Oil from Young Living.  I only get my oils from this company because I know they’re pure, and I’ve experienced the healing and health-promoting qualities of their oils firsthand.

Problem #3:  Body bumps appearing from sweating it up in heat and humidity.

Solution:  Tea Tree Soap.

Summer heat and humidity can keep you in a constant state of sweat, which can lead to body breakouts.  Tea Tree oil is a natural antiseptic that not only helps skin heal from cuts and bruises, but can solve skin conditions like acne.  I’d heard of the zit-zapping power of tea tree oil and decided to give it a try.  Although my skin is by no means perfect, tea tree soap does work to keep those bumps at bay.  Use daily with an exfoliating sponge (skip the sponge if you’re sunburned).  The soap’s fresh fragrance and tingly sensation make for an energizing suds session too.

Try this:  Dr. Bronner’s Tea Tree Bar Soap.  All Dr. Bronner’s soaps are fair trade, not tested on animals, made with certified organic ingredients, and have over 18 different uses.  These soaps are so safe, you can brush your teeth with them…whether you want to or not is up to you.

Problem #4:  Insects see you as a free buffet.

Solution & Try this:  Dr. Mercola’s Bug Spray.

No one looks good with swollen polka-dot skin.  But commercial bug and insect sprays with chemicals and laboratory-born fragrances are not the answer.  Dr. Mercola’s Bug Spray contains only natural ingredients to keep bugs at bay: citronella oil, lemongrass oil, peppermint oil, and vanillin (vanilla).  And you won’t smell like you’re wearing bug spray either…my mom uses this and was once asked what perfume she was wearing!  It’s safe for children and pets too, so the whole family can be naturally bug-free.

Problem #5:  Can’t find a sunscreen for your face that doesn’t look oily or cause breakouts.

This is the travel size, the link takes you to the full size

Solution & Try this:  Josie Maran Argan Oil Daily Moisturizer with SPF 40+.

With some products, what’s good to use on your body doesn’t necessarily translate to good times for your face.  Sunscreen is one of those things for me.  This moisturizer-sunscreen combo leaves my skin soft and glowing instead of greasy, doesn’t leave a whitish residue that can result from titanium dioxide/zinc oxide, and I’ve never broken out from frequent usage.  You can easily wear this under your normal makeup, but when I want a sheer tint to even out skin tone while saving my face from the sun, I opt for a tinted moisturizer with SPF 20 from 100% Pure.  Both of these products are winners when it comes to glamorous summer sun protection.

What are your favorite summer skin savers?

Raspberry-Lime Water with Cardamom

Looking for a way to turn on the flavor of your water without getting one of those “flavored waters” at the store?  Not only can they be expensive, some have weird ingredients and/or added sugar.  Blech.  This recipe for Raspberry-Lime Water with Cardamom is an all-natural way to go, one that pumps up the taste level of good ol’ water to new heights!  It’s fruity, tangy, and pretty in pink.

After fully steeped, aim to finish this water within a day.  The limes tend to get sour after that and affects the taste of the water.  Even though the raspberries get soft, they’re still a tasty treat to eat while sipping.  I think the cardamom adds an intriguing taste to the water, but you could certainly leave it out.

Recipe for Raspberry-Lime Water with Cardamom

makes about 3 cups

¼ heaping cup fresh raspberries

½ lime, sliced (or juice from ½ lime)

seeds from 3 cardamom pods – Crush pods with the flat part of a chef’s knife and split open to reveal seeds.

filtered water

You’ll also need:

a mason jar or glass carafe with a 3½ cup capacity

Add fruit and seeds to jar or carafe.  Fill with filtered water.  Let steep in the refrigerator overnight or 8-12 hours.  To serve, stir mixture and strain water into glass.  Add portion of fruit if desired.

Pineapple-Mint Water with Ginger

Water is essential for our bodies, great for our skin, and should be our #1 go-to beverage choice.  But sometimes plain water is just a tad…well, plain.  Normally, I add citrus to my water, which satisfies my tastes.  This recipe goes beyond simple citrus, however, and becomes a tropical fiesta, infusing plain-Jane water with the sweetness of pineapple, freshness of mint, and slight zing of ginger.  The best thing is, when you finish your glass of water there’s have a pineapple snack waiting for you!

You can easily adjust this recipe to fit your needs.  I had this recipe in the fridge for two days after it had steeped, and it tasted fantastic the whole time.  Although the pineapple wasn’t as sweet as it was before soaking in the water, it was still tasty enough to eat. 

Recipe for Pineapple-Mint Water with Ginger

makes about 3 cups

1 cup fresh pineapple, cut into chunks or slices

small handful fresh mint leaves (about ¼ loose cup)

1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced, or cut into small pieces

filtered water

You’ll also need:

a mason jar or glass carafe with a 3½ cup capacity

Add pineapple, mint, and ginger to jar or carafe.  Fill with filtered water.  Let steep in the refrigerator overnight or 8-12 hours.  To serve, stir mixture and strain water into glass.  Add portion of pineapple/mint/ginger if desired.