Friday, November 30, 2012

"Soul" Food on a Friday? || Reflection on Your Journey and Self

I couldn't resist holding onto these jewels until "Soul" Food Mondays.  Here are two quotes worth absorbing over the weekend to come ...


�Each of us has the right and the responsibility to assess the roads which lie ahead, and those over which we have traveled, and if the future road looms ominous or unpromising, and the roads back uninviting, then we need to gather our resolve and, carrying only the necessary baggage, step off that road into another direction. If the new choice is also unpalatable, without embarrassment, we must be ready to change that as well.� ~ MAYA ANGELOU

"If you do not conquer self, you will be conquered by self." ~NAPOLEON HILL

Oldies, But Goodies

1. DIY Hair Care: What Ingredients and When?
2. Underrated || Safflower Oil for Hair and Skin
3. Twist Series: Loose Twists Tutorial
4. Simple, Healthy Recipes for a Busy Schedule
5. Twist Series: Mini Twists & Micro Twists 101

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Blogger Giveway! Carrie's New iPhone App: Vegan Delish

Greetings everyone!

I want to introduce you to Carrie, the blogger over at Carrie on Vegan. Chances are, you already know her. Carrie is a very active Nutritarian blogger in between completing her masters� degree in public health nutrition and the coursework to become a registered dietitian. She is a recent thyroid cancer survivor and is passionate about inspiring people to take control of their health, starting in the kitchen.

Carrie has written a recipe app for the iphone and other Apple devices called "Vegan Delish." HOW COOL IS THAT? And she's giving FIVE lucky HGK readers the Vegan Delish App for free! Yes, FIVE. Thanks Carrie!


Read more �

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Protective Style Lookbook || Faux French Braid on Minitwists

By popular demand, this is a series showcasing various protective hair styles.  Protective styling does not have to be boring. :o)




Model: MsTanish

Style description: Marley/kinky hair braided into mini twists for a long, luxurious french braid.

Difficulty level: 3/5


 

Monday, November 26, 2012

"Soul" Food Mondays || Listen to That Whisper

"I say the universe speaks to us, always, first in whispers. And a whisper in your life usually feels like 'hmm, that's odd.' Or, 'hmm, that doesn't make any sense.' Or, 'hmm, is that right?' It's that subtle. And if you don't pay attention to the whisper, it gets louder and louder and louder. I say it's like getting thumped upside the head. If you don't pay attention to that, it's like getting a brick upside your head. You don't pay attention to that�the brick wall falls down. That is the pattern that I see in my life and so many other people's lives. And so, I ask people, 'What are the whispers? What's whispering to you now?'" ~ Oprah 

Are you sensitive to hearing the whispers in your life?  If not, mark it as one of your resolutions for 2013.   Better yet, start now.  Learn to let the whispers speak to you.  Take heed when you hear them.  Don't wait until they become so loud that it becomes too late.  What's whispering to you now?

Related quote:
Learn to let your intuition�gut instinct�tell you when the food, the relationship, the job isn�t good for you (and conversely, when what you�re doing is just right).  ~Oprah


Mixology || Slippery Elm Leave-In

Recipe for a moisture-infused, lubricating homemade leave-in ...

2 oz slippery elm bark
5 tsps aloe vera juice
2 tsps organic, unrefined coconut oil
2 tsps organic castor oil
3 tbs your favorite conditioner

For the full recipe (including instructions), check out Slippery Elm Leave-In By Lola Zabeth.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Minimal-Damage Heat Regimen for Healthy Hair

So you are interested in using heat -- be it blow-drying or flat-ironing -- but you are terrified of destroying your healthy hair.  Too many horror stories about split ends and permanently straight strands resulting from heat usage.  Fear of losing the progress you worked so long to achieve.

The truth of the matter is that heat usage does not have to be so scary as long as you know your hair and know its limits.  Additionally, a high-moisture, high-strength, moderate-heat routine is necessary to minimize damage.  The regimen below is a good starting point for those who are ready to incorporate heat styling into their hair care.  However, if you can answer yes to any of the following questions, then I encourage you leave heat usage alone for now: Is your hair currently damaged?  Is your hair brittle or weak?  Is your hair newly colored or bleached?

PREPARING FOR HEAT USAGE:

Wash with a moisturizing shampoo.
With a heat-styling regimen, it is really important to maintain moisturized strands, even during the washing process.  Use of a drying shampoo will translate into more effort spent afterwards restoring moisture to your hair.  On the other hand, use of a moisturizing shampoo will help to lightly condition and moisturize your hair during the washing process.  Shampoos like these usually contain mild (rather than harsh) cleansing agents AND light conditioning ingredients.
Recommendations:  Elucence Moisture Benefits Shampoo, Creme of Nature Argan Oil Moisture and Shine Shampoo

Deep condition with a moisturizing protein conditioner.
Following up with a deep protein conditioner is essential to reinforce the hair shaft for manipulation and heat usage.  However, for those who are protein sensitive or have issues with protein-moisture balance, finding the right deep protein conditioner can be a challenge.  A great option is to try a deep conditioner with the dual role of strengthening (protein) and moisturizing.  Such conditioners will generally contain a hydrolyzed protein (e.g., keratin, collagen) for reinforcement and humectants (e.g, glycerin) for moisture retention.
Recommendations: Organic Root Stimulator Replenishing Pak

Quick condition with a silicone-based conditioner (optional).
This step is ideal for those who desire strands that are more manageable (e.g., easier combing, less tangly) and smoother for heat styling.  Also, if your hair is too hard after the above deep conditioning step, this quick condition will help to soften it.
Recommendations: Most Tresemme and Pantene conditioners

Moisturize with a light water-based product and then seal. (No humectants.)
This is your final moisturizing step prior to applying heat to your hair.  You can simply apply a good oil/butter-based sealant to your damp, conditioned hair or after applying a light water-based moisturizer.  Avoid products with humectants in order to delay reversion and frizz.  Also, avoid overly heavy products which can contribute to buildup.
Moisture recommendations: water, Oyin Hair Dew, KBB's Super Silky Leave-In Conditioner
Sealant recommendations: homemade whipped butter, Oyin Whipped Butter


IF FLAT IRONING:

Airdry in big braids.
Air dry your hair as opposed to blow drying to minimize your heat usage.  Doing so in big braids will stretch the hair better than twists though it will also take longer.

Apply a silicone-based heat protectant.
A good heat protectant will usually contain silicones, such as dimethicone or cyclomethicone, which are the most effective at inhibiting damage.  Applying a heat protectant is necessary to reduce the rate at which heat travels through the hair.  Be sure to apply a sufficient amount and section by section.
Recommendations: Carol's Daughter Macademia, Proclaim Glossing Polish Color and Heat Protection, CHI Silk Infusion

Flat iron using a moderate temperature and no more than two passes.
Read this post on "The Natural Haven" for information on the temperature profile for human hair.  If you do use a setting above 300 degrees F, try not to go above 350 F.  Also, invest in a quality flat iron so that little effort (including minimal passes) is required to achieve the look for which you are aiming.  Also, find one with a temperature dial so that you can control the heat level.


IF BLOW-DRYING:

Apply a silicone-based heat protectant.
A good heat protectant will usually contain silicones, such as dimethicone or cyclomethicone, which are the most effective at inhibiting damage.  Applying a heat protectant is necessary to reduce the rate at which heat travels through the hair.  Be sure to apply a sufficient amount and section by section.
Recommendations: Carol's Daughter Macademia, Proclaim Glossing Polish Color and Heat Protection, CHI Silk Infusion

Blow dry using the tension method (no combs or brushes).
Read more (and view tutorials) about it in this earlier post.  Also, it is less damaging to blow dry on damp hair rather than sopping wet hair.  Investing in one with a diffuser is ideal to evenly distribute the heat across your hair.


HOW OFTEN?

Alternate between your heat-styling routine and no-heat styles.
Wear your straight hair for 2-3 weeks and then air dried no-heat styles (e.g., twists, buns, braids, roller set) the rest of the time.  Whether you choose to wear heat-styled looks twice a year or twelve times a year is up to you and your preference.  However, the lower your frequency of heat usage, the better your hair will fair in the long run.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving! And a Sweet Potato Casserole Recipe that Won't Send You Into Sugar-shock


I hope this post finds you all happy and healthy this Thanksgiving, enjoying your breaks from work and your time with family and friends. I know that I am.

This might be a case of too little, too late, but in the interests of future Thanksgiving meals, I want to get this recipe on record here at HGK. It's far less candy-like than the traditional Thanksgiving Sweet Potato casserole, but since it's way healthier, I think we can forgive it. What do you think?

Read more �

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

REVIEW #17: Paul Mitchell Curls Leave-In and Cream-Gel


If you are interested in purchasing either of these products, check out Paul Mitchell Curls.

Though I was given these products to review, I am providing my honest experience with the brand.



Paul Mitchell Curls Full Circle Leave-In Treatment

Purpose: This lightweight, do it all formula hydrates, detangles, tames frizz and helps protect against damage.

Number of trials: multiple

How I used it:
1. For detangling: Applied to damp hair, Finger-combed the product through strands.
2. For taming frizz: Applied to damp hair, Tied scarf for up to one hour, Removed scarf.
3. For hydrating: Applied to damp hair.

Ingredients: Water (Eau, Aqua), Cetearyl Alcohol, Cyclopentasiloxane, Propylene Glycol, Behentrimonium Chloride, Glyceryl Stearate, Behenyl Alcohol, Palmitic Acid, Stearic Acid, Phenoxyethanol, Lecithin, Lauryl Alcohol, Fragrance (Parfum), Citral, Geraniol, Hexyl Cinnamal, Limonene, Myristyl Alcohol, Panthenol, Cetyl Alcohol, Methylisothiazolinone, Argania Spinosa (Argan) Kernel Oil, Behentrimonium Methosulfate, Butylene Glycol

Review: This product is good at detangling; I personally tried it on stretched hair that had not been combed (but had been braided) for about six weeks.  Application of the leave-in followed by a run-thru with my fingers did the trick on a section of hair.  This product also leaves the hair feeling smooth and tames frizzies for a few days (two days on my hair).  The Paul Mitchell Curls Full Circle Leave-In Treatment is your basic leave-in conditioner; it is a good product but did not impress me moisture-wise.  I rate this product 3/5.

PROS: good at detangling, leaves hair feeling smooth, tames frizzies (up to 2 days for me), lightweight
CONS: moisture is not long-lasting



Paul Mitchell Curls Ultimate Wave Beachy Texture Cream-Gel

Purpose: This humidity-resistant cream-gel formula, separates and adds loads of texture to create perfectly imperfect frizz-free styles.

Number of trials: multiple

How I used it (generously):
1. On damp hair.  Finger-combed.
2. On wet hair.  Finger-combed.
3. On wet hair with the Leave-In Treatment.  Finger-combed.

Ingredients: Water (Eau, Aqua), Polyurethane-14, AMP-Acrylates Copolymer, PVP, Carbomer, Aminomethyl Propanediol, Hydrolyzed Keratin, Trametes Versicolor Extract, PEG-12 Dimethicone, Polyquaternium-59, Butylene Glycol, Wheat Amino Acids, Tetrasodium EDTA, DMDM Hydantoin,Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate, Fragrance (Parfum), Butylphenyl Methylpropional, Geraniol, Alpha- Isomethyl Ionone, Hydroxycitronellal, Limonene, Hydroxyisohexyl 3-Cyclohexene Carboxaldehyde

Review:  This Cream-Gel gave good coil/curl separation to the 4ab section of my hair. (The 4b/bc section did not respond well, but that is to be expected considering the wayward kinks).  It seemed to work better after a re-application days later (see below photos).  The coil/curl separation was more enhanced and I probably could have achieved the same result during the first application but with more gel and finger combing.  There were no visible buildup issues (such as crustiness) which was good and is probably why the product is termed a "cream-gel" and not simply a gel. I got a maximum of second day hair with this Cream-Gel; day two hair was a bit stiff but application of the Leave-In Treatment re-softened it.  I can see myself wearing a summer wash-n-go (which I haven't done for years) with the Paul Mitchell Curls Ultimate Wave Beachy Texture Cream-Gel. I rate this product 4/5. 

PROS: good coil/curl separation, no "gel" crustiness especially after re-application, revived with application of Leave-In Treatment
CONS: slight stiffness on second day hair

If you are interested in purchasing either of these products, check out Paul Mitchell Curls.

These products are ideal for those who:
- have curls or coils (both products for Type 3a/b/c; the Leave-In for Type 4a)
- have fine strands (the Leave-In is lightweight)
- desire to use one line of products (the Cream-Gel and Leave-In work very well together)

1st application of Cream-Gel.   Note slight definition on 4a/b strands.  
This is probably because I didn't use enough gel and do enough finger combing.
2nd application (days later) of Cream-Gel.   Note enhanced definition on 4a/b strands.  
Close-up of 2nd application.

How to Have a Healthy Turkey Day

{Image Source}

By Stephanie of Infinite Life Fitness

Tis the season to fill your belly!

The key is to fill your belly with the right food! The national �fill your belly� holiday is upon us. I hear so many people wish (and some who do not) that they had NOT eaten as much as they did during the holiday. For those who are on a new health and fitness journey, being consistent with your healthy eating and fitness routine is KEY to reaching your goals.

Key tips for this year�s feast:
  • Ask what people are bringing. If they are making a high calorie/fat dish either pass it on when you see it OR ask them to make a few substitutes to make it a healthier dish. 
  • Do not be afraid to measure out your portion sizes. If you are afraid to do it in front of your family do it in the kitchen and bring your plate out to the table. They goal is to make sure you are eating enough NOT too much. It is hard to look at your plate and say �yes that is a cup full of veggies�. Do not be afraid to grab a measuring cup and scoop out the right serving size! 
  • When worse comes to worse, double up on the veggies! If you are worried about your plate looking �too bare� compared to those around you try doubling up on the green veggies! You can never go wrong with having more veggies as opposed to more creamy cheese potatoes, or 4 dinner rolls. 
  • Try to make a healthy dish and bring it along with you. I do this EVERY year with my family. And I usually will not tell them it was healthy, low fat and low calorie until they have eaten it all! Nothing makes your feel better than seeing your friends and family rave about a healthy dish. Just because it is healthy does not mean it is not tasty! 
  • Water, Water, Water! Do not forget to drink your water! It is ok to have egg nog, wine, or other fruit drinks�but those drinks pack a TON of calories. Would you rather drink your calories or enjoy a piece of pie? 

Everyone�s FAVORITE part of turkey day? Well�it should be spending time with your friends and family�bbbuuuut we all know it is the dessert tray!

Do not be afraid to eat dessert! BUT do not forget to get a double or triple serving of your grandma�s famous pie. Yes it is good�and yes it will make you happy�but you have to remember that you have a goal to reach in a certain amount of time so do not let one HUGE piece of pie render that success! 

Ok�so you did have that extra piece of pie�or you already know that you will have that pie. Try working out BEFORE you meet the family for dinner and try to plan a late night walk or jog. Doing activities before and after such meals is a great plan and it will help you feel less guilty about indulging on the holiday treats.

Need some suggestions for some healthy desserts�try looking at these sites:

Pumpkin Pie
Recipe
Chocolate Doughnuts
Recipe
Chocolate Ice Cream Sandwiches
Recipe

I hope these holiday tips were helpful! Have a WONDERFUL, SAFE, and HEALTHY Thanksgiving!

This is Stephanie from Infinite Life Fitness. Please feel free to stop by my blog anytime for more health and fitness tips!!




Thursday, November 15, 2012

Thanksgiving 2012 Line-up


Thanksgiving.

Just the word brings a smile to my face. I love everything about this holiday. A fire in the fireplace, surrounded by loved ones and, like, the best freakin' food on the planet.

This year we will be heading on over to my in-laws house for the big event. They have hosted Thanksgiving forever, or at least as long as I have known them. Until last year when somehow I wrangled the holiday out of their grip. But this year we are back on traditional territory.

So what can a Plant-strong striving to be Vegan with a non-Vegan family do on a holiday like this? Make and bring a ton of no-oil deliciousness to the party. Wow everybody else into submission. And hope that next year we will officially say goodbye to the turkey.

The nice thing about having eaten "this way" for the past almost 3 years is that I am developing new traditions for our family. It's such a great feeling. This menu has been a few years in the development, and continues to evolve, but here's what I will be making for Thanksgiving this year. Shopping starts today!

Read more �

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Healthy World Cafe is popping up Nov. 28!

For anyone tired of turkey and stuffing after a big Thanksgiving meal -- or for those just looking for a break from cooking for a meal or two -- Healthy World Cafe to the rescue!

Courtesy of Flickr user Gemma Billings
We're back open for lunch on Wednesday, Nov. 28, 11:30 a.m.  to 1:30 p.m. at First Moravian Church, 39 N. Duke St., in downtown York.

We'll be featuring the abundance of locally grown fruits, vegetables and all that is headed from farm to table as we move into the late fall harvest season.  Menu items are:


Chicken Noodle Soup

Vegetarian Black Bean Chili 

Winter Vegetable Ratatouille

Shredded Pork Sandwich with Coleslaw

Winter Greens & Cheese Quiche

Salad Bar

Mixed Fruit Crisp


At Healthy World Cafe, we always feature our "eat what you want, pay how you can" philosophy.  The ability to pay should never be a barrier to accessing delicious, unprocessed, healthy food.  Take out orders are available by emailing your selections (by 10 a.m. Nov. 28) to healthyworldcafe(at)gmail(dot)com.

To receive periodic updates from Healthy World Cafe, send your email address to us at the email address listed above.  If you'd like to volunteer with Healthy World Cafe for food preparations 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. Nov. 26 and Nov. 27 or for prep and serving 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Nov. 28, click on the box above and to the right, "Volunteer Spot."

Hope to see you Nov. 28 at First Moravian Church!

Skin Care || Combatting Dry Skin This Winter

There is no need to go shopping for new moisturizers and cleansers.  Here are four quick tips for combatting dry skin this winter.

1. Honey and brown sugar cleanser.
Maybe the facial cleanser that worked so well for you in the summer feels drying this fall and upcoming winter?  Well, try using a mixture of honey and brown sugar to cleanse your face instead.  Pure honey is a natural humectant with antibacterial properties [1].  Brown sugar aids with exfoliation due to its texture.  This combination will not feel as stripping as your cleanser

2. Add jojoba oil (or grapeseed or safflower) to a moisturizer.
Maybe your current facial moisturizer isn't cutting it for the cold weather?  Try adding jojoba oil or using it a substitute.  This oil is light enough to not leave a greasy layer and feel on your skin but it can get the job done in terms of moisture retention.  Another option is to add grapeseed oil[2] or safflower oil, which are also fairly light and moisture retentive.  NOTE: Safflower oil will not clog the pores while jojoba oil and grapeseed oil are moderately low when it comes to clogging[3].

3. Whipped shea-aloe body butter in place of your lotion.
Is your skin still dry or even ashy after using lotion?  Then try mixing your own body butter for the cold weather.  A simple mixture can consist of 50% aloe vera gel and 50% shea butter.  Aloe vera is great for replenishing moisture to the skin while shea butter softens and seals in the moisture.  If you want something a little heavier, add one or more of your favorites oils (about 10-20% of the final mixture).

4. Glycerin may be useful - 30:70 glycerin-water spritz.
There is a big misconception that glycerin is counter-effective (by sucking moisture away from your skin/hair) in cold weather.  (For more on the science behind glycerin, check out this post on "The Natural Haven").  Glycerin is just simply more useful in the presence of water, which could be why it is more effective in humid weather for many individuals.  (If it does not work well for you during cold weather, it is not because it is "sucking moisture away" from your skin/hair.  It could be that it is just not as effective due to the drier weather.)  
If you are not a fan of whipped butters on your body, then try making a mixture of 30% glycerin and 70% water and spritzing it your body.  (Feel free to adjust the ratio to your desired consistency.)  Follow up with your current body lotion, if necessary.  This spritz can also be applied to your face; follow up with your current moisturizer, if necessary.

MORE READS:
HONEY AS AN ANTIBIOTIC
GRAPESEED OIL & MOISTURE LOSS
COMEDOGENIC (CLOGGING) RATINGS
THE SCIENCE BEHIND GLYCERIN - THE NATURAL HAVEN
10 WINTER SKIN CARE TIPS

Monday, November 12, 2012

Mixology || Shea Butter and Hibiscus Deep Treatment

Recipe originator: Laila (FusionofCultures on Youtube).

Ingredients (rough estimates):
2 scoops conditioner (from your stash)
2 scoops shea butter
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp peppermint oil
1 tbsp castor oil
1 tbsp of amla
1 tbsp of hibiscus powder

Instructions: See video below ...

 

Friday, November 9, 2012

Protective Style Lookbook || 6 Styles for Small or Mini Twists

By popular demand, this is a series showcasing various protective hair styles.  Protective styling does not have to be boring. :o)


Model: MsTanish

Style description: High bun, beaded updos, mini twist headband, bantu knotout, etc.  (The latter styles are towards the end of the below video.)

Difficulty level: 2/5

Underrated || Lanolin or Lanolin Oil for Hair

Disclaimer: Lanolin is not recommended for use by those who have wool allergies.


Lanolin is a natural, waxy substance extracted from the wool of sheep (and, in rare cases, other wool-bearing animals).  Unfortunately, it has been labeled a "bad" ingredient in certain hair care communities, possibly because it is a barrier to water.  However, outside of this reality, lanolin can be very useful in other arenas of hair care.  If you don't know much about it, you might want to continue reading ...


WHY LANOLIN IS WORTH TRYING:

1.  It seals in moisture.  Lanolin, secreted by the sebaceous glands of sheep in order to protect the skin and wool from the harsh environment.  It would then not seem unreasonable that lanolin would work well as an effective sealant on our own hair.  Though this waxy, thick substance locks out moisture (i.e., preventing water from penetrating the hair) it also locks in moisture (i.e., retains water that is already present in the hair strand).  NOTE: If you have fine strands, lanolin may feel too heavy; try the oil form (of lanolin) instead.

2. It has conditioning properties.  Lanolin can be very lubricating.  

3. It can aid in styling.  Due to the waxy consistency of lanolin, it can help to define twist outs, braid outs, and roller sets.  It can also help to smooth down any frizzies or stray hairs and add shine (or sheen).


HOW TO USE LANOLIN:

1. Use it to seal your ends.  Depending on your hair texture and density, lanolin may or may not be too heavy for use.  If it is too heavy, try using it sparingly or opting for lanolin oil instead.

2. Use as a pre-shampoo treatment or to enhance a conditioner.  Use lanolin (or lanolin oil) alone or with other ingredients as a pre-poo treatment.  Add some melted lanolin (or add lanolin oil) to your conditioner for an enhanced conditioning treatment.

3. Use it to make a styling pomade or grease.  Lanolin can be used alone or mixed with butters and/or oils to create a pomade or grease.  Check out this previous post on a hair grease recipe using lanolin.  (The recipe creator is Lola Zabeth.)

4. Use it as an anti-humidity agent.  Because lanolin can act as a barrier between your hair and the environment, it can work well to protect your styles from being ruined by humidity.  

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Hair Diary || The Many Facets of Natural

I was going through some photos to submit for a couple features when I was reminded of just how versatile natural hair is.  I pulled up an old collage of my hair back in 2009/2010.  The array of styles ranges from twistouts to coilouts to twists to more:

(Circa 2009/2010.)  From left to right, starting with the first row: 1. kinky ponytail extension,  2.  high afro puff with scarf, 3. afro puff with hairtie, 4. comb coils, 5. air dried rollerset pinned up, 6. mini twistout, 7. braidout with flower, 8. coilout, 9. air dried rollerset.

Then I decided to make a collage of my hair from this year.

(2012.)  From left to right, starting with the first row: 1. twistout,  2. flat-ironed twisted ponytail, 3. frizzy twists in high side bun, 4. flat twistout into twists ponytail, 5. twists pinned up, 6. twistout on straightened hair, 7. jumbo twists on straightened hair, 8. twistout into high bun, 9. twists rolled up into pompadour.

I will admit that I haven't been as creative as in my earlier years, but that's because, as my hair has grown, I've incorporated more protective styling.  However, it was pretty cool to see that I'm still taking advantage of the versatility of natural hair.  In a strange kind of way, these collages inspired me to stay out of the boring slump into which I was falling and continue to have fun with my hair (though, of course not as the expense of health and length).  Hopefully it inspires you too!


2012.  Hair in shrunken wet state (drenched in conditioner).  
No curl definition.  Clumping due to old twistout.

Oldies, But Goodies

These posts are not that old, but they are worth the read.  If you haven't checked them on Black Girl Long Hair, here are the links:

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

A Plant Perfect Surprise in State College, Pennsylvania--Aardvark Kafe


I'm choosing to start this story with a food photo.

Such good, good food.

The kind of food that should be available in every restaurant in America, if not the world.

A house made black bean burger with crunchy veggies, raw onion, house made hummus and BBQ sauce all tucked into a whole wheat wrap. A side salad with a house made NO OIL dressing.

Are you falling out of your chair yet?

Read more �

Monday, November 5, 2012

Healthy Hair Feature: Alma

(Left) Shrunken braid out.  (Right) Stretched braid out.

1) Are you natural, relaxed, texlaxed, or transitioning? (And how long?) 

I am a natural 4a and have been now for 4 and half years. 

2) If you are natural, did you transition? 

Oh yes I transitioned for 18 months. I used braids and weaves to avoid the hassle of dealing with the two textures. To be honest though, by the time I came to do the big chop, majority of my relaxed hair had broken off so it was more of a small chop than anything else. I remember at first feeling really odd, naked somehow with just my little fro and without the security of hair but I got used to it pretty quickly and started to enjoy how freeing being natural was.

Flat-ironed. (End of 2011.)

3) What mistakes have you made in your hair care journey? 

Straight after my BC like many other naturals I was crazy for wash and go's and wore my hair like that for months on end. I also found that with my 50-70% shrinkage, braid outs did not stretch my hair any more than a wash and go. I actually took pictures that showed that my hair shrunk by the same degree either way! 

As my hair grew longer (at the time it was around shoulder length) and as a result of all those wash and go's, I found that I was getting way too many tangles and single strand knots. I noticed that one week I would have lots of single strand knots then a few weeks later they would disappear only to be replaced pretty quickly by new ones. Eventually I came to the conclusion that my hair was breaking at the site of the single strand knots and my new mission became to avoid them at all costs.

The only other major mistake that I've made was actually pretty recently when I decided to do mini twists. I had the worst tangling I've ever had in my time as a natural even though I'd only had the twists in for 2 weeks. My hair does not seem to like torsion twists of any sort so I stick with braids for styling or when I need to section my hair.

Shrunken braid out.
4) What is your current HEALTHY HAIR routine?

My regimen changes every now and again but as a rule, I deep condition with heat weekly and shampoo my hair most weeks too. Since my moisture protein balance has long since been established and I can usually tell what my hair is in need of, sometimes I will do a quick condition (between 10-30 minutes without heat) to maintain the balance. I always wash my hair in 4-6 braids because it makes it easier to handle.

Because my hair is colored I tend to err on the side of protein so I use a protein conditioner on most weeks. During grow out I will usually wear my hair in braids or weaves but I can only usually handle 2-3 weeks at a time, like many naturals I find that I miss my hair too much! Even so I find that my hair is in protective styles for up to 40% of the year. This allows me to maintain the most length. Of course once I get to goal, I probably won't do protective styles much.

I do strong protein treatments every couple of months or so and I moisturize and seal as needed which is usually every other day for me. Unlike other naturals who never go anywhere near heat, I used to flat iron my hair every couple of months and have done so all through my hair journey. Having said that, since I am now grazing waist length (I hope to be at waist length by the end of the year), it's way too much work to flat iron any more so straight hair will definitely take a backseat to curly styles for the time being.

My favorite go to hairstyle is a braid out because it's just so easy. I generally do it the traditional way of braiding wet to damp hair but I will sometimes do a stretch blow dry (tension method) to get my hair stretched before braiding it down. Pineapple-ing my hair every night helps to keep the curls for the entire week.

I have very well documented slow growth of just 4 inches per year so I never trim my hair as a rule. I've actually trimmed it just once in 4 years, and even then it didn't feel necessary!

5) Do you have a HEALTHY BODY routine? If so, what is it?

I have been interested in health for years but with so many contrasting views on the subject, in the past 10 years I have gone from one extreme diet to the other. I have been a low fat vegan and a zero carber! Unfortunately after ever stint on another extreme diet I came away with even more pounds than I started off with, classic yo yo dieting and no method has ever given me lasting weight loss. 

Lately I have been reading the work of Matt Stone who believes that the metabolism plays a huge role in overall health and that dieting and disordered eating is the cause of many modern diseases  He works with people to get their body temperatures up to normal levels.

When I first started my body temperature was a chilly 95.7 degrees and following his methods I have got it up to 97.7 first thing on waking in the morning. I am still carrying a lot of extra pounds but weight is apparently one of the last things to resolve after digestion and hormonal balance is restored. In the meantime I concentrate on getting adequate nutrition from all food groups while avoiding refined sugar and refined oils. I rarely eat out and all our food is cooked from scratch.

I am also in the process of trying to reduce my chemical load by switching to natural versions of products I currently use. I am using the wonderful deodorant recipe posted on your blog which works beautifully and I am using an FIR infrared sauna to help sweat out toxins.

High bun on straightened hair.
6) Do you have any advice for those seeking healthy tresses?

Absolutely! There are 3 key things in my opinion to growing long healthy hair.
1. Reduce manipulation. A lot of us think of moisture as the most important aspect of growing hair long but how often you manipulate your hair will be a bigger determinant of your length.
2. Keep it simple, there are dozens of techniques, hairstyles and wonderful sounding treatments available online but you don't have to try them all in one week. Stick to a simple but consistent regimen.
3. Products are very much secondary to your hair regimen. Only your regimen will determine the health and length of your hair in the long term. 

7) Where can we find you?

I run and write for Black Hair Information which I set up to help women of color grow long healthy hair relaxed or natural: http://www.blackhairinformation.com. I also write about my own hair on my personal blog here: http://www.curlycurvy.com/.

Healthy Eating || How to Store Green Vegetables

Prior to watching the following video, I would just freeze my greens in order to lock in their nutrients.  Then I came across this video and kicked myself for never thinking about the method she uses.  It makes so much sense and is a simple way to keep your green vegetables fresh AND full of nutrients.  No need to freeze them anymore.

In the video below, Chef Ahki discusses this nifty, simple method to store green vegetables.   If you don't know about it already, you'll kick yourself too!  Trust me.


Thursday, November 1, 2012

What Are You Doing This Sunday? A Healthy Taste of LA


What are you doing this Sunday?

If you are not one of the lucky ones who are actually attending Chef Aj's 3rd Annual Healthy Taste of LA, don't despair because the whole kit and caboodle is going to be broadcast for us to see, FREE.


Okay, maybe a little despairing is in order.
Read more �

1in3: One Month Down!

Hey, ladies!  Today begins our second month of the 1in3 challenge!  (For challenge guidelines, read this post.)

So, how was last month?  Well, I'm really digging these box braids.  I haven't had to fiddle with my hair in almost a month!  

Last weekend, I did my first wash since the installation, and it went really well.  (See box braid regimen description here.)  This month, I plan to do one or two more washes before taking down the set.  Thus far, I am hooked on the simplicity AND style of the braids.  I think I might install another set in January?  We'll see.

As for the "internal" health part of the challenge, if you haven't picked up on it already, I have been on smoothie kick that I carried into the challenge.  (Check these posts for smoothie recipes.)  This kick has made it easier to absorb multiple fruits and veggies in one sitting ... which in turn makes it easier to meet my goal intake for the day.  Now, I just have to get my workout regimen together, and I'm set.  So far, I've been using my trusty exercise DVD, but I think I want to join a gym.  Well ... til next time, ladies!

How was your first month of the challenge?  What are you doing this month?

MOTIVATION FOR THE MONTH:  
Always have the destination at the forefront of your mind.  Then you will be able to complete the journey.  Let the 1-1.5 inches of length retention be your destination.  Now, just do what you need to do to get there! :o)

Protective Style Lookbook || Elegant Textured Updo (From A Twist Out)

By popular demand, this is a series showcasing various protective hair styles.  Protective styling does not have to be boring. :o)

Model: Kasheera

Style description: Front is twirled and pinned back. Back is twirled and pinned up. Style starts from a twistout.

Difficulty level: 1/5