3 Big Ways Coffee Affects Your Brain

Love your java? You may love some of this, too! Take a look at what some studies say your cup o’ Joe may affect your mind and the health of your brain.

How could I ever say "no" to a fellow coffee lover?

Nope, could not possibly!

I can't let you miss out on the latest bit about how coffee affects our health! After all, I have written about how to make coffee a healthier habit before as well as things to add to your cup to make it even more mind-blowingly-healthy. So, of course, I want to let you in on some recent research that Austin Baines (fellow coffee nut) has gathered for us to see how each cup of java could possibly affect how we tap into our mind as well as fend off disease!

Austin Baines, the Coffee Guru

Let me tell you just a bit about Austin, our coffee expert today, before he enlightens us on three big ways coffee may affect our brain:

Austin Baines is a coffee roaster and connoisseur at Cubico Coffee, a unique Florida coffee roaster that offers personally customized coffee blends designed by each customer.  He offers good tips and advice about Kona, Blue Mountain and Jamaican Blue Mountain coffees. When Austin is not making a delicious brew, you can find him on the web and on Cubico's twitter account exploring coffee's newest and finest trends.

Below is what Austin found for us:.

How Coffee May Be Affecting Your Brain

Over the last few years coffee has risen from its former status as just a popular and delicious drink to a veritable super food. Recent studies, and the hundreds of pop-science articles that follow claim that coffee even helps to extend our lifespan.

What’s more interesting to us, though, is what coffee might be able to do for our brains. Let’s take a look at what some studies have found out about some of the effects that your cup o’ Joe is having on your mind and the health of your noggin'!

1.  Coffee Improves Your Memory & May Help You Learn!

A Johns Hopkins study published in Nature Neuroscience used a double-blind trial to test the effects of caffeine on memory. It showed that coffee improves coffee drinkers’ memory consolidation for the following 24 hours after consumption.

This applies to memory consolidation, and not retrieval, meaning that it’s great for learning new things, not for helping you recall something that you learned before. This seems to be due to the stimulant effects of caffeine, though further research is needed.

What it means for you is that you should put the coffee on when you sit down to study or learn, not just right before the test or the big presentation at work.

Love your java? You may love some of this, too! Take a look at what some studies say your cup o’ Joe can affect your mind and the health of your brain.

2.  Coffee Might Fight Some Diseases.

Here are two diseases that coffee may help fend off:

1.  Brain Cancer

A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition used data from 7 different countries to show that coffee has a small but noticeable effect on the development of glioblastoma, or brain tumors.

The study measured average coffee and tea consumption by specific populations, and compared those against the incidence of brain tumors and rate of progression of those brain tumors. Coffee and tea consumption correlate to a lower incidence of tumors, as well as slower tumor growth.

The scientists weren’t able to determine how coffee can reduce your risk of brain cancer, but both the caffeine and antioxidant properties of tea and coffee are likely culprits.

2.  Alzheimer’s

The Journal of Alzheimer’s disease published study in 2010 that strongly suggests that coffee can be used to protect against and fight Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia.

Mice that were fed significant amounts of caffeine from young adulthood on were protected against memory impairment as they aged, and had lower levels of the beta amyloid proteins that form plaques and cause Alzheimer’s symptoms.

Even better, mice that exhibited Alzheimer’s symptoms experienced reduced levels of beta amyloids, memory restoration, and improved cognitive function within 1-2 months of beginning the trial.

Alzheimer's has long been a disease that we couldn’t do anything about, but a part of the answer could have been sitting in our coffee cup this entire time. This has huge implications in terms of preventing, delaying onset, and providing therapies for the disease.

3.  Coffee Could Increase Stress & Anxiety If You Drink A Lot of It.

While coffee has a lot of positive effects on our brain, the stimulant effects of caffeine do have a downside as well - if consumed in excess. This study shows that coffee can have an adverse effect on our mood when consumed in significant amounts.

Caffeine increases alertness, but contributes to sensory overload and increases our stress levels. Over time this can manifest in the form of persistent anxiety issues. While this doesn’t affect everyone, this could in turn have negative implications for things like heart health, and our bodies’ natural inflammatory processes, which is why the scientific community’s research on coffee is far from over.

I hope you enjoyed Austin's peek into how coffee affects brain health. I certainly learned a few new things. Austin and I look forward to hearing your thoughts in the comments!

Austin Baines

Need More?

Featured on Jill Conyers blog hop.

Best Expert Fitness Tip: Have Fun! (Great Workout Discount, Too)

I can't wait for you to meet the inspiring and passionate Seo Kelleher, a woman helping other women not only get fit, but gain confidence, find what they love and have fun! All at the same time.

And, that is ALL women, by the way - no matter what shape or size, level of fitness, age or stage in life! She is a fitness expert with her own fitness business and is offering a discount to THM readers for a new on-line workout plan you must try! Please, come meet Seo. You will be so energized by what she has to say! Promise!
Tap here for a great interview and actionable tips from a fitness expert who says exercise should be a lot more fun and why! Get a great discount to her amazing exercise download, too!

Q & A:  Seo, Fitness Expert and Kickboxing Guru

Fitness Expert Seo says fitness should be a lot more fun! Find out how to make it so and why . . . and her many other great points and tips about getting fit. (And don't miss the program discount further below that you can download today!):

1.  You are founder and owner of CO2Fit, a fitness brand and community in Richmond, Virginia as well as creator of an exercise video you are generously discounting for THM readers today introducing a fun, quick and effective workout for many levels. How did you get to where you are? Please tell us your background and how you got started in fitness and coaching?

I used to be a corporate marketing pro for years teaching fitness classes in the evenings and on weekends. In 2012, I decided to make the scary career switch from doing what I'm supposed to be doing to doing what I felt I was meant to be doing. I used to promote medication that was supposed to help people, but now I get to really help people one by one improving their health - both body & mind.  I quit my job in June 2012 and started CO2Fit on July 1, 2012.  It's been amazing 3.5 years or so!

2.  It takes a lot of courage to follow your heart!  Bravo! How is the studio where you teach different from others, though? Tell us more about the services you offer? What kind of clients do you have?

My partner, Sandi and I at TURN Cardio Jam Studio offer various classes like Dance Trance, Urban Ballet (dance fitness class types) and also FightingFit, Urban Sculpt, Surf FIT, Urban Bootcamp, and many more. I also do one-on-one personal training. Please check out Turnrva.com for the photos and more details of the classes.

3.  The workout video you are sharing today is called Fighting Fit.  Please tell us why you created it and tell us for what level of fitness is this video best suited.

I have been a martial artist all my life, starting with Taekwondo  and Hapkido while growing up in South Korea.  It's always been my passion so I continued to train and then I fell in love with American-style kickboxing.

I also started teaching BodyCombat which is a kickboxing-inspired group fitness class.  Over the years of teaching both styles (cardio kickboxing/group fitness classes that are choreographed to music, which is basically "aerobics" class and technical kickboxing), I realized that there needed to be something in the middle.  The group fitness/aerobics versions lacked technical authenticity as in, "Are we dancing or kickboxing?" and "Why ARE we clapping?"  After all, there is no clapping in kickboxing!

The technical kickboxing school tended to be too hardcore and intimidating for most women to continue training.  So I just merged what I loved in both into FightingFit - you get cardio kickboxing plus technical coaching of traditional kickboxing in a non-intimidating fun group setting.  While many women (my target audience) tend to feel intimidated by the idea of kickboxing workout, the FightingFit can be done for all fitness levels because you work at your own level. Plus, because you learn proper techniques (as opposed to going blindly to fast-paced music), you will be less likely to injure yourself from improper punching and kicking, which is very important to my heart.

Tap here for a great Q and A interview and tips from a fitness expert who says exercise should be a lot more fun and why! Get a great discount to her amazing exercise download, too!
Seo smiling in the middle!

4.  Avoiding injury is critical. You are so right, Seo,  I like the sound of your approach, too. Besides getting in shape, can you tell us any specific benefits to kickboxing and your video over other exercise programs?

There is something extremely empowering for anyone (especially women) to feel like she can stand her own ground and fight.  I'm certainly not saying we should all be picking fights or be aggressive - but when push comes to shove, are you strong enough to fight back, if needed?

Some women start out being very uncomfortable hitting anything because most of us were raised to be caring and gentle and never aggressive. But, when I tell some students, "It's your children! You need to protect them," then I see something change in their eyes, and they are ON full-speed ahead!

Oh, and let's not forget! It's a great calorie burner and total body workout . . . and great stress reliever, too!

5.  Love that story about how you motivate the Moms! How effective to change the mindset, huh! Tell us, what results can we expect if we follow it regularly?  

FightingFit is a truly empowering workout for everyday people! It's also an anti-perfection workout. None of us look like fitness celebrities or models - we all have regular lives and regular imperfect bodies, and we don't look 100 percent perfect in the video either.  I hope to inspire people to just go and do something, find something they enjoy and just do it, and get better and get healthier and have fun!

Anyone can do this! You can see in the video a 65-year-old woman who only started going to the gym at 60-years old after retiring who totally kills it and a 16-year-old high school girl who juggles school and FightingFit.  Then, there is the working mom in her mid-40's who has asthma which makes it very painful for her to continue training but she loves martial arts so she trains, and don't miss the 20-something teacher who used to feel anxiety and be self-conscious about going to group fitness class but now she is one of my instructors!

The video offers multiple options depending on your fitness level, so it is for anyone that wants to try something new, fun and effective! And, I am offering a discount through March to your readers that I hope they take advantage of to help them get in shape. After all, the total body workout is quick - only 15 minutes and there are three 15-minute workouts in the program.

6.  Wow! Powerful words and example, Seo!  It really is for anyone - imperfections and all! What a contribution you are making! The video is broken down into 15 minute segments, but how often should a participant follow it? Is there any special equipment needed to follow it or other requirements?

There are three 15-minute workouts. Participants can do just one or combine 2 or 3 -- no equipment needed at all!

Tap here for a great Q and A interview and tips from a fitness expert who says exercise should be a lot more fun and why! Get a great discount to her amazing exercise download, too!
Seo having fun in class!

7.  Please do share a few of your secrets! How about some other favorite fitness or health tips that we can easily incorporate for the new year to help us succeed in reaching our goals!

Do something you like and enjoy exercise.  If you hate running, don't sign up for 5K! It always puzzles me when people sign up for a race to "motivate them to get fit" when they hate running. There are so many different ways to get fit, and you just need to keep trying new things and find it.  If you hate it and dread it, don't punish yourself tolerating it.  If you have fun and can't wait to go back, keep doing it.

8.  That is an excellent point - having fun! Imagine that! Looks like you have nailed that part, Seo, from the photos! So we have a great video to try now to help us get fit and have fun, of course! Now, can you share a few favorite healthy snack ideas that we can make quickly that would be good to consume before a workout or after? 

I am probably most flexible and relaxed about dieting and nutrition because I love food and enjoy eating. My go-to healthy snack/meal option is always eggs - yolks and everything --whole eggs. They are cheap, healthy, contain high protein and are delicious.  But I don't do plain egg whites! No way! You need to make it tasty.  I even wrote an e-book:  25 ways of Eggs - Quick, Easy, "Pretty-Healthy" Recipes for Busy People. 

Don't miss this: Find out here which is the healthiest egg choice from all those various cartons on the shelves!

9.  Are you part of social media where participants can communicate with you or share their progress in your program?

Yes! I'd love that. I'm very active on Instagram and Facebook!  Here are my links:

10.  Is there anything else you want to share with the THM readers that may help?

I think i shared enough information!  I would emphasize though -- don't over think or psych yourself out trying to be perfect! Just give yourself a break and try new things and go for having fun!  To make my point, check out this recent video on fear I made on how many women feel the perfectionist syndrome and wanting to quit and how to avoid that and not cheat yourself.

Tap here for a great interview and actionable tips from a fitness expert who says exercise should be a lot more fun and why! Get a great discount to her amazing exercise download, too!

Exercise Video Discount Offer

I really recommend Seo's program as you can fit it in any time of day, anywhere! No equipment is needed and you can create a workout that is as long or as short as you like with the several options. It is so adaptable!  For example, I am traveling right now and have done this video in my hotel room!

You can try it easily at your home, too! And, if you are on the fence, here is what another blogger had to say about Seo and the classes she teaches and the fun she had.

Here are the easy steps to take to get your exercise video that ordinarily sells for $19.99.  THM readers receive a 20 percent discount with the code below. But remember, the discount runs out by March 31st. Here are the easy steps to be on your way to a new exercise plan in minutes:

  • Paste this website address in your browser: https://co2fit.dpdcart.com/
  • Choose the center box for the download.
  • Type this promo coupon code in the coupon box on the left-hand side and tap "apply" to receive 20 percent off your purchase:  HM15 
  • Complete the checkout and payment.
  • Access to the download is available immediately.

Thank you so much, Seo, for your energetic and motivational push for us all to get fit and make the critical choice to have fun with it

Shared on Jill Conyers blog hop and Urban Naturalle.

Soak Your Way To Relaxation, Detoxification & Great Sleep

We spend a lot of time considering what we choose to put inside our body to improve out health, which I applaud! But, what about what we put on the outside to show it some love? How about we think about that a bit, too. And, I promise, my suggestion won't cost you a lot of money or take a lot of time.

Here is a bath time “recipe” to improve your health, induce deep relaxation, detoxify your body, increase your mineral levels and bring on a great night's sleep - all at the same time! Tap here for the simple steps to bath time bliss and better health!

Let's consider supporting that outside with this special "recipe" to do all this: improve your health, increase your mineral levels, induce deep relaxation, detoxify your body and bring on a great night's sleep - all at the same time! It is some "recipe," and, I really think you are going to find it very easy to follow!

Your liver and kidneys play key roles for removing toxins and do so every day, but your skin has a star role, too, filtering and detoxifying, right along with them.  To gently push that detoxification process along, following the "recipe" for a special bath that I describe below and regularly scheduling one for yourself can do wonders and be a great health-promoting tool. Besides, the time in the tub for some serious day-dreaming can't be beat!

The Health Benefits of a Detox Bath 

Besides the warmth of the hot water a bath can provide, a hot soak can create a great time of relaxation and rejuvenation.  But, while you are there, why not step it up a bit with the addition of a few ingredients to create a healthy habit of regularly detoxing (primarily through sweating) at the same time. But before I get to the recipe, here are some other considerations regarding detoxing baths to keep you motivated:

1.  Detox baths may help you clear toxins.

The full research on this is not firm, but many report the ingredients you place in the detox bath water can push the sweating process further along as well as simultaneously replenish minerals and soften skin. Let me assure you, this bath warms you head to toe! And, then some!

2.  Bath time can make for better sleep time.

The warmth of the water, the solitude and time to let your mind wander as well as the magnesium in the Epsom salts all can bring on deep relaxation. And, insomniacs take note: many say this bath can induce a wonderful slumber after.  Thus, it is best to take this bath at nighttime.

Don't miss this:  What to eat to help you sleep well and improve your health.

3.  Mothers-to-be should choose another means of detoxing.

This is not a process for mothers-to-be! Women who are pregnant or may even think they are pregnant, stay away.  Also check with your doctor first if you are diabetic, have high blood pressure or heart issues.

Don's miss this: Specific things you should be doing before you want to get pregnant.

4.  The Epsom salts in a detox bath may benefit those with autism.

Most people with autism conditions have a deficiency in a key detoxification pathway.  The Epsom salts can help restore magnesium and sulfate absorption into the body through the skin benefiting all but especially helping those with autism. Here is more information on that. And, more here as well.

Epsom salts have been a long time remedy for stiffness and muscle soreness, as well.  It is a great one to bring on a ski trip or bike trip or race of any kind.

5.  Detox baths can help the many deficient in magnesium.

Epsom salts in a detox bath can supply in a highly available form of magnesium that can be absorbed readily through our skin.  Epsom salts left on the skin after a bath can continue to be absorbed providing continuous ‘timed-released’ benefits much like a skin patch.

Don't miss this: Check this out to make sure you are not choosing the wrong kind of salt to cook with? It's an easy swap if you are not.

Here is a bath time “recipe” to improve your health, induce deep relaxation, detoxify your body, increase your mineral levels and bring on a great night's sleep - all at the same time! Tap here for the simple steps to bath time bliss and better health!

How to Create A Detox Bath To Improve Your Health

Follow this simple recipe to fortify your bath time with health benefits and deep relaxation to be on your way to sweet slumber.  Below is an explanation of the specific benefit to each ingredient listed. I included links to the products I use, if you are interested.  As always, I only link to products I use and find to be of excellent value.

Gather Before Your Bath
  • Pitcher of purified water with some lemon, lime, cucumber or fresh mint for you to sip while soaking.  Make it a big pitcher, too! Dehydration is a common result of this bath. Drink a glass before the bath, sip while soaking and you may want a glass after, as well.  Do not skip this step! You will thank me later for this suggestion.
  • 1 - 2 cups of Epsom salt. This reduces inflammation, relieves stiffness or soreness, induces sweating and the magnesium in the salt allows your skin to absorb this vital mineral.
  • 1 cup baking soda. It is alkaline in nature and it may help balance an acidic system.  It softens the skin as well.
  • 1,000 mg of Vitamin C. Studies show this is an effective chlorine eliminator. You can crush a tablet before adding it to the tub.  If you have a water filter for your bath that eliminates chlorine, then no need!
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar. Optional. It softens your skin and is also good for those with acne.
  • 3-4 drops of essential oil of choice.  Optional. Some good choices would be lavender for relaxation or geranium or sandalwood.  One of my favorites is rose essential oil as it smells wonderful, too.

Now do this
  • Place dry ingredients in tub and begin to fill the bath with hot water, setting the temperature to what you like.  Keep in mind the hotter, the more sweating; the more sweating, the more detoxing.
Don't miss this: Why dry brushing is one of the cheapest and most effective ways to soft, glowing skin and many other health benefits.
  • Add vinegar while the water fills up the tub.  Ensure the ingredients are mixing well in the water. Depending on what you add to the tub,  the water may turn orange or yellow due to the ginger and vinegar.
  • Soak yourself in the bath for a minimum of 20 minutes but longer is better. 

After your bath
  • Get out of the tub slowly and gently holding on to firm surfaces.  This bath can make you a little woozy.  Go slowly.
  • Briefly showering now is optional, as you may want to allow the Epsom salts to stay on your body for better absorption. 
  • Drink another glass or two of purified water.
  • For future detox baths, you may want to make a pre-measured "dry mix" of the Epsom salt, baking soda and ginger and store it in a jar for future use. Shake well to distribute evenly. All you will need when you want to have a detox bath is two cups of dry mix, one crushed Vitamin C tablet and one cup of vinegar if you are using that. And, that large pitcher of water, of course!

Tell me, do you turn to hot baths to relax and rejuvenate? Did you know it could do so much? What do you add to your tub for good health?

Note: This post appeared previously at THM but has been updated.
Featured on Pin Junkie, Jill Conyers blog hop., Urban Naturalle.

Beautifully Smooth, Glowing Skin In 5 Minutes A Day

I have a new brush you may want to consider to add to your beauty bag!  And, it is not for your teeth, to apply your make-up or for your head of hair either! Let me explain.

Add dry brushing to your daily or weekly routine for amazingly smooth and glowing skin! Learn here why you should consider it a regular beauty and health habit and why it is one of the easiest, cheapest and most effective routines to promote healthy skin and body.

You probably use several brushes in your daily health and beauty routine, but, there is another brush that may help, too! Exfoliation is a critical part of a great skin care routine as it creates a wonderfully smooth complexion.  But, a technique using a special brush for your body - a dry brush - and regularly dry brushing your body is exfoliation amplified.  Some consider it part of their beauty routine, but dry brushing? It does so much more than just bring on that beauty glow.

Roll down to learn more why you should consider dry brushing a regular beauty and health habit and why it is one of the easiest, cheapest and most effective routines to promote healthy skin and body.

10 Health & Beauty Benefits to Dry Brushing Your Skin

First, the beautification benefits:

1.  Dull, dead skin is buffed away in seconds.

The act of brushing sloughs off dry skin exposing a new, youthful layer. And, after you dry brush your legs, you can get the closest shave ever!

2.  Your complexion takes on a beautiful glow.

The blood flow it creates gives a rosy complexion and tighter skin.

Don't miss this: Want more tips for a healthy glow? Check out this for lots of skin care tips.

3.  Acne is diminished.

Dry brushing opens and clears the pores of dirt and grime that could contribute to acne.

4.  Dry brushing is a great first step to your skin routine.

Serums or moisturizers you use after dry brushing can be readily absorbed because of the pore-opening results of the technique.

5.  Some say it can help banish cellulite.

No scientific proof on this one, but many claim it helps diminish that stubborn combination of fat and connective tissue.

As if that isn't impressive enough, read on to the health benefits:

6.  Circulation is enhanced.

Dry brushing wakes up the circulatory and lymphatic systems bringing blood to your organs as well as filtering waste. Find out more here about how our circulatory and lymphatic systems work and why they are so crucial.

7.  Dry brushing can help detoxify your body.

It helps move the lymphatic system along, therefore, drainage of fluids.

8.  Your kidneys and colon will thank you.

The heightened circulatory and lymphatic system aids in digestion and kidney function.

9.  Dry brushing regularly keeps you aware of your body and any changes.

Dry brushing is a great time to do skin exams. It keeps you aware of any changes you may notice over time to moles or texture, etc.

10.  The act can energize you!

Dry brushing enhances your level of alertness as it is invigorating. Dry skin brushing also rejuvenates the nervous system by stimulating nerve endings in the skin. It really wakes you up!

Get your most amazingly smooth and glowing skin with dry brushing! Learn here why you should consider it a regular beauty and health habit and why it is one of the easiest, cheapest and most effective routines to promote healthy skin and body.

3 Steps to Dry Brush Your Skin The Right Way

The dry brush method really takes only minutes, but keep in mind these tips and 3-step process to get it right.

Here are 5 tips to remember:

  • Always brush towards the heart with long, graceful, upward sweeps.
  • Avoid harsh movements or back and forth sweeps.
  • Do not brush too hard.  Your skin may be pink from increased blood flow but this should not hurt.
  • Do not brush sensitive area like your face or injured or bruised skin or scrapes, cuts, etc. 
  • Many find the ideal time to dry brush is before showering or bathing for the day.  It can be energizing so you may want to think about this as part of your morning routine - every day or even a few times a week depending on your skin sensitivity.  Place the brush near your towel so you won't forget!

Here is a 3 step method to dry brush:

  • Start brushing your skin at your feet and work up your legs (front and back) and hips one at a time.
  • Next, start brushing up your torso, your sides and your back.  On your stomach, direct the brush counterclockwise.  
  • Then, work the brush from your hands up the arms, both sides, toward your chest. Sweep over your shoulders onto your chest as well. On your neck, brush down towards your heart.

The Best Type of Dry Brushes

Search for a dry brush that meets these requirements:

  • Your dry brush should contain bristles that are natural, not synthetic. 
  • The bristles should be somewhat stiff, but not too hard. 
  • Look for one that is comfortable in your hand and that has an attachable handle for hard-to-reach spots, too. 

I, personally, own this  Merben Jute Body Brush with short handle and love it.  But, I hear this long handled dry brush is great too! Both are at Amazon. I only link to products I actually use and find to be of excellent value.

But, no matter what kind you buy, make sure to regularly wash your dry brush with hot, soapy water and air dry to keep bacteria away that could cause breakouts or infections.

Don't miss this: Here is my 5 minute process to clean all the brushes I use every day to keep infection away and make them last!

Looking for more natural beauty and skin care tips? Follow my board with great ideas for natural ways to look and feel great!

So, tell me.  Are you a dry brusher?  Please do share with the readers your experience with this technique or if there are any dry brushes that are your favorite.

Featured on Urban Naturalle blog hop.
This post appeared previously at THM but has been updated.

Tips & Recipes To Follow One of The World's Healthiest Diets

Like many others, I have only praise for a book I read recently brilliantly sharing the secrets of some of the healthiest people from around the world.  The book, The Blue Zones Solution, by Dan Buettner, is full of practical advice and recipes from various regions (referred to as blue zones) that I have been trying lately.

Multiple studies say following a Mediterranean diet is best for your health. Find here exactly why it can make you feel and look great, critical points to keeping to this delicious way of eating and find recipes and lifestyle tips, too!

Some of the "secrets" from these regional " blue zones," I was already aware of as two of the areas it depicts are some parts of Italy and Greece in the Mediterranean, where I have shared some amazing meals and I have written about as well - specifically, the amazing health benefits of a Mediterranean Diet.  But, I learned a lot of new things, too, from the book, and it certainly reinforced a lot as well.  I plan to write a post a bit later on the book, but  I thought I would highlight what a whole day of eating like a person lucky enough to live near those breathtaking Mediterranean shores to get your started - just in case you want to mimic the healthy lifestyle, too!

But, before we talk about the good eats, first, allow me to make a few key points about the way of life for those who inhabit that glorious area of our world because it is definitely not just about what you eat. Living the healthy Mediterranean lifestyle really encompasses much more. And, you can easily adopt the lifestyle, no matter where you live. Come see!

8 Important Points to Remember to Keep to A Mediterranean Diet and Lifestyle

Here are some things to keep in mind when adopting the Mediterranean way of eating and living:

1.  The beauty is in the simplicity. 

This way of eating is all about the ingredients prepared in simple ways that bring out the flavor of the food. The food is fresh as possible, wholesome and unprocessed. For the most part, it does not take long to prepare, either, leaving more free-time.

2.  Clear away the processed stuff.  

Rid yourself of those foods with ingredients you cannot pronounce. No chemical-laden food.  Keep it whole and fresh.

3.  Get creative.  

No boredom here. The Mediterranean diet allows plenty of variety and experimentation. All those healthy ingredients can be combined in hundreds of ways. Vegetarian, dairy or gluten-free diets can easily be considered a variation of the Mediterranean diet, too.

4.  Shop smartly to save time.

Keep pantry staples like olive oil, jarred tomatoes, whole grains, pasta, and olives on hand.  Pick up the fresh ingredients a few times a week. This saves time, too!

Don't miss this:  Make the most out of your local farmers' market - a wonderful way to shop and interact with the growers of what you eat.

5.  Herbs and citrus add flair and taste.

Not the salt shaker. Lots of basil, oregano, rosemary, thyme, garlic, mint, lemon and many other additions make the Mediterranean dishes taste so good and add loads and layers of flavor.

Don't miss this: Check out this board on healthiest herbs and spices and how to use them the best way and why garlic is a healthy key to Mediterranean cooking.

6.  Quality over quantity.  

The emphasis is on whole foods with plenty of fiber that fills you up. Fewer amounts of a great tasting, fresh off-the-vine or perfectly ripe food is needed to satisfy. This helps keep the weight down, too.

Don't miss this: My best secret to make all your food taste superior.

7.  Move your feet.  

A life of exercise and movement is part of the lifestyle.  It does not have to be strenuous or over-the-top - just lots of natural ways to keep the blood pumping a good part of your day.

Don't miss this: Loads of exercise options that you can fit in your day easily.

8.  Don't go it alone.

Share your meals, share your life! Invite someone for dinner. Gather your friends and family and create a meal together, like those that live the Mediterranean lifestyle. I promise, it will taste a lot better.

Don't miss this: How to manage an impromptu get-together so, so easily!

Cooking the Mediterranean way is a dream for those who like to cook simply and quickly. Look here for quick, easy recipes and delicious meal ideas to follow a Mediterranean diet for your best health!

A Day of Quick Mediterranean Meal Ideas

Cooking the Mediterranean way is really a dream for those who like to cook simply and quickly most of the time.  That would be me! Possibilities of meals are endless but with "quick" on the mind,  I offer two options for a day of meals:   Quick and Quicker.  I have given some loose directions on some of the meals as well as some links to some specific recipes.


Quick: Espresso; organic polenta with yogurt and honey; soft boiled egg with a small piece of multigrain toast,

How: Boil the water for the egg while preparing the toppings for the polenta.  Start boiling the water for the polenta.  Finish polenta and top with yogurt and fruit mixture. Drizzle a bit of honey on top. Toast a slice of multi-grain to dip in the egg.

Quicker: Espresso, Some fresh fig jam swirled in plain Greek yogurt, sprinkled with some sliced almonds or walnuts; a large handful of grapes

Don't miss this:  Don't get confused over all those egg labels.  There are differences and here is what they mean and advice on making sure you are buying the healthiest eggs for you!

Cooking with garlic is a key component to the Mediterranean diet and all it many health benefits! Tap here for recipes, tips and to learn why this style of eating can do great things for your health.


Quick: whole grain orzo with diced zucchini, cucumber. white beans, mint and lemon with olive oil infused with garlic and red pepper, a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese; seasonal fruit.

How: Simmer on low flame garlic and red pepper flakes in olive oil to infuse while the water is boiling for orzo, Cut up vegetables. Cook orzo and drain. Add vegetables and beans, toss with infused olive oil. Sprinkle with fresh mint and lemon juice. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese
Quicker: Large salad of tomatoes, red pepper, avocado, fresh mozzarella drizzled with olive oil, balsamic vinegar and lots of basil; a large slice of whole grain bread. lightly toasted, with a smear of hummus


Quick:  1/2 avocado with lemon juice, salt and pepper, red pepper flakes; small portion of marinated olives

Quicker:  Two clementines; a handful of raw almonds

Don't miss this:  Check this out for loads of ideas on healthy snacking.


Quick: grilled or roasted fish with basil pesto; glass of red wine; roasted potatoes with lemon; fresh sauteed greens with a bit of flaked feta cheese

Quicker: Grilled marinated tofu or shrimp with olive oil, lemon, oregano, and garlic; steamed basmatti rice; spinach salad with olives, crusty bread

Need More Inspiration?

Naturally, I turn to fellow bloggers and writers all the time to get inspiration. Here are some links to Mediterranean diet gurus for endless ideas on how to reap the benefits of this delicious and healthy way of eating:

  • The Blue Zones Solution, by Dan Buettner: an award-winning book with lots of very clear and simple healthy Mediterranean recipes
  • Mediterrasian Kitchen:  a blog that takes a creative and smart approach of merging Asian and Mediterranean cuisines. Such fantastic flavors! 

Have your visited the Mediterranean or do you live there? Do you have a quick and easy recipe for a Mediterranean dish you and your family love? Please add a link in the comments!

Note: I only link to products I actually use and find to be of excellent value. This post contains an affiliate link but does not affect the price for the item at all.

Note:  This post appeared previously on THM but has been updated with latest links.
tomato: photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/spisharam/2742433355/">spisharam</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/">cc</a>
rosemary: photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/thedepartment/134527398/">Here's Kate</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/">cc</a>
garlic: photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/calliope/7472855/">Muffet</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/">cc</a>
Featured on Jill Conuers. Urban Naturale

Expert Design Tips To Organize Your Home & Improve Your Health

Take a good hard look around. Right now would be a good time. Because the spaces where we spend our time -- where we live and work -- and how they function or don't function, impact our health and stress-level in a very large way! Yes, if you are a regular reader, you have heard me pound this drum before at THM -- your surroundings affect your energy and stress-levels, productivity and even how you feel about yourself!  And, I have listed important steps to take to organize and design your surroundings to ensure your home and work spaces reflect your values and goals, who you truly are and how you actually live your life. (Please do check out here and here and here for the specific how-tos!)

Get a pro's advice here on how and why to organize your home and workplace to achieve your goals, lower your stress, increase your energy and improve your health! Inspirational words to ignite you and those you live with to look after yourself in a very big way.

But, today, I have a big treat for you: advice from a genuine pro on the topic - an interior designer from across the pond (if you reside in the US that is).  Meet Jack Stevens from London who is lending us a big British hand today offering loads of tips to help you get in the mindset to create a space to energize you and help you reach your goals and even lower your stress to improve your health.

With a new year that has just arrived, it couldn't be a better time to reflect and create a new path. Perhaps a bit of clearing out and starting a fresh and new to your surroundings may be in order to help you make those new year's resolutions a reality.  So, let's open our minds to what Jack has to say about it all and help us get to where we want to go! I promise you, you will find his words very inspiring, the points he makes so clarifying and his perspective on the topic spot on!

Q &A: London Interior Designer, Jack Stevens

 Organizing Our Living Spaces To Boost Our Health

Here is my conversation with Jack on how and why organizing our home and work spaces can do so much for our health and outlook and why it is so worthy of our attention:

1. You are an interior designer with the company OKA creating beautiful and functional spaces.   Jack, tell us a bit about who you are as a designer and what you do.

For us, luxury is the order of the day. At OKA, we focus on sourcing the finest materials and working with the most talented craftspeople, combining global skills to create pieces that showcase the very best of authentic British style and design.

2. How do you feel the design and organization of our spaces affects our health? How can it influence our health and state-of-mind in a positive or even a negative way?

Much has been written about the relationship between a person’s well-being and their home, attributing all manner of ideas to it. It’s actually incredibly simple: a healthy home is one that is bright and bespoke to you, designed for comfort and simplicity. Decluttering is a fundamental part of achieving this. This OKA infographic shows how clutter can clog our homes and workplaces, impacting how we see ourselves and how others see us. It’s not just aesthetics, it’s an important part of looking after yourself.

Decluttering your space and organizing it well is a critical part of living a healthy life! Learn here from a design pro the specifics on how to streamline your daily life to lessen your stress, brighten your mood and boost your productivity.

3. What a great point and a clever way of stating that!  That infographic is really helpful, too! I so agree that our spaces do impact us in so many great ways and fixing the issues we have in them is part of taking care of ourselves! But, it can be so overwhelming getting our spaces well-organized and decluttered! Do you have a favorite method to start the process and lessen the pain for those that abhor it?

A very simple way to get started is the four-box method.  Label four boxes with:
  1. throw away
  2. storage
  3. sell/donate
  4. recycle
Room-by-room, divide up your odds and ends, then decide what can be stored more effectively in the room, what would be better kept in the shed or the attic, what could be sold or donated and what is destined for the bin. It’s a delightfully simple method, but an incredibly effective structure for starting the decluttering process.

4.  Those labeled boxes really streamline the process and that is the method I use as well to declutter and clear out my space. Taking it a step further. What are your favorite top five tips for getting our home and/or work spaces organized and working efficiently?

1. If you’re a big reader, books and magazines can quickly pile up. Keep them tidy and organized from the moment you bring them into the home. Don’t allow them to become a permanent feature on coffee tables and sofas.

2. Studies have proven that a tidy workspace makes for more organized thinking, so think hard about how you work. Do you need all of these paper copies? Stationery is useful, but do you have too much? There are technical solutions too - most businesses use Google Docs and cloud storage systems to work these days. If you’re working from home, keep up to speed with these innovations - they can have a transformative impact on both your workspace and your productivity.

3. Make sure everyone in the home is involved with simplifying your spaces. Make decisions together and get people to take responsibility for their belongings.

4. If you can, do it daily. Whether at the start or end of your day - whatever feels natural - review your key spaces for five minutes. It’s an amazing way to de-stress.

5. Avoid focusing solely on the appearance of rooms. Consider your wardrobe - do you need this many clothes? Refining your wardrobe offers you the chance to reduce clutter and reform your style.

Jack Stevens, OKA Interior Desginger: The Health-Minded interview on decluttering our homes and workspaces
Jack Stevens, OKA Interior Designer

5. Great ideas there, Jack! Many of them could be even life-changing! How about any special tools you suggest we have on hand to make the process go smoother and be more successful?

It’s always very tempting to look for the latest app or a neat organizational shortcut to help declutter your home, but the most effective tool for simplifying your spaces is to involve your housemates, partner or family in the process. Getting the whole team on- board guarantees that decisions are collective, making it more likely that your new state of simplicity will last.

6. Absolutely true! Must get the buy-in from those you live with to be most effective. So, what about after all the tossing, sorting and reorganizing is complete? And, everyone agrees with the process and decisions. Do you have any "must-do’s" to keeping our space organized/decluttered? For example, is there something you’d advise we do daily, monthly or yearly to keep our places clutter-free?

Finding an ongoing declutter structure that works for you is important. It could be that on the first day of the month, you take a step back and consider the busiest spaces in your home. What changes would make these spaces easier to enjoy? To avoid decluttering becoming a chore, think of it more as curation, an act of design or chance to be creative. You’re improving and styling your home for the better, and there’s fresh potential to be realized in every home.

7. Can you share a story of how a decluttered or reorganized space changed someone's life and his or her health for the better?

I love how this blog post demonstrates that doing a little bit of tidying here and there can gradually transform a family home - both aesthetically and psychologically. Clutter is commonly associated with stress, living in the shadow of all of the things you need to get done. It’s absolutely spot-on when describing the feeling of stepping out of that shadow; going clutter-free is a peaceful alternative that can improve your focus and help you to appreciate what you have.

8. Where is a good place to go for more information on how to get and stay organized and decluttered? (Websites, books, social media channels?)

This Guardian article is excellent for summarizing contemporary attitudes to domestic simplicity, including the latest books and a step-by-step guide to embracing minimalism. Pinterest is a fantastic site to explore for design and decoration inspiration across many schools of design. It’s particularly good for discovering inspired storage solutions and streamlined living spaces to get the imagination firing.

9. Please share one or two of your other favorite health practices that you incorporate into your life - besides keeping your space beautiful and functional and perfectly organized and clutter-free, of course!

I always aim to go for a run, first thing in the morning. I live in South London, and there are some great parks and green spaces that are so peaceful early in the day. I find it gives me space to think and plan for the day ahead.

10. Is there anything else you would like to tell The Health-Minded readers?

Clearing out the clutter could be the most transformative thing you do for your home (and yourself) this year, so don’t put it off any longer - start today!

Well, I'm inspired to get my space organized and working well for 2016!  How about you all? Don't miss my other posts on getting your space in top shape to live the healthy life you want. Here are a few to tap into:

  1. Organizing your medical records easily
  2. Steps to declutter your space and keep it that way
  3. Ensuring your home is a true reflection of you and just how to go about designing it
  4. Keeping the air in your home clean and toxin-free
  5. Designing a kitchen for healthy eating

Thank you so much, Jack for your wise words beautifully stated and taking the time to ignite some meaningful action for the THM readers to take to create their healthy spaces! I'd love to hear how the readers plan to do so! Please share in the comments your reaction to Jack's ideas and thoughts.

Featured on Urban Naturalle.

Chomp Not: The Lowdown on Chewing Gum

Maybe Singapore has it right.  It induces heavy fines for possession or use of chewing gum without a prescription.  That may be a tad severe, but I, personally, find it to be an undesirable view - watching and hearing someone smack and chomp on a piece of gum.  And, after learning some things and reviewing a few chewing gum labels lately to see what was there, the sound of it may turn you off, too.

Besides getting stuck on your shoe, chewing gum can cause a host of other much bigger problems like migraines, digestive issues, ADHD and even cancer. Find out what the studies say here and much better alternatives to that stick of gum.

Important Health Considerations to Stop Chewing Gum

Besides getting stuck on your shoe, here are other ways chewing gum can annoy your body. Lots of links to tap here for more research details.

1.  The ingredients are scary.  

You may think you are doing a good thing, choosing sugar-free gum over sugar laden varieties, but I must break the bad news. It is no better. In fact, maybe worse. Here is why:

There is nothing sweet about artificial sweeteners and chewing gum is loaded with them. A common ingredient in sugar-free gum is aspartame. It is metabolized inside your body and may cause serious neurological as well as other harmful effects.  It is FDA approved but many studies show it has been linked to birth defects, cancers, brain tumors, and weight gain as well. Why take the risk?

Sucralose or Splenda, another common artificial sweetener used in chewing gum and FDA approved, (but based on only two human studies) has shown to reduce the absorption of other drugs, cause stomach distress, release toxins when used in baking as well as many other harmful effects.

Another common preservatives listed in gum labels is BHA (butylated hydroxytoluene), a preservative that has a whole host of bad associations such as cancer and many other diseases.

Don't miss this: A great way to shop for fresh and nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables is your local farmers' market. Here is a guide to make it a smart way to shop with tips to ask your grower to ensure your foods are organic and not sprayed.

2.  There is no entrance fee.

The fact that chewing gum is not swallowed does not give it a pass as to the ingredients being absorbed as they enter through the walls of your mouth.  Some even claim it could be worse as the ingredients in gum enter your body quickly bypassing the digestive system that might filter some of these ingredients away.

3.  Fake colors are not true.

The artificial colors in many gums, especially those for children, may lead to hyperactivity or magnify symptoms of attention deficit disorder. There is also some studies that indicate that certain food dyes may lead to cancer as well.  

Don't miss this: DId you know there are foods that can actually calm your nerves?

4.  Your digestion is adversely affected.             

Chewing gum causes you to swallow excess air, which can contribute to pain and bloating and exacerbate IBS symptoms.  Further, those artificial sweeteners, like sorbitol can lead to several GI problems like cramping, gas and even diarrhea, too.

5.  Gum can go to your head.

Recent studies have linked the chewing of any type of gum with migraine or tension headaches in adolescents.

Don't miss this: Could those headaches be a migraine? Find out here all the specifics on that.

6.  Excess smacking and chewing hurts the jaw.

Many complain that gum causes their jaw to click which could lead to disorders that  cause tightness of the jaw muscles.

No need to reach for chewing gum to get your freshest breath! Those sticks of gum are loaded with serious health hazards! Tap here for 3 easy and effective alternatives to gum to get your freshest breath the healthy way!

Three Alternatives to Chewing Gum

One of the biggest reasons people chew gum is for its breath freshening properties. Besides brushing your teeth, here are a few other ways to freshen your breath rather than reaching for a toxic stick of gum:

1.  Nibble on an herb.

Parsley and mint as well as other garnishes are great natural breath fresheners and probably more effective in achieving the task over gum anyway.  Besides, they both contain a plethora of nutrients!

Don't miss this: Check out how to cook best with these other amazingly healthy herbs and spices.

2.  Sip away.

I wrote about the many reasons and benefits of drinking lemon water,  but one big benefit of keeping your body as well as your mouth hydrated is that it chases away any bad breath you may acquire.

Don't miss this:  Browse through these endless other healthy sips, sauces, and smoothies options, too.

3.  Pocket a few seeds.

Keep some fennel seeds in your pocket and chew on a few after a meal as an alternative to chewing gum to keep the breath nice.  It has the additional benefit of containing antibacterial properties.

So, what do you think of chewing gum? Is it something you do often? Or do you have other alternatives?

Note:  This post appeared previously on THM but has been updated with latest links.

Create A Healthy Breakfast In 15 Minutes Your Guests Will Love

Plans to entertain out-of-town visitors at your house any time soon? Could that mean extra mouths to feed in the morning maybe, too? If that is the case, let me help as there is no need to exhaust yourself over various complicated egg orders or pancake batter for a crowd or even worse  -- offering a poor selection of unhealthy cereal boxes or frozen waffles.

Instead, let your guests mosey up to a breakfast bar after their night of sweet slumber and grab a spoon to start their day with some nourishment and great taste!  And, as for you the host or hostess, this healthy breakfast offering only takes 15 minutes -  just a wee-bit more effort than plopping down those cardboard boxes on the table anyway!

Let your overnight guests grab a spoon and dig into this warm, healthy and amazing breakfast they will remember! And, it only takes 15 minutes to prepare! Tap here for all the easy steps!

Why A Self-Serve, Healthy Breakfast Bar For Your Next Mixed Crowd Is A Great Idea

You barely cook a thing for this breakfast for a crowd and get to spend more time with your guests!  In fact, it is so easy on you, you can even sleep a little late, too!

Here is why a breakfast bar of starting with a choice of organic, warm polenta or delicious, creamy, organic Greek yogurt embellished with wonderful and delicious toppings can work so well for everyone at your house:

  • Let your guests top their bowl and create the breakfast of their liking and spoon whatever suits them.  (More on delicious topping ideas below.)
  • If you have late sleepers or early risers, this works out especially well. Polenta stays warm on the back of the stove (or in a crockpot).  If it gets a little thick from sitting there for the snoozers, add a teaspoon of water at a time and give it a stir.  Greek yogurt can stay cool in your fridge ready to grab anytime. No problem!
  • If you have vegetarians or gluten-free eaters in the mix, it qualifies as a safe dish for them, too! 
  • Leftovers are easily reheated or wrapped up for the next day.
  • It takes the host so little time and effort -  15 minutes!
  • You can easily expand the meal with a bowl of fresh fruit, coffee and tea, simple juices and a whole grain bread basket.
  • It offers fiber, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and more -- all a great way to encourage a great start to the day.
Don't miss this: For other great ideas to begin your day, check out these healthy morning routines, loaded with ideas for your best A.M.  

Serve this healthy, scrumptious breakfast to overnight guests in 15 minutes. Go ahead and sleep in a bit because your guests will love this way to start their day at your house and you will too!  Tap here for the simple how-tos.

3 Easy Steps to Create a Healthy Breakfast Bar in 15 Minutes

Get out your stop watch and follow these easy steps to set up a self-serve and delicious breakfast for your guests . . . in 15 minutes. Depending on how fast your move in the morning and your choice of toppings, that really is all it takes.

1.  4 Minutes: While the water is heating for the polenta, spread a few nuts of your choice on a cookie sheet to toast and then chop the herbs.  Set out the serving bowls and spoons and various other delicious and healthy toppings you wish to offer in small bowls and pitchers.  (See below for various ideas.) 

This is the best tasting organic polenta I have found and it is gluten-free and non GMO too! Everyone loves it and it takes no time at all to prepare - 10 minutes.  The simple directions are on the box but can be made dairy-free with water, milk or dairy-free nut milk.

2.  10 Minutes:  Finish making the  pot of comforting organic polenta and keep it warm on the stove.  (You could try transferring it to a crock-pot to keep it warm and fuss-free, but I have not done that myself-) Watch the nuts in the oven so that they do not burn.

Don't miss this:  Steel cuts oats is another great choice to offer.  It can take a while to cook, though. Here is how to make whole grain oats a whole lot faster.

3.  1 Minute:  Put your fresh, plain and organic Greek yogurt in a pretty bowl and set it on the bar.  Purchase plain with no added sugars.  Refined sugar is not a good way to start your day anyway and those flavorings would compete with the wonderful toppings you are offering as well.

Do make sure the yogurt is organic and here is why:  Most conventional milk comes from cows that are raised on a diet of genetically modified grains (not grass), sprayed with toxic pesticides,  pumped with antibiotics, growth hormones (rbGH) as well as steroid hormones. These harmful substances can be found in the cow’s milk, which is then made into the non-organic yogurt.  In fact, you really may want to go organic for all dairy if you consume it - milk, cheese and ice cream, too.

Don't miss this:  Why antibiotics in our food supply is a very, very bad thing.
Serving a healthy and delicious breakfast to a crowd can't get any easier than this! Follow the easy steps here to offer a nourishing, warm breakfast everyone will love. Guaranteed!

Breakfast Bar Toppings

Set up a breakfast bar of savory and sweet delectable toppings that your guests and family can choose themselves to make it just how they like it!

Go a little sweet . . .
  • Fruit compote of choice (Try the make-ahead, 10 minute one below.)
  • Fresh berries
  • Infused maple syrup or raw honey
  • Small pitcher of organic cream (This topping can go savory, too!) 
  • Chopped dates or dried fruit
  • cinnamon or other favorite spices

Go a little savory . . .
  • Toasted nuts - almonds, walnuts, pecans 
  • Chopped herbs like basil, chives or thyme
  • Poached eggs (polenta only)
  • Minced sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil (polenta only)
  • Grated cheese (polenta only)

Topping Combinations to Try

Let the imagination lead when creating your breakfast, but here are some tested and nice combinations:
  1. yogurt topped with apricot compote, slivered almonds, and fresh thyme (see quick compote recipe below)
  2. polenta under a poached egg, sprinkled with chives and cheese
  3. yogurt drizzled with raw honey, berries and walnuts
  4. polenta with a splash of cream, a generous spoonful of apricot compote, pecans and sprinkled with a tiny bit of cinnamon
  5. yogurt layered between maple syrup, cinnamon, berries
  6. polenta decorated with sundried tomatoes in olive oil, basil and cheese

Fast and Delicious Apricot Compote

I guarantee this will be a popular topping for your breakfast bar and quite delicious on both the polenta and yogurt. It is make-ahead and stays fresh for days.

  • 5 or 6 fresh apricots or 2 cups dried, diced in small pieces
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 cup water (You may need a bit more if pan starts to dry out.  Add a tablespoon at a time.)
  • 1/4 cup raw honey
  • pinch of pink salt

Now do this
  • Combine apricots, lime juice, water, honey and salt in a large skillet. 
  • Cook over medium heat until low boil, turning occasionally, until apricots are glazed and they break down - maybe 8 - 10 minutes.  The dried apricots may take longer to break down and soften. 
  • Taste and adjust seasonings.
  • Transfer to a small bowl and chill. 

Have your tried polenta for breakfast or another easy grain to take on various toppings, too?  Tell me your favorite way to adorn it! 

Note: I only link to products I actually use and find to be of excellent value. This post contains an affiliate link where I could make a small commission from your purchase.

Featured on Jill Conyers Blog Hop.