Four Sigmatic Review + Sale!

I’ve talked about this brand a few times but I am a huge fan of Four Sigmatic! A company that started in Finland, which focuses on providing plants and mushrooms through drink form. So you don’t have to go to the forest to consume exotic mushrooms for the health benefits! 

I learned of this brand like I learn about many, through a referral from a friend which is why I wanted to share about them and my favorite items in a post. It’s also perfect timing because they are having one of their (very few) huge sales right now with up to 50% off on some items. 

Here is an explanation of Four Sigmatic in their words: 

“Four Sigmatic foods are the 100 most nutrient dense, most studied foods on the planet. And now they’re easy to add to your daily routines. We’re making these foods as easy as possible to eat and use and talk about. Because the world is asking more of you. Of everyone. We’d all feel a lot better doing that work if we got off the hamster wheel of coffee jitters and hangovers and sugar highs.”

My favorite items:

  • Cacao Mix with Reishi: By far my all-time fav four sig products. Reishi mushroom is meant to relax so it is a perfect before-bed sipper. 
  • Chai Latte Mix w/ Turkey Tail & Reishi: Another great drink for bedtime is the chai latte with reishi and turkey tail, which is a stress-reliever mushroom. If you’re a chai latte fan, it is definitely not as sweet as you’re used to. I like to mix this one with almond or coconut milk. 
  • Mushroom Elixir Mix with Lion’s Mane: Lion’s Mane mushroom will help with focus on the days where your brain just wants to be all over the place. I love this option for a mid-morning pick-me-up before lunchtime hits. 
  • Mushroom Elixir Mix with Chaga: Who doesn’t love a good extra defense for your immune system? The Chaga mushroom helps with overall wellness which makes it a great option for when those sneaky colds start to come up. 
  • Mushroom Elixir Mix with Cordyceps: This mushroom gives a nice little boost for performance without the jitter effects of coffee. Perfect for the afternoon slump at 3PM!

Others I’m ordering: 

If you haven’t tried Four Sigmatic before or are a passionate customer like myself, you definitely need to take advantage of the Summer Sale going on this week only!

P.S. You’ll also receive $15 off through my referral link 😉

Ilia Natural Beauty Review.

Next up in my natural beauty journey is Ilia, another brand I was introduced to by a friend. I was intrigued by this brand originally to test out the natural mascara. I’m already very picky about my makeup but mascara is at the top of the list because it is hard to come across a good one. 

I’ve been trying out a few Ilia products for the last two months and am ready to increase my collection! I don’t say this lightly because natural makeup can get a pretty high price tag on it. I decided to test out a kit that included the Limitless Lash Mascara, Super Serum Skin Tint SPF 40, Tinted Lip Conditioner, and the Color Haze Multi-Use Pigment.  Here is what I thought of each product:

  • Limitless Lash Mascara
    • I was skeptical at first since it is so hard to find a good mascara but I am definitely impressed. This mascara provides length and volume as well as an even coat across my lashes. The only thing I wasn’t so happy about is this product does run slightly under the eyes but I’ll chalk that up to the recent humidity. 
  • Super Serum Skin Tint SPF 40
    • I read an article recently stating that SPF in make-up really doesn’t cover the face enough to actually protect you acurately from UV rays so we’ll ignore this element. Beside that, I was very happy with the coverage of this product. I’m a huge fan of BB cream so this seems like it would be a nice replacement. 
  • Tinted Lip Conditioner
    • Love! The Lip Conditioner is probably my favorite item out of the batch. Most days I don’t wear a ton of color on my lips but this was a nice inbetween of chapstick and lipstick – mosturizing, light, with just the right hint of color. I will definitely be ordering additional colors!
  • Color Haze Multi-Use Pigment
    • I used the product the least but it isn’t because I wasn’t a fan. I typically don’t wear much on my cheeks and don’t prefer glossy lip coverage so I’m just not use to a product like this. Post-quarantine I think I’ll get more use out of this item and it will be fun to whip out on dates or nights out dancing. 

Overall, Ilia will be an consistently brand on my daily makeup routine and I’m really happy with the mascara, serum skin tint, and lip conditioner. I’d love to hear if you have any Ilia favorites! 

Chicken Enchiladas.

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We’re back!

I took a bit of time to step away for some self-growth work through reading, education, and movement and girl, do I feel good now. It also might be these amazing chicken enchiladas recipe I enjoyed over the weekend. Let’s make this one simple so you can get right into the beef (or chicken) of this post.

Ingredients:

  • 8 Flour Tortillas
  • 4 cups cooked + shredded Chicken
  • 2 cups shredded Monterey Jack Cheese
  • 1 (10-ounce) can red Enchilada Sauce
  • 2 tbsp Taco Seasoning
  • 1 tbsp Onion Powder
  • 2 tsp Cumin
  • 1/8 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 3 tbsp Butter
  • 3 tbsp Flour
  • 1 cup Plain Greek Yogurt
  • 1 large Yellow Onion, diced +sauteed
  • 1 (7.5 ounce) can diced Green Chilies

Directions: 

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Grease a 9×13 baking pan. Mix chicken, sauteed onion, seasoning, cumin, onion powder, garlic powder, and 1 cup cheese. Add enchilada sauce.
  • Spoon mixture into tortillas, dividing evenly throughout the 8. Roll up tortillas and place in pan seam side down.
  • In a sauce pan, melt butter, stir in flour, and cook for one minute. Add broth and whisk until smooth. Heat over medium heat until thick and bubbly; stirring constantly with a whisk. Stir in greek yogurt, 1 cup cheese, and chilies. Do not bring to boil; you do not want the yogurt to curdle. Pour over enchiladas and top with remaining cheese.
  • Bake for 24 minutes and broil for final 3 minutes or until cheese on top begins to brown.
  • Enjoy!

You might be thinking… this doesn’t sound very healthy? And it isn’t, but it’s delicious and sometimes that’s all that matters!

Black Lives Matter Resources.

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I will be muting on this platform until for a few days to make space for resources and information to be shared. I strongly believe we all have a voice that can be used no matter the size of your following. That voice can be used to spread positivity and light.

Here are a few great resources to dive into:

Books: 

  • White Fragility by Robin Diangelo
  • Me and White Supremacy by Layla F. Saad
  • Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge
  • Why Are All The Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria by Beverly Daniel Talum, PhD
  • How To Be AntiRacist by Ibram X. Kendi

Places to Donate: 

  • National BLM Fund
  • Black Visions Collective
  • Communities United Against Police Brutality
  • NYC Black Mutual Aid

People to follow: 

  • Bree Newsome
  • Check Your Privilege
  • Ebony Janice
  • Ethel’s Club
  • Equality Labs
  • Kelly Hayes

I did not link any of these resources because this is a post solely on the spread of information and not meant for any promotion for this blog. If you are having any issues finding these resources, let me know and I will personally send you the link. If you would like to open up further discussion, I am also here.

 

How to start Gratitude Journaling.

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I’ve been holding onto this post for a while. It hasn’t felt like the right time to publish it until now.

The world will constantly be a combination of good and bad. And man, does it feel like there is a lot of heavy situations going on lately. But I’m here to tell you that there is a lot of good in this world as well. I know it might not feel that way as we watch the news, listen to the radio, or scroll through our social media feeds lately. But we can always focus on the good in the world and there are always good things to focus on.

Read that last sentence again.

A baby is being born, a close friend gets engaged, a family member beats cancer, or it’s simply sunny and beautiful outside. If you’ve been around here a while you know I’m also one to tell you not to bury your emotions but there is a way to process your emotions and turn those heavier feelings into something to be grateful for. I’ve been re-reading Tim Desmond’s ‘How To Stay Human In a F*cked Up World. I purchased it this last fall when I was going through a very difficult time period. For most people, sometimes it feels imposible to get through certain situations in life but personally, I find enlightenment in focusing on progress, even if it is the tiniest step of progression. So I purchased this book and it continues to be one of my staples I pull off the shelf and skim through.

Desmond mentions that ‘bringing up pain and holding it with compassion leads to transformation’. You can sit with this said pain through meditation but another way is gratitude journaling. I’m a big fan of journaling as a practice to process emotions, make decisions, and work through trama. I’m also a big fan of gratetitude journaling for difficult times so you don’t feel the world is weighing down so much on you.

Below is a few prompts that can help start a gratitude journaling practice. All you need is a pen and paper then allow the prompts to guide you in topics to write about. Not only does gratitude journaling take your mind off negative or impactful thoughts but it allows you to focus on things that will bring your mind enjoyment and actively releases stress and tension from the body.

Prompts:

  1. Someone you are grateful for
  2. A food you are grateful for
  3. A place you really love
  4. A treasured experience
  5. A skill you are grateful for
  6. A teacher or mentor who made a large impact in your life
  7. A trip you love to look back on
  8. A meal or dessert you can’t get enough of
  9. Your favorite birthday or holiday memory
  10. Your favorite books you’ve read
  11. A lesson you learn that made an impact
  12. Your favorite movies
  13. Your favorite smells
  14. Someone who believes in you
  15. Your favorite place
  16. Your favorite pet
  17. A activity you love to do
  18. Music that makes you happy to listen to
  19. Something that relaxes you
  20. An activity that makes you feel alive
  21. Your favorite memory from your childhood
  22. A goal you’ve achieved
  23. A person who makes you laugh
  24. An answered prayer
  25. Something you’ve created that makes you feel proud

Another way to start a gratitude journaling practice is to purchase a guided journal. My favorite brand is Ink & Volt. There are also endless options across Amazon and what I love is that you can find different options for women, men, and even teens and children.

I hope you enjoy your gratitude journaling practice & I would love to hear how it impacts your life!

Mediterranean Chicken Couscous.

How many times have I shared this dish on my Instagram? Way too many, that’s for sure. So it’s about time I give more details on how to make it since I’m so obsessed. It started with a Hello Fresh meal which I have a tendency to start up when I’m going through a slump with new cooking ideas. This recipe just stuck, clearly. 

The Mediterranean Chicken Couscous dish is very filling with refreshing, nuritioning ingredients. It’s a meal I have about once a week if I know I have a big day the next day and will need to feel energized. It also makes good left-overs if you eat within the following 2-3 days.

Ingredients: 

  • 1 Chicken breast
  • 2 tsp Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1 tsp Zatar Seasoning
  • 2/3 cup Coucous
  • Olive Oil
  • 3/4 cup Cherry Tomatoes
  • 2 cloves Garlic
  • 1 tsp Dill
  • Feta Cheese
  • 1 tbsp Plain Greek Yogurt
  • 1 tsp Lemon Juice

Directions: 

  • Preheat over to 350 degrees
  • Line a pan with a piece of foil, slice tomatoes in half, place in pan topped with olive oil, garlic, and half the dill. Cook in the oven for ~15 minutes.
  • While roasting tomatoes, boil chicken in a medium pot on high on top of the stove. 
  • In another medium pot, heat a drizzle of olive oil on high. Once hot, pour in coucous and let cook until browned. Boil with 1 1/2 cups of water until couscous is thoroughly cooked. 
  • Once chicken is thoroughly cooked through, take out of the pot and shredded. Pour out water and rinse pan. Place shredded chicken back in the pot cook on medium for 4-5 more minutes with balsamic vinegar and zatar seasoning. 
  • In a small bowl, combine greek yogurt, 1 tsp water, remaining dill, and lemon juice. Stir until consitency is creamy. 
  • Place cooked couscous, chicken, and tomatoes in bowl and top with feta cheese and yogurt creama. 
  • Enjoy! 

Primally Pure Review.

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Anyone else trying to jump on the all-natural makeup & body care kick?

How amazing is it that we have access to the knowledge we need to know about what we’re putting on our bodies. And the fact that there are so many incredible companies that we can purchase these products from! I’ve been slowly transitioning my items to all-natural options as I run out, which I’ve found has been a common strategy for many of us. Makeup & body care items can be expensive so this totally makes sense. And in all transparency, this transition has taken me a full year and I’m not even fully all natural yet. I have a few products that I’m really attached to – hello, amazing grace lotion.

One brand (out of many) that I have been testing and have fallen in love with is Primally Pure. I was introduced to this brand through a friend of mine that raved about it – and it’s not so surprising after I dabbled in a few of their products.

I took advantage of a seasonal Black Friday sale last Fall and invested in two of their bundles; the Starter Kit & the Spa Kit. I’m a huge fan of bundle products not only because you get a handful of the brands products for a reasonable price but they are normally sample size, which are perfect for traveling. And I travel quite a bit!

A little about Primally Pure before I dive into my thoughts on the products: The company was founded by Bethany, the wife of a farmer, out of her passion for real, recognizable ingredients – not just in the food on her plate but also out of her skincare products (music to my ears!). Bethany’s family started Primal Pastures, an organic livestock farm in Southern California, which helped her to discover the power of eating real food and subsequently the power of real ingredients in her skincare. She purged her bathroom cabinets of toxic conventional products and began formulating her own replacements, that eventually inspired the creation of Primally Pure.

So great, right?! I was really excited to try out each item not only because of what my friends were saying about the brand but because I felt a real connection with the story and that this brand truly cares about their customers.

Here is what I received in each kit and my thoughts on each item:

The Starter Kit:

  • Full size 1.7 oz. deodorant
    • I was a Native deodorant user before this and was having a bit of issues with y sensitive skin when I would switch scents. After testing PP Blue Tansy deodorant, I have not notice my skin react and the scent is super lovely!
  • 2 oz. body butter
    • I picked this one in Alomond Vanilla and it is like a jar of sweet smelling cookie dough. I put it on my elbows and dry batches. My dog also can’t get enought of the scent after I use it.
  • 1 oz. everything spray
    • I personally always use a rose water toning spray on my face after I get out of the shower and I’ve rotated that with the Everything Spray. It leaves my face really refreshed and moisturized. I’m currently due for a reorder of this as well.
  • three lip balms
    • I allowed the order to send me the top three flavors of lip balm which had me end up with Lavender, Creamsicle, and Cocoa. I really like the Lavendar and Creamsicle but not a huge fan of the Cocoa. You can never have enough lip balm around!

The Spa Kit:

  • one dry brush
    • I didn’t really get the dry brushing trend until I recieved a brush in the Spa Kit. I’d seen plenty of people across social media talking about it but you just don’t understand the benefits until you try it out yourself. I began dry brushing my arms from my wrist up to my arm pits to help with flow to my lymph nodes. I noticed after just a couple uses of the dry brush that my forearms were a lot smoother and eczema had slightly calmed down. Another highly recommended product from me!
  • one 2 oz body oil
    • I love oil and was really excited for the Blue Tansy Body Oil in this kit. I use it when I get out of the shower and all over my torso. I have pretty combination skin type but living in Colorado, I do find that my skin is a lot drier than I’m use to so the oil definitely helps.
  • one 6 oz sea soak
    • Hello! This girl loves her some bathtime! The next two items are why I chose the Spa Kit. The Sea Soak is decribed for ‘Detox + Soothe’ and the scent is a bit more powerful than the flower bath. I use these bath salts on more stressful days when I need to unwind.
  • one 6 oz flower bath
    • As for the Flower Bath, it is described as ‘Balance + Soften’ and as the name may let on, it has a more floral scent. I like to use these bath salts on more quite evenings to tune out a little more.
  • organic bag
    • Each kit comes with a mesh organic bag. Full honestly, I’ve collected a lot of bags from beauty kits over the years (where are my clinque fans at?) but I travel so I do use select ones that are good quality – and these ones are it! I use one of the bags to hold all my nail polish because it is stretchy but can hold the weight. The other I use for bath products when traveling.

After a few months of using these products, I would say my favorites even though I’ve enjoyed all of them, are Deodorant, Body Oil, and Everything Spray and will be ordering these again. If you’re interested in testing out Primally Pure, the bundle kits are definitely you’re best option to be able to try out multiple products without having to invest to much at first.

If you would like to support me and the side hustle, you can shop Primally Pure through my personal link. You can use code PRIMALLYASHRAE at checkout for 10% your order. All support is more than greatly appreciated 🙂 I’m also here to share my thoughts on any specific product or my other favorite brands.

Blueberry “Cinnamon Roll” Breakfast Bars.

I’m a sucker for quick + simple recipes that call for items I already have around my place. So when I came across 2 ingredient Blueberry Cinnamon Rolls on Instagram last week, I knew I needed to try it out. Disclaimer: this recipe always had more than 2 ingredient – they aren’t tricking anyone. 

I attempt the baking exactly as the recipe directed yesterday and than did my small tweaks today to test making it more to my own preferences. The original recipe calls for you to roll out the dough, add the blueberries and cinnamon, and then roll up the dough to create “cinnamon rolls”. This did not work for me, so instead I place the mixture directly into the pan and bake as bars. Below, I write out the original recipe as is and then I explain what I’ve changed to the recipe. 

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • Handful of blueberries
  • Cinnamon 

Directions: 

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray a glass 8×8 pan. 
  • Mix first three dry ingredients together in a bowl. Add in yogurt and mix, creating a dough. Mix in blueberries and cinnamon.
  • Bake for 25-30 minutes or until dough is thoroughly cooked through. 

The first attempt tasted too bitter to me so this morning I switched out the plain greek yogurt with Two Goods brand Vanilla yogurt. Since it calls for a cup, all you need to buy at the store for 1 batch is two small individual vanilla yogurt cups. I’m not a fan of having a lot of excess ingredients left over so this worked out perfectly. 

I also added about 3 teaspoons of brown sugar and a splash of vanilla extract to the dough to provide a bit more flavor. Then to top it off, I used Trader Joe’s Coconut Whip Cream as an icing alternative. 

This was definitely a winner in my book. It’s simple and doesn’t provide too much of a sweet taste early in the morning. I love me some french toast or a good decadent muffin but if an item is too sweet it normally leaves my stomach not so happy (cue the sugar gram counting). Also, if you noticed, we don’t add any sugar or sugar alternative (except the brown sugar) so if you stick with the original recipe than you’re still on track for the added-sugar detox!

Let me know if you try this one out and of course, enjoy!!

Quarantine Pick-Me-Ups.

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As best as we’re trying, we might be feeling down quite often during this “stay-at-home” time. You might not be as productive as you would like or feel you’re getting as much accomplished as you wish. Maybe that workout routine has fallen to the waist side or there are a few too many snack times in the afternoon. And guess what, it might be hard to hear and accept, but it’s actually all alright!

We are going to feel down at points, that is how the body processes situations and emotions and we should learn to embrace them as they come and learn from them. But what’s not alright is wallowing in these down thoughts. They will happen, we’re not meant to be happy all the time and this is a very difficult situation that we’re going through (uncharted waters for literally all of us). It’s great to set goals while we have the free time but if we don’t meet these goals or feel we’ve done our best, life. will. go. on. 

So today I wanted to address some of my practices I embrace if I’m having a hard day or a really emotional week. Like I said before, we shouldn’t shy away from these emotions and attempt to avoid them because that has potential to cause more damage but there are certain healthy things we can do to process through these emotions.

  • Meditation: I recently shared a post for how to create your own meditation practice which is really helpful if you are new to it. This might be scary to attempt to sit with our feelings and emotions when it feels like the last thing we want to do. But addressing these feelings and approaching them with a positive attitude can completeing repaint the way we are handling them. [Stay tuned for an upcoming post about how to work with mantras during meditation]
  • Journaling: Put those thoughts down on paper and let them all out. A journaling practice can feel odd and different if you’re new to it but once you find a stride with writing you can really notice the benefits it provides. Don’t place expectations with your writing either, like ‘you always need to write a full page’ or ‘you always need to write about once certain topic – like what you did that day’. Allow yourself the freedom to just write whatever thoughts are flowing through you at that moment.
  • Setting Routines: You don’t need to map out your enitre day but putting in place a simple daily routine provides your mental health structure – similar to what it is use to when “life is normal”. I just shared a morning routine for a healthy gut and this is a good example of simple daily tasks you can do to provide your life some structure. It can also be as simple as taking a walk outside each day at 3PM or maybe it’s not even daily but every other day you take a really nice bath with all the bells and whistles. Don’t only set a routine of mundane items you need to get done but also things you look forward to do and feel a bit like pampering.
  • Movement: I prefer yoga, barre, and running and I really rotate through these depending on my mood. Find a form of excercise that makes your body feel good that is accessible and you enjoy doing (for the most part because working out isn’t as enjoyable as other things – like eating brownies 😉 I shared my favorite at-home workouts last month so if you’re looking for ideas, check out that post! (Bonus: I also shared my favorite at-home workout equipment and all of it can be found on Amazon)
  • Get Outside: If you have the access and the weather is nice, try to get outside at least once a day. This provides you with a different scenery than inside your home or apartment and gets you body some Vitamin D. I can’t tell you how many times in the last couple weeks I’ve been feeling mentally heavy and how a simple short walk around the block with my dog can completely change my perspective.

If you are truly struggling during these times, no matter what mentally you are battling, I am also here to chat and listen. Feel free to always reach out to me at ashraeeiningyoga@gmail.com. We will get through this together!

 

Mother’s Day: A Weekend Guide to the Hills.

Was it even really Spring and how are we already almost in the heat of Summer? This quarantine life definitely changes the sense of time. Since the only people I’ve really interacted with is my immediate family, I decided to head out of Colorado for a bit and spend Mother’s Day up in Rapid City, SD where my mother lives.

It was a beautiful weather and a relaxing weekend spent with family. Some restrictions are slightly lifted so we decided to safely venture out a bit around the area. Here are a few of our favorite things to do around the Hills [Yes, it of course includes plenty of wine]. This post mainly focuses on Hill City hot spots but stay tuned for more Rapid City favorites in future posts.

On Friday evening after work wrapped up, my mother had an appointment downtown so my sister grabbed her camera and we had a little impromptu photo shoot around downtown Rapid City. After all the hard work, we stopped into Que Pasa for some happy hour margaritas and chips & salsa. 

Friday & Saturday were my splurge days from the no-sugar challenge, so I definitely indulged in a Marg. Then we went home for some pizza.

I was planning to drive back to Colorado on Sunday so we celebrated Mother’s Day on Saturday. We started the morning off with a live stream Barre class and breakfast at home. Then we all piled in the car and headed up to Hill City [about an hours drive from Rapid]. First stop was Alpine Inn for lunch. This place is known for excellent German food during the lunch hour and a special steak plate for dinner. I ordered the Pear & Fig Salad – bonus, it had almond brickle. I would have never thought of almond brickle for a salad ingredient, but let me tell you – I wasn’t complaining! 

It’s a holiday weekend so of course we had to have lunch dessert! Alpine Inn never disappoints with the dessert options so we went with two – An apple tart over caramel and ice cream and the bread pudding. Both were AMAZING!

Next stop [and as most would know, my local favorite] was Firehouse Winery. There are two locations, one in Hill City and one downtown Rapid City. We frequent the RC location most of the time and you’ll more than likely find us enjoying some Margarita pizza and a bottle of Sauv Blanc on a warm afternoon. But the Hill City location as an equally warm environment. We stopped here for a quick tasting & to catch up with a couple of the wine-tenders. 

Last stop before heading home was Prairie Berry Winery. If you are more of a sweeter wine fan than this is your place in the Hills. The tasting room is gorgeous and spacious. They also have a small kitchen that you can order appetizer or small plates from. My favorite in the summer time is the open-face salmon sandwich. If you have the time, stop here to sit out on the lawn, take in the view, enjoy some yard games & a bottle of wine. 

We headed home and I will say, one of my most enjoyable activities is just simply driving around and taking in the views.  The scenery of the hills and the greenery will take your breath away. Another highly recommended item to check off your list if you visit the area. 

The afternoon was spent enjoying a simple meal of chicken wings and watching Outer Banks [anyone else binging?]. The next morning we got up early to sweat it out through another Barre class and then enjoyed a homemade brunch before I hit the road. It was a simple weekend in quarantine but was nice to get out just a bit to feel a little normal again. 

If you ever find yourself heading to the Hills area or swinging through on a road trip, be sure to hit me up for more recommendations of my favorite spots!