Hearty, healthy , easy and super tasty breakfast recipes

Breakfast is a very important meal of the day. A nutritious breakfast can get us going all day without fatigue or hunger pangs. So here are some quick but nutrient rich breakfast and snack option for people on the go.

1. Overnight oats/ Oats porridge:

Not everyone is a fan of oats but trust me this is quite tasty.

Benefits of oats :

Whole Oats Are Rich in Antioxidants, Including Avenanthramides
Oats Contain a Powerful Soluble Fiber Called Beta-Glucan
They Can Lower Cholesterol Levels and Protect LDL Cholesterol From Damage.
Oats Can Improve Blood Sugar Control


Ingredients for the porridge
: You can add or subtract ingredients from this as per your choice and availability. This is to just give you an idea of all the options possible.

Milk or Greek Yogurt(not sour)
Rolled oats: This is preferrable as it is the least processed variant and is fiber rich and is more tasty. Since instant oats is available easily, you can use that as well.
Seeds like chia, flax, sunflower, melon ,pumpkin,sesame.
Dry fruits and nuts : dates, raisins, almond, peanuts, cashew, walnut etc.
Fresh fruits like banana, mango, berries etc.
Optional : cinnamon powder, vanilla extract for flavour.
If necessary : Cane Sugar/honey/coconut sugar

Preparation:
There are 2 options to prepare oats: Either cook it in milk or just add milk/yogurt to a cup of oats and leave it overnight in fridge. It becomes soft and creamy in the morning, no cooking involved. Add vanilla or cinnamon powder for extra flavour. Fruits like mango and strawberry can be added along with oats and kept overnight.
In a bowl layer banana pieces, oats mix and any other fruits of your choice. I added mango pieces. Dry roast seeds and nuts till they become crunchy. Break the walnutsto small pieces. Soak raisins in some water.
Now top the oats bowl with all these and dig in 🙂 This keeps you full for long and is a complete meal.

NOTE:
You can roast all seeds and nuts prior and store it in a jar for future use as well.

You will get these seeds in most of the normal provisional stores for as less as 20Rs for 100gms.Seeds are packed with dietary fibre, protein, good fats and antioxidants. They release energy slowly throughout the day.

Also if you like crunchy caramel oats, toast oats with cane sugar in a pan till it becomes crispy and store it along with nuts and seeds. This is your own home made muesli.

2. Oats pancake:

Far better and tastier than the maida pancakes and easier to make as well.

Ingredients :

Rolled oats,baking soda,milk.
Rest I leave it to you: any or all of the above ingredients for porridge can be used here as well.

Preparation:

Add the oats to a mixer jar and powder it. Need not be a very fine powder. Add milk to the powder in a bowl and whisk it with a spoon or spatula,to get a lump free smooth thick dough. It should be thicker than your dosa batter. Add a pinch or two of baking soda and keep it aside for 15-20min.

Once the dough has risen slightly(you will notice bubbles in it), add the other ingredients like seeds, nuts, choco chips, cinnamon powder etc as per your liking. Add half teaspoon of salt and incase you like the pancakes sweet, add 2 spoons of cane sugar or honey.

Pour a ladle full of batter to a hot tawa and flip it when one side is done. You can have this with peanut butter, jam, cut fruits sprinkled on top or honey drizzled on top.

3. Peanut carrot mix

This is an easy healthy snack that will satisfy you from the midday hunger pangs.

Ingredients:

Grated carrots, roasted peanut without skin, salt, lime juice

Preparation:

Add the peanuts and grated carrot to a mixer jar and crush it with two reverse pulse. We just need the peanuts and carrots to be crushed and not powdered or grinded. Transfer it to a bowl and add salt and lime extract for taste.

4. Banana peanut porridge

Ingredients:
Ripe banana, peanuts(soaked in water and dried), cardamom powder, honey

Preparation:
All you need to do is add the bananas and peanuts to a blender and blend it well till it becomes a porridge like consistency. Add cardamom powder and honey to taste.

5. Whole grain bread with sautéed baby potatoes, mushroom and coleslaw

You can boil and peel the baby potatoes on the previous night to save time in the morning. if the potatoes are fresh and clean, you don’t have to remove the peel.

Ingredients :

Whole grain bread ,gralic, button mushroom, baby potatoes, grated cabbage and carrot, yogurt(instead of mayo).

Preparation:

In a pan heat olive oil and add crushed/sliced garlic. Roast cut mushrooms and potatoes separately in the garlic oil till the potatoes turn brown and mushrooms are well cooked and glazed. Add salt and pepper to taste and keep this aside.

To grated cabbage and carrot add 2-3 spoons of plain greek side yogurt and add salt, pepper and a dash of lime to taste.

Have these with hot toast.

Hope you liked these recipes. Do try them out and let me know your feedback.

Simple Steps towards sustainable living

Read time: 5min

This is not a modern concept. For eg, our grandmas would have hardly gone to buy skin care things from store, but still they know all the tips and tricks using just kitchen ingredients.For eg. an oil massage before a bath (abhyanga) when followed religiously, will give you a healthy,resilient and glowing skin and can even cure the muscle pains and fatigue.This is the only anti ageing practice you need.Also they used to use wood ash and tamarind for cleaning utensils. They had no peeling skin or harmful chemical residue left on utensils.
But we prefer easy, less time consuming methods or preferably ready to use products that comes packaged.

One thing as consumers, we neglect to do is read the ingredient list of any product, be it your skincare product, food you buy from stores, washing powders, baby products, pet products…anything. We trust the advertisements, and our judging factors are the smell, flavour, cost, packaging of the product and if we are getting any free products when we buy them. In most cases, these factors hold a higher rank than whether we actually need the product?, whether it, in anyway harms us? or rather whether it is sustainable and aids to a healthy lifestyle?

Why should we use these natural products, when what we already use serves the purpose?

Right from the tooth paste we use, to the cosmetics and home care products, everything is just a mix of colours, fragrances, pertoleum by products, chemicals and preservatives. Our skin absorbs upto 60% of what we apply on it and these non-biodegradable chemicals, enters our blood stream or build up on our skin and can cause cancer,infections, fatigue, dizziness, irritate eyes, hormonal imbalance, respiratory problems and in the extreme cases even DNA damage.The fragrance you love the most about these products, are for masking the smell of concoction of chemicals that constitute the product.

Why is it that we have not heard about these ingredients or brands?

Because in our consumerist society advertisements, are the deciding factors for us and we don’t keep our eyes open. In India there are no strict rules or laws to maintain quality or to test toxicity of everyday products and we still rebound to instant noodles, brick powder mixed chili powder and cancerous baby powders eventhough some brands are caught red handed often. Fair and lovely still lures teenagers and there are barely any informed moms who could teach children to make better choices. We don’t have time to research on whether the products we consume are really the only things we consume with it. And later we wonder how that uncle, aunty or colleague who never drinks, smokes or eat outside, still fell sick.

Here are some image from web, that might help you understand how bad it is.


What is the difference between organic and natural?

Organic products have ingredients produced by organic methods defined by certifying bodies such as the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) under its Organic Food Products Act. But for a natural product there are no regulations on how the ingredients are grown. It is a more generic tag where the product is devoid of artificial color, flavour, preservatives, hormones etc. All organic products are natural, but not vice versa. So be careful when buying products tagged as natural, unless they are from trusted brands. There are many known brands in market that boasts of natural ingredients but have preservatives and chemicals in them. The parabens and synthetic preservatives used in these products increases the shelf life of the product. But it can disrupt the endocrine system of your body. Natural preservatives used in organic products have shorter shelf life, but these freshly made products are like food for your skin. Your skin and body will thank you for it.

Where to start : Right at home. Ditch all your non-natural products at home for a week and see what you can make use of, from kitchen or your garden to replace them. See the difference it makes to your skin and environment. Let me give you some examples.

1. Use few drops of essential oils like lemon grass, tea tree oil mixed in water for repelling insects and bugs.
2. Other fruity or floral essential oils in water for cleaning floors.
3. Aloevera gel or almond oil as moisturizer
4. Green gram powder or crushed hibiscus mix as shampoo
5. Chick pea flour as cleanser
6. Soap berry powder as detergent
7. Use charcoal powder and salt mixed with coconut oil for cleansing the teeth

But are these always practical in our busy lives or do they always seem appealing?

That’s why we have these natural and organic brands that sell pre-made packaged products made of pure ingredients, handmade in small batches and hence has a shorter shelf life compared to products with preservatives..These are available everywhere as these brands sell via websites, local organic stores, social media like Instagram and FB and via online platforms like Amazon and Nykaa.
If you go through my posts,you will see that I always include the link to shop or mention where you can buy the products from.

What lifestyle changes can help your quality of living and the environment?
Do you ever wonder where, all the used plastic tooth brushes and sanitary pads go. In landfills. They don’t degrade and they stay there for ever. So does, the chemical laden water that seeps into the ground from our kitchens and bathrooms, thereby polluting ground water.

Just know that for every product you use there are alternative natural ones. Including your home care products, baby care products, cosmetics like lipsticks (Read the review here)or for men may be things like shaving cream, hair gels, natural deodorants etc.

The water from using the natural detergents, shampoo and cleaners can be reused for watering the plants as these are totally safe and biodegradable. The natural detergents are very mild on skin and cleanses the utensils without leaving any grease or dirt and uses much less water than the heavy duty chemical gels.

Also using sustainable cotton clothes with natural dyes makes huge difference to your lifestyle as well as the environment.

Organic food helps to flush out toxins from your body over a period of time and promotes overall well being.

Using menstrual cups can bring a huge change in women’s well being as well as help the environment .(Read more here)

Busting myths:
1. Natural products are not appealing :Many of you might think natural products means ones that smells very herbal, like ayurvedic medicines or something that is of good quality and zero appeal. Let me just bust that bubble now. The concoction of essential oils used in many of the products I have used smells out of the world and even freshens up the room with natural fragrance. Take a look at the soaps below if you don’t believe me. Unlike hot processed industrial soaps, these are cold processed, which means there is no loss of nutrients or quality of natural ingredients. Also these are rich in natural butters, oils, clays,fruit and flower extracts.


PC:Giabathandbodyworks


PC:Juicychemistry

2. Organic products are super costly : This is another myth. When you buy a mass produced product from store, you don’t realize that the product itself costs only one fourth of it’s MRP and that you are actually paying for all the marketing and fancy packaging.But for an organic product to be made it involves steps like ethically sourcing quality ingredients, an artisan making fresh batch of products by hand and send with love.

Also you just need a pea size of the product compared to the normal variants. The products are very concentrated and pure that a little goes a long way.There are affordable natural skin care brands as well as high end ones.It depends on the ingredients in the products and the process of making them. But every customer makes a difference for these people unlike the mass producing, cosmetic tycoons.Almost everytime I buy a product, I get hand written notes on how much they appreciate us buying from them. You can consult the makers to have products curated for your needs. They even customize products for your liking.

This is not an overnight change you can bring about in life. Start by reading more on this and make informed choices in life.
Going forward,read the ingredients in all the products you buy and make a conscious choice.Many of these chemicals that are listed might be alien to you. But in this age of technology,the answers are just one click away. Search the ingredient name in web and read about it. Infact you just take your tooth paste/ shampoo or detergent at home and just read about all the ingredients in them. I am pretty sure, you will think twice about using them again.

If you feel this is a tedious process, the alternative is to read my blog posts :)Hope this post was informative.

How you can save your hair from years of chemical torture

I think it’s time for another hair care post, as many of you have been asking me solutions for hair fall issues and the like. Let us get straight into the problem. Choose the methods/ingredients from this post, as per your hair type and need. You can ask your doubts by posting comments here.

The most common hair related problems are dandruff, hairfall, frizziness or oiliness.

Reasons:

The above problems can be inter related. And the reasons can be many. Incase you have moved to a different city, most probably you will face a high rate of hair fall. This can be due to chlorinated or hard water, pollution, or even different climatic conditions.
Otherwise it could be because of your diet. You might not be drinking enough water, eating your greens or you might be taking too much caffeine or alcohol.
It can also be due to hormonal changes, illness, reaction of any product, stress or even because of your favourite chemical laden shampoo.

So how can you fix it?

There is no overnight fix for anything when it comes to natural skin and haircare. You have to be consistent and ready to invest time in yourself. Our goal is to get a healthy and balanced scalp and that + a healthy diet will give you solution for your hair problems.

The first step for a healthy scalp is getting rid of all your sulphate laden hair care products. DON’T EVER TOUCH THEM AGAIN.This includes products from The Body Shop and few SLS laden cleansers from Kama Ayurveda as well. The brand name doesn’t matter. Check the ingredients. Google will provide you more than enough resources on what to avoid.

Dandruff:

Tea tree oil is what you need. You can buy it from brands like soulflower, juicy chemistry, blend it raw beauty,Nykaa etc. I am talking about the essential oil and not any blend.Other alternatives are Frankincense and Peppermint essential oil. You can add few drops of one of these or all in your coconut hair oil or which ever hair oil you use and warm it up a little before applying on the scalp. You don’t have to keep it overnight. Just half and hour to an hour is more than enough.Do this regularly, atleast thrice every week in the beginning.You can also add a piece of camphor in the mix while warming the oil.

Please don’t soak your hair in oil. Applying more oil not only won’t give any added benefits but might cause break outs, incase you have oily skin. Use just enough to condition the hair and scalp.


If you need a hair oil suggestion, I would recommend the Krya Anti dandruff hair oil. for no sticky hair oils, try Kama Ayurveda Bringadi oil and Just herbs Japakusum oil.

Cleansing: You will get all the info you need from this post (6 types of hair cleansers are reviewed here). Natural hair cleansers are mild and will not dry out the hair and scalp. So no need of conditioners. But incase you feel you need something for your unruly hair, a few drops of pure almond oil (Not the bajaj variant which is just a mix)will do the magic. Just 2-3 drops at the ends while hair is still damp.

You can get pure food grade almond oil from mitti.se.

Home made hibiscus cleanser:
For those days, you don’t oil your hair you can make this hibiscus hair cleanser. Best prepared with red small hibiscus.
1.Pluck few hibiscus leaves and flowers
2.Clean it well in water
3.Crush it with your hand in water until it turns thick and sticky/ you can also use a mixer but using hands gives best results.
4.Sieve it so that you get the sticky pulp with no leaves or flower matter.
5. Use it on wet hair and gently massage for a light lather.
6. Wash it off with water.

Hair Drying :
Please towel dry the hair and do avoid electric dryers as much as possible. Also don’t rub your hair vigorously with towel. Just tie it up and leave for sometime and then leave it open to dry.

Hair mask for strong, smooth and shiny hair:

Let your imagination fly high. It is always best to buy pure ingredients and whip up a fresh mask. You can buy clays like kaolin, bentonite, pure aloe vera gel and essential oils and prepare your own masks.

1.Curd, egg white, lemon juice,honey, clay, aloe gel, tea tree oil, mashed ripe banana > You can mix aany of these ingredients to get very nourishing hair mask.
2. Another very interesting hair mask is using flax seed gel. You can buy flax seeds from any provisional store. Add 1 and half to 2 cups of water to a spoon of flaxseed in a bowl and keep it in low flame. Keep stirring untill you get a slight gel like sticky consistency. Let it cool and then strain the gel using a muslin cloth or strainer.
This gel is rich in omega 3 and can be stored in fridge. You can also use it as a styling gel. It gives shine and softness to hair and also promotes hair growth. It can be used as an alternative to aloevera gel in masks.

Now incase you want to just use a premade hair mask, you can try the ones from Krya and Juicy Chemistry.But why spend alot, when you can use a aloevera gel and tea tree oil mix.

Rinse:

Now if your hair loss is because of the bad quality of tap water, you can use a hair rinse at the end. This will help in washing off the residue from the scalp. Some options are :

1.Tea water(you can boil left over tea leaves from making tea in water and use it)
2.Rose water mixed with purified water(drinking water)/ you can boil rose petals in water and use
3.1 spoon apple cider vinegar in a cup of water
4.Neem water(Boil few neem leaves in water)

Water and Diet:

No one drinks enough water daily. Most of you just forget and might utmost drink just 1 litre or so in a day. There is no point in doing anything topically, unless you are well hydrated and eat a protein rich diet. So keep away from very oily and spicy food. Eat less salt and sugar. Eat sprouts and green leaves. Drink buttermilk instead of using curd. Eat curry leaves and amla. All this will help in hair growth.

Health issues:

Consult a doctor or dermatologist incase your hair fall is due to health conditions, skin issues like alopecia or reaction to any medicine. Don’t keep experimenting until it is too late.

Tips:

The transition to natural cleansers might weigh your hair down in the beginning. That is because it takes a while for also the chemical residues to get washed off and for your hair to get accustomed to the product. So don’t stop using the product in between and switch back. Use it for a while, and your hair will thank you.

Cover your hair when spending alot of time in sun or dust.
Use a wooden comb instead of plastic one to avoid air breakage due to static.
Avoid brushing your hair when wet. Use a comb with wide teeth if necessary.
Pleat your hair before going to bed.

Throw away your chemical bottles and let nature take its course in giving life back to your hair.Finally, be happy and don’t let stress and pollution take away your beautiful tresses.

Other hair care posts that might interest you:

Dandruff free silky hair and soft supple skin with simple DIY skincare recipes

Summer hair care with natural hair wash powders : Featuring Krya and JivaVrksa

My two favorite non-greasy, deep conditioning hair oils

My favorite hair cleanser from Gia

Cheesecake for the soul : Quick no bake recipe

Since I posted the cheese cake pic on my insta handle, many of you have been asking me for the recipe. This is one recipe the man of the house loves. This one barely takes any time and will for sure impress your guests.

This is a recipe that you can play around with and change to suit the flavour you love. You can add more textures and ingredients like fruits, nuts, preserves etc to make it more yummy.

So here is the recipe. Also on a side note, I am not someone who follows measurements. I just go by the feel and taste. So just adjust the quantities accordingly.

Ingredients you will need for the basic recipe:

Cream cheese : I had the salted variant. Unsalted will be the best.
Full cream
Sugar
Gelatin
For flavour you can use any of these : essence, thick fruit pulp, icecream, fresh fruit
Plain biscuit like Marie or glucose biscuit
Butter – Melt it so that it can be easily mixed

How to transform the ingredients to a cheesecake :

Basically you need to mix all the ingredients(except the biscuit powder) together and keep it in refrigerator to set. That’s all. But let me break it down for you.

1. Crush the biscuit in a mixer and make a crumbly powder
2. Add melted butter to the biscuit powder and mix well
3. Take a flat glass or steel tray in which you are going to set the cake. Butter the tray so that the cake doesn’t stick to it.
4. Now evenly spread the biscuit mix in the tray and keep it in the freezer till we whip up the filling.
5. In a bowl take the cream cheese slab and whip it well with a spatula, or any whipping tool to form a creamy consistency.
6. Add full cream(half the quantity of cream cheese) to loosen up the thick consistency.
7. I did not add sugar to this mix, since I used mango icecream which was already sweet. If you are using essence or fruit puree, now is the time to add powdered sugar and whip the mix again to a smooth consistency.
So basically you can add sugar+any essence of your choice/ fruit pulp + fruit chunks or just keep it plain and add a layer of fruit pulp on top once the cheese layer is set.
8. Mix gelatin/agar-agar with warm water and keep it on heat to melt it completely. You can use a double boiler or just directly keep it in low flame.
9. Now add this to the cream cheese mix and again mix well. Say for 1 block of cream cheese, I used around 3 spoons of gelatin powder. This is what makes the cheese cake wobble and you know, essentially look like cheese cake. So incase once you mix it and feel like it’s too runny, you can again add more gelatin solution to the mix. You can do it even after you refrigerate the mix and feel like it has not reached the right consistency.
10. Now take out the tray and pour the cheese mix on top of the biscuit layer evenly. Keep it in freezer for 15 min and the cake will be ready.

If you want to add another layer of say fruit pulp or fresh fruits, wait till the cheese layer is set. You can add gelatin mix to pure fruit pulp and spread it on top of cheese layer for that extra flavour.

Eventhough it looks like there are lot of steps, it will barely take you half an hour to make this. So do try it out and let me know how it turned out.

July favorites : Afghani earrings, sari, juttis and many more

My last favorites post was in Feb (link) and it was mostly about skincare products. But here is an exclusive post on everything but skincare. Take a look at my favorite purchases for the month.

My favorite glass bottle from Home Centre

Home centre is running awesome offers this month and since I decided not to use plastic bottles anymore for storing water, I picked up this beauty for just Rs 200. Love the mechanism of the cap and Iam surprised at how much I look forward to drinking water these days. I add few mint leaves and a dash of lime to the water and it keeps you hydrated with a feeling of freshness.

This gorgeous cotton sari

I am not a sari lover but I fell in love with this one. I plan to make a dress out of it after I wear it once as sari. Margazhi designs, an insta store is one of my recent finds and I love their collection. Don’t you think this one is gorgeous?

Super comfy floral juttis

These look very classy and goes with all attires. Akaayra an insta store has a great collection of these comfy beauties.

Healthy snacks anyone?

Snackible is a healthy snacks company bidding to revolutionize the snacking industry by delivering unique, healthy, and tasty snacks, anywhere in India.I bought Oats & Chia Chocolate Bites,Oatmeal waaffle, Chilli Garlic Pita Chips, Herb & Cheese Makhana and Kale chips with bajra puffs. To give you a mini review, I loved everything except the waffles and Kale chips. Basically the waffles were not crisp and Kale chips was more of bajra puffs with kale leaf bits. I loved the cheese Makhan and oats chocolate bites.

Afghani gunghroo earrings

You all loved the afghani chandbaalis I got last time, featured in the Feb Favorites post. I bought this one from The Trinket Shop (another insta store). As you know, I share more tips and pics in Instagram and answer all your skincare queries there. And since I spend more time in Insta, I explore and find out these amazing insta stores. This one has awesome and affordable jewelry collection and the best part is you can block your favorites over a period and get them all together and thereby save shipping charge.

Rose and Shea Butter soap from Soap works

You would already read about this in my recent insta post but if not, hear hear. I got this sample in my December reverie box but I never used it so far. I actually kept it in my cupboard for the amazing fragrance. It has a divine rose smell, lathers lightly and looks so pretty with scattered rose petals in the transparent block.

Nykaa nailpaints

Lastly let me tell you about these beautiful and unique colors from the Nykaa nailpaints range. I bought 2 matte, (chia pudding & royal amethyst) and 1 normal nailpaint(marsala chai). The colors are amazingly pigmented and gives full coverage in a single swipe. Love the texture of the matte nailpaint. The only drawback is, incase you love doing nail art like me and paint design using one matte nail paint on top of another, it is likely to chip off fast.

As for skin care products there are many amazing ones I tried recently and I feel feature them one by one in my coming posts. Hope you liked this one and let me know if you have any questions. Also don’t forget to subscribe and leave your comments. See you.

Moisturizers and face masks curated for summers : Introducing The Skin Pantry and Amara Organix

Skincare products should suit your skin type as well as the current climate. In summers it is best to you light skincare products with simple and all natural ingredients. Hope you enjoyed the last two posts on summer skincare and haircare. Here is anther one featuring the best chemical free products from Indian brands that you must try this summer for a happy smiling skin.

    The Skin Pantry

Whipped up in the pantry of Mumbai based graphic designer Collette, this brand has a lip smacking range of skin food made of certified organic, natural and pure ingredients. Skin smoothies, creme brulee, honey dew melon and citrus mousse is sure to give you dessert cravings, but these are just some of the skin care goodies from The Skin Pantry. The price range, quality of ingredients and packaging makes it a luxe skincare brand.

Almond and Aloe Whisper

I really love the names of the products and they are apt as well. This one the simplest, mildest and purest of moisturizers and can be used even by the most sensitive skin.
Ingredients : 100% organic cold pressed sweet almond oil, 100% organic apricot seed oil, pure aloe vera gel, pure vitamin E oil.
Price : Rs 1250 for 50ml

My take on the product :
This is everything I imagine a ‘whisper’ would be in the physical sense. Light, fluffy and white this one smells of pure apricot oil. Reminds me of Junaili apricot scrub. A little goes a long way and spreads easily on skin. It makes my skin look a bit dull immediately after application but keeps them moisturized for long without being oily. Apt for summers and suits all skin types.

Rhassoul clay face mask

Ingredients : Jojoba oil, apricot oil, vit E oil, organic rose hydrosol, organic rose otto essential oil and the star, Moroccan Rhassoul clay.
Price : Rs 850 for 50ml

My Take on the product : Suits normal to oily skin types. Smells like a rose garden. Comes with a cute test tube of solution that can be mixed with the clay when it dries up. The face mask comes in a cute little jar with screw cap. It has a mousse like texture and can be easily spread on face. The product can be taken out using the spatula provided or with clean fingers. It is directed not to bring the product in contact with metals as this can strip the clay off its mineral ions and hence its goodness. It dries in a jiffy after application and makes skin smooth, tight and controls oiliness.

Buy : The Skin Pantry

Amara Organix

    This Chennai based brand is the brain child of the lovely lady, Mehar. You name it and they have it, a wide range of skin care, bath and body products and exotic soaps that caters to all kinds of skin care needs.

    Brightening Face mask

    Ingredients: French green clay, french pink caly, moroccan rhassoul clay, sandalwood powder, turmeric powder, licorice powder, spirulina and lavender essential oil

    Price : Rs 250 for 25g

    My take on the product: Suits all skin types. It is in a powder form and has an earthy natural smell. Less than a tea spoon is surprisingly enough for the face and the product works best when mixed with rose water. I tried the mask by making the paste with water, curd and rose water and I could see the brightening effect of the mask only by using with rose water. Otherwise the mask just made my skin soft, smooth and supple. Unlike other clay based masks this doesn’t make the skin dry and on mixing with water you can see the green and pink streaks of spirulina and pink clay.If you have different textures in your skin, this mask will effectively even out the skin making it smooth and soft.

    Buy from : AmaraOrganix

    I used the zofla rose water to make this powder into a paste and this one is by far the most affordable organic rose water I have come across.

    JivaVrksa pure herbal face pack powder

      I love this simple and effective face pack from the brand Jiva Vrksa. I have reviewed the other products from the brand in my previous posts here and here. This is one is by far my favorite product of all.

      Ingredients :
      Multani mitti, sandalwood, rosepetals, orange peel
      Price: Rs150 for 75g

      My take on the product : Made with simple natural ingredients, this face pack smells predominantly of sandalwood. Apply a thick paste of the face pack powder by mixing with water. On washing off, the skin feels cleansed, toned and soft. It balances the oiliness and can be used by all skin types. This one doesn’t dry out the skin and is apt for summers for a refreshed and rejuvenated skin.


      Kama Eladi Moisturizer for combination to dry skin

    This is one of my favorite moisturizers and by far the only one that suits my combination skin well. This is thick but gets absorbed easily on skin without making the skin greasy. Read the detailed review here.

    In addition to this, make sure keep yourselves hydrated and do apply sunscreen before stepping out. Happy summer peeps.

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Summer hair care with natural hair wash powders : Featuring Krya and JivaVrksa

Temperature is soaring day by day and occasional rains are the only relief. This is also the time when oily skin gets extra oily and dry skin gets extra dry. Hair gets frizzy and untameable for some where as it becomes an oily mess for others. So you will be surprised to know that there is a common solution for this. That is to balance the sebum production of the scalp. Using silicone and sulphate filled hair cleansers and conditioners can be damaging in the long run.

The below ingredients in shampoo are the major culprits of your bad hair days.

Alcohol, for instance, does have the effect of removing oil, but it dries out your scalp and stimulates it to produce even more sebum. Alcohol types called “isopropyl alcohol,” “benzyl alcohol,” and “denatured alcohol” are especially damaging, since these are pure types of alcohol.

Silicone also shouldn’t be in your shampoo; it not only surrounds your hair, causing it to dry out from within, but also builds a non-water soluble layer on your scalp. Sebum production builds up and increases under this layer. Silicones are usually easy to recognize in a list of ingredients because they end with “-cone,” “-conol,” or – “siloxane.”

Both Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) and its close relative Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) are the major foaming ingredient in shampoos and detergents. The sodium laureth sulfate found in our soaps is exactly the same as you would find in a car wash or even a garage, where it is used to degrease car engines.
In the same way as it dissolves the grease on car engines, SLES also dissolves the oils on your skin, which can cause a drying effect. It is also well documented that it denatures skin proteins, which causes not only irritation, but also allows environmental contaminants easier access to the lower, sensitive layers of the skin.

There are many more harmful chemicals like Triclosan, Dimethicone and Phenoxyethanol, to name a few, in the common drug store shampoos.

Why should you switch to natural chemical and preservative free hair wash powders according to me:
,
1. It cleanses hair gently without stripping it of moisture or natural oils.
2. Repairs and conditions hair and cools your scalp.
3. Doesn’t make the hair dull and lifeless after 2-3 days of hair wash like synthetic shampoos.
4. Adds volume, shine and softness
5. Brands claim that it prevents hairfall, split ends, premature greying and dandruff when used regularly for longer periods.
6. Balances the sebum secretion of scalp and there by prevents scalp from becoming too oily or dry
7. Gives a natural refreshing herbal scent to hair.
8. Prevents itchiness of scalp
9. These powders can also be used as hair masks for that extra nourishment, by mixing with banana pulp, curd or egg white.
10. The water after hair wash is bio-degradable and eco friendly unlike its chemical laden counterparts. This can be used to water plants.

Well if the above list failed to impress you, I don’t know what would.

1. Krya Hair Wash Powder


PC: Krya.in

Krya is a completely natural and ayurvedic brand with a wide range of bath and body care products in addition to products like natural laundry and dish wash powders.In their blog and site, they have given detailed explanation of the different skin types as per ayurveda, the reason for various skin and hair problems and what lifestyle changes to stay healthy and beautiful. The ingredients used are mostly organic and they use traditional ayurvedic preparation methods that extracts goodness of each ingredient used.

This brand has separate products that caters to specific conditions like normal, oily hair types and dandruff prone hair. I tried this particular hair wash powder from them.


Ingredients:
Shikaki, Citriodora, fenugreek,vetiver, tulsi,triphala, soapberry. Key Ingredients are listed in the pack, as the ingredients changes depending on the season and availability of herbs
Price: Rs 300 for 100g
Packaging: Comes in a cardboard pack with paper labels. My only request to Krya is to have better packaging with clear labels. Because when I bought multiple products, after taking those out of the cardboard boxes it really confused me as to which powder is what.
Fragrance : Strong herbal fragrance

Buy : here

JivaVrksa Hair Wash powder:

To know more about the brand and reviews of skincare products from them, check out my post by clicking here

Ingredients :

Price : Rs 80 fro 75g
Packaging : Comes in paper satchets with clear labeling. There are paper pouches inside the satchet that holds the product. This makes it easy to store the product and not get confused with other similar powders.
Fragrance: Light herbal fragrance

This powder is much lighter and easier to spread. But this doesn’t remove oil completely from pre-oiled hair in one wash. Need to use 3-4 tsps of product to completely remove the oil but the price point and ingredients list is very impressive.

Buy: Amazon

How to use:

Take 2-3 tsp of any of these hair wash powders in a bowl and make a thin paste by mixing with water. Use this paste to wash the hair just like you use shampoo and rinse it off. Soapberry is the natural foaming agent in the cleanser that gently removes the oiliness from the scalp. Don’t expect any bubbly foams like your synthetic shampoos. I spread the paste on the scalp and hair and gently massage it from roots to tips. It can be easily washed off, if you were wondering and takes less quantity of water when compared to washing off highly lathering shampoos.


Keep in mind :

If you oil your hair, you might have to wash it multiple times with the powder to remove the excess oil.
Also if you are new to natural hair cleansers, it will take you a while to see positive results from these. This is because the powders would in the initial uses, be removing all the chemical build up in hair, during which you might feel the hair is a bit weighed down.
Store the powders in air tight containers and use dry spatulas to take them out. Avoid contact with moisture as these are preservative free.

Hope you liked this post.

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Why you need to convert from sanitary pads or tampons to Menstrual Cups

I know that not many of us are well aware of what menstrual cups are and will have quite a lot of questions about this. Through this post I intend to share my experience with using menstrual cup as an alternative to pads or tampons. I seriously wish someone had introduced this to me when I was in school.

How I was introduced to menstrual cups (MC for ease of typing throughout this post :P) :

I knew that this product exist as some of the organic brands I follow sells this. But it was when my colleague told me about how using MC has changed her life, that I felt like trying it out. Now coming to think about it, it’s not just that. Usually when we are at home, we don’t care much about waste disposal part as our moms takes care of it. But since I moved to an apartment where the waste disposal is really a pain, I have been conscious about minimizing the quantity of waste, be it bio-degradable or not. Also since choosing to live in an environmentally conscious manner, I was really disturbed about the amount of non-biodegradable waste in the form of sanitary pads, we dump every month.It comes to a bag full and just goes in land fills. So all of us women combined, really causes a huge impact in polluting the earth. But well, so far we could say that we had no choice. But now that I am aware of the alternative which is so much better that using pads or tampons for us as well as environment,this should be made aware to all. So let me start by telling you my learning curve of using a menstrual cup and how it has changed my period days in a very positive way.

What is a menstrual cup??

MC is a flexible bell shaped cup,which is usually made of medical grade silicone. It is worn inside the vagina during menstruation to catch menstrual fluid (blood). Some of you might find this gross already and feel that ‘No I am not doing this’, but trust me I have been through that and just read on, as this is a life saver and can just make your life so easy and comfortable.

Menstrual cups comes in different sizes, mostly medium and large (for this brand). Medium is for women under 30, who has not given birth vaginally and the larger size is normally recommended for women who are over 30, have given birth vaginally, or have an unusually heavy flow.

For some motivation, let me give you few reasons of why MC rocks!!!

1. Huge money saver > One MC can be used for upto 10 years depending on how you maintain it. So think of all the money you save by not buying tampons or padds.
2. No leakage what so ever, if you insert it correctly. Not even a drop on the days of heavy flows.
3. No wet feeling, actually you really have to remind yourself that you have this on. You may as well forget that you are menstruating,as you wouldn’t feel a thing.
4. No headache of changing pads regularly,as this can be used at once upto 12 hrs, depending on the flow. So you don’t have to sneak a pad to the rest room in office or school and can be carefree till you get home.
5. No problem of disposing waste. Incase you are sleeping over at a friend’s or relatives place at this time of the month, remember how awkward it feels to ask where to dispose the pad. Actually in my hostels girls used to flush it, and it was so gross to see it stuck there. So ya with MC there is no such worry. Just have to clean it with water or tissue.
6. Can be used while swimming or while in activities without having to worry. Trust me, I used to avoid long journeys on those days. But now I have no worries.
7. There is no known report of Toxic shock syndrome, where keeping bloodied pads/tampons for long time causes potentially fatal bacterial illness
8. Most important of all it is sustainable and helps the environment. Each year,billions of pads and tampons are discarded which typically end up in landfills or are incinerated, which can have a great impact on the environment. Most of the pads and tampons are made of cotton and plastic. Plastic takes about 50 or more years and cotton starts degrading after 90 days if it’s composted.
9. Easily available online and in stores
10. Great for those unsure days. Everyone wastes atleast 2 pads or panty liners a month, thinking it might start on a partiular day. Especially for us working women, we can’t take any risks while traveling. This one makes sure that you don’t have to wear the uncomfortable pads and waste them on those days.
11. And as an additional point, it just gives you a better understanding of your body and it’s cycle. It’s you blood and it is not gross.

In rural areas of the country, menstruation stops the education of girls and involvement of girls in social activities, due to lack of sanitation facilities,fear of leaking, or even the monthly expenses involved. The use of unhygienic alternatives causes infections and health issues. MC offer a longer-term solution as they do not need to be replaced monthly and ensures menstrual hygiene as long as there is access to clean water.

So if all the above points influenced you to move to MC, read about my learning curve using one. The mistakes I made will help you not to make them and to start using MCs immediately. But just take it easy and most likely no one gets it right on one go.

Journey of converting to MC from pads
I bought the WOW Eva cup for under 30 from Amazon. Now I can’t find the same brand in Amazon, so just linking from another site so that you get an idea Eva cup link
It comes in a storage pouch made of cloth and a bottle of gentle feminine wash an I bought it for around Rs 699.

First month :
Tried using it as per instructions from the product pack and failed miserably. I folded the cup into a C shape and tried inserting it, but failed as this felt quite big to insert inside. So I did not use it. Instead I watched many youtube videos and there are a few about different folds of the cup. So you can choose any fold that is easy and comfortable for you to help get this inside. This really helped me as I felt the C fold in the packet didn’t make any sense for a beginner. So I tried the shell fold/punch line fold and I was easily able to insert the cup inside. This time I just tried inserting it in and taking it out a couple of times, around the last day of periods.

Trying this when you don’t have periods might make it difficult to insert, as during periods the walls are not so tight and also the area is wet and hence easy to slide the cup in. Making the cup wet might help as well. Also it is very easy to clean it, just hold it under running water or clean it with tissue.

Second month :
Used it on the second last day of periods and found that it was slightly leaking. Big disappointment!!! But I found in a video that after inserting, we have to make sure that the folds have opened inside. So I had to just insert a finger and run it along the walls of the cup to make sure it is in the unfolded form. So it was still folded inside. So I just pulled the stem gently in and out to reposition it and voila no more issues.On pulling out the cup, direct it to the toilet and empty it immediately so that it doesn’t make any mess.

Also if you are not confident enough, use a pad after inserting the cup, until you get the hang of it.So that even if it leaks because of the wrong way in which you inserted it, there is an extra protection. Don’t worry, in a couple of tries you will know if the position is correct or not.

Third month :
Tried this from day one and did an overnight travel for 12 hrs in bus wearing this. There was a pad ofcourse for my confidence and I felt in the morning that it had all leaked and made the pad very wet. You know that sliding feeling of the pad. But when I reached home and checked, there wasn’t even a drop! That’s when I realized that it’s not all the bleeding that makes us uncomfortable, it’s the pad itself.

After this there was no looking back. I am using this every month and not rescheduling travels or vacations because of my monthly.

Things to remember :

1. Relax and take your time. Probably after a bath and at a time when you won’t be interrupted. You cannot rush through this until you get the hang of it.
2. Sit in a squat position to easily insert the cup.. Don’t try to insert it vertically. Always insert at an angle of 45 degree.
3. Follow the same rule while removing the cup. Pull at an angle gently and not vertically down.
4. You might over estimate how much you bleed. Mostly a medium sized cup will suffice.
5. Follow the instructions about cleaning and storing in the product box religiously.

I know you might still have a lot of questions. Feel free to comment below or DM me on my instagram or facebook handle. If you liked the post, do share it with your friends,daughters, sisters or cousins, especially the ones who goes to schools and colleges.

Here are a few links that might be helpful:

Step by step guide for first time
Different folds for cups


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JivaVrksa : Earthy goodness for summer skincare

Summer is already here and Bangalore is getting really hot. Summer skin care products should be simple, light and refreshing. I have combination skin and summers brings that extra oiliness to skin. But using grain based products will balance out your skin keeping the greasiness at bay and making the skin look nourished and lively.

So let me introduce the Chennai based brand, JivaVrksa that has an all-natural personal care product line. I was very excited to try these handmade traditional skincare recipes, which are free from artificial fragrance, colors and preservatives.

As you can see the products came in a cardboard box with the brand label. I loved the fact that, eventhough a new brand, they really have put great efforts in the packaging.It is well organized with clear labels in eco-friendly handmade paper sachets.The product details and ingredient list is given in detail in a paper pamphlet. Kudos to the design team.

The brand has in market just 4 products : face, hair and body wash powders and a facepack.

All the products are in powder form with a light earthy fragrance, a mixed smell of all its ingredients. I am not new to powdered cleansers. None of the products have any strong herbal smell(which I sometimes dislike). Inside each brown sachet, is a translucent paper cover carrying the product, with the product label. All the products have somewhat earthy colors. So I keep them all in the same package and dry use wooden spatula to take the products out.

Face wash

Price : Rs100 for 75g which makes it one of the most affordable natural skincare product
Ingredients : Chickpea , Multani Mitti , Sandalwood , Rose Petals , Licorice , Aloe Vera , Avaram Senna Flower , Neem , Orange Peel and Basil.
Brand claims : Cleanses, moisturizes and protects skin. Improves smoothness and glow. Prevents wrinkles and acne

This product can be used by all skin types, even sensitive ones. It is a very mild powder which can be mixed with water to form a paste.Only about half a teaspoon of product (sometimes I just take a pinch) is enough to cleanse the face and so Iam sure this is going to last me a while. The paste spreads easily on wet skin. I have observed that when kept for longer time, it tingles lightly on the skin, which I feel is the ingredients working it’s magic.

It’s easy to wash off compared to gel or liquid face washes and takes less water for sure.Post wash the skin feels clean, soft and refreshed without making it dry or stretchy. It takes away the oiliness, dirt and grime and it surely brightens up my skin a bit. This will be well suited for acne prone and dry skin equally, as it balances the skin.It keeps oiliness away from my t-zone through out the day,when used twice daily.I don’t feel the need to use moisturizer after. Neem and basil are effective to fight and prevent acne.

Cannot comment on the ‘prevents wrinkle’ claim as I am not sure if a face wash is capable of doing it, but the ingredients might have those properties.

Body Wash:

Price :
Rs80 for 75g
Ingredients : Green G
Brand claims : Moisturizes and protects skin, Improves smoothness and glow, Gives natural fragrance and refreshes your body, Prevents skin diseases, Cleanses your skin.

As you know from my winter skincare post in Instagram (Read here), Abhyanga should be followed by cleansing with a grain based cleanser. I make a thick paste of the powder in a bowl and massage it well on the body. I have dry arms and legs and this body cleanser is gentle, it removes pre-bath oil effectively without making the skin dry or stretchy. Even when used without oiling the skin, it is non drying. I love the fragrance of vetiver but the earthy fragrance doesn’t stay on skin for long. It surely makes bath, a refreshing experience in this hot summer.

Buy from : Amazon
FB : JivaVrksa

Why i liked the products:

Simple and effective ingredients.
100% Natural, cruelty free and eco-friendly
Doesn’t have strong herbal smell
Gentle but effective
Affordable and easily available
Unlike soaps this doesn’t dry out the skin.Also the slight grittiness sloughs away all the dirt and not just the oil
Balances skin
Removes tan

Since the products are free from preservatives, I advice you to keep it in an airtight container if kept in bathroom. Also use dry spoon to scoop out the products.
The hairwash and face mask review will be up soon.

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Cost effective natural lip tint with kitchen ingredients

All of you who follow my instagram page might be curious about the ‘guess what’ picture I posted yesterday. So here is what it is. It is a homemade skin balm for soft, supple and glowing skin. This can also be used as a lip and cheek tint for that natural subtle tint. This is easy to make, costs almost nothing and is very beneficial to the skin.


Ingredients needed :

1. Half of a small organic beetroot
2. Virgin coconut oil/Olive oil/ Ghee
3. Hot water in a bowl

This is a very versatile balm and you can add lemon juice, carrot juice, castor oil, honey etc in it for extra benefits.
My preparation has beetroot extract, virgin coconut oil (home made) and castor oil. I made the coconut oil at home, from left over coconut milk. Let me know if you would like the recipe.

Method to prepare the balm:

1. Grate the beetroot with a grater. You can also grind the beetroot in a foodprocessor, till there is a visible watery residue.

2. Strain the juice of grated beetroot by pressing it with a spoon.Make sure there are no bits and pieces of beetroot. Don’t add water to it. We only need the quantity we get from half a beetroot as we have to use this within 2 weeks and not let it go stale.

3. Now is the time to add virgin coconut oil/olive oil/ghee to the beet extract. Depending on your skin type and preference you can add any of these. You should add quarter to half tsp of the oil. It would be easier to add less at first and then increase the quantity depending on the consistency. Too much oil will make the tint sheer.

I transferred the beetroot juice to a small steel bowl, added quarter tsp of coconut oil (which was refrigerated and had hence solidified) and a few drops of organic castor oil from Juicy Chemistry. Castor oil is a thick oil which helps in moisturizing the dry lips. You can skip coconut oil and add olive oil or ghee instead. You can skip castor oil as well and add honey at the last step instead.

4. The balm is still a liquid. If you keep this mix in refrigerator at this point, the oil will separate and form a solid layer on top of liquid beet juice.

Inorder to make it thick and ‘balmy’, dip the smaller bowl with the mix, to a larger bowl of boiling hot water. You can boil the water and just take it out of stove for this step.It just need to be really hot. With a spoon or a whisk(makes the job easier), beat or whisk the liquid mix very fast. Now the continuous fast whisking on a hot water bath will make the mix to thicken and become the consistency we need. If liquidy you can add more coconut oil to it and repeat the process. You have to fast whisk it for atleast 15-20min for it to reach the right consistency.

Now since Iam quite lazy, I whisked it for around 10min. I got a slightly thicker consistency.

5. Once the mix cools down you can add few drops of lime juice or honey for that extra benefit. I transferred it to an empty lipbalm case. Now refrigerate the mix for it to set and solidify. Since there are no preservatives in this balm you need to refrigerate it to make it last longer.



How to use:

1. As a lipbalm : Just dab a little bit of the mix on your lips. It will give you that just smitten tint initially which oxidizes in a while to give a deeper tint.
When used regularly, this balm helps to reduce the pigmentation on lips. It also moisturizes the lips and makes it soft and supple.

2. As a face massage balm : Please do a patch test if you have sensitive skin. Take a small quantity of the balm and massage it well on cleansed face. Use circular upward motion to massage. Do this until the balm is absorbed on skin. Wipe off the excess with a warm face towel. Your skin will feel baby soft with a subtle glow. Do this regularly for lightening blemishes and dark spots.This is suitable for all skin types. I have combination skin and it did not cause any break outs. Just use a small quantity.

3. As a cheek tint : Dab a small quantity on your cheeks for that natural rosy cheeks.

4. As a lip scrub : Mix the balm with cane sugar/salt to form all natural lipscrub. Massage it gently on flaky lips to make it smooth and plump.

I used all organic ingredients as it is a face product.

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