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Monday, March 18, 2019

CBD Living Water: Product Review


You can find water these days infused with just about anything from vitamins to protein, so I guess its no surprise you can now get CBD infused water. Or perhaps its more appropriate to say cannabis is turning up in everything from gummy bears to beer, so why not water? Now that cannabis is legal in Canada, the country is going crazy for any and all cannabis products.

What is CBD? It is one of the chemicals found in cannabis, like THC. Unlike THC, however, CBD does not cause a high or intoxication. But it is used for a number of therapeutic purposes.

I actually got a prescription from my doctor for CBD oil for my migraines. But it doesn't work for me (so far NOTHING works for my migraines). Aside from pain, CBD  is used stiffness, inflammation, for various dermatological conditions, and anxiety reduction. There is research being done to explore its potential benefits for diabetes control and cancer prevention and treatment as well.

CBD Living Water  is made by CBD Living, producer of all things CBD. According to the company:

CBD Living Water is made using nanotechnology, in which tiny nano-sized CBD molecules are infused in approximately 9+ pH water. This production method ensures the highest bioavailability on the market and easy absorption into the body.
CBD Living Water helps the consumer maintain homeostasis in the endocannabinoid system. The CBD infused into our water acts on CB1 and CB2 receptors to reduce pain and inflammation, decrease stress and anxiety and improve mood. 
The CBD they use is 100% and a 17 ounce bottle is $5.99US.

So, what does it taste like? Very much like water. How did it make me feel? Very hydrated.

But few substances have a strong effect on me (THC is another story, it makes me freakin' paranoid!). I cannot say I noticed feeling any more relaxed than usual but then again this past week has been extremely stressful, so it is possible I might have felt more stressed had I not been guzzling 2 of these suckers a day.

There are a few things that are potential issues with CBD Livng Water. The first is it comes in plastic bottles, which I think we all know is pretty terrible for the environment. Second, it costs $5.99 a bottle! Of course, most CBD products are extraordinarily expensive, so this is no surprise.

So do I recommend CBD Living Water? Hey, if you have the cash for it, and will donate the same amount to an environmental protection agency, and feel you get a big benefit from it, well go for it. As for me, I will go back to my tap water and Sodastream.

The company's CBD infused chocolate, however, looks delicious!

Disclosure: I was sent the water to review by the company, but all opinions on this blog are my own.




Monday, March 11, 2019

Aleva Naturals: Product Review


As consumers become more aware of the potential harm of standard cleaning products to our health and to the environment, the demand for better options is growing.

We purchase mostly green and non-toxic products and our cleaning service that comes every other week use mostly vinegar and baking soda.

Parents, in particular, are usually concerned about the cleaning and self-care products in their homes because of how it may affect their children (who tend to crawl all over, touch everything and eat off the floor!). Strong scents and toxic fumes are also things people generally want to avoid.

Recently, I was sent a number of products from Aleva Naturals to try. All of their products are non-toxic, vegan, organic and cruelty-free.

Aleva Naturals produces baby care products, baby-safe household cleaners, and maternal care products. They sent me their Bottle & Dish Liquid in Water Lily scent, their fragrance-free Multi Surface Spray, Foaming Hand Wash in Water Lily scent, and their Stain & Laundry bar.

The Bottle & Dish Liquid is a pump, which was a first for us. I can see how this is useful for bottles, and I did like that I could pump it right into our dish brush, but Adam found it a pain. He didn't like that it required 2 hands, nor did he find it was good and producing suds.

The Multi Purpose Spray works great for kitchen clean up, however, I prefer products with nice scents. For anyone with sensitivities to fragrances, this is a perfect option.

I usually don't like foaming soap, but the Aleva one was pretty good. I liked the soft Water Lily scent. Big A loved this soap! She declared it the best soap ever and asked me to get it again. I was pleased that Little A was less tempted to waste it compared to when we have liquid soap. She loves to watch the soap drip off her hands into the sink, for some reason, which makes me crazy.

I only got one chance to try the stain bar, after Little A got slime all over her favorite sweater and it left a whole lot of stains. I rubbed it with the bar before throwing it into the wash. It got most of it off, but we still had to throw it in for a second wash to get all the slime stains off it (why are kids so obsessed with slime these days??).

So do I recommend Aleva Naturals? The Multi Purpose Spray and Hand Soap are definitely winners, If you have anyone in your family with allergies, eczema and/or sensitivities, than you will love all of the companies products. The trade off for less sudsy dish soap, in that case, is probably worth it!

Disclosure: The company sent me the products to review but all opinions on this blog are my own.


Monday, March 4, 2019

The BUILD Framework: Book Review


I have to admit, I do love self-help books. Some (like anything written by Brene Brown) are freakin' awesome. Others can be absolute garbage and time wasted that you will never get back. But I am always open to giving books a chance.

Recently I was sent The BUILD Framework: A Heart-Based System for Personal and Professional Growth written by high performance coach, John Peitzman.

The book promises to get you from "Struggleville," which seems to mean that your life is out of balance and you are feeling unfulfilled and burning out personally and professionally, to "Smooth Sailing," or lasting success and happiness.

The BUILD Framework® is a strategy for personal transformation. BUILD is an acronym that stands for:

Build Relationships
Understand the Business
Implement Strategies
Lead and Inspire
Deliver Excellence

BUILD in practice involves "centrifugal looping". This means you don't just move from B to U to I to L to D and then you are done. Instead the pattern involves continuously going back to the beginning as you progress through the steps:

BU
BUI
BUIL
BUILD

Peitzman says everything in this process has to be done from the heart. You have to "feel" it. I think he is saying you have to be your authentic self and build a business and life that truly resonates with your personal values.

There is a section for every letter in BUILD and includes an Action Benefit Challenge at the end of the chapter to help you implement the concept.

Peitzman claims that you have to lead by leading, not by pulling other people along. I am guessing he means you have to truly inspire people to want to help you realize your vision. But frankly, this is far too vague to really be useful advice. It can be interpreted a myriad of ways and one thing that is a huge problem in organizations (not just corporate ones) is that there are tons of terrible 'leaders' who just bully and intimidate to get people to do things.

The argument about the importance of building relationships and a strong network is solid. Having connections helps in every facet of life.That being said, introverts will have a very difficult time putting this into practice since he suggests initiating calls and meetings and taking responsibility for keeping the relationship going. A lot of people will need coaching just on how they can build the confidence to do this.

Understand the business is also sound advice. As a former researcher, I am always keen on doing the homework. Peitzman says, Be Curious; Know What You Don't Know; and, Ask Questions and Listen With Your Heart.

Implement is to get you off your butt and not wait to apply what you have learned.

Once strategies have been implemented, that's when you focus on leading. When Peitzman starts to get deeper into this he does address the fact that some people at the top of organizations have egos which create a poor work environment. He advises you to demonstrate and embody the behaviour, thinking, and attitudes you want in your team members. The problem here is that sociopaths and narcissists (over-represented in positions of power) will not see themselves as egotistical or abusive, they do not have the capacity for that type of self-reflection. Even leaders who may not be quite as maniacal, lead through intimidation due to insecurity or simply a complete lack of knowledge around management. Those people may see their weaknesses but not have the skills to work on them.

Frankly, I believe ANYONE who is going to be in a leadership position, must first have to take a series of personality tests (to weed out the psychopaths!) and extensive training FIRST.

Delivering excellence meaning providing not only an exceptional product but also a superior customer experience. I cannot argue with this! The book, however, does not provide a lot of specifics around how you do this aside from not cutting corners and attending to the needs of your team so that they can perform optimally.

Well, that's the book. To me, it is useful as a starting point for someone looking to launch a business or new career, or make a change in their life, but it is not enough to make this happen on its own. Yet, I think this may be the point. I thought maybe there would be more resources for readers on the website but everything, even the blog, provides limited information and seems like just another way to convince you to buy more (the course, the coaching, etc.).

Do I recommend this book? Maybe? Again, it may be helpful if you are completely new to all this personal growth/professional development, but I highly doubt the book alone is going to transform your life.

Disclosure: I was sent this book to review, but all opinions on this blog are my own.

Monday, February 25, 2019

The Most Comfortable Bra Ever


If you have boobs, you know how annoying it can be to be wearing an ill-fitting and/or uncomfortable bra.

You would think it isn't that hard to find a good bra, but it definitely can be. Partly because there are a lot of bad bras out there, partly because every woman's body is different, and partly because women's bodies change so much over their lifetime.

Since having my children, my bra size has changed countless times. Now I find my bra size changes each month depending on where I am in my menstrual cycle!

Its very irritating and distracting to have a bra strap falling down, or something digging into your rib cage.

I went to one of the fancy bra stores in our neighbourhood and I tried on a crazy comfortable bra. But when I saw the $200 price tag, I got my ass out of there. Considering I would need several to get me through between washes, and ideally a couple different colours, that was just not happening.

Poor Big A also has a tough time. She is bigger than me (in all dimensions) and is extremely athletic. It drives her crazy to not have a good bra on and she seems to wear them out quickly.

Given the stellar reputation of Knix, the Canadian company that makes period proof underwear, and now bras, I decided to take a chance and order from them. Best decision ever!!

I ordered Big A a sports bra and regular Evolution model bra and ordered myself 2 of the padded Evolution bras. I also got big A some of the underwear. We are both thrilled with everything we received. The Evolution bras have detachable, adjustable straps and a second set up straps in a different colour. Each bra has a different colour on each side and can be worn either way (i.e. there is no inside out). They are smooth, seamless, wireless, fit like a glove, and SO SO comfortable.

Hallelujah!

Monday, February 11, 2019

Heart Healthy Snacking: Product Review

FEBRUARY IS HEART HEALTH MONTH! Time to think about taking care of your ticker and those of your loved ones.

I am always trying to get my husband and kids to get excited about healthy food. Its often hit or miss. Most times Adam will like something if there is at least some meat in it, or chocolate (for desserts, of course). With the kids, its pretty unpredictable.

Anything individually packaged, though horrible for the environment, seems to be more appealing to the girls, for some reason. So I was happy to receive some heart healthy samples to try.

I was sent the following:

Ceres Fruit Smoothies To Go (3 flavours)


The minute I opening the box, the girls snatched up the smoothies. They were a bit hit. The girls guzzled them in seconds. I like that they have no added sugar, but they aren't that smoothie like, in my opinion, as I usually think of smoothies as having added protein and other nutrients. But I have no big issue with them eating pureed fruit. Especially when its organic.

On The Go Snacks Edamame Fusion Snacks



Big A is not a big dried fruit eater, so she didn't touch these. Little A loves this type of thing, though she doesn't like roasted edamame. So she dumped out the contents and just picked out all the edamame.

Adam dumped a pouch on his salad one evening (he usually has nuts, seeds and dried fruit he adds anyways), and he liked it. He really liked the additional protein the edamame adds.

Neither of us were thrilled that all the dried fruit is sweetened though. But only 140 calories and 9g protein per pack!

Simply Delish chocolate pudding mix

I have bought the girls Simply delish vanilla pudding and their jelly dessert before but never the chocolate. I made it with some unsweetened soy milk I had lying around and they LOVED it. I love that it takes just minutes to make and these products are all made with stevia and erythritol instead of sugar. We will continue to buy this stuff because the girls really love it and consider it a big treat.

The pudding was the clear winner in terms of everyone's preference, but also I like that it is not in an individual serving...cause better for the environment!

Eating healthy can be enjoyable, there are so many options out there now that are better for you and really yummy.


Monday, February 4, 2019

Spiral Nutrition: Product Review


There seems to be an ever growing list of so-called 'superfoods'. Some health experts cringe at the label as they think its a marketing gimmick, but the word does now exist in the dictionary and is defined as:

...a food (such as salmon, broccoli, or blueberries) that is rich in compounds (such as antioxidants, fiber, or fatty acids) considered beneficial to a person's health.
So there are such things as superfoods, but they are not just uber expensive, specialty foods like acai, goji berries, and wheat grass juice.

One superfood that has been around for a while is spirulina. In case you don't know, spirulina is blue green algae. Mmm! I remember my brother adding it to his smoothies 20 years ago, which is why I say its been around for a while. Its been available in health food stores here in North America for a long time.

What makes spirulina a superfood? Spirulina is is a rich plant source of numerous essential nutrients, particularly protein, B vitamins (thiamin and riboflavin), and dietary minerals, such as iron and manganese, as well as fatty acids, gamma-linolenic acid, alpha-linolenic acid, linoleic acid, stearidonic acid, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), and arachidonic acid.

I have never actually purchased spirulina. I can't say why, except maybe its because I don't consume smoothies, and never thought about how else you might use it. So when Spiral Nutrition offered to send me their products to sample, I was curious and eager to give them a try.

They sent me all their products:

Spirulina Maxima 500 Balls (pills)
Spirulina Maxima powder
Spirulina Maxima Cocoa Blend powder (has cocoa and oat fibre added)

The company, based in Chile, provides the following description of their product, and what makes it superior to other spirulina:
Most of the Spirulina in the World is Spirulina platensis, which is not as complete as Spirulina Maxima in terms of content of protein, clorophyl and phycocyanin.

One size of Spirulina Maxima on daily basis provides nutrients, including B complex vitamins, beta-carotene, vitamin E, manganese, zinc, copper, iron, selenium, and gamma linolenic acid (an essential fatty acid). Furthermore is the source of the easiest digestible natural protein. 

We are privileged located at the Heart of Atacama Desert, one of the most pristine places on earth. That place is called La Pampa del Tamarugal; it is a huge valley surrounded by the Cordillera de los Andes by one side, and the Cordillera de la Costa from the other. So the most pure water comes all the way from the top of these mountains to our facility. And this is where our Spirulina grows, not only in the purest water, but also in the purest land.

It is important to mention that the Sun at the Atacama Desert is always illuminating. La Pampa del Tamarugal is a place free of rain and it is very hard to find a cloud day. That helps in a very unique way the Spirulina to grow, because it receives all its energy from sun Light.

Also the air is very important, because Spirulina turns CO2 into oxygen. In a place like ours CO2 comes only from trees and other plants that habit there, it is very pure, and that helps Spirulina to be of the highest quality.

The last issue is concerned to the purity of water. In some cases when Spirulina grows in polluted water, with heavy metals, it attracts all the dirt and the heavy metals. That way our Spirulina is always free from heavy metals and other toxins. In some farms for example, Spirulina is often polluted with bacteria and that is why they need to irradiate the product. The process of irradiation affects Spirulina a lot.
The company apparently uses ecofriendly for production and manufacturing and solar-power. The product is certified organic, Kosher, and non-GMO.

There is a lot of research backing up the nutrition provided by spirulina, but not much showing a direct link between consumption and health benefits. But I suspect this is the case with most superfoods on the market.

Adam, the smoothie eater (drinker?) tried them all in his breakfast smoothies.  I was a bit worried he wouldn't like them as, particularly the Maxima powder, has a fishy smell. But he didn't notice any change in taste or smell of his smoothies. The only let down was the balls as they say they can be added to food, but they just stayed whole even after a long whirl in our Vitamix. Maybe better in hot liquids like soups where they will dissolve? You can also swallow or chew them like a supplement.

I have been adding the Maxima powder to my yogurt, fruit and oat bowls when I make them. I don't detect any taste at all and I like knowing I am getting an adding whack of nutrients.

I also added some to a Shirataki noodle stir-fry I made and similarly didn't find it affected the flavour. You can use the Cocoa Blend powder to bake with, so I plan to throw some in next time I make muffins or cookies.

You can purchase the products on their website for $30/half pound bag, which is pretty good since you only need a tsp a day, max.

Do I recommend these products? Absolutely. They are a great way to add plant protein and fatty acids to your diet, so particularly great for vegetarians/vegans.

Disclosure: I was sent the products to review but all opinions on this blog are my own.


Monday, January 28, 2019

Liv B's Vegan on a Budget: Book Review


One of the things that makes me reluctant to go all in with my own food company is that the wellness/nutrition industry is incredibly elitist. Whether you choose products for health, nutrition or for environmental awareness, you are going to have to pay a premium. That's why there is such a strong relationship between health and socioeconomic status!

So I was thrilled to be offered the chance to review Liv B's Vegan on a Budget cookbook.

Who is Liv B? Honestly, I had never heard of her (aka Olivia Biermann) before now. Perhaps that is because I am not vegan, though I suspect it has more to do with the fact that she is a Youtube star and I don't watch Youtube. In any case, turns out she is a 24-year-old (a baby!) with a huge following already.

I have written before about how to eat healthy on a budget, but I was curious to see what Liv's take on it is for eating vegan.

The book is packed with 112 recipes divided into chapters including:

  • Staples & Sauces
  • Breakfast & Brunch
  • Snacks & Small Bites
  • Soups & Sides
  • Sandwiches, Wraps & Salads
  • Mains
  • Sweets
The book has 2 pages at the beginning with tips on how to be vegan on a budget: 
  • Cook at home
  • Buy in bulk
  • Make recipes that use similar ingredients
  • Use leftovers
It also provides a list of things to stock your kitchen with in terms of tools and pantry staples, etc.

Unfortunately, these tips can be said to be useful for eating ANY way on a budget. In addition, there is no other mention of cost or budgeting anywhere in the book.

Each recipe has a beautiful photo included, along with tips. number of servings and cooking/prep time.

Honestly, I found the book extremely disappointing. Liv doesn't say how each recipe is cost-effective and I didn't find a single recipe to be particularly unique. I've seen many variations of each one a hundred times. In the Sweets section, she has a recipe that requires fresh strawberries and not a single mention of how to buy them on a budget (only when in season!).

Also, many are far from healthy. Remember vegan doesn't mean healthy! She uses white flour and sugar (organic cane sugar is just friggin' sugar) in many recipes when there are far more nutritious alternatives. Really, not a single recipe particularly caught my interest.

So do I recommend this book? Only if you are looking for fairly simple vegan recipes with pretty pictures.

Disclosure: I was sent the book to review but all opinions on this blog are my own.