Fatherly Love and Female Responsibility: If you feel this photo is heartwarming, what are you willing to do to get it?

We live in a world full of blame and shame when it comes to parenting and fatherhood. It’s not uncommon to hear women complain about absentee fathers and dead beat dads, even though, wonderful, loving, responsible and attentive fathers, can be found everywhere. We need to praise and acknowledge these men on “Daddy’s Day” (That’s a Blackish reference, if you caught it!), and let them know that we appreciate the impact that good men and fathers have on us, and our children.

The difficult truth, is that women are often to blame for introducing poor fathers into children’s lives. We choose the men that become our children’s fathers, and, ideally, our husbands. We have the choice to continue our pregnancies, or to terminate them. We know the circumstances in which our children will be born. We know if we’re mentally, emotionally and financially able to support another life, and, if not, we know that we’re placing our children at a huge disadvantage that will affect them for a lifetime. We know in our heart of hearts, that if a man doesn’t commit to us, he’s also not ensuring a commitment to our shared child. Women, particularly, Black women, make it too easy for men to walk. We are not as discerning as we need to be in choosing fathers, which create strong families for us, our children and communities. We seem to settle for so very little.  Federal data states that 72% of Black children are born out of wedlock, so that says something about our choices as women. This open letter to Black women isn’t about shame, but one of empowerment. The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world. We have the power to choose great men, husbands, and fathers, which contributes to the development of happy, healthy, stable kids.  It’s our responsibility to make better choices, and to honor the “good guys” on Father’s Day, and every day, who satisfy the high standards that we need to set for ourselves and our children. So, cheers to the great fathers that love, respect, and protect their families around the world; and the smart women who have chosen them.

Happy “Daddy’s Day”

Almond Joy

It’s no secret that almond milk has long been THE plant-based beverage du jour. Its flavor is mild, nutty, versatile and pleasing, although, oat milk is beginning to give it a run for its money. The health benefits of almond milk are undeniable, and it’s a wonderful alternative to dairy, which is good news for African-Americans, who suffer disproportionately with lactose intolerance. Although, almond milk is readily available in almost every grocery store, I prefer to make my own at home. Why, you ask? Well, the answer is so that I can control the purity, taste and thickness of the final product. The percentage of almonds used in production, is one of the most important variables that I want to control, because it’s responsible for the thickness, creaminess, taste and mouthfeel of the milk. Almonds are expensive to produce, which is why most almond milk manufacturers include 2% or fewer almonds, resulting in an unnecessarily thin and watery product. They compensate for the thinness of the product, by adding fillers and binders. Whatever your personal preference, making nut milks is simple and fun to do. Once you’ve made one batch, you’ll find that it’s easy to adjust it to your personal taste.

Here’s an easy recipe to try at home:

  • 1 cup whole raw almonds, soaked 8 hours, rinsed and drained
  • 2-3 cups water
  • 1-3 pitted Medjool dates
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Dash of cinnamon (optional)

Directions

Combine all ingredients in an high-speed blender and process until smooth.

Separate the milk from the pulp by squeezing the mixture through a milk bag. Compost the pulp or reuse it as a flour substitute. I give mine to my chickens!

Serve chilled. Stored in a sealed glass jar in the refrigerator. Almond milk will keep for up to 4 days.

Note: Once you’ve made 1-2 batches, you’ll have a better sense of your personal preference. Do you prefer it sweeter? Add more seedless dates? Does it taste too one-dimensional in flavor? Maybe you should add a pinch of salt or nutmeg. It’s your party, so celebrate your creamy, white mustache in your own, unique way.

60 Activities and Boredom Busters for 2018. Who Knows? You Might Discover Your Next Side Gig!

Embrace nature!

With the start of the new year, comes 365 novel ways that you can spend your time exploring new horizons. January is not only a great time to assess your life; but it’s also a wonderful time to reach for new goals, develop new skills, and expand your financial possibilities. We’ve listed 60 fun activities and hobbies that might stimulate new interests, or lead to an unexpected business or even supplemental income. Alright, ladies, let’s do this in 2018!

  1.  Start a garden
  2. Coach a kids sports team
  3. Gather friends to play good ol’ fashioned board games
  4. Create a wine tasting club
  5. Take an art class
  6. Learn a new language
  7. Enjoy nature and join a birdwatching club
  8. Start scrapbooking
  9. Practice yoga
  10. Join a cool and obscure local Meet Up
  11. Become a tutor
  12. Create a YouTube channel (focus on your passion!)
  13. Learn sign language
  14. Make a beautiful, Pinterest-worthy display of your favorite collectibles within your home
  15. Take a Toastmasters class
  16. Start a monthly conversational salon
  17. Volunteer on Volunteermatch.com
  18. Make jewelry
  19. Bake dog biscuits for your favorite pooch
  20. Teach a youngster how to cook
  21. Assess your career and update your career skills
  22. Go camping
  23. Build your own coop and raise chickens
  24. Take a DNA test and document your family tree
  25. Monetize something you know how to do
  26.  Try carpentry
  27. Take an art appreciation class
  28. Make sushi and host a monthly sushi party
  29. Try your hand at investing. Motif is a great place to start
  30. Become a park volunteer
  31. Create a podcast
  32. Take archery
  33. Learn to sew your clothes
  34. Write a short story
  35. Join a running club
  36. Start knitting
  37. Meditate. Meditate. Meditate. Ommmm
  38. Take a cooking class
  39. Learn a new technology
  40. Start a pressed juice co-op
  41. Host a formal tea for you and your friends
  42. Create sachets of potpourri (give them as gifts)
  43. Learn to make homebrewed beer
  44. Volunteer on a farm
  45. Help build a tiny house
  46. Take an online photography class
  47. Join a supper club
  48. Make fresh baby food for your child
  49. Make natural, gentle (beautiful-smelling) soap
  50. Learn how to reupholster furniture
  51. Take a flower arranging class
  52. Learn how to make homemade jellies and jams (and sell them!)
  53. Make a terrarium
  54. Start a blog
  55. Create a conversational salon.
  56. Invite friends to a monthly board game night
  57. Create and distribute natural bird feeders
  58. Play a game of foosball
  59. Volunteer at a local soup kitchen
  60. Make a bird feeder

Cherry Bomb: [STUDY] Tart Cherry Powder Enhances Athletic Performance & Recovery in Runners

cherries

We’ve always known that cherries are nature’s sweet and tart little teardrops. They contain antioxidants and are also high in vitamin C, fiber, carotenoids and anthocyanins, which have a myriad of biomedicinal properties that may aid in cancer prevention. They are also thought to increase melatonin levels, which helps improve sleep. What we haven’t appreciated about our ruby fruit drops, is that dried tart cherry skin powder has been proven to enhance athletic performance in endurance runners, as evidenced by a study by Texas A&M University. University scientists determined that 480 mg daily doses of freeze dried Montmorency tart cherry skin powder supplements improved running times, decreased inflammation and increased immunity and muscle metabolism in the athletes who participated in the study.

The researchers noted that “the findings of the current study revealed that consumption of a Montmorency powdered tart cherry supplement 7-d before, the day of, and 2-d after completing an endurance running challenge, appears to be an effective dietary supplement that may help attenuate post-run markers of muscle catabolism and physiological stress in aerobically trained individuals.”

Well, we think that anything naturally occurring that can improve health, athletic endurance and recovery is a cherry on top and worth investigating. Team Stella is interested in trying this and reporting our non-scientific results. What are your thoughts about tart cherry supplementation? Have you tried it? Give us your thoughts in the comment section below!

Delish and Nutrish…Why Avocado Toast is the Ultimate Can’t Fail Meal

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I like to start trends, not ride them, so surfing popularity waves isn’t really my thing. One recent exception, however, is avocado toast! Although, it’s been the culinary rage for quite some time; it’s for good reason. It’s fast and easy to make, delicious, versatile and nutritious. The key is to purchase high-quality levain bread baked at your local bakery (if you can get it) and ripe, tasty avocados. Although, avocados are available year-round and nationwide due to the influx of Mexican imports; there is an ideal time to get more flavorful avocados, with a less mild and “watered down” taste. California avocados (Haas are recommended), are in season February-September, with their peak occurring in the warm summer months. Get them at the height of the season and when their prices have dropped substantially. Also, when you make your super simple avocado toast, be sure to experiment with different toppings. I sometimes drizzle spicy, infused olive oil on top or thinly sliced radishes and sprouts with a sprinkle of the popular season blend, Spike. I also like to make pesto “smavocado” i.e “smashed avocado”, by adding fresh pesto (often purchased in the cold case at Trader Joe’s) to my avocado mixture. Avocado toast is so simple to make, it seems futile to include a recipe, but here’s some preparation guidelines to help get you started:

Ingredients/Directions

  • Toast fresh levain bread (brush olive oil and rub fresh garlic on toasted bread)
  • Coursely smash ripe avocados (add lime juice, celtic sea salt, pepper to taste)
  • Spread avocado on toast and top with marash pepper (optional)
  • Top with any variation of yummy: sliced radishes, sprouts, green onions, red onion, microgreens

I like to add a sliced soft boiled egg with aioli topped with anchovies as a side dish. A short cut when making aioli is mixing mayo with horseradish and placing an anchovy on top, to add that unmistakable umami and briny note to your snack, brunch or dinner.

Enjoy!

 

Friends With Benefits: Ten Fun and Low Cost Ways To Spend Time with Your Crew

Grown with our own hands...

It doesn’t take a lot of money or resources to hang out with your friends. All it takes is some time, a cool group of friends and some creativity. In the spirit of friendship, and to promote personal balance by prioritizing things that really matter (Ahem….that would be people over work); we’re offering ideas for twenty fun things that you can do with your homies. If you have other good ideas, feel free to suggest them in the comments section below.

Volunteer Together – Want to make a difference in the world? Have a passion cause that you’d like to support? Interested in volunteering for just a day or for an ongoing basis? Try volunteermatch.com. It will match you to volunteer opportunities based on your location, interest area, age (adults, teens, kids) or any other perameters you choose. Our crew recently picked invasive weeds from a park forest, picked fruits from neighborhood trees to redistribute to the hungry and worked at a local Food Bank.

Go to a Concert in the Park – Most towns in the good ol’ USA, host summer concerts in the park, and a lot of the local entertainment is really good! If you live in or near a major city, like San Francisco or New York, your summer concert series will most likely feature at least a few major headliners, but don’t sleep on the local talent or cover bands play. I’ve seen Janelle Monae and George Clinton & The Funkadelics perform for free in San Francisco and 80’s rock and Michael Jackson/Earth, Wind & Fire cover bands kill in the burbs. Mind blown! Let your city pick up the tab. You and your friends can handle the drinks and picnic basket.

Play Boardgames – Boardgames are fun, fun, fun! Yes, there’s a place for multi-player video games, but there’s nothing like smack talkin’ over a strategic game with a bunch of friends and snacks. We’re big fans of TableTop, the online show by Geek & Sundry. There’s a place for “mainstream” games that you’ll easily find at Target, but we suggest some of the most fun and highly-rated here for starters: Otrio Sheriff of NottinghamBang!, DimensionForbidden Desert DixitSmash Up , King of TokyoQuoridor & Ticket To Ride to get you started.

Organize a Game of Bocce Ball (Don’t forget the Italian vino, salumi & formaggi) – There are plenty of parks that have their own bocce ball courts. If you’re not familiar with the game, don’t let that deter you! It’s similar to the French game, Pétanque. It’s simple to play and fun for all ages. If you’re really a baller, I suggest installing a court in your backyard.

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Find a Road Less Traveled & Ride Bicycles –  Riding bikes never gets old, and finding a beautiful trail to chat and get exercise with friends is a great way to spend a beautiful afternoon. Bike in your neighborhood or find a well-reviewed trailhead (Yep, most trails are reviewed – even on Yelp! – so other visitors will tell you whether or not they’re paved, safe for children or their proximity to a local cafe.)

Host a Potluck and TV Season Premiere Party – There’s nothing more agonizing then when your favorite show is on hiatus. It gives us something to look forward to every week, for goodness sake! The good news is that when your shows come back on, it’s like a Hollywood premiere in your house. There’s no reason to revel in the fun and excitement alone. Invite some friends over for a viewing party and a potluck for some grub. House of Cards, Game of Thrones, Blackish, I’m waiting…

Dress Up and Go to a Play – It feels good to do something entertaining and cultural, especially, when you look good doing it! Grab dinner, enjoy a drink, go out with a few girlfriends and turn some heads.

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Upcycle Your Clothes & Shop Vintage –  Some people don’t find shopping with friends fun, but fashionistas, do! Go to some of the great boutiques in your town known for their high quality and unique selection of previously owned designer duds, and get yourselves something fabulous. Bring your clothes to trade-in or sell to offset the cost and walk away with a steal…or a stole, depending on your taste.

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Organize and start a letter writing campaign – Not happy with the outcome of the current election? Worried about the environment? Women’s productive rights? Climate change? The portrayal of African American Women in the media (If so, hit us up about that one) Stop bitching on Facebook, the world’s favorite echo-chamber, and do something.

Unrecognizable person writing on a piece of paper.

Take a Kayaking Lesson – It’s fun, peaceful and great exercise. Paddle by yourself or go doubles with a friend. Just do it!

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All in Favor, Say “Eye!”

GETTING SUNBURN OF THE EYE IS EASIER THAN YOU THINK. HERE ARE SOME HELPFUL TIPS SO THAT YOU DON’T “BURN, BABY, BURN,” THIS SUMMER

Tropical summer holiday fashion concept

Spring is finally here, which means the long-awaited bright, sunny days of summer are upon us. While we’re all rejoicing, stripping off a few layers and basking in nature’s glow; we have to remember to protect not just our delicate skin, but also our eyes. Although, our melanin protects our skin from sun damage better than other racial groups, our eyes are just as vulnerable as everyone else’s to damage. If you don’t take extra precautions to shield your eyes from harmful UV rays, there are a myriad of ways you can do both temporary and irreversible damage. One such way is via photokeratitus, which is basically a sunburn to the cornea of the eye and is also known as snowblindness.  The name is a bit of a misnomer, because high altitude UV rays bouncing off of snow isn’t the only way you can harm your eyes. Natural and artificial light and tanning lamps are also common ways. Here are some quick tips to help prevent UV light damage:

  1. Wear sunglasses labeled “100% UV protection”. These are lenses that block both UV-A and UV-B rays and are labeled either UV400 or 100% UV protection.
  2. Wear wide brimmed hats – They’ll provide a larger canopy around your head which will better shield you from the sun
  3. Choose wrap-around shades (if that’s your thing), so that you can block the sun’s rays from infiltrating from the side
  4. Choose UV-blocking contact lenses in addition to the other barrier precautions. Sounds trivial, but every bit helps

Other Tips and Information:

  • Clouds don’t block the sun’s U rays – so don’t let grey skies be your guide
  • Your altitude and the time of day matters – High altitudes and the sun’s reflection off of water, ice or snow increases its intensity. Also, the sun is the strongest in the middle of the day to early afternoon, so swimming in the glistening pool in the height of the sun’s rays, creates the perfect condition for sun damage if you’re not careful. Some symptoms to watch:
  • Red eyes
  • Eye pain
  • Burning eyes
  • Little white spots on your cornea
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Headaches
  • Halo around lights
  • Reduced vision
  • Swollen eyes and/or eye lids

The most affordable place to purchase prescription and non-prescription glasses, and a variety of lens types, is EyeBuyDirect. The company sells high-quality, fashion-forward frames at insanely low prices due to their streamlined business model, enabling them to sell high end frames for as low as…..get this… six ($6) dollars! They’re highly recommended, and their price point will allow you to collect fashion eyeglass collection to match any look or mood without breaking the bank.

It’s a Wrap!

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I’ve always appreciated the beauty of a colorful wrap, scarf or turban, but the look never represented my personal style. I was much more simple, minimalist and unassuming in my tastes. Wraps always appeared to say, “Look at me!”, not dissimilar to someone wearing some cool as hell sunglasses that I’d be way too shy or insecure to wear with any confidence that people would credibly believe. I always associated them with African culture, celebrities or bad hair days, which is a very limiting way of thinking, any way you look at it. For me, the most daring head gear that I would rock was a baseball cap, which I always wore on my daily runs; and maybe the rare knit cap on particularly cold winter days. I live in warm climes, so really cold days are far and few between. Things changed a few years ago, however, when I became a card carrying natural curly girl. My hair no longer fit under baseball caps, so I had to find other solutions to absorb the salty sweat from my runs…or was that the salty taste of my tears of determination? What originally made me look cool and athletic, was now making me look like Ronald McDonald. My hair began to stick out on all sides of my baseball caps, making me look like a clown in search of a child’s birthday party. Trust me when I say, it wasn’t cool and it definitely wasn’t cute.

I also found that I loved my big, full, curly locks, and it was surprisingly super easy to manage, but sometimes I felt like my hair was just too much. It’s like when an incredibly curvaceous and attractive women dresses for work and dons a pair of nerdy glasses and ties her hair up in an understated bun because mama knows what she’s really working with, and, self-admittedly, it’s a lot. Sometimes I wanted to just tame the wild mane on my head with a more subdued, controlled look and I found that silk scarves corralled my hair, yet also let my coily tendrils freely escape. It was just the right amount of “Martha’s Vineyard meets Harlem”. John F. Kennedy’s mistakenly once said that the Mandarin word Weiji meant the word crisis, which he said stood for both “danger” and “opportunity.” It turned out to be a flawed definition and interpretation, but let’s go with it right now. It was dangerous if I let my hair go every day, and I had the opportunity to control it. In any event, I began to experiment with beautiful, silk, patterned scarves. I purchased mod and geometric designs, 50’s-60’s inspired florals and designer inspired, Chanel and Versace knock-offs. My scarves began to integrate seamlessly with my outfits and became the center pieces of my unique, über-stylish looks. Those over-sized, designer glasses worn by Sophia Loren, Audrey Hepburn and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, suddenly didn’t seem so crazy after all.

Tying my hair back was both practical and fashionable. It was no longer a doo rag; but a must do. Below, you’ll find interesting ways you can experiment with wraps, scarves and turbans. Remember, go big and boldly into the world and don’t be afraid to express your personal style. It wasn’t until I stopped being afraid of looking like a star, that I realized that I had always been one.

XOXO

Lulu

 

Anything That Sounds This Funny Has To Taste Good

stroopwafel

You don’t have to be an elite athlete to require portable, fast-metabolizing energy and nutrition. Pre or mid-cycling bagel break? Nah. Way too dense and heavy for me and unnecessary carb loading seems so…so, well…90’s. Energy gel? No, thank you. It doesn’t really satisfy for a casual ride or short break at the local cafe. This Stroopwafel, though? Well, now you’re talking! Stroopwafel, a popular pastry in the Netherlands, is a thinly prepared waffle baked on a waffle iron and sandwiched between a thin semi-firm syrup that consists of brown sugar, butter and cinnamon. In the case of Gu Energy Labs, they’ve created their own Stroopwafle line with taste, texture, power and performance in mind. Each light, semi-crisp disc has the presence of complex and simple carbohydrates for immediate and long-lasting energy; essential amino acids to prevent mental fatigue and facilitate muscle repair; and electrolytes for all over body functioning. It’s 140 calories per individual pack and both gluten and caffeine-free. The great news is that Gu Energy Lab’s new form factor isn’t a sly way for the company to repurpose their energy gels. The caramel interior delivers its own unique sports nutrition, while it also stands on its own as a delightful pastry that’s sold in four new flavors: wild berries, salted chocolate, salty’s caramel and caramel coffee. We rate it as tasty and worth a try.

Do you have any sports nutrition suggestions? If so, please share in the comments section below!

Is Your Hair Making You Fat?

Mannequin heads on display with wigs.

In August, 2011, the former Surgeon General, Dr. Regina M. Benjamin, attended the Bronner Bros. International Hair Show with a very specific platform related to health. She arrived at the event with a very specific agenda: to draw attention to the fact that many women, particularly, African American women, were foregoing exercise in order to preserve their hairstyles, and, thus, prioritizing convenience over health. Her message had some urgency and her concerns were backed by facts. According to the most recent data released by the National Center for Health Statistics (2011-2014), 56.9% of African American women over 20 are obese and 44.8% of women suffer from hypertension. Dr. Benjamin was criticized by some health professionals at the time for focusing on what they considered an issue that was far too hyper-focused in the global scheme of things, and only applicable to a very narrow audience. What her critics failed to realize then, which can be argued to a greater degree now, is that this wasn’t just a vanity health issue relegated to a small segment of the population. The hair vs. health issue has been raging within the Black community since the beginning of time; but given the fact that its ethnic dialogue had “inside baseball” status, few people outside of the Black community were aware of this global health challenge, nor could they personally relate, if they were. There are many reasons why this issue needs to resurface, and I’ll tell you why, but first, let me relay my own culturally insensitive hair nightmare, my dear readers. In Middle School, I was one of a handful of African American girls who attended a small, elite private school on the West Coast. I remember vividly dreading going to school, because I was forced to swim every day during second period P.E. class. I would get up in the morning and neatly prepare my clothes and hair for school, only to look a mess by the end of second period, because after I emerged like a wet dog from the pool I was given an insufficient 15 minutes to dry, dress and style my hair. Let’s add to the pressure the ubiquitously obnoxious drill sergeant whistle favored by gym teachers everywhere, to instill a sense of urgency and fear in students worldwide. I’m sorry, but fifteen minutes was not enough time for me to do my hair with any acceptable results, and it further marginalized me from my white classmates (at least in my mind), by highlighting a grooming and beauty reality that differed from their own. To further compound the situation was the fact that Middle School is often a time defined by rampant social insecurity. Add 1 part black girl to 10 parts white school + swimming pool + 15 minutes to dress, groom and go; and you have a problem. I could tell you then, as I can relay now in hindsight, that those years did not positively contribute to my sense of confidence or beauty.

How does this relate to weaves, Dr. Regina M. Benjamin or a Bronner’s International Hair Show that occurred over seven years ago? In my particular situation, I was just a child and had no control over my school’s rigid curriculum*. I didn’t hate swimming, in fact, I loved it, but it was a pain for the aforementioned reasons and time constraints. The problem that we currently face isn’t related to one kid’s horror story related to daily water sports. It’s the popularity and proliferation of weaves that have swept through African American culture and been adopted by a significant number of Black women. Weaves are semi-permanent installations, meaning that they’re not clip-ins that you take in and out at will. They are expensive, labor-intensive to install, and, are thus, not replaced frequently (months vs. weeks or days). They retain moisture (for the uninitiated, imagine a wig placed, and securely attached, over your real hair), and can cause health issues if not properly maintained. By now, most people who have an interest in African-American hair have seen the weave mold and maggot videos that have served as cautionary tales of extreme haircare neglect. I can imagine weave and wig wearers watching those YouTube videos and writing in the comments section, “SMH. That’s nasty…She waited too long to take that thing out!….Ugh…that would never be me!” That may be true, but Black women are doing something altogether more undermining and sinister to themselves. They’re elevating their hair and vanity well above that of their personal health. That’s a damaging position to take and the health stats for African American women don’t lie. I’m sorry, but we, as a community, aren’t in the position to play Russian Roulette with our health. There are many African American women who provide the sole financial support for their entire families, so their health and longevity is critical for the stability of their entire families. I’m not going to delve into stats regarding the Black hair care industry or the weave industry, specifically. I certainly have my own opinions, but the one thing that should be shared and encouraged is the message of health and wellness for women of color. Health isn’t determined by how you look in clothes, but, rather, how healthy and efficiently your body operates from the inside out; head to toe. Please  live your values and take stock of what really matters, because in the end, our health and families are the things we should cherish, because no matter how much we love them, as with all things in life, nothing lasts forever.

How To Make Breakfast FoYoGo

breakfast froyo - photo credit

Forget what you’ve heard, because FoYoGo, or “Frozen Yogurt To-Go” is the new Acai bowl. How could you not love the combination of yogurt, fruit and granola all packaged into one little frozen breakfast bar? Granted, this won’t be my first choice in the chilly days of winter, but it’s a great breakfast choice before a warm weather run or as a light midday treat. The great thing about FoYoGo, is that it couldn’t be more simple to make, and depending on how colorful your chosen ingredients; they can actually be quite beautiful. Not so beautiful, though, that you’ll change your mind about eating one! This recipe assumes you’ll add wooden popsicle sticks to a mold, but feel free to unleash your inner kid (or just make these for one!), by purchasing fun, goofy popsicle molds and save yourself the trouble. Tovolo makes some super cute ones in goofy shapes like monsters, robots, Tiki statues and zombies; and Zoku makes standard pop molds and safari, polar bear, space and fish shapes, to name a few. Below, is our simple recipe, but feel free to choose your own bar ingredients to customize your breakfast bar and paint your own healthy canvas.

Ingredients:

1 cup greek yogurt
1/2 cup milk
2-3 tsp honey or agave nectar
1/2 cup granola
1 cup fresh berries or fruit compote*

Directions:

Mix the yogurt, honey and milk.
Add a tablespoon of granola and then a tablespoon of fruit or fruit compote. Layer until you get close to the top of the mould and finish with granola.
Tap mold against the counter to release any air bubbles. Insert popsicle stick or use mold with its own stick and freeze about 4-5 hours
Remove popsicles from the mold. To release the popsicle more easily, run the plastic part of the mold under a stream of hot water until it comes loose.

* To make fruit compote: 

1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon or lime juice
2 cups fresh berries of your choice (blackberries, raspberries or strawberries are recommended)

Simply cook down the ingredients in a small saucepan on low to desired consistency and thickness. Taste to adjust sweetness.

The Lost Art of Subtle Seduction

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I don’t know where it went…Maybe it’s a generational thing or just a sign of the times, but I’m talking about subtle sensuality and the art of seduction. Make no mistake, there are still many women for whom “skilled” does not seem an apt adjective, and, for whom, masters of the “dark arts” of seduction is more accurate. I’m wondering, though, where it went for the most women? There was a time when women had less freedom in society, yet we managed to wield our power and influence over the men we found desirable in much more subtle, persuasive and effective ways. We couldn’t be too overt in our sexuality, or too aggressive in the workplace, but our power was unmistakable, and we knew how and when to leverage it. What is it, you ask? It is femme fatale in a bottle, that secret sauce, that smelled faintly of sex, but was far more suggestive and entirely more allusive. If Tribe Called Quest’s famous lyric, “Hot Sex on a Platter” applied to women, we were serving it up hot and fresh daily; even in our knee-length A line cocktail dresses. Dorothy Dandridge, Diana Ross, Lena Horne and Sophia Loren (including, contemporary actress, Diane Lane), all exhibited a self-assured, feminine sexiness about them, that many women today seem to lack. I’ll always contemplated Diane Von Furstenburg’s deep set, sultry gaze when she looked unapologetically into a camera to promote her iconic wrap skirt or latest collection. She’s no longer a young woman, be she still has it. It defies age and keeps you hot at 60, 70 and beyond. It’s the sometimes unspeakable appeal that both men and women find sensually appealing. As the world changed, what happened to subtle come hither looks or mildly suggestive body language that could be misconstrued to a man’s embarrassment, unless he sifted through a woman’s mystery, in order to unlock the keys to her heart, mind or body?

Somewhere along the way, we’ve given up our feigned modesty for naked Instagram photos, twerk videos and “belfies”. Oh, I should probably mention, that I could happily live the rest of my life without ever being forced again, to lay my weary eyeballs on someone’s butt selfies as a camera-facing portrait. Whatever happened to the power of suggestion? The mind is the most erotically sensitive place in the human body. Tapping into one’s personal fantasy, is far more alluring and powerful than appealing to one’s immediate carnal desires. Psychologists have supported the notion that men and women would be much more likely to work themselves into a hot lather imagining what someone had hidden under their trench coat; then be titillated by them walking down the street naked with their coat wide open. Today’s women need to embrace the allure of femininity and suggestion; not sex. Anticipation should be #goalsetting, as it’s the direct bi-product of seduction. Will someone please listen to Carly Simon? She wailed in frustration, “Anticipation is making me wait,” over and over again on the radio, for goodness sake, and, she was right! Sorry, JT, we don’t need to bring “sexy back”, we need to bring back the age old tradition of seduction.

Be Still My Heart…How To Make Vietnamese Iced Coffee: Cafe Su Da

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Photo credit: Simply Delicious, Pinterest

INGREDIENTS

1) French roast medium coarse ground coffee: We suggest a fresh, high-quality medium roast, but many people swear by Cafe Du Monde French Roast Chicory coffee. If you’re accustomed to making espresso, resist the urge to finely grind your beans or the coffee grounds will fall through the holes in the coffee filter into your glass.

2) Sweetened condensed milk: Not to be confused with evaporated milk, so don’t try to use them interchangeably. Sweetened condensed is aptly named, because it’s syrupy sweet, translucently creamy white and pours into a thick, smooth stream.

3) Vietnamese coffee press: They’re inexpensive and not difficult to find online. You can find them on Amazon for less than $10.00.

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DIRECTIONS

Step 1: Add 2 tablespoons of sweetened condensed milk to a glass (more if you like it sweeter)

Step 2: Add 3 tablespoons of ground coffee to the base of the coffee press.

Step 3: Place coffee in filter and shake so that grounds become level and naturally packed.

Step 4: Pour part of the boiled hot water into the coffee press. Wait while it absorbs and then add additional water

Cover
Step 5: Wait for it to slow drip. Patience, little grasshopper….patience.

Go grab a tall glass and fill with ice. We’re partial to drinking all iced drinks with oversized ice cubes. They keep your drinks nice and cold and they’re much slower melting, so they don’t dilute your heaven in a glass.

Step 6: Once it’s finished, stir well.

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If you love coffee like we do; take a look at this fun video of how coffee is prepared around the world. 

The Best Leg + Thigh Exercises For Sexy Getaway Sticks This Summer

Ah, it’s Spring again. The days are longer, the weather’s getting warmer and the clothes are getting skimpier. Oh, wait! You forgot to exercise all winter and your legs are looking pale, flabby and doughy? Still rockin’ sweatpants and those roomy boyfriend jeans? Well, never fear! Run Stella Run is here to suggest some of the fastest and most efficient ways to get your legs tight and right for the summer. Also, stay tuned for some cool athleisure wear that will help you show off those gorgeous gams that you worked so hard to achieve. Sexy is forever, but life is short, so we included a “how to” video by YouTube’s Tiffany Rothe, to get you there faster.

Wishing you iron thighs, platinum abs and buns of steel.

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Watermelon Never Stood a Chance When This Cool Cucumber Showed Up On The Scene

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Summer is around the corner and there’s nothing better than the refreshing combination of cucumber and watermelon juice on a hot day. It’s lightly sweet, earthy and mild and the addition of lime, adds a bit of tartness that quenches the thirst and adds a bit more complexity. There’s no such thing as perfect proportions when making any fresh juice drink. We suggest playing around with measurements and adjusting flavors to taste.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups (16 ounces) fresh watermelon juice
  • 3/4 cup (6 ounces) fresh cucumber juice from about 1 large cucumber (use juice extractor)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons (1/4 ounce) fresh muddled mint from about 10-15 fresh mint leaves
  • 2 tablespoons (1 ounce) fresh lime juice from 1 to 2 limes
  • 1 tablespoon simple syrup or agave nectar (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons (1 ounce) fresh lime juice from 1 to 2 limes

DIRECTIONS

  • Combine juices together thoroughly and adjust to taste. Serve immediately

Mindfulness & Planting the Seeds of Compassion

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Prayer Position

Spring traditionally represents the season of birth and renewal. Although, this is usually associated with nature, you’ll find that life also operates in similar cycles. It turns out that Spring isn’t just a great time to reorganize and clean, but to also take inventory of one’s spiritual life. No matter what your religious or spiritual beliefs, Run Stella Run wanted to share The Five Mindfulness Trainings observed and practiced in Buddhism, which operates on the basic precept that it’s critical that one lives in a state of compassion and self-awareness, given that all life is inextricably “intra-connected” or as expressed in Buddhism, a state of “interbeing.” The Five Mindfulness Trainings represent the Buddhist’s vision of spiritual and ethical behavior, and to cultivate a level of self-awareness about oneself and others is believed to help remove the presence of discrimination, fear, anger, intolerance, pain and despair.  Perhaps, you’ll find something in these teachings that resonates with you, your belief system, or religion. Whatever the case, no one has claimed that acting with compassion and love for others has ever hurt anyone. These five principals have been condensed in complexity, but they provide great guidelines for a healthy physical and spiritual life. Upon reading the five teachings, what are some of the ways that you can apply these teachings to your every day life? Perhaps, volunteer with an environmental organization? Behave with greater love, patience and understanding with a spouse or loved one? Refrain from gossipy, demeaning or mean-spirited behavior? Sorry, that means anonymous online trolling, too! Feel free to share practical ways that people can apply these principals in the comments section below, and good luck on your personal, spiritual journey this Spring and beyond.

  1. Reverence for Life –  Acknowledge the suffering caused by the destruction of life and commit to expressing compassion by being a loving and responsible steward and protector of people, animals, plants and living things. Understand that harmful and damaging behavior arises out of  greed, anger, intolerance and fear-based emotions, so try to be open-minded and unattached to ideas in order to live without the cloud of bias and discrimination.
  2. True Happiness – Commit to practicing generosity in thought and deed and understand that true happiness is only possible with understanding and compassion. Suffering is universally shared, and not separate from your own, so reducing other peoples’ pain, also reduces yours. Live in mindfulness that pursuing wealth, fame, power and physical pleasure can lead to negative, unintended consequences and suffering. Also, understand that true happiness is a state of mind and can be achieved in one’s current state of being, and is not dependent on external conditions and material possessions.
  3. Loving Speech and Deep Listening – Listen to others with respect and compassion to help eliminate division, suffering and pain, and to help promote healing and reconciliation. Words can create happiness or suffering, so be conscious of the words that that you use and refrain from speaking in anger, pain and untruth. Words have the ability to spread happiness, joy, encouragement and inclusiveness, and, also create the opposite; so refrain from using words as weapons of individual or mass destruction. If you feel that you’re tempted to speak in anger; breathe, take stock of your emotions and refrain from speaking until you’re in a more positive frame of mind.
  4. Nourishment & Healing – Commit to cultivating good physical and spiritual health for yourself, your family and society; and be conscious of engaging in needless consumption, which can cause pain and suffering. Seek and consume mentally and physically nourishing things and eliminate those things that are toxic to the body, mind or spirit (food, drinks, drugs, websites, electronic games, magazines, etc…). Establishing a greater level of mental and physical peace, happiness and joy, will have a positive impact on oneself, other individuals and society at large.

Seriously….Relax

Smiling African American woman enjoying in sauna.

When people think of spa experiences images of peaceful settings, luxurious surroundings and pampered service come to mind. If you think that restorative trips to the spa are only reserved for ladies who lunch, then think again. Spa services are surprisingly within financial reach of most people, and with a little research, can be more affordable than one might think. According, to research commissioned by the Global Wellness Institute, the global spa market grew from $94 billion in 2013 to $98.6 billion in 2015 and the global wellness economy, which includes alternative medicine, workplace health, preventative medicine and other aspects of personal health and wellness, grew 10.6% in 2013-2015 3.36 trillion to a 3.72 trillion market. With little evidence that the spa market is slowing down, the key to uncovering great deals is to forego the typical trappings that you think your spa experience should entail, and find a professional spa with helpful services that are kind to your wallet.

The great thing is that many spa facilities have changed their marketing and business models to accommodate a broader and more diverse consumer audience. Destination spa resorts and day spas still exist, but the market has expanded to include hour-long, no frills services that are oftentimes performed in modest surroundings with an emphasis on their wellness related services, as opposed to pampering and indulgence. This is not to say that the treatments, themselves, are any less relaxing or effective.

Facilities are popping up all over the country that specialize in these spas, in what’s now commonly marketed as “foot spas,” even though services extend well beyond massaging just the feet. They’re typically known for offering fully-clothed body massages on soft reclining chairs in non-private treatment rooms for as low as $20.00 per hour. Often, for just a slightly higher fee, these same spas offer traditional full body oil massages in private rooms for as low as $30-40 per hour. Why are these foot spas becoming increasingly popular? Price and convenience are two reasons. Another reason is that more and more people are hacking their healthcare by taking it into their own hands, researching alternative treatment options and comparing prices. Whatever the reason, the benefits are indisputable. It’s been clinically proven that massage can dramatically improve emotional and physical health. Massage has been linked to the reduction of stress, anxiety, headaches, digestive disorders, fibromyalgia, soft tissue injuries and joint pain. So, if you still think that spa treatments are only special occasion splurges, then simply consider that for the cost of a weekly latte, you could be receiving a well-earned, hour long deep tissue massage. Now, that’s a relaxing thought.

RECIPE: Fresh Fig Crostini with Herbed Ricotta

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Depending on where you live, decadently sweet and luscious figs might already be in season. This roly poly, tear-drop shaped fruit is wonderfully versatile and can be prepared just as easily either fresh or baked, as it is within sweet or savory dishes. Figs have a long and storied ancient history, not to mention that it’s symbolic of peace and prosperity throughout the bible; but they’re also known for having substantial nutritional value. Figs are high in fiber and a great source of essential minerals, including magnesium, manganese, calcium, copper, and potassium, which helps lower blood pressure, and vitamins K and B6.

Interestingly enough, 100% of the world’s dried figs are grown in California. That’s great news, because figs’ nutritional value becomes more concentrated when they’re dried. Not only do they contain antioxidants, but three little figs have approximately 5.5 grams of dietary fiber, which means this cherubic little fruit packs quite a punch. Moisture-rich figs contain 55% natural sugar, making them among nature’s sweetest fruits, and fig puree can be used as a great fat substitute in baked goods. This dish is wonderful served anytime: Breakfast, appetizer or a light lunch paired with a mixed spring salad. Feel free to add prosciutto to create a hearty main course

INGREDIENTS:

  • Thinly sliced baguette
  • 2 cups ricotta cheese
  • 3 teaspoons fresh thyme
  • 3 teaspoons oregano
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Sliced fresh figs
  • Blueberries or pomegranate seeds (optional)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 425 F.
  2. Place ricotta cheese in bowl and stir in your fresh and dried seasoning and herbs until well-blended. Sample and season to taste.
  3. Brush french bread slices with olive oil and arrange on top of baking rack and place in oven for 3-4 minutes (Don’t hesitate to check in on these little guys through your oven door window like you did with your childhood Easy Bake Oven!). Take out when lightly toasted and let cool.
  4. Place ricotta cheese spread on top of crostini and add sliced figs. You can drizzle honey or aged balsamic vinegar on top for added sweetness

ACAI What You See

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Okay, let’s just admit it. Açäi bowls are Instagram darlings, because they’re photogenic like a mug. Well, thankfully, they’re not just pretty, “feel good” meals, but also delicious, nutritious and super easy on the digestive system. Oh, you haven’t had one, yet? If you’re still somehow among the uninitiated, we have a super easy recipe that’s perfect for lighter summer eating. Acai is a mildly tart berry categorized as a superfood and found in the Amazon. It’s typically served as the base ingredient in an Acai bowl and served cold; either scooped or blended, like soft frozen yogurt. Acai is sold in individual pureed packs and can be purchased at most health and organic food stores, in addition to larger retailers like Costco, Safeway, Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s. Look for Sambazon, which is one of the largest Açai food exporters.

INGREDIENTS

2 Sambazon Performance Superfruit Packs

½ banana

1 tbsp almond butter

¼ c almond milk

1 tbsp Cacao Powder

Toppings: Fresh Seasonal Fruit, Sliced Bananas, Granola, Goji Berries, Hemp Seeds, Cacao Nibs, Mulberries, coconut shavings

DIRECTIONS

Simply high-speed blend the first five ingredients and then place your chosen toppings on top of your acai mixture.

This breakfast treat offers something for every dietary need and social justice requirement as it’s organic, vegan, fair Trade, kosher, gluten and lactose free.Ç