the ultimate cure for flaky winter skin: banana, oatmeal, and turmeric face mask.

In lieu of the winter blizzard in the northeast, I am sharing one of my favorite remedies for dry skin. I have super sensitive combination skin, meaning that it basically acts like a pendulum switching from overwhelming acne and oiliness to dry patches. Many things set it off, especially cold weather.

This winter had been colder that the ones I’m used to, meaning my skin is currently covered in itchy scaly patches. But the good thing is that there are so many solutions already lying around my house! This mask is one of my favorites for acne, as well as dry and inflamed skin.

Although I also love avocado masks, avocados are pretty expensive so I prefer to use the humble banana. Also I have trouble opening an avocado and not eating it. This mask does it all– it soothes sensitive skin, moisturizes dry skin, brightens dull skin, and fights acneic skin. If you are unlucky in the skin genetics department like me, this mask is amazing. It uses the power of four awesome ingredients for your skin: bananas, oatmeal, agave nectar, and turmeric. You can also add in some clove, cinnamon, or other beneficial spice. It will basically smell like an amazing oatmeal cookie, and it’s totally edible.

What do the ingredients do?

Bananas: moisturizes and heals the skin. The potassium is awesome for moisturizing the face. Vitamin A, Zinc, and Lectins attack acne without drying. Vitamins B and E help fade wrinkles.

Oatmeal: awesome for soothing the skin and retaining moisture. Its 18 amino acids absorb to help repair and nourish the skin. Its anti-inflammatory properties calm redness. I am using oat flour in this recipe for a smoother mix, but you can use whole oats or just grind them/process them into a powder.

Agave Nectar: anti-microbial and anti-aging benefits. The Aztecs used agave nectar on wounds and skin infections. Honey can also be used, for a non-vegan alternative packed with anti-bacterial properties.

Turmeric: calms skin and fights acne. Its anti-inflammatory properties soothe the skin. It helps reduce oil secretion. Also anti-aging. Turmeric is one of my personal favorite remedies for sensitive skin. I also love using turmeric in cooking and mixed with warm water and lemon.

If you are missing any ingredients, you can still make the mask! Plain banana masks or plain oatmeal masks are also really good for your skin. But when you add all these things together, it is a real treat.

NOTE: This recipe makes a lot of face mask. I usually make this and share it with my mom.

You will need:

  • 1/2 banana (ripe)
  • 1 tbs of oat flour (or grind one tbs of oats in a coffee grinder, or just use whole oats)
  • 1/4 tsp of agave nectar or honey
  • a generous sprinkle of turmeric powder
  • (Optional) a sprinkle of any other skin nourishing spice (I used a bit of clove, cinnamon and ginger are also great)

Mash up the banana and mix in the oat flour, agave, turmeric, and optional other spices. For a smoother mixture, use a blender or just deal with the lumps. Apply to your face and leave it on for at least 10-15 minutes. Follow up with cleanser and moisturizer.

It will be messy and gloopy, but so worth it. Afterwards, your skin should be soft and glowing. You might notice a decrease in acne the next morning.

Hope you all enjoy! How do you deal with dry skin?

avocado toast.

I think everybody can agree that avocados are the closest thing to heaven that exists in this world. Creamy and velvety, I could eat them all day long. But the best thing about avocados is the fact that they are actually healthy.

I mean, how did we get so lucky? Loaded with Vitamin K, Folate, Vitamin C …. I could keep going. Yes, they are fatty, but the healthy kind of fatty– the kind that’s great for your skin.

And they make the perfect breakfast.2015/01/img_0188.jpgI am not a big fan of “traditional” breakfast foods. In fact, I never liked toast until I started mushing avocado on top of it. Avocado toast is a healthy and fast breakfast. It takes less than five minutes, tastes amazing, and keeps you full. It’s vegan.

It makes a perfect winter breakfast– hearty and filling and warm. I love munching on this with a cup of tea. It’s especially perfect when it’s snowing outside, as it is now.

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To go with the avocado, I use the Food For Life brand Rice Millet bread. For everyone else out there who is gluten intolerant or Celiac: this is the best gluten free bread I have ever tasted. And, honestly, it’s the only one I have ever liked.

It’s how I think a gluten free bread should taste– a bit dense, kind of nutty. It doesn’t try to be regular bread, it embraces the possibilities available without wheat. It is also dairy and egg free.

I add chia seeds too. They take the nutty factor up a notch and give fiber, protein, and omega 3. Boom, just like that, you’ve got a breakfast perfect for fueling your brain: high in healthy fats and protein and fiber. 2015/01/img_0187.jpgIngredients:

  • 1/2 ripe avocado
  • 2 slices of bread (I use Food for Life Rice Millet bread)
  • juice of 1 lime (or half a lemon)
  • sprinkle of black pepper
  • sprinkle of chia seeds

How to:

  1. toast your bread
  2. slice the avocado in half, and scoop out half the flesh into a bowl. squeeze in the lime juice and mash it all together.
  3. scoop and spread the avocado mixture onto the toast, and sprinkle with pepper and chia seeds (and other toppings! salsa and other seeds are great)

You can also just mash the avocado directly onto the bread and then squeeze on lemon and sprinkle the other toppings. But I find it is less soggy and has a better texture when I pre-mash the avocado with lemon.

That easy. But so, so delicious.

Hope you enjoy! What is your favorite breakfast? And to anyone in the North East, stay safe and warm in the snow!

on passion fruit and seasonal affective disorder.

Being the person that I am, the first time I saw a passion fruit cut open I said something along the lines of “Whoa, alien spawn!”.

Like many tropical fruits, the passion fruit looks a bit funky. It’s deceptively normal on the outside, but when cut open it looks like a hive of gelatinous yellow jackets.

But don’t let that ever stop you from trying one.2015/01/img_0179.jpg

I have had exactly 1.5 passion fruits in my life but they are easily my favorite fruit. The first time I tried one it was not quite perfectly ripe, and it tasted oh so sour. I remember doing the math in my head– they look like alien spawn and taste like war heads? Win.

But it was just this past week that I finally had my second. I felt like a kid at a candy store when I saw a pile of these at Whole Foods, and then I felt like an exasperated parent when I saw the price: $2.50 per fruit. Well, sacrifices were made. I will be going without almond milk this week.

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Passion fruits are ripe when they are completely dark purple. But if you can, wait till they start to wrinkle a bit. When I finally lost patience and cut into the fruit above, it was the most perfect taste and smell. It is sweet and sour, and tastes like the tropics should taste. Exotic and succulent. Indescribably luscious. 2015/01/img_0180.jpgTo eat them, I just scooped out the jelly with a spoon. But if you are a saner person than me, you could use it in smoothies, on top of yoghurt, or in sorbet.

But, you know what? As somebody who absolutely completely detests winters, this was a perfect release. For a second I forgot the sleety weather outside and imagined I was on a beach with a coconut in hand. *sigh*

I get pretty glum during the post holiday winter. Especially lately, it’s been so cold outside. It’s snowed where I live, but not the lovely picturesque winter snow. More like a mushy disaster that makes going anywhere impossible.

I feel like my ideal habitat is like that of San Francisco– spring/fall all year round. Not too cold, not too hot, my favorite fashion season always a viable option. But, if there’s one thing thats nice about hating winter it’s that it makes spring that much better. I am practically skipping all spring long while wearing floral dresses.

I have one more passionfruit to eat, hidden at the back of our fruit basket. I’m saving it for a little burst of sunshine sometime this week.

Have you ever tried passionfruit?

Hope you all have a great Sunday!

sweet potatoes for breakfast.

There is something so disruptive about rainy days. There I was, convinced I would be studying for my math quiz, but instead I lay in bed for an hour with the pitter patter of rain as my soundtrack. When it rains I just want to be cozy and curl up with some hot cocoa.

I don’t know about you, but my cozy days have several requirements. They are:

  1. officially admit that no homework will be done
  2. wear sweatpants and ratty old tank tops that allow ample space for a food baby
  3. a minimum of three hours spent on Netflix
  4. eat something with avocado

2015/01/img_0170.jpgSo, with the first two completed and Netflix soon to come, I headed into the kitchen to forage. A lazy day requires lazy cooking, but somehow I managed to healthify my breakfast. I ended up with steamed sweet potatoes loaded with avocado and pico de gallo. It’s vegan, gluten free, nut free, soy free, the works… but carnivore approved.

And, for the puny amount of effort I put in, it tasted pretty damn good.

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It’s deceptively easy to make but contains loads of flavor. My favorite kind of recipe.

All I did was steam a sweet potato until it was cooked, cut it in half, and stuff it with sliced avocado and store bought (but fresh) pico de gallo. With three ingredients, this is a healthy lazy person’s best friend. The buttery avocado blends in perfectly with the creamy sweet potato, while the pico de gallo adds a tang and texture to the dish.

Anyways, after quickly snapping and filter-ing a couple pictures I retreated to my room and am currently inhaling this while perusing Netflix. I’m thinking about re-watching House of Cards in preparation for the third season (February 27!!). I’ll also probably do some reading today…. I’m currently reading The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz and it is incredible. But I have the bad habit of either not reading at all or reading a book to quickly, so I am trying to pace myself through this one. It’s really, really great.

Hope all of you out there enjoy you’re Saturday morning, whether lazy or active!

Going vegan/natural/all organic? 6 steps to transition your makeup and beauty stash along with your lifestyle.

When I first decided to go vegan two years ago, I vastly underestimated the number of changes I would have to make. Transitioning can be pretty overwhelming, given the sheer number of things we use that contain animal products. It took me a while to realize that most of the makeup I was wearing was not, in fact, vegan.

If I could go back and redo my transition, I would definitely change many things. If you are interested in or currently are transitioning your lifestyle, here are some tips for transitioning your beauty routine.

First off, there are lots of misconceptions on what vegan/natural makeup is. Here are guidelines:

  • Vegan beauty products: contain no animal products whatsoever (including animal by-products and animal-derived ingredients), and have not been tested on animals.
  • Natural beauty products: ideally are made without or with minimal use of synthetics and chemicals. Made from ingredients found in nature.
  • Cruelty free beauty products: products that are not tested on animals. Some brands that are cruelty free are still owned by corporations that are not cruelty free. Products marked as cruelty free can still contain animal products.
Cruelty free logo
One of several vegan logos you might see
  • Organic beauty products: made completely or mostly with organic ingredients (Organic guidelines).
    • 100% Organic= completely organic
    • Organic= at least 95% organic
    • “Made with” Organic= at least 70% organic

      One of several organic logos out there

Please note that many products fall into only one of those categories. But there are definitely products that are vegan, natural, cruelty free, and organic.

 

 

1. Decide how far you want to go. 

As I mentioned, there are lots of different levels you can go. Personally, I try to go for vegan and cruelty free and natural as often as possible, but I still use some synthetic products that are vegan. Obviously, it’s going to be harder if you only want products that satisfy all those categories. It’s up to you to decide how strict you want to be. Some products are a bit complicated– for example, some of Urban Decay’s products are vegan and cruelty free, but the brand is owned by L’oreal, which blatantly tests on animals. Its a bit of a grey area that you have to make a decision on.

2. Figure out what already fits your lifestyle.

It’s likely that you are already using several products that are in accordance with your new lifestyle. Although so much out there isn’t natural/vegan, you’d be surprised how much is. Popular brands like Tarte, NYX, and Urban Decay all have some vegan products. Start out by Googling your holy grail products, to see how much you have to replace.

3. DON’T throw everything away. 

It’s really expensive to completely re-start a beauty collection all at once. It’s also a headache to try and find new products that work all at once. Instead, keep using your favorite products in the meantime. Although it might be annoying to keep applying animal products or synthetics onto your skin, you already paid for the product so it makes sense to get your money’s worth out of it.

4. Research, research, research.

Spend time looking into new, vegan/natural friendly brands and products. Remember that just because a brand is vegan, doesn’t mean it’s natural and vice versa.  Sadly, even vegan/natural brands can be deceptive so you’ll have to do some ingredient scouring to fit your needs. I found that a mix of vegan and natural vegan products works fine with me. Some of my favorite brands are: Lime Crime (vegan), 100% Pure (natural, some vegan), Lush (natural-ish, some vegan), and NYX (some vegan).

Look up products and try to find ones that match your lifestyle and will match your skin/specific needs. Here are some great links to get you started: Vegan Under $10, Drugstore Brands for Vegans, Vegan Makeup Look-up, Natural/Organic Makeup to Consider.

5. When you use up a product, replace it with a vegan/natural version.

This allows you to slowly phase out your collection and really focus on getting a good replacement. Since you can consider one product at a time, there is plenty of time to sample and read reviews. If you can, get mini sizes or samples of the product you are considering. Try it out in store. If that’s not possible, rely on reviews and photos online to get the best idea possible of how your skin will react. You want to be getting a quality product, and despite the reputation there are plenty of great preforming vegan/natural products out there. Just jump in and start testing.

Some vegan alternatives

 

6. Taking forever to replace a product? Chances are, you don’t need it.

Transitioning your collection like this is also a great way to minimize your collection. Did you finally notice that neon coral lipstick that you haven’t used in two years? It might look pretty in your collection, but if you haven’t used it in that long it’s not really worth finding a replacement for. Of course it’s great to have more fun/special event options, but make sure you are using them!

 

Hope this is helpful! I know it takes a while, but gradually replacing your collection with products that work will save you money in the long run. You will end up with products that work well, not just a big collection of products that don’t really work.

If you have any specific questions, feel free to comment or email me at insightsofawallflower@gmail.com.

welcome.

Hello, world.

My name is Miranda. I am a 17 year old second-semester senior, with a really bad case of senioritis and a lack of a life goal. All around me, everybody seems to have things pretty much figured out. Doctor, lawyer, astrophysicist, artist. I, on the other hand, am just kind of meandering. But, as my mom likes to remind me, life is a process. Anyways I figure that if I know what my next step is and follow that, I should end up fine. I want to enjoy the ride, not focus too hard on the ideal end result.

I love winged eyeliner and eating avocados, looking up pictures of sloths and falling over while trying to do yoga. I am a complete nerd, but obsessed with beauty and fashion. I can’t get enough of Game of Thrones or Toni Morrison or Junot Diaz. I am vegan and gluten intolerant, and love participating in making the earth a little cleaner. I am also a bit quiet (hence the “wallflower” part of the title). People tend to underestimate the introvert.

I created this blog to document my journey into adulthood, and share some of the information I have gleaned with the world. I hope to keep blogging throughout the rest of my senior year and college. I will write about beauty, fashion, clean eating, and a natural lifestyle. There will be lots of tips for those of you who want to transition into a natural lifestyle. Maybe even some “how to survive high school” sort of posts. We’ll see.

Please leave feedback on what you like and don’t like. Feel free to comment or email me at insightsofawallflower@gmail.com.

Thank you for visiting and beginning this journey with me. I hope you stay, and grab a chai while you’re at it.