#needit: acupressure mat
happy thursday, and welcome to the #needit series! this isn’t really a new series… i’ve just renamed the “healthy lifestyle staples” series… #needit is just way easier to say [it flows better, no?] and feels waaayyyyyy more me [yes, i speak in hashtags sometimes… sue me].
so, let’s get down to business, shall we?
about a year ago, i was introduced to the concept of the acupressure mat by my old boss. he kept one at his desk and the first time i saw it my reaction was, “wtf is that?!” it literally looks like a little pillow with needles on it… not something you immediately would think you would want to own.
he explained to me what it was, the benefits, and how he used it, but i wasn’t really convinced… so, i just forgot about it.
flash forward to a few months ago, and an acupressure mat starts poppin’ up on one of my favorite lifestyle bloggers’ snapchat and instagram stories.. and then, she did a post all about what they are, the benefits, etc., so i figured that an acupressure mat was something i should at least give a try. but, i didn’t feel a real sense of urgency for it, and kind of put it out of my mind… again.
and then… the straw that broke the camel’s back: i was in a car accident [rear-ended on the 10, effing LA] about 2 months ago, and as a result, started having some neck and back pain. i’ve been seeing a chiropractor for treatment, but also felt like i should be doing something daily to help with the recovery and pain management… enter: the acupressure mat.
so, what is an acupressure mat, exactly? so glad you asked! an acupressure mat is pretty much how i described it before… a small mattress and neck pillow set, both of which are covered in little plastic spikes… yes, that’s right… plastic. spikes.
i know that this sounds like pretty much the worst thing ever, but the spikes have a purpose: to stimulate pressure points along the meridian line of the body, which in turn does things like:
- activates feel-good endorphins
- reduces muscle pain and tension, including headaches
- promotes blood circulation and oxygenates the body
- relieves stress and anxiety
- aids in the digestive process
- increases energy and helps with general fatigue
- improves overall sleep quality
not really much that this thing can’t do when it comes to improving your overall health and wellness… and it’s been a go-to in the alternative and eastern medicine communities for a verrrrryyyyyy long time.
so, how do you use it? you lay on it. that’s it. for about 10-20 minutes per day… on your back with your neck on the pillow, on your stomach… you can also sit or stand on the mat to help relieve pain in the lower back, legs, and feet.
over the past month and a half or so, i’ve incorporated this bad boy into my morning routine… i meditate for 15 minutes immediately after waking up each day, and then i go right to the mat for 20 minutes… 10 on my back/neck and 10 on my stomach. i’ll either read or journal while i’m laying there, which makes the time just fly by…
… and i always feel amazing after.
specifically, since i’ve started doing this, not only have i had some relief from the pain and stiffness in my neck caused by the car accident i was in, but i’ve also felt an increase in my energy levels throughout the day [not getting that 2 o’clock feeling anymore!], and have been sleeping much better than i typically do [less waking up throughout the night, it’s easier to get out of bed when my alarm goes off].
i bought this thing for one reason, but i don’t see myself discontinuing the use of it any time soon… if ever.
want to get one for yourself? they’re only $19.99 on amazon, and they’re available on prime, meaning you can start feeling allllllll of the benefits listed above in just 2 days… for less than $20! [this post isn’t sponsored… i seriously just love this thing and want everyone to have one!]
questions? ever used an acupressure mat? if so, how has it improved your life? any other must have products i should try out? i want to hear from you! you can leave a comment below or shoot me an email at email@example.com!
real talk for a sec… i’m obsessed with coffee. i don’t think i’ve ever really talked about this over here on the blog before, but seriously. i. love. coffee. and i especially love a tall cup of cold brew. it’s smooth, refreshing, and on a warm summer day [or any day in l.a.], really just can’t be beat.
the problem is… it takes anywhere from 12-24 hours to brew… so if you want to make your own, planning ahead is necessary, and let’s be honest, not something we’re all very good at. so you run over to your local coffee bean/starbucks/whatever, but a large cold brew at just about any coffee shop costs around $4… if you want to drink cold brew every day, you’re looking at a $28 weekly coffee budget [or $120 monthly… woah]… not exactly ideal either. so, what’s a cold brew addict to do?
bizzy is a cold brew concentrate made from the best organic coffee beans you can find, carefully brewed, bottled and delivered right to your door. yep, this is what dreams are made of, friends.
i met the bizzy team a few months ago at expo west and not only loved their story, but loved the product, as well. just to give you a little background, bizzy was created after founders andrew and alex discovered that there was a lack of clean, healthy energy options on the market while training for a race and working in corporate america… talk about a couple of guys who desperately needed energy! so, they decided to take matters into their own hands and began experimenting with ways to create a source of energy that was all-natural, sugar free, simple and tasted great, but was also convenient. from here, bizzy was born!
so, what’s the difference between cold brew and hot coffee… or hot coffee poured over ice? not a whole lot, but the most important differences are that cold brew is less acidic, contains more caffeine [which can be a good thing or a bad thing depending on how you look at it], and has a much more subtle taste than your traditional hot brew coffee.
so what’s the lowdown on bizzy [aka why should you give it a try]?
- it’s brewed for 18 hours, making it 67% less acidic than traditional hot brew,
- it has 3x the caffeine that traditional coffee does,
- it’s u.s.d.a. certified organic,
- and it contains zero, i repeat, zero calories and zero sugar
oh, and did i mention how effing easy it is? basically, all you have to do is go to the bizzy website and decide how many bottles you want [one bottle makes 6 drinks, and you can even set up a subscription]. once your bizzy has landed, making a perfect cup of cold brew is as easy as pouring 1 part bizzy and 2 parts water [or cream, almond milk, half and half, whatever] over ice. seriously, that’s it. it truly could not be any easier.
personally, i’ve been enjoying my bizzy as follows:
- 1 part bizzy
- 1 part water
- 1 part coconut milk… the reallllyyyy creamy kind from a can
typically i’m drinking it out of a mason jar, which we all know makes everything taste at least 3x better.
so happy friday everyone! do yourself a favor and order yourself some bizzy… and next weekend, you’ll be able to enjoy a cup of cold brew in the morning, without the hassle. and stay tuned… you’ll be seeing more bizzy around these parts in the coming months… including a fun giveaway [and a cocktail recipe or two].
blue apron got me feelin’ like a chef!
after i tried hellofresh [and really enjoyed it!] i decided i wanted to give some more of these “meals on demand” services a try. i love cooking, but haven’t been doing too much of it lately, and what better way to get back into it than with healthy meals made from whole foods delivered right to my doorstep? next up, blue apron!
my friend, and fellow healthy lifestyle blogger, alexis, saw my hellofresh post and suggested that i try blue apron [and gifted me with a free week of meals!]. obviously, i immediately took her up on the offer, picked the pescetarian box, and dove right in!
the setup is very similar to hellofresh [i mean there is only so many things that can be done with this kind of service, right?] but i do have to say that hellofresh has a much nicer presentation than blue apron does. with blue apron, all of the ingredients for all three meals are just thrown into the box, where with hellofresh, each meal was packaged into its own individual box within the delivery box. but, minor details! don’t judge a book by its cover, right?
i do have to say, while these meals were pretty easy to make, and i’m not a total amateur in the kitchen, they turned out so well that i felt pretttyyyyy damn good. they make it easy, but the meals they put together look and taste like they require a much higher skill level to pull of than they actually do… don’t you love that?!
here’s the lowdown:
crispy cod + yuzu-shoyu soba
okay, this was absolutely my favorite of the three meals for a few reasons: 1) it was quick and easy, 2) it contained noodles and i effing love noodles, and 3) it. was. bomb. all of the flavors came together so well, especially the sauce made from ginger, mirin, and yuzu juice with the added kick of the spices.
vadouvan chickpea burgers
after the epic fail that was the smoky black bean cakes from my hellofresh box [read more about that disaster here] i was a little nervous about how this was going to go. luckily, it seems like blue apron had all of their measurements right, and the patties came together perfectly. this was much more labor intensive than both of the other meals, but i can’t complain too much… i got a pretty good arm workout in mashing all of those chickpeas up! i really loved the curry flavoring, yogurt-based sauce and the sweet potato side dish, too.
zucchini + parmesan quiches
these mini quiches were pretty good, and the side salad was a nice touch! the parmesan cheese was a plus, but i do wish there was maybe one more vegetable included… like mushrooms or tomatoes, just to add a little more flavor to the mix.
i almost feel like this is a cop-out because i gave hellofresh the same rating, but…
4/5 bananas for blue apron!
honestly, if it wasn’t for the packaging, i would have given them a 5/5… the meals were just that good. maybe they’ll step up their presentation one of these days.
do you guys know of any other services like this? i want to try them all! let me know in the comments below or email me your suggestions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
if you’re asking yourself “what in the eff is hellofresh?” … allow me to fill you in:
there’s a new trend in the food world that i like to refer to as “meals on demand” … and the concept is pretty simple: a company ships you a box of ingredients and the recipes for pre-chosen meals… all you have to do is the cooking.
when these companies first started popping up, i was a little skeptical. it seemed to me like they were just encouraging laziness, but really, the opposite is true. i mean… think about it! while yes, this does eliminate the trip to the grocery store [which is where the word “lazy” came to my mind… i mean… it’s not that big of a deal] it also is encouraging cooking with real, whole foods over ordering takeout/delivery or popping a frozen pizza in the oven.
for many people, this means:
- no more having to search endlessly for recipes that don’t involve 47,000 ingredients and 3 hours of your time
- no more wandering aimlessly through the grocery store trying to get creative and come up with something to cook on your own
- no more guesswork on what’s good for you and what’s not
… all you have to do is place your order online and boom! meals delivered right to your door!
so, when hellofresh ads kept popping up on my facebook feed [they’re doing great with the targeted advertising apparently] i decided to see what all the buzz was about.
hellofresh sent me three meals, each of which produced two servings… since i live alone, this meant i received nearly a week’s worth of meals… and only had to do the work involved for three… talk about a win/win! [also worth noting: they offer a vegetarian box. yea, buddy!]
the three meals i received were:
ultimate springtime salad
loaded with veggies and a ton of flavor, this was hands down my favorite meal of the three! from the carrots to the fresh mozzarella, and from the roasted potatoes to the pesto, there was nothing about this dish i didn’t like. not too heavy, but not so light that it left me feeling hungry… it was also the fastest and the easiest to prepare. this is one i’ll definitely be making all spring and summer long.
asparagus + mushroom risotto with fresh parsley + lemon
this dish was pretty damn good… but also extremely labor intensive. the recipe [which was a little confusing in some places] said it would take about 45 minutes to prepare… when in reality, it took about an hour and fifteen minutes. making risotto is not for the faint of heart! with that being said, the end result was ultimately worth the blood, sweat and tears.
smoky black bean cakes
so… i have the biggest bone to pick with hellofresh over this one. again, the end results was delicious, but the process here was… a little frustrating. the bean cakes were supposed to be served over a bed of arugula with olive oil and balsamic vinegar… but by the time i got around to making this [2 days after my box arrived] the arugula had gone bad… and i mean really bad. no big deal though… i mean, this happens when you’re cooking with real, fresh ingredients. but, for the life of me, i could not get this mixture to form into cakes. i tried, and tried… and tried, but it just was not happening. the solution? i basically just turned it into a bean and corn salad topped with avocado salsa and sour cream… which was still pretty damn delicious.
overall, i really enjoyed the experience of having nearly all of the ingredients for a week’s worth of meals sent right to my door. the individually packaged boxes organized everything so well in my fridge, and really helped to simplify and streamline my week… something i think we all can use these days! i could definitely see myself using hellofresh again [esepcially if i know i have a busy week coming up] and would recommend them to friends and family.
the final verdict?
4/5 bananas for hellofresh!
what’s your favorite meals on demand service? which one should i try next?! let me know in the comments section!
product review: ambronite
over the summer, the team over at ambronite reached out to me to introduce their brand, what they’re all about and see if i wanted to try it out for myself. i had never heard of them prior to receiving their email, so i immediately started doing my research!
ambronite is a drinkable supermeal powder, which you turn into a shake by adding water. it’s meant to be used as a meal replacement, as each serving is 500 calories and packed with of nutrients. just an f.y.i., protein powders and pre-made smoothies aren’t my thing at all, but this grabbed my attention for one reason and one reason only: the ingredients list, which is made up of only 18 all-natural, organic ingredients including coconut, chlorella, berries, spinach, mineral salt, almonds and many more. a few other features?
i had them send over a sample, which to my surprise was a full order, complete with a bpa-free shaker bottle!
i made my first shake as recommended: by placing one packet of the powder into the shaker and just adding cold water. to be honest, it didn’t exactly do it for me. while it didn’t taste bad, it did lack flavor, something that’s super important to me. [to be fair, i didn’t try mixing it with a nut milk or fresh juice, which they also suggest!] regardless, i sucked it up, drank the whole thing and was pleasantly surprised by how filling it was. they promise to diminish hunger for 4-5 hours on their website, and i have to say, this was pretty accurate! to top it off, i felt energized and focused because i wasn’t left hungry and dreaming about my next meal … okay, i lied, i’m never not dreaming about my next meal … but you get the idea.
i decided to get creative with my next “super meal” and added about half of the packet to a simple smoothie … water, a handful of spinach and half of a banana … this really seemed to do that trick. i was conscious of not going overboard with smoothie add-ons because of the high calorie count of the powder, but it amazed me how well it came together with just a few things! i’ve also added a couple tablespoons to overnight oats and while it gives it a funny color, the taste is so light that it almost makes no difference.
3/5 bananas for ambronite!
if you’re looking for a way to get some extra nutrients into your diet, feel satisfied and energized while making your life easier, you should definitely give ambronite a try. they’re offering all of my followers and readers 10% off at checkout with the code BANANASBELLINIS10!
as always, while this post was made possible by ambronite, all opinions expressed here are my own!
image 1 + 2 courtesy of ambronite
product review: halo top ice cream
product reviews are something that i have been wanting to start doing here on bananas + bellinis for some time now, and today, i’m reviewing something that’s pretty cool in more ways than one: ice cream. yep. ice cream. a little confused? let me explain!
the social media team over at halo top creamery reached out to me and asked if i would be interested in getting some of their ice cream and writing a blog post about it. i mean…why would i have ever said no to that offer?!
obviously you guys know i’m all about balance and treating yourself every once in a while, but even so, ice cream is one of those things i rarely keep in my freezer. that’s all changing now, thanks to halo top!
halo top ice cream is pretty awesome because it proves that ice cream can be healthy and taste just as good as ice cream is supposed to. it’s made with all-natural ingredients [no processed sh*t], is low in calories and sugar, and high in protein. to top it all off, it actually lives up to its claims! i got my hands on lemon cake and vanilla bean flavors…both were decadent, creamy and didn’t taste like they had any business being labeled as “healthy”. the lemon cake flavor was definitely my favorite of the two and i can’t wait to try their birthday cake and chocolate mocha chip flavors next.
it’s a no brainer: 5/5 for halo top creamery ice cream!
right now, halo top is sold in select grocery stores and supermarkets [i found it here in LA at whole foods, and you can track it down near you on their website] and comes in a variety of flavors … there’s no way you won’t find something you like!
product review: block island organics sunscreen + special offer
i always love trying out new products that are organic, all-natural and don’t contain any harmful ingredients to find out what actually works, so when block island organics reached out to me and asked if i would like to try out their sunscreen, i was obviously onboard. i decided that reviewing products the same way i review fitness classes was probably a good idea, so we’ll be following the same “banana system” seen here, here and here.
i don’t think i need to go into detail about why you should be wearing sunscreen because, let’s face it, it’s 2015 and that type of thing is just common knowledge these days. unfortunately, sunscreen is one of those things that everyone knows they should be using, but still decide to go without … for a variety of reasons.
and i’m definitely guilty of this. i hate how sunscreen tends to be super greasy and difficult to blend into my skin, leaving a weird, uncomfortable film of lotion on my body that gets on my clothes, into my eyes, and makes my hair look as if i haven’t showered in a few weeks. the spray sunscreens, which are supposed to make life easier, do just the opposite. they are equally as messy and don’t offer even coverage, which can cause weird, streaky tan/burn lines. a girl seriously can’t win.
[we should all make sunscreen one of our beach necessities.]
luckily, block island organics solves all of these #firstworldproblems with their natural mineral sunscreen. it’s still a lotion, but it’s not super thick or greasy, so it doesn’t leave an oily layer behind. it’s easy to massage into your skin, which ensures even coverage and this stuff is seriously sweat-proof. i put it on before i biked about a mile and then took an intense 90-minute vinyasa flow yoga class where i got mega-sweaty. only in the last 15 minutes of class did i start to notice that i was sweating off the lotion just a tiny bit. not only does it work, it’s made in the USA, vegan, gluten-free and all-natural … free of parabens, dyes, phthalates, and all of that other sh*t we don’t want to be putting on our bodies. the verdict?
4/5 bananas for block island organics!
want to get your hands on some of this stuff for the last few weeks of summer? i’m sure your skin could certainly use some t.l.c.! from today [august 12th, 2015] until august 18th, 2015 at 11:59pm eastern time, the block island organics family is offering all bananas + bellinis readers 15% off their entire purchase at www.blockislandorganics.com! just use the code “kelsey” at checkout! [this cannot be combined with any other offer.]
please note that while this post was made possible by block island organics, all opinions expressed here are my own!
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