Product Review: Bella Vado Natural

As you know, natural living is something I consistently pursue. No, I’m not a green-peacer nor an eccentric fanatic, just a regular newly licensed nurse with an awareness and passion for a healthy lifestyle that includes all aspects of life. 

I tried making my own stuff, like lotions and what-not. Especially lotions. I use hand lotion literally every day. I can’t stand having dry hands. But making my own stuff didn’t work out.

THEN, I found it! The perfect lotion! 

Presenting Bella Vado! I am proud to partner with Bella Vado to present to you their products! This is a family-owned business, where the parents and children work together on a huge avocado grove. They make high quality, raw, cold-pressed avocado oil, and a variety of products including lotion, soaps, skin serum, lip balm, body wash, and face wash. 

 

Here is why I LOVE their lotion! 

  • If you look on the ingredients list, you will see that 90% of the list includes plants and oils. There are no unwanted chemicals like potassium, parabens, artificial colors, or other preservatives like formaldehyde. I give Bella Vado a rating of 10 for keeping their products so chemical-free, because other products out there use the term “natural” but the ingredients list shows otherwise. Always check the label! 
  • Bella Vado lotion is food-grade lotion! It’s so natural- you could basically eat it! 
  • They use non-GMO avocado oil, raw, unrefined, cold-pressed for the lotion! Avocado oil is even better than coconut oil for feeding the skin, the largest organ of your body
  • It is luxuriously smooth and silky, and leaves no residue or grease on your hands
  • They have a variety of fragrances, such as Passion fruit (My favorite), Lavendar, Jasmine and Honey Almond, as well as an unscented lotion
  • The price is great, compared to other natural products out there! I purchased mine for $9.99 at a local store, and they sell it for $13.oo for 5.5 fl oz. bottle on their website 

I have yet to try all their other products, and I am sure they are of the same high quality as their lotion! I’m a fan! 

If you are looking for a heart-healthy cooking oil, check out their avocado oils. Bella Vado also has unique flavored oils such as “Garlic Avocado Oil” or “Lemon Avocado Oil”, or “Jalapeno Avocado Oil”. 

To find out more about their company and how they started, check out this short video: Green Goddess Goes to Market.

Head over to their website to order your lotion today! http://www.bellavado.com

 

Note: Bella Vado agreed to send me one of their products in exchange for my honest review 

 

 

Top 10 Favorite Cheeses

I’m going against the flow. 

While everyone on the web and social media is posting about pumpkin spice lattes, autumn colors, and pumpkin everything, I’m going to share my love of cheese.

Because cheese is good any time of the year. And because cheese is a good companion to any meal. It even works in dessert.  

There are quite a few health benefits of cheese, did you know? Like: 

  • A feeling of satisfaction after you eat cheese
  • Makes you happy when you are feeling down
  • A feeling of satisfaction after you eat…oh wait, did I say that before?

You get the point- it’s good for you! And it has calcium, and protein, and vitamin A , and vitamin B12. Of course it has cholesterol, calories and such, but we’ll ignore the not-so-good part for now. Moderation will balance things out. 

My Top 10 Favorite Cheeses

1. Goat cheese


(source)

Super tasty with french bread. For breakfast. With honey. With jam. And as a spread for anything else. It’s tangy and light and creamy.  

2. Feta

The cheese that should be a staple for every meal, ha! Well, at least some meals. It adds a nice flavor to anything. It’s especially delicious with tomatoes. I add it in soup, salad and sandwiches too.

3. Fresh mozarella


(source)

Ah, fresh mozzarella. The sister of feta. I eat these two cheeses together sometimes. Mozzarella is lovely with tomatoes, salads, sandwiches, pizza…and did you ever try melted fresh mozzarella??? I can’t even describe to you the goodness.

 

4. The Laughing Cow cheese

(source)

Another tangy creamy cheese. It’s kinda similar to cream cheese, but different- it has a punch. It works with crackers, on bread, nearly anything. 

5. Cream Cheese


(source)

Of course cream cheese can’t be missing in this list! I don’t even have to tell you how I eat it. Anything imaginable- from desserts, to spreads…just ask the food bloggers. 

6. Kashkaval

Cow_s_Milk_Kashk_4f8355c44fd92.jpg
(source)

If you’re European you probably know this cheese. If you eat international food you may know this cheese too. Kashkaval can be found in most international food stores in the United States. Makes a fabulous omelette! Also pairs well with bread and butter, or in melted cheese sandwiches, with other cheeses, and veggies. 

7. Provolone

 


(source)

One of the best sandwich cheeses. Superb. And if you melt it, provolone is….ahhh! No need to explain the goodness if you’ve tasted this before. 

8. Marble Jack (colby jack) 


(source)

Mmm, mmm! Marble Jack is tasty in omelette, crackers, melted in chili, and in sandwiches. I’m not sure if it’s found outside of the United States. It has a sharp flavor because it’s sharp cheddar cheese mixed with white cheese. Whoever invented this had a great mind. Or loved cheese. 

9. Gouda


(source)

A refined and snobby cheese, with a smoked and earthy flavor. Nicely compliments salami and other fancy meals. A real treat! 

10. Parmesan


(source)

Last but not least- the famous Parmesan! Spaghetti is the first thing that comes to mind. A versatile cheese, the iconic cheese of Italy if I may say so. 

Are you hungry now? What kind of cheese do you like? 

Comfort Food

 

You know those weekends when you’re feeling kind of…meh? It was Saturday. The sky was a blanket of gray. It was chilly and wet outside. I was tired and not feeling 100%.

This definitely called for comfort food.

Pilaf. My dad makes really delicious pilaf. Warm, savory, flavorful, and dripping with butter. It’s the best rice dish you could ever ask for. It’s made with tender chicken breast, some broth/water, a few carrots, onions, and plenty of pepper. Simple goodness. You see, I’m not a big rice fan, but pilaf deserves to be in the category of comfort food.

Nevertheless, I can name a lot of dishes that I enjoy as comfort food, but I realized that pilaf is now one of them.

Pilaf is the sister of chicken soup-  you know how grandmothers say chicken soup cures the sick? (BTW, I also stand behind that claim. Chicken soup is essential for when you’re sick with a cold or flu). Well, pilaf is a close second. It makes the sick…smile?

Some of you may be wondering, where in the world is this pilaf dish actually from? It’s popular all over Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and Latin America. Of course it comes in a lot of different versions. I’m not sure where it actually originated, probably Greece or Turkey. There’s lots of different recipes online. We prefer a basic pilaf.

Another bonus is that pilaf is a simple and quick dish that even college students can learn to make. If you use a whole chicken, you can make two dishes from it: pilaf + chicken soup!

Anyway, back to my story. To complete the comfort food menu, I also made a batch of chocolate chip cookies (using it as an excuse that it was a fun activity the little ones could do with their 5 year old visiting friend) ;D

It didn’t stop there. My sister made a batch of special dark brownies with plenty of nuts on top, because she was already planning on baking them, and my impromptu chocolate chip cookie baking didn’t stop her from doing her scheduled baking. But don’t worry, the brownies were for the next day. Those brownies were moist, luxuriously delicious, and as dark as a starless sky.

In case you were wondering, brownies and cookies pair well with a glass of cold milk.

 

Yes, the cookies and pilaf compensated for my not-so-100% day.

Now you may be looking for the recipes for all these goodies. But… since this is not a baking or a cooking blog, those recipes don’t come for free 😉

You have to comment and let me know what is your comfort food!

Then in a few days, I’ll include the links in here for the brownie and chocolate chip cookie recipes, and find the recipe for the pilaf.

Discover the benefits of Hazelnuts

Picture1

Guess what people? I have a major writer’s block right now. Unfortunately, despite the temporary (psychological) impediment, I must write. Because this particular article is among a collection of other posts that I’m writing in advance and pre-scheduling for my blog. I’m preparing for the “long days ahead” when I’m in school and don’t have an ounce of time to spare writing more elaborate posts on my lonely blog. So when you’re reading this I’m probably taking an exam. Or studying for an exam. Or right after an exam, and preparing for another exam. Because that’s what you do when you’re a student.

So I think I was craving some chocolate-y nutella when this blog post idea came to mind. I started wondering about the health benefits of hazelnuts and it dawned on me that among all the nutrition and health articles I read, and on all the “natural” blogs out there, nobody really promoted the qualities of these charming little kernels. So I took it upon myself to bring these classy beauties into the spotlight.

Some Background on Hazelnuts

There are various names for hazelnuts. The name “hazelnut” comes from the Old English hæselhnutu, Dutch hazelnoot, and German hasselnusz. The Anglo-Saxon root word “haesel” supposedly means headdress. Hazelnuts are also called “filberts” (French origin) after the holiday of St. Philbert since the hazelnuts would be ripe around the time of that holiday.

The nuts grow in green clumps of about 4-12 nuts, and are about the size of acorns. After 7-8 months of ripening, they turn that beautiful hazel color and are ready for collecting.

Hazelnuts were cultivated since ancient Chinese civilizations; the Romans also used hazelnuts, and they were popular in the Middle East as well. So it isn’t really precisely known where they originated.

It is said that hazelnuts were introduced to the United States in the 1700s by David Gernot, a Frenchman who started a hazelnut grove in the Willamette Valley of Oregon. Today, Oregon and Washington states are among the top producers of hazelnuts in North America.


(Willamette Valley River)

Even President George Washington had a special interest in hazelnuts. The first commercial nursery was started up by Robert Prince in 1737. The nursery cultivated American hazelnut trees and imported “Barcelona” hazelnuts trees from Spain. After Washington visited the nursery, he liked it so much he made sure it was safely guarded during the Revolutionary War.

So there you have it, some background info and history on hazelnuts! Now on to the eating part, shall we?


Culinary Uses of Hazelnuts

Hazelnuts are used in a variety of ways in many dishes.

From the obvious delicious Nutella…

to chocolate with hazelnuts…

to hazelnut truffles and praline…

to hazelnut coffee flavor, like hazelnut latte…

to hazelnut flour…

and hazelnut oil…

and even hazelnut soup…

Hazelnuts are used in any dessert imaginable, from cookies to cakes and cereal. They’re canned, made into paste, or mixed with other nuts, and surprisingly there’s even hazelnut liquor.

If you want to make your own home-made nutella, there are a variety of recipes floating out on the internet, especially pinterest. I want to try this one.

Now don’t start licking the screen after looking at all those delicious ways you can use hazelnuts. Wait till I tell you the benefits of hazelnuts- then you’ll always have an excuse for indulging in a little too much nutella (or hazelnut latte for that matter).

Benefits of Hazelnuts

Dioscorides, a Greek physician, pharmacologist, and botanist wrote about the stupendous qualities of hazelnuts:

“It cures chronic coughing if pounded filbert is eaten with honey. Cooked filbert mixed with black pepper cures the cold. If the ointment produced by mashing burnt filbert shells in suet is smeared on the head where hair does not grow due to normal baldness or to some disease, hair will come again.”

Additional Benefits:

  • Hazelnuts are high in magnesium which is great for cardiovascular health and muscle strength, function, and bone formation.
  • They also contain large amounts of B vitamins vitamins B1 (thiamin), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid), B6 and B9 (folic acid), which help keep the nervous system functioning in tip top shape, increase memory, reduce stress and depression etc.
  • Are you looking to control your cholesterol? Well, hazelnuts are your friends because they contain lots of oleic acid which raises the HDL cholesterol and lowers the LDL cholesterol.
  • Any pregnant blogging ladies out there? Hazelnuts are champions in folate content (they beat all the other tree nuts in this quality).
  • Hazelnuts are one of the best sources of manganese and copper.
  • Plagued by frequent UTIs? Hazelnuts contain proanthocyanidin a flavonol, which reduce risk of UTI and even blood clotting.
  • Hazelnuts are in the “elite” group of tree nuts, cause not everyone has the coveted vitamin A, which helps the immune system, promotes good vision, and great skin.
  • Hazelnuts even have 86% of the Recommended Daily Allowance of Vitamin E, another great skin vitamin.
  • They’re a great source of fiber and energy.
  • And the list could go on…

Cosmetic Uses of Hazelnuts

  • Hazelnut oil is rich in Vitamin E which is good for the skin and used for reducing scars.
  • It is used in massage therapy.
  • Hazelnut oil does not go rancid easily, so it can be stored for a long time- thus it is used in many cosmetic creams, lotions and soaps.
  • According to Dioscorides, Hazelnut paste can help cure bald spots.

Other Interesting Facts

Hazel and willow wood would be used to make Coracle boats in Wales, England, Ireland and Scotland.

 

There is a type of hazel tree which is used in landscaping because it has a very unique appearance. It is the Corylus avellana ‘Contorta’, or more commonly called “Harry Lauder’s walking stick” or the “Corkscrew Hazel”.  The branches of this tree are naturally twisted and turned, and looks like it came out of a creepy horror movie…but apparently people like that.

Did you enjoy this post? Please extend your appreciation by “liking”, leaving a comment, and sharing with your friends on social media. 

 

Sources:

http://www.2020site.org/trees/hazel.html

http://www.kjhazelnuts.com/about/history-of-the-hazelnut.html

http://www.seedguides.info/hazelnut/

http://redforme.blogspot.com/2011_07_01_archive.html

http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=filbert&allowed_in_frame=0

http://www.oregonhazelnuts.org/about-us/fun-facts/

http://www.livestrong.com/article/156999-hazelnut-oil-uses/