Friday, June 28, 2019

12 Simple Ways to Improve Your Health

It seems like every week there is a new health food craze, exercise machine, supplement or fad diet being shoved down our throats making it difficult to know what actually works. Losing weight and staying healthy is not always an easy journey but the first step is realizing what changes need to be made and committing to a program that helps you achieve those goals.

Limiting your food intake or forcing yourself into a grueling workout regiment is not always realistic. Your goals should be gradual and easy to maintain without disrupting your lifestyle.

I’ve tried countless diets that only led to short-term results because they were too restrictive. Food is one of life’s simple pleasures and we should be able to enjoy our favorite treats in moderation without feeling guilty.

These days I am trying to make healthier choices, drop a few extra pounds and live my best life. If you are interested in doing the same, I’ve listed a few tips and products to help you get started without counting calories.

1. Vitamins & Supplements
I try to consume a balanced diet but when I don’t get all the nutrients I need from food, vitamins are a great option.

A few of my favorite supplements include:

*Sproos Up Your Gut ($49.99 per tub) - This collagen enriched powder aids in digestion and gastrointestinal health. The apple cinnamon flavor tastes great in smoothies and helps support bones, ligaments, joints, connective tissue, blood vessels, tendons and skin. Read more about this brand by clicking HERE.

*Espira ($40.00) by Avon is a plant power protein that can be mixed in almond milk or smoothies. The vegan, gluten-free formula provides essential amino acids, 22 g of protein and a long list of plant extracts and vitamins for the maintenance of good health and digestive enzymes. Each serving is 120 calories and the powder is available in rich chocolate and creamy vanilla with no soy, dairy or nuts. (Available at

*Ultimate Flora ($45.99) is my go-to probiotic for daily immune support. It contains 50 million active cultures to ensure a healthy microbacterial environment in the intestinal tract. I take one capsule 2-3 times a week to improve gut health. It also helps fight off food poisoning and prepares my body for travel.

*Gummy Vitamins are ideal for people who don’t like popping pills and the delicious fruit flavor makes them easy to take. Nature’s Bounty Skin Hair and Nails ($9.79 at Walmart) helps maintain bones, cartilage, teeth and gums while metabolizing fat. I also like Vitafusion Multi Vitamins ($9.97) because they provide a healthy dose of essential nutrients.

*Estro Smart helps women coping with hormonal imbalance, acne, painful menstruation and PMS symptoms. It is a natural supplement that balances estrogen - progesterone levels to halt abnormal cell growth including fibroids, cysts and endometriosis. It also helps maintain a healthy cervix and prevents HPV, cervical cancer, irregular periods, breast pain, back aches and more. You can use it to treat specific symptoms or maintain reproductive health.

*Carl Jung Red Wine ($6.99) is technically not a supplement but it does work in much the same way. My dad claims that it “saved his life” by lowering bad cholesterol and keeping it in check after his bypass surgery. It tastes a bit like Kombucha and is said to be more effective than regular red wine because it does not contain alcohol which can inhibit the antioxidants. (Please note that these findings are not based on medical research).

*Emergen-C Immune + is always in my pantry because it helps fight cold and flu viruses while boosting the immune system. The box contains 30 individual single serving packs for $11.97 and you simply mix the crystals in cold water (flat or sparkling). Along with 1,000 mg of Vitamin C (more than 10 oranges) it also contains essential antioxidants and B vitamins.

*Jamieson Immune Shield Zinc Lozenges with Echinacea and Vitamins
At the first signs of cold, flu and dry or sore throat take one lozenge and let it dissolve slowly. It helps ease and even stop throat irritation quickly.

A few other supplements I take include: magnesium, Myco 10 Immunomodulating Mushroom Complex to defend against pathogens and Wild Elderberry Concentrate which contains antioxidants, vitamins and fiber. Elderberry is also known to help fight off cancer, prevent and manage diabetes, treat cold symptoms, improve heart health, reduce blood pressure and protect against harmful bacteria.

**Please note that you should always consult a health care practitioner before starting a new diet or supplement. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice.

2. Drink the Right Kind of Water
I know it sounds cliché but the quality of water you drink is just as important as the amount you drink. In many countries (including Canada), tap water contains contaminants that don't taste very good.

In my house we mainly drink 3 types of water. The first is Reverse Osmosis which refers to water that has been thoroughly filtered to remove scaling minerals, unpleasant taste, odor, chlorine, herbicides, pesticides, sand, rust, silt and sediment. The water is forced under pressure which removes 99% of dissolved solids such as lead, copper, sodium, nitrates and bacteria.

The second type of water we buy is alkaline which has a higher pH to neutralize acid in the body. Studies suggest that it prevents acid reflux and controls symptoms of diabetes, high blood pressure and cholesterol so blood flows more freely. Alkaline water is also beneficial for colon cleansing, immune support, weight loss, pain and cancer resistance.

Flow offers a variety of lightly flavored alkaline spring water including my favorite - Organic Blackberry + Hibiscus. This water is a fantastic source of natural electrolytes and there is no sugar, juice, calories or preservatives. The boxes are made of 100% recyclable material and the fruit blends are perfect for picnics, road trips, parties and refueling after a workout. I love the smooth refreshing taste and I actually feel better when I drink at least one box per day. You can pick up a 12 pack at Metro, Sobey's, Whole Foods and other grocery retailers for about $25.00.

Fiuggi Water is something I heard about when my husband was suffering from kidney stones. The water comes directly from a natural spring in Italy and gained recognition after Pope Anticoli di Campagnac claimed that it dissolved his kidney stones without medication. It worked wonders for my husband and since then the water has become part of our daily routine. I also use the carbonated version to alleviate stomach pain and detox my kidneys.

While on-the-go I usually take my Brita Water Bottle ($24.99) so I can fill up anywhere and limit my use of plastic waste. The BPA-free, durable bottle is available in a variety of eye-catching colors and comes with a built-in filter that cleans the water as you drink.

It also has a carrying loop, one-hand push-button lid (which comes in handy during workouts) and an enclosed straw for fewer spills.

The filter should be changed every 2 months and a 2 pack cost $7.99. For a full list of retailers please visit

3. Eliminate Soft Drinks and Sugary Juice
I often refer to soft drinks as empty calories because they are loaded with sugar but don't actually fill you up. Personally, I rather eat my calories but cutting out or drastically reducing the amount of soda you drink can help shed extra pounds.

Juice is generally okay if it is all-natural and cold pressed with no added sugar. Try making your own delicious recipes or whip up a tasty smoothie.

Naturally flavored water with a hint of carbonation mimics the satisfying soda fizz and diet sodas (free of artificial sweeteners) are usually available at health food stores and select supermarkets.

4. Make Exercise Enjoyable
If working out seems like a chore or punishment then maybe it is time to change the way you move. I am not a fan of public gyms. I don’t like sweaty crowds or waiting in line to use equipment that has been improperly cleaned. My former gym became a weird hook-up spot for singles looking to mingle and like most people I signed up and never went.

I prefer physical activity that does not feel like exercise. Summer is a great time for swimming, biking, hiking and planning fun activities with friends. I also enjoy walking around the mall or park with my husband. If you aren't the sporty type, a leisurely stroll around the neighborhood a few times a week might be all you need. Keep it simple and have fun.

I also created a small home gym with an elliptical, weights, workout videos, yoga mat, jump rope, exercise ball, resistance bands, treadmill and an Ab Lounger.

It doesn't take much to work up a good sweat so if you don't have any equipment there are free workout programs online. The key is finding an activity you enjoy so it doesn't feel like torture.

5. Reduce Sitting Time
If you work a 9-5 desk job chances are you spend too much time sitting. If I’m not downtown attending media events or traveling, I’m usually cooped up in my office writing, editing or answering emails.

Recent studies suggest that sitting for prolonged periods of time can increase your risk for cardiovascular disease and cause weight gain.

It is important to take frequent breaks. Get up and stretch, go for a quick walk (indoor or out) and if your office has stairs go up and down a few times a day to get your heart pumping. While you’re sitting, compression stockings can help improve circulation. I also wear mine on long overseas flights.

Standing desks have become quite popular recently. They allow you to work standing up and fold down when you are ready to sit. 

6. Pamper Yourself
Stress can make you much more susceptible to illness so if you are over-worked and on-edge, it is important to relax and enjoy some YOU time.

Do something calming, take a vacation or pamper yourself at least once a week. I plan a spa evening every Friday after work which consists of deep conditioning my hair, applying a good face mask, reading and meditating to clear my mind.

GlamGlow Supermud Clearing Treatment $75.00 at Shoppers Drug Mart 

After a long day I like using Dr. Teal’s invigorating Epsom Salt Bath Soak and Body Lotions ($7.98 at Walmart). The lightweight, nourishing formulas include: Ultra Rich Shea Butter, Rejuvenating Eucalyptus and Coconut Oil enriched with vitamin E. The creams absorb quickly and drench skin in layers of healing moisture that lasts all day without greasiness, parabens or phthalates. 

7. Improve Your Sleep Habits
Sleep allows the body to recuperate, heal and recharge the immune system so we can fight off disease. It is also imperative for cognitive functioning and overall health. For more information read my article – 10 Tips to Improve Your Beauty Sleep.

8. Read Labels and Make Better Choices
Many years ago I made a habit of reading food labels. You’d be surprised how many seemingly “healthy” foods are packed with extra sugar or salt to compensate for the low fat content. There are also many preservatives, processed additives and artificial flavors to look out for so read every package that goes into your shopping cart.

Some of the small changes I’ve made include: purchasing free-range, antibiotic-free meat and eggs, eating lean white meat (usually chicken breast because I'm not a big meat-eater), buying organic whenever possible and incorporating more fruit and veggies. I also limit my dairy intake, look for low sodium snacks and replace some of my favorite carbs with healthier options like rye bread, spelt pasta and quinoa instead of rice.

You don’t have to eliminate everything (life’s too short) but cutting back or making healthy substitutions when possible can help you lose weight, feel better and really make your calories count.

9. Snack Better
If you don’t have healthy snacks readily available, it is easy to grab a bag of Cheetos or M&M’s and stuff your face. Fruits and veggies are great but sometimes I crave a few chips and a nice chunk of chocolate.

Instead of depriving yourself and triggering cravings, look for low fat alternatives. At my local health food store I found delicious supergrain turmeric chips loaded with flaxseed, algae protein, pumpkin, quinoa and seasoning. They are vegan, kosher, gluten-free and non GMO.

If you are going to eat chocolate, the darker the better! Nestle makes an addicting fruit and nut bar with rich dark cocoa, whole blueberries, hazelnut and almonds.

Popcorn is my favorite snack so I pop my own organic kernels with a sprinkle of Himalayan pink sea salt and a drizzle of organic grape seed oil (instead of butter). Making your own munchies is great idea because you know exactly what’s in them.

Don’t get discouraged if you have a bit of a sweet tooth, there are many low-sugar options available as well. Ice cream is my favorite dessert (I will never give it up) which is why Halo Top has become a staple in my freezer.

There are 16 mouth-watering flavors including: Peanut Butter Swirl, Mint Chocolate, Cookies & Cream, Sea Salt Caramel, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, Pancakes & Waffles and Birthday Cake. Most of the pints are 80 -130 calories per serving and just 6-11 g of sugar so you never feel guilty about enjoying dessert. The non-daily pints are made with coconut cream and retail for $6.99.

10. Portion Control
I think the key to sticking with a healthy lifestyle is to enjoy food in moderation rather than cutting everything out of your diet and dreaming of lasagna.

If you tend to overeat, gradually reduce your portion size and drink more carbonated water with each meal (the gas makes you feel full). Cut down on carbs and load up on veggies or lean protein. Sometimes it helps to use a smaller plate or bowl.

Avoid eating heavy meals late at night or before bed because your body has to work harder to digest them and you don't burn many calories while sedentary. I eat dinner at 6 p.m. and refrain from snacking throughout the night.

I also find creative ways to cook my veggies like cauliflower pizza crust, roasted sweet potato fries and spicy chicken wraps with fresh green salad topped with fruit and homemade dressing.  

Mix things up so you aren't always eating the same foods. Try new recipes and cook with fresh herbs like turmeric, dill, cilantro, rosemary and mint to amp-up the flavors of your dish.

11. Meal Prep
It is easier to eat healthy when you already have everything prepared and at your disposal. Plan your meals and shop before the week begins so you are not tempted to hit the drive-thru.

12. Limit Fast Food
I’ve never been a burger joint kind of girl. When I eat out I prefer tasty dishes at good restaurants prepared by chefs who actually know what they are doing.

For example pizza is my favorite food but I no longer eat at fast food chains where I can’t be sure if the cheese and meat is real or genetically modified. Instead I eat at restaurants that serve high quality wood burning pizza with fresh ingredients.

Finding healthy options at fast food chains is not impossible but it depends on what you order. Wraps, sandwiches, fajitas, chicken breast, burritos and salads are usually healthier alternatives if the meat is not high in sodium or preservatives. Cut down on grease and fat when possible and always opt for quality.

I try my best to follow all of these tips but traveling makes it difficult. Sampling local cuisine is part of the cultural experience so I don’t obsess about calories. I also tend to exercise more on vacation because there is usually a lot of walking involved in touring a new destination.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

What it Means to be Canadian

One of the most common questions I get asked when I meet new people is – “where are you from?”

As a kid this question never really bothered me but when I became an adult, people started digging a little deeper. 

Replying with - I am Canadian never seems to be enough. The follow-up question is always – “but where are your parents from?”

Why do strangers incessantly assume that Canada is not my home and native land and why are they so interested in my family's cultural identity?

A man I met while vacationing in the Middle East may have inadvertently shed some light on this topic.

As I browsed a bakery in Dubai a few years ago, a local man asked me the same question – “where are you from?” and of course I replied - Canada. I was born and raised in Mississauga - a thriving suburb just outside of Toronto. I relate to Canadian culture, learned basic French and my parents grew up here but his response was – “I thought Canadians were white.” I was slightly offended but decided not to argue with someone who was obviously ignorant and uneducated in Canadian history.

We know that European Settlers combed the globe, conquered and unfairly claimed land by violent means but that does not make them native to the country. History tells us that early settlers “discovered the new world” when in reality, many places were already inhabited. If this occurred in modern times, we might simply refer to these so called “explorers” as immigrants.

Unfortunately First Nations People have suffered a traumatic past. “North American Indigenous people were uprooted from their traditional homes and villages, either through war, forced relocation or threats of violence, and pushed into remote areas where they wouldn’t get in the way of European Colonization.” (Early History of Canada – Today I see little indication of Native culture in my hometown and some Aboriginal People still live on reserves.

Quite recently Prime Minister Justin Trudeau offered a public apology on behalf of the government of Canada - “saying we are sorry is not enough. It will not undo the harm that was done to you. It will not bring back the languages and traditions you lost.”

With Canada Day fast approaching, I can’t help but wonder what it really means to be Canadian - a sense of identity that differs for everyone.

Living in the most multicultural city in the world gives me a unique perspective on cultural identity. Canadians do not fit neatly into a generic little box. We come in all shapes and colors with beautiful customs and intricate languages. We are a melting pot of diversity, a rich tapestry that makes this country beautiful.

Canada is an Iroquois word meaning “village” or “settlement.”  In fact, many of our cities have Indigenous names that reflect the country’s historical roots. Everyone who came to live here introduced their own customs and beliefs so we have to find a way to co-exist harmoniously, share this planet and appreciate our differences.

Sometimes cultural and racial identity is not as simple as checking a census box for Caucasian, Asian, African or Latino. I can never decide which to choose because I am more complex than those simplified terms. Why pick one group over another if I am multi-racial?

Strangers continually try to guess my cultural background and the feedback is always interesting. I’ve realized that people's perspectives differ depending on where I travel in the world. While vacationing in Italy, the locals assumed I was from India. In Puerto Rico I was accepted as Puerto Rican, in Thailand locals asked me if I was Thai, Malaysian or Filipino and here in Toronto I often get grouped-in with people from the West Indies – Trinidadian or Guyanese. Other assumptions include: Korean and Caribbean, Mexican and Aboriginal, Brazilian and a few other unique combinations. People see different things when they look at me but what’s important is what I see. 

I understand the confusion, I’ve been told that I have “multicultural features” and at my wedding various friends jokingly commented that my family looks like the United Nations. We do have many cultural mixes – Chinese, Caribbean, Swedish, Indian etc but it wasn’t until recently that I was able to pinpoint my roots thanks to Ancestry and Me. The test is simple - send in your DNA to determine the genetic details of your cultural identity including your family’s migratory pattern.

The results of my heritage (in simplified terms) are – North-Western India and Pakistan, Afro-Caribbean, Russian, Finish, Polynesian, East Asian (from the region of Thailand, Taiwan, Japan, Philippines, Korea) and a small percent Australian Aboriginal.

My mom’s lineage was a bit surprising. Originally we thought my maternal great grandmother was Irish because she was adopted by an Irish family but it turns out she had strong Russian ancestry. My mother’s test also revealed ties to Germany, Wales and England. I am very interested to learn more about my Polynesian lineage and hope to discover family in Hawaii! (I can dream can't I).

It is extremely humbling to acknowledge the hardships my ancestors must have faced to ensure my survival and I am grateful for their sacrifices.

“You can’t judge a book by its cover” and if you start digging around in your past, you might be surprised by what you find. 

Most people in this world are not just one thing. As human beings we are all connected and I wish that was enough to teach us acceptance, tolerance and love.

As a Psychology major I understand our tendency to categorize and explain things. Maybe people ask about my background because they are genuinely intrigued but the fact remains – I am Canadian and that answer should be good enough.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Sexy Date Night Makeup with Revlon's Maverick Eye Shadow Palette

Winter is beautiful but it feels like we spend most of the season cooped up inside wearing pajamas, drinking cocoa and watching TV. When summer rolls around I can’t wait to shed the extra layers, apply some cute makeup and go out on the town with my love.

When the weather is nice you’ll never find me sitting at home with a pint of Ben and Jerry’s. This year I’ve already hosted several amazing parties, attended many gorgeous events, saw a few Broadway shows and jetted off to Miami, Malta, Valencia, Madrid and Belgium (I’m on a roll).

Date night is something my husband and I always look forward to. We like going on road trips to Niagara Falls, enjoying quiet dinners and catching a movie at the VIP theater.

It is also a chance for me to try new makeup because he always notices when I wear unique colors and I like getting all dolled-up.

For our next date I have my look all planned out. I will be using Revlon’s new Maverick Eye Shadow Palette ($9.99) with sultry burnt orange, deep red, smoldering brown, brilliant copper and a pop of rose gold.

These stunning sunset hues are perfect for a romantic night out and they are expertly matched with a selection of solid mattes and radiant shimmer.

The compact is small enough to slip in my purse and contains all the colors I need to create a show-stopping look with contour, definition and highlight in all the right places. Some shades may require layering but they are easy to blend and compliment all skin tones.

The shadows are also quite versatile, well pigmented and non-creasing but the mattes are a tad dry (primer is necessary) and it can be difficult to dip a brush into the thin rectangular sections (applicator is not included).

I always match my lipstick to my eye makeup and in this case there are several pretty options depending on your style. If you want to go bold and classic, Revlon’s Ultra HD Matte Lip Mousse ($9.99) in the shade Sunset instantly brightens the complexion. The rich texture keeps lips supple and the full-coverage creamy color has a powdery matte finish for a voluptuous effect.

If you prefer something dark and mysterious, the Cushion Lip Tint ($9.99) in the shade Wine Trip provides alluring shine. The color glides on sheer and vivid to compliment the autumn tones in the palette and the hydrating formula is very comfortable.

Neutrals are always a safe bet and the Super Lustrous Matte Lipstick in the shade Rise Up Rose ($9.99) is gorgeous! The deep, mauve-y pink looks amazing on medium, olive, golden and deep skin tones. It accentuates the curves of your pout with a moisturizing vitamin E formula and the lightweight velvety texture does not crease or flake.

The new PhotoReady Rose Glow Hydrating+ Primer ($13.99) can be worn alone or under makeup to smooth and hydrate without oiliness. The silky base also helps minimize pores while the pealescent particles boost luminosity with a hint of sparkle. The finish is supple and non-sticky with a lovely scent.

If your skin tends to get greasy in the mid-day heat, Revlon’s PhotoReady Candid Anti-Pollution Setting Powder creates a natural airbrush effect with a matte finish that eliminates sweat and oil. The soft, translucent powder shields your complexion from environmental aggressors and you can reapply as needed without caking. It isn’t my favorite formula but for $9.99 it comes in handy for quick touch-ups and blends well without white residue.

What makeup are you wearing on your next date?
Revlon is available at major drugstores across Canada.

Friday, June 21, 2019

Aveeno Hair Care Collection Inspired by Farm Fresh Ingredients: Almond Oil, Apple Cider Vinegar and Oat Milk Blend

Most of you know that I love Aveeno body products! Their luscious shower gels are to die for and the moisturizing body creams are gentle on sensitive skin.

The brand’s newest beauty trend is a fragrant farm fresh collection inspired by natural ingredients. There are no sulfates, dyes, or parabens and the replenishing formulas target all hair types including: dry, thin, sensitive, color treated, dull, limp and lifeless.

The first Collection I chose to test is the Almond Oil Blend for deep hydration and soft frizz-free strands. This range also contains avocado oil which is high in omega 3 fatty acids that nourish and repair dry, damaged cuticles. The shampoo does what you’d expect - it removes dirt, sweat and excess oil so hair feels clean and smells wonderful. After lathering twice, my ends still felt a bit dry (probably because of the vacation I just returned from) but the gel, hairspray, impurities and leave-ins were thoroughly eliminated.

I have a lot of long hair so the conditioner does not provide enough slip to detangle unless I use a generous amount. When left on for a few minutes in the shower, my strands began to feel soft and manageable. It is important to comb the cream through evenly, saturate your ends and give it time to work.

If your tresses are really parched, use the Hair Mask for intense hydration. My mane usually needs a lot more than the recommended 5 minutes so I leave it on for 3-4 hours. You can also mix it with another treatment from the collection to target several problem areas at once. My hair can withstand a lot of moisture without ever feeling weighed down so sometimes I use the mask as regular conditioner.

Apple cider vinegar for hair care sounds disgusting (I can’t stand the scent) but my mom swears by it. Apparently this “super food” deep cleans like nobody’s business without stripping or damaging fragile strands.

Thankfully Aveeno’s Apple Cider products do not have a foul vinegar odor and they soothe dry scalp while boosting shine. The sweet fragrance reminds me of apple juice (it smells delicious) and the shampoo rinses away dust, grime and pollutants.

If you need a clarifying treatment to get rid of heavy build-up, the Hair Rinse thoroughly eliminates everything left clinging to your strands and clogging your follicles including dead, flaky skin. This treatment is not meant for daily or even weekly use. Apply it after shampooing only when needed to rejuvenate your scalp, roots and ends. If your hair is dry, frizzy, damaged or weak, I would refrain from using this product altogether because it may strip away too much natural sebum.

I use the rinse when I haven’t washed my hair in a while, after a long vacation or when I slather on too much leave-in, oil, dry shampoo or serum that need to be removed efficiently.

After detoxing your strands, make sure to follow-up with lots of hydrating conditioner. It is also a good idea to use a revitalizing mask and leave it on for at least an hour.

The Oat Milk Blend is formulated for daily moisture. It is soothes dry scalp and lightly hydrates all hair types. I use it when I need to wash my hair more frequently, usually when I’m on a workout program where I have to remove perspiration without causing brittleness.

The shampoo is average. It cleanses well without making my hair feel rough but I prefer to co-wash with the conditioner to retain some natural oil. I work the cream through my roots (massaging well), saturate my ends, detangle and rinse.

When I’m rocking my natural curls the Oat Milk Blend Leave-In Milk with hydrolyzed protein helps balance, strengthen, smooth and protect. The added moisture keeps my tresses frizz-free and bouncy without stiffness or static and it smells fantastic.

The Oat Milk Overnight Mask is a cool new concept. I’ve never left a conditioner on for 6-8 hours before but I need all the moisture I can get!

The mask is bit tricky to sleep in (depending on how much you use). If you apply it sparingly and braid your hair, chances are it won’t get all over your pillow. I decided to drench my entire head (don’t laugh) so I had to wrap my hair in a bun and sleep in a silk scarf to prevent transfer. In the morning I rinsed it out and my curls were soft, shiny and super sleek! This is a great idea for anyone who needs to revive dry, straggly strands and repair damage.

The entire collection is priced at $10.99 and Aveeno is available at Walmart and all major drugstores.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Quo Cosmetics Summer 2019 Limited-Edition Makeup Collection

While dealing with a bad case of jet-lag I’ve decided to cheer myself up by reviewing a new summer collection!

Quo always keeps it relatively simple when it comes to cosmetics. You won’t find bold colors or sultry tones but you will notice a hearty helping of light pink, nude and pastel.

The Ombré Eye Shadow Palettes ($18.00 each) are basic and easy to use. Popping Peach doesn’t offer much variety or vibrancy but the shimmering peach (second from the left) is actually brighter than expected. These neutrals may not knock your socks off but they look better on the skin than they do in the palette. Add some jet black liner, a pop of blush and some shiny gloss for a fresh-face, natural effect.

I didn’t think I’d like the Cotton Candy Palette with its unusual cool blues and pastel purple but the colors complement each other nicely and look kind of aquatic. These hues show up much better than the peach palette and although primer is necessary for longer wear, you can layer the shadows to create a beachy mermaid vibe.

I'm always hopeful that Quo will break from tradition and create a few dramatic pigments but we'll have to wait and see.

The Berry Beam Ombré Face Palette ($20.00) contains a sun-kissed bronzer and radiant blush to help accentuate and define but the color doesn't stand out on my complexion. At the moment I’m not really into bronzer but this powder is more of a faint golden highlighter.

The blush has a dark side and a light side with a hint of shimmer. I’m not sure why it’s called "Berry Beam" but the muted coral is perfect for those who dislike excessive cheek color.

The Face Brush ($14.00) is great for contouring and blending. It fits perfectly under the cheekbones to buff out harsh lines and you can use it to highlight other areas of the body.

The Bright to Light Bubble Gum Transforming Lip Kit ($16.00) is fun to play around with and smells like candy! The cream lip stain is a beautiful glossy red and when you apply the strobe topcoat it becomes a luscious bubble gum pink (hence the name). The more topcoat you use, the lighter the color gets and you can wear the strobe on its own for a sheer iridescent finish.

Quo’s Beauty Oil ($18.00) is a lightweight base that can be worn alone or under foundation for beautiful, glowing skin. My issue with most of these products is that they don’t usually show up when covered with concealer or full-coverage makeup. Once massaged in, the oil disperses evenly with a luminous sheen and very little sparkle. I prefer to blend it on top of foundation so the finish is more noticeable but it also works with BB and CC creams.

Beauty Tip: Use the Face Brush and apply some oil on your shoulders, arms, legs, décolletage and back for a subtle head-to-toe summer glow.

The Dewy Skin Mist ($19.00) delivers a radiant finish under or over makeup and helps lock-in your look on the hottest days. It also hydrates and refreshes without stickiness. 

Quo Cosmetics is available exclusively at Shoppers Drug Mart.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Delicious Pasta Recipe with Stefano 100% Natural Marinara Sauce

After vacationing in Rome, Venice, Tuscany, Sienna, Florence, Pisa, Sanremo, Cinque Terre and many other beautiful towns on the Riviera, I’ve developed a deep appreciation for authentic Italian food made with quality ingredients.

I can still remember the best pasta I ever had. My sister and I were dining at a small family restaurant called Tavern del Capitano on the coast of Vernazza. The waves were crashing against the rocky shore, the sky was bright blue and we were happily munching on brushetta as our food was prepared by the owner.

The pasta we ordered was simple – spaghetti with pesto, but the flavors were rich, fresh and beyond comparison. Throughout the meal we were speechless and afterwards I purchased dried pasta and pesto from a local shop in hopes of recreating the magic at home.

Thankfully you won't have to journey all the way to Naples for amazing pasta. Chef Stefano and his team in Montreal are bringing the taste of Italy right to your table with a collection of delicious sauces made from Striano tomatoes. The recipe is 100% natural with no added preservatives, sugar, tomato paste or gluten.

My family used to buy a popular grocery store brand until I read the label and discovered it was loaded with sugar, salt and additives. Since then we've made the switch and never looked back.

What I love most about Stefano’s Marinara Sauce (aside from the pure, authentic taste) is the texture. It isn’t thick, unnaturally smooth or generic. The consistency is hearty and homemade with tiny chunks of ripe tomato.

In my house we prefer spicy marinara with a hint of sweetness and this sauce makes an excellent base for your own seasoning.

To make the marinara even better crush 3 large cloves of organic garlic in a saucepan. I prefer to crush them thoroughly, pounding until the pieces are pulverized and all the flavor is released.

- Dice 2 medium onions

- Sauté the garlic and the onions on medium heat without caramelizing them. When they become soft add water (about 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup), stir and sprinkle in some seasoning.

You can get creative and use your favorite spice medley but I prefer:
*Dried or fresh parsley
*Italian seasoning mix (which contains oregano and other herbs)
*A generous amount of Mrs Dash Original (no salt added)
*All purpose seasoning
*Fresh thyme
*Dried or fresh basil leaves
*Coriander powder
*Dehydrated chives

- Stir well

- Cover and simmer on low heat. You want the onions to sweat and the seasoning to cook so there is no grittiness.

- Continue to cook until the onions have melted down substantially. It should still look juicy so add a more water if necessary.

- Incorporate 2 jars of Stefano Marinara Sauce to the onion and seasoning base you’ve created and stir everything together.

- Add 1 heaping tbsp of organic coconut sugar for a hint of sweetness and about 1 tbsp of pepper sauce (I prefer the West Indian Scotch Bonnet style) but try to use something decent (Sriracha or Tabasco won’t cut it). If you don’t have a good pepper sauce on-hand, add chili flakes to the onions when you sprinkle in the other seasoning. Balance the sweet and spicy ingredients to taste.

- Simmer on low heat for 20 minutes and toss in your favorite pasta (I used Fusilli).

-Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and enjoy.

I also like Stefano's simple Tomato Basil Sauce made with extra virgin olive oil, garlic and sea salt. It is great for lasagna, cannelloni and even homemade pizza.

Stefano Marinara retails for $8.99 a bottle and the sauces are available at Sobeys, Foodland, Safeway and independent fine food retailers across Canada.

~Bon appetite!
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