Superfoods to Make You Feel Like a Superhero!

I don’t know about everyone else, but I love eating. It’s by far one of my favorite past times, and in order to sustain this past time, I like to keep track of what I’m eating and make sure its as healthy for me as it possibly can be. Hence, superfoods are very important to me. Not only are they usually absolutely delicious, they’re also good for you in a wide variety of ways. From keeping your skin clear, to helping you get a better nights’ sleep, to keeping you peppy through an 8-hour work day, here are some superfoods that are dietary must-haves (along with some of my favorite recipes that include them!).

Superfoods for Skinny Snackers

While I love eating, I’m still trying to convince myself that I love cooking. I think I do, but as a college student, I just don’t have the time (or funds) right now to do a lot of fun, experimental cooking. So I stick to simple things that I know I like, and that I know are good for me. For example, blueberries are a fantastic snack. They are full of antioxidants, super juicy, and can actually help aid in weight loss. They’re easy to throw into a baggy for an on-the-go snack, or to put on top of some ice cream for a sweet treat, or my all-time favorite, into a protein-packed smoothie that will keep you full and satisfied throughout the day!

Blueberries can also go great in a parfait with some almonds, another great weight loss food. Almonds are full of heart-healthy fats that your body can’t make on its own, and add a satisfying crunch to parfaits or midday snack sessions! Another fantastic fat-burning aid is green tea, which is particularly good when it’s mixed with cinnamon, honey, and a little lemon. Green tea is also super for replacing morning coffee with every once in a while, since it has the caffeine that coffee does but with the added benefit of being beyond healthy for you!

Bites for Busy-Bees

I also tend to do a lot of running around throughout my day, between classes, working, and social events, there’s lots of things I need to get done and most of them require me to be high-energy and engaged with the people around me. So, I’ve tried to find snacks and easy meals that keep me bubbly and full of energy all day! Lucky for me, one of my favorite foods of all time provides our bodies with lots of energy (and it tastes good on pretty much everything): avocados! Not only that, but you can eat an avocado simply by spreading it on some toast with salt and pepper, or dressing it all the way up to a decked-out avocado hamburger.

Another great food to keep you on your feet all day is salmon, which happens to go great with avocado! A little seasoning and this food can really help you kick it into high-gear when you need to be, and on top of that you get all the health benefits fish oil can provide you with. Bananas are also great for keeping up your energy throughout the day, and they can just be thrown in a bag or turned into a potassium-protein duo snack with just a little peanut butter and protein powder!

Great Grub that will Leave You Glowing

Lastly, did you know that what you eat can help you keep your skin clear, or even encourage lash-growth?? I had no idea until I really started doing some deep searching, but I’ve been completely convinced! For starters, soy protein actually encourages eye lash growth, so soy milk can be a great way to get some protein, calcium, and hopefully save money on future mascara purchases!

As far as foods that keep your skin looking fresh and clear, lemons are number one on the list! But who would want to eat a lemon, just straight-up? If you’re sensitive to bitter, like me, I would squeeze some lemon juice into your tea and maybe accompany it with some honey! Spices can be great for having happy, healthy skin as well, such as turmeric! Which is wonderful, since turmeric is in lots of recipes that are tasty and even a little spicy! My personal favorite is turmeric roasted with chickpeas. It’s super easy to make, and you can keep it in the fridge to reheat for easy dinners throughout the week!

Superfoods help make us totally unstoppable. And knowing that the food you’re putting into your body is full of goodness will make your meals that much better. So keep your body happy with lots of nutrient packed goodies!



Essential Tools: Essential Oils

Why Essential Oils? 

Essential oils were an enigma to me until I started university. My mom thought they were great, and I had read about all their abilities, but honestly, I just didn’t buy it. It wasn’t until my sophomore year that I started having panic attacks, and I had no idea what to do. Desperately, I started using peony essential oil I was given as a gift, just to see if it made a difference…and then I was hooked. It was amazing how a scent could impact my mental, emotional, and even physical state. I have more essential oils in my room that I know what to do with now, but I used every single one of them. I realized that originally I was skeptical only because I wasn’t giving essential oils a chance to prove to me that they are what they’re named: essential!

Why “Essential” Oils?

The number of mental and physical health problems that can be just about solved with essential oils is astounding. From soothing anxiety, to helping with depression, to aiding in allergy relief, essential oils have a variety of functions. And different types of oils have different personalities and fantastic healing abilities that go along with them. There are lots of super comprehensive overviews of everything you’ve ever wanted to learn about essential oils (from uses to history to the science behind aromatherapy) online, and they’re totally worth checking out if you want to learn more about this in-depth and in a super scientific way!

And, if you’re thinking about starting to use any essential oils for the first time in your aromatherapy practice, make sure you do your research first. People have different reactions to different types of oils, and whether you diffuse them or apply them directly to your skin can lead to alterations in the amount you should use and how frequently.

Essential Oils for Being Healthy

Essential oils can be used for maintaining health in a whole variety of ways. For starters, like I already mentioned, they can be life-savers for people who suffer from seasonal allergies. You know, those allergies that creep up on you in the morning and then suddenly keep you sneezing, sniffling, and blowing your nose for the ENTIRE day? And really, who has time for all that. So when the nasal sprays and decongestants just aren’t doing the trick: lemon, eucalyptus, and lavender essential oils have got your back. I apply any mixture of these three to my wrists as well as the back of my neck on days my allergies are giving me a hard time and almost immediately notice a difference. But, of course, if you’re allergic to eucalyptus or lavender, this particular mixture might not be the one for you. Thankfully, there are lots of lists of different essential oils for soothing allergies all over the internet!

Essential oils are also wonderful for relaxing after a long day. I know I have the hardest time falling asleep after really busy days, it’s like my body knows how late it is but my mind still thinks it’s noon! Rather than taking sleeping medicine, I find a combination of lavender and peony essential oils really helps me unwind. Upon doing a little more research on this subject, I also discovered that the science behind aromatherapy helping with relaxation is crazy! So much so that there have actually been studies that have found it helps with things like panic disorder and dementia. If you’re curious about some of this insane science going on behind-the-scenes of essential oils, there are lots of great scientific journal articles about aromatherapy for sleep, relaxation, and pain relief.

Essential Oils for Being Simply Gorgeous

Being healthy is by far the best thing you can do for your body, but what about looking as fabulous as you look? Again, essential oils are there to help you maintain silky hair and soft skin in a totally natural way. Tea tree oil is commonly used in shampoos, conditioners, and face cleansers, and that’s because its wonderful at simultaneously cleaning and moisturizing your face and hair.

You can also make yourself personalized conditioner super easily with essential oils. All this takes is water, apple cider vinegar, and a couple drops of your favorite essential oils. If you have a dry scalp, like me, geranium essential oil is one of the best options for leaving your hair follicles fabulously moisturized and your whole head smelling like a garden. And of course, there are tons of ways to customize your conditioner depending on what type of hair you have and what you want your conditioner to target.

Well there you have it folks! Essential oils are mother nature’s little gift to us to keep us feeling, looking, and smelling out best. Whether you use them to stay beautiful, happy, healthy, or (hopefully) all three, in their own way each oil has absolutely proven itself to be essential!!



First and Foremost, Preventative Measures are ALWAYS Worth It.

Seriously, what even is “preventative care”???

To start things off on this blog, I want to talk about preventative care.

You’ve probably heard the phrase “preventative medicine” before, but the definition of that is pretty ambiguous based just on those two words. What this actually refers to is doing things that keep you from getting sick, like eating healthy food, drinking lots of water, and getting lots of sleep. You’re preventing your body from getting sick, even though you’re not sick yet! This is usually a more effective way of staying healthy, as opposed to waiting until you’re already sick and trying to get better by taking medicine, sleeping for 18 hours straight, or converting to a diet of only tea and soup.

Preventative care can be a lot more well defined from a medical standpoint, and there’s lots of great literature out there about that branch specifically.

Aside from sickness, lets talk about BEAUTY!

You can be preventative in a lot of different ways, not just when it comes to getting a cold or a flu. This concept can be applied to something like skincare as well. Rather than waiting for a breakout and having to use crazy harsh chemicals and lots of makeup to try to stop it or cover it up, why not use a gentle cleanser everyday? There’s tons of them out there, for all skin types too. One of my personal favorites is a honey-based facial cleanser, since it leaves your skin feeling clean and smooth every day you use it! A little effort every day for glowing skin is totally worth it rather than having to suddenly scramble for a solution to a nasty breakout!

Aside from beauty, lets talk about HEALTH!

Similar things can be said about aging. A lot of people are really afraid of getting older, which is understandable. Our bodies are constantly changing, but since we see ourselves everyday, we barely notice it. So “getting old” seems like this drastic change, as if one day we’ll have changed so much that we’ll barely recognize ourselves. It’s an odd concept, and it’s so odd that most people reject it, and end up spending lots of time and money trying to “look young” again.

However, there’s actually a lot of preventative care we can take advantage of to make aging less daunting. This can be lots of things like wearing sunscreen (like this fabulous mineral-based sunscreen) or exercising regularly, or even taking supplements or vitamins to help tackle medical problems we’re already facing so they don’t get worse as our bodies get older. All these tiny steps are a little extra work we can put in now to see a huge difference in the future, and a significant decrease in the amount of time any of us might otherwise spend on trying to “look young”.

Firsthand: Preventative care is awesome.

Let me tell you: it is absolutely, always worth it to take the preventative measures. I used to be terrible at making sure I didn’t over work my knees, for example. I have very poor knees, but I love running and lifting weights. For years, I would work out without using any kind of brace or taking vitamins to try and help ease the pain and swelling I would experience in my knees. I would try to stretch more after my workout, or drink a little more water as I was walking home. Nothing seemed to help me though, because after every workout, my knees still hurt.

None of the things I tried would classify as preventative care though. I was trying to solve a problem after it was already negatively impacting my health! Upon realizing this, I got serious about doing things like stretching before my workout, or making sure that I was eating foods that were better for joint health, and trying out supplements like Curamed and other natural-based vitamins. I even started running on an elliptical, to avoid any further impact-related pain. The results were insane, and it’s gotten to a point that my knees rarely cause me problems at the gym anymore.

Basically, take care of yourself. That would be suggestion #1 I have for all my readers, but it’s pretty on the nose. So instead I’ll say: take care of yourself now, so that later you don’t have to think so hard about taking care of yourself. Get into the good habits, be preventative, be proactive! You’ll thank yourself later.

Welcome to a Beautiful, Natural, Healthy Place

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to my blog! My name is Serina Taluja, I’m a senior in Molecular and Cellular Biology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. I started this blog because, frankly, bodies are weird. I’m not even joking, trying to be healthy and take care of yourself in college and just in general is a real challenge when you actually think about it.

It becomes an even bigger challenge once you start realizing all the things that are in the products you use. Whether it’s something you put on your face or into your mouth, its important to understand what you’re exposing your body to. Its through only a lot of trial and error that I figured any of this out, but now that I realized it, I figured it was time to try to share some of my knowledge with the world.

And having a love for writing and a background in science helps 😉

So here’s my place! A place where a vaguely-educated, flower child writes about health and beauty and how to maintain both naturally (and make it look easy!).