Posted on June 14, 2017
Hi guys!! Remember me?! Finals are over and I am back.in.action. Similar to taking turmeric supplements, I have heard the words “bone broth” over and over again as a health “supplement” but my immediate reaction was “no thank you.” I am not a big soup person to begin with, and I literally choke down chicken soup when I am sick. If you read my friendly supplement guide a few weeks back, you know that I am very regimented about what I put in my body. Well GUESS WHAT…much to my surprise, that now includes a big cup of bone broth once a day.
One of my first questions about bone broth was “how is it different than normal chicken soup??” Bone broth is not a “new trend” as many websites and every fitness blogger and their mom will boast: those who follow a paleo diet have reaped the nutrients for quite some time. Essentially bone broth is exactly what it sounds like: stock made with plenty of animal bones and boiled for a much longer time than traditional stock.
I will let The Today Show break it down for you:
“Bone broth calls for a greater number of birds (or beef parts) than traditional stock, though, which increases the protein content, explains Ben Hummel, a brand manager for Pacific Foods. For example, a batch of one broth calls for two turkeys, 40 pounds of beef shin and 15 hens, all cooked in a massive stockpot. After a serious simmer — as long as 24 hours — the collagen and connective tissue break down, helping boost the protein also, explains Hummel. “It takes many hours of simmering to break the connective tissues down into useable form, but the result is a broth with a high amount of bioavailable protein,” he says, adding that Pacific’s bone broths have as much as nine times more protein than traditional store-bought ones. “
Essentially, bone broth is extremely nutrient rich and seen as a detoxing beverage for our body. Depending on your personal problems (as I have said before, I am not a doctor but go off of my research, my team of doctors, and my personal experiences) bone broth can help alleviate joint pain, improve skin, aid in weight loss and most importantly help gut issues.
*Side note: have you ever noticed that after you have a heavy meal or eat a candy bar your brain gets a little “foggy?” That’s because our gut is linked directly to our brain and when we do not treat our gut right, it has an effect on our brain. If you want to learn more, please read this post by Twist Of Lemons.
After allll of the above, if you want to try adding bone broth into your diet yourself whether for serious health deficiencies or you simply want to see shiny hair and better skin, I have just the recipe for you. This recipe is directly from my mom (hi mom!) It is flavorful and I add a little bit of pink Himalayan sea-salt to my cup when consuming. You can use this within a week or freeze up to 3 months.
WHAT YOU NEED:
• 4 pounds chicken necks/feet/wings
• 3 carrots, chopped
• 3 celery stalks, chopped
• 2 medium onions, peel on, sliced in half lengthwise and quartered
• 4 garlic cloves, peel on and smashed
• 1 teaspoon Himalayan salt
• 1 teaspoon whole peppercorns
2 bay leaves
• 5-6 sprigs parsley
• 18-20 cups water
HOW TO MAKE IT:
Place all ingredients in a 10 quart capacity crock-pot/stock pot
2. Add water.
3. Simmer for 12 hours, skimming fat occasionally.
4. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly. Discard solids and strain remainder in a bowl through a colander. Let stock cool to room temperature, cover and chill.
This is what your bone broth will look like!
Please let me know if you try this out! If you have any other health recommendations, I would love to hear them! If there is anything you would like me to talk about in an upcoming post, please leave me a comment!
Posted on May 25, 2017
When I was in high school and college, I took my daily multivitamin but never gave supplements another thought. I have always made a conscious effort to eat my greens and colorful veggies, thinking I would get my nutrients through my meals.
I was seeing one of my Lyme Disease specialists yesterday and she dropped a mind blowing fact: you would need to eat 75 oranges to get the nutrients of an original orange that was grown many, many years ago. Our soil is so depleted that we no longer get the nutrients our bodies need: giving us low energy and brittle hair, skin and nails.
When I started taking my ten million supplements to help my body fight my disease, I noticed a major unexpected benefit: my hair started growing rapidly, my nails were longer and stronger than ever and my skin was no longer constantly broken out. I have friends and my Insta-friends send me messages asking me what supplements I take because they want to follow along, and while my intensive routine cannot be followed by everyone, there are some general vitamins and supplements that might help you kick that 3pm fatigue or help your hair to be a little bit more shiny!
*Obviously- I am not a doctor! I have a team of FOUR doctors AND a nutritionist telling me what to take, eat, do…etc! This is not meant to cure, treat, etc anything! But if you want to live a little bit healthier or understand what vitamins are great for your body, this is for you! If you are wondering why I am not linking to direct supplement brands here, it is because I take special supplements that are stronger than the normal “healthy” person should. Here is an interesting article on what vitamin/supplement brands actually do the job they claim to on the bottle, and which to avoid.
Turmeric: Turmeric is a “trendy” health supplement right now- and with all of the benefits it reaps, it should be here to stay. Turmeric is comprised of curcumin- a chemical that is mostly known for being anti-inflammatory. Studies have shown that turmeric is very effective in fighting pain and inflammation- better than Motrin or Tylenol. In addition to being anti-inflammatory (this is the reason I take turmeric- it has massively helped the inflammation in my joints) Turmeric is known to fend off heart attacks, delay diabetes, and protect the brain. If you are curious, here are two (1, 2) good references.
Vitamin D: Essentially, vitamin D keeps our bones healthy and regulates our immune system! While vitamin C tends to steal all the spotlight, vitamin D should not be neglected due to it’s help in absorbing calcium and phosphorous (this keeps our bones stronger.) Vitamin D also helps fight risk of disease and is a serious mood booster. Believe it or not, a vitamin D deficiency can cause serious headaches. Learn more here.
Vitamin B-12: Personally I take vitamin B-12 in two forms for energy: a tablet every morning and a B-12 shot once a week. After I get a B-12 shot I am noticeably perkier for 4-5 days after. B-12 is an amazing source of energy due to it’s ability to break down carbohydrates, fats, and proteins and use them more efficiently in your body throughout the day. While this is not the main benefit of taking B-12, it is also linked to aiding in speeding up your metabolism, healthier hair, skin and nails. Read more, here.
Magnesium: Magnesium is not a supplement we typically run to the grocery store to buy. I was introduced to magnesium after my doctors found that my heart was not pumping blood properly, and I began taking magnesium to strengthen my heart and help my blood flow easier. So needless to say, magnesium is great for your heart, but also has many added benefits! Magnesium aids in keeping your energeti, as well as in enzyme production AKA helping your body digest your food with ease. If you are an avid gym goer, magnesium helps build muscle safely. Read more, here.
If you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comments!
Posted on April 27, 2017
It is no secret that I love skincare products. I hoard them like an old lady that loves antiques. They overtake my bathroom, bedroom and office as I slowly test them one by one. I normally share mini product reviews on my Instagram, but wanted a more cohesive way to share my weekly beauty finds with you. Below are four mini reviews of products that I have tried, tested and fallen madly in love with.
If you have been following Al + Lex for a while, you have followed my skin saga while it changes. I have learned that every new product that works helps immensely and you can never have too many products in your arsenal. You can see some past skincare posts with Scratch Goods and Tula.
I stumbled upon Lark Skin Co. one late night stalking Instagram. I had recently been diagnosed with Lyme Disease and was learning the importance of what went into the things I put on my body. Lark Skin Co. only uses ingredients you can easily understand (hello coconut oil, aloe and witch hazel.) As I mentioned above, I try a lot of products. The Lark Skin Co. Aloe + Lime Purifying toner has totally transformed my skin. When I started my Lyme treatment, I broke out in tiny little bumps all over my face. This toner is the first thing that has not just soothed those bumps, but cleared them up. I am now a religious Lark Skin Co. user.
I really want to be a lipstick person. SO badly. I have never found a lipstick that stays on the way I want it to and seems to fit my face. Maybe it is because I have no makeup skills, or because I am oddly picky about what I put on my lips (as you will read below!) I wasn’t expecting to love the Matte Shaker by Lancôme but was blown away by the ease of application and comfort of wear throughout the day. I was sent the color “Magenta” which seems overpowering, but goes on light and is buildable if you want an intense pucker.
I am a self professed lip balm freak. I am so, so picky about what I put on my lips: the smell, taste, texture…I could go on for hours. You know how some lip balms have that weird taste that dries our your mouth? It is non-existent in the Kiehl’s Kiss For The Cure Butterstick Lip Treatment Duo. The clear butterstick goes on super smooth thanks to the coconut oil and protects lips with SPF 25. The pink butterstick lends the perfect tinge of pink to your lips that is universally flattering. Plus: 100% of proceeds go to Bright Pink for breast cancer educational programs.
Over the past few years, the skin under my eyes has gotten puffy and I get a red tinge to my cheeks. I have tried every trick in the book to sooth my skin. While many of them work well, I love the feeling of this Farmacy Hydrating Coconut Gel Mask. The mask goes on easily and does not leave a slimy residue like other sheet masks can. The mask leaves my face feeling ultra-hydrated, plumper, and cooler. Cucumber extract delivers high levels of Vitamin C, which are major players in retaining the moisture in our skin. The coconut gel provides intensive hydration and restores the skin’s balance and just flat out smells A M A Z I N G.
If you have any skincare recommendations, I would love to hear them!
Posted on April 20, 2017
I am afraid to say it- but, I think the weather in Chicago might F I N A L L Y be turning itself around for the better. Last weekend I woke up to 60 degree weather on Saturday and decided to have a Hamptons themed cocktail party…because why not?
My favorite thing about having a group of friends over is planning out what to serve food and cocktail wise. I think a great craft cocktail can liven up any situation, and there is one for every occasion. While I was trying to find a truly “Hamptons” style cocktail, I flipped through Ina Garten’s cookbooks that feature cocktails like The South Side and a classic Negroni. I love both of these cocktails, but I wanted something that would not just scream Summer but put a smile on someones face!
Last year, Frośe was all over my Instagram feed. I couldn’t log in and not see at least one photo of it. I had wanted to try to make it, but was intimidated because I hadn’t seen a recipe come out for it yet! I settled on making frośe because who doesn’t love a fun frozen drink??
Frośe is shockingly simple to make and does not take a lot of prep work. I followed the below recipe from Bon Appétit and made a few tweaks. Personally, I added more strawberries so the flavor came through. You can also thrown in some mint leaves for a twist on the classic.
Makes 4 to 6 Servings
- 1 750 ml bottle hearty, bold rosé (such as a Pinot Noir or Merlot rosé)
- ½ cup sugar
- 8 ounces strawberries, hulled, quartered
- 2½ ounces fresh lemon juice
Bon Appétit recommends freezing the bottle of rose in an ice cube tray and giving it a whirl in the blender. Personally, I just threw all of the ingredients in the blender with about a cup of ice and preferred the outcome.
Posted on April 11, 2017
Reality TV has been a hot topic for me lately. While I don’t often talk about work, I spend a lot of time with clients developing reality TV shows from start to finish. It is something I just fell into and wound up loving. While each project is unique and exciting, it has also jaded me from watching TV like a normal person. With every new scene, I watch it through a “man behind the camera” lens.
Last week, I chatted with Mary Mel of WRUW about my love for Erika Jayne, work and the change of going back to school to get my masters in PR/AD. Reality TV, more specifically Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, has always been my guilty pleasure. When I am stressed, I numb my brain with their complaints about their 15 nannies and gossipy glam sessions.
With so many people consuming reality TV and a new show popping up every week, I wanted to share some behind the scenes facts and tips on how to land your own TV show and what really goes down behind the camera, because let’s be real: I know some of you lead crazy enough lives to deserve a camera crew.
1 | Although it is “reality,” nothing is unplanned. Every conversation is sketched out in a plot-line. While this does not mean scripted, there is a general guide of what the subjects will talk about and when. If the producer does not catch a scene exactly as they need it, the subjects may be asked to create it again. On a different note, even late night talk shows are scripted. Producers will check with a celebrities publicist to get talking points and the host will rehearse them with the interviewee.
2 | Reality TV shows seek out “flawed” individuals. Whether it is having a harsh temper or being terrified of flying, you bet that producer is going to pick on your weaknesses. Take a TV show like The Bachelor for example, there can only be one winner. That means that of the 30 girls in the cast each season, only a few can be “normal.” They have to fill the season with other tune-in worthy stuff to keep viewership high, and that means c.r.a.z.y. Imperfections set you apart- sometimes in a good way.
3 | You only see a small portion of the action. Something that drives me crazy is when I see hundreds of angry tweets about a specific moment on a show and in reality producers are master manipulators. They have 50 hours of video content, and cut together different scenes into a half hour episode. If someone gets eliminated on a talent show for bombing, remember that all of their applause could have been cut out and they could have been eliminated simply because they weren’t as interesting as other contestants.
4 | A show cast or contestants on a talent show are chosen to play specific “characters.” People are cast to fill specific roles, for example “the mean girl” or the “girl next-door.” The cast signs onto these roles and agrees to play to that role for the camera. Ex. Corinne from The Bachelor.
5 | Getting a show picked up by a network isn’t easy. Having a show go from concept to on air can take many, many years. Typically, a production house will fund your concept and then try to sell it to a network. People think it is glamorous, but in reality it is a lot of waiting around! There are many different ways that a network can order a TV show, so it changes depending on the case. Your best bet for getting picked up for a TV show is to send an email directly to a production company, such as Story Monster, to see if they are developing anything.
Obviously every case is different and some shows are filmed with honesty, but a large chunk of the TV we consume on a daily basis follows these steps.
Did you know any of these things before? What is your take on reality TV?
Posted on April 6, 2017
Over the past few months, my skin has completely changed. This is not something I normally talk openly about, but I think it is important to know that not everyone is perfect! I went from having crystal clear skin with a few bumps here and there to having flare ups of tiny little bumps all over my face. Let me tell you: it isn’t fun!
I have always stuck to a strict skincare routine involving a lot of high-end products that worked wonders for me for years and I had not recently changed anything so I was puzzled. I go for a monthly facial at Cowshed Spa in Chicago (I see Ashley- she is a miracle worker!) and found out that my sudden little bumps were not acne, but bodily toxins trying to expel themselves through our largest organ: my skin. Ashley had me switch all of my beauty products over to being 100% plant based, organic + all natural and I was totally lost. I started researching brands that are gentle but effective and stumbled upon TULA.
Each TULA product nourishes your skin with a balanced meal of good-for-you ingredients, the same way a healthy diet nourishes your body. At TULA, they are not just looking at what we put on our face, but looking inside at internal medicine to improve the health and appearance of our body’s largest organ, the skin. That means leveraging the power of probiotics, “the newest breakthrough in skincare.” TULA uses carefully selected skin superfoods and probiotics AKA good bacteria to help skin reveal it’s best self.
My personal favorite and new hero product is the Exfoliating Treatment Mask. I have never used a mask that has exfoliating particles in it, but was pleasantly surprised at the texture. This particular mask contains Lactic acid and Bentonite clay to gently peel away impurities, dead skin, and debris and the tiny beads are plant-based and biodegradable. They release hydrating nutrients including Jojoba and Vitamin E to heal and calm skin.
If you have sensitive skin like me or are
making a conscious effort to switch what you put on your body to being plant-based, TULA is the perfect line to dip your toe into. They offer this great little started pack so you can try different skincare items to see what works best for you.
PS: how funny are these products from Anese? The silly names make me laugh every time I look at them. Currently obsessed with this hair elixir. PSS: take 20% off your order with code FIRST20. No…I do not earn anything from this.
Thank you TULA for working with me on this post!
Posted on April 4, 2017
This past weekend I turned 24! My family has always celebrated “birthday weeks” and I look forward to it every year! My parents and I tried out a new restaurant in Chicago called Giant. Not going to lie- I was a little nervous when I first took a glance at the menu, but everything they put down on the table was more delicious than the last. It is in Logan Square, about a five minute drive from Lost Lake. I have professed my love for Lost Lake here before, and recently made a tiki cocktail inspired by their tiki drinks. Needless to say, we stopped at Lost Lake for a cocktail to top off the night. Saturday night we went to The Aviary– my all time favorite cocktail spot in Chicago. If you have not been to The Aviary- you need to RUN there right now! The things they do to alcohol are truly incredible. We ended the night at Swift & Sons. I got a few questions about the outfits I posted on Instagram, so I thought I would share them!
My mom called me last week when I was in Nashville to see if there was anything I had wanted for my birthday. Honestly- I 100% forgot to tell my mom that I wanted anything because of my foggy Lyme brain. Whoops. BUT- my mom found this beautiful python lips bag from designer Gelareh Mizrahi- you can scoop one up exclusively at Barney’s or on her website, here. Fun fact: you can order a custom bag of your face. I collect (hoard) bags (and shoes and clothes- HA) and this was the perfect, unique addition to my collection.
Posted on March 28, 2017
This past week I finally got to visit Nashville! DJ frequently takes trips to Nashville for work, but since beginning my masters program at DePaul University in Chicago it has become difficult to travel due to missing class. I had my Spring Break last week and tagged along on DJ’s work trip that he extended through the weekend so we could explore and it did not disappoint.
It felt SO.GOOD. to get away from the cold weather in Chicago and walk around without a jacket most of the trip. I had no idea that there were so many different areas to explore besides the touristy downtown- I explored 12 South and Germantown. 12 South is home to a lot of great, small stores and restaurants as well as Draper James. Draper James is adorable but dangerous because one thing is cuter than the next- more on that in a post to come!
I stuck to basics throughout my trip, opting for dark denim, my new favorite flats and nontraditional, light tops. I found these flats at Nordstrom in Chicago last month. They are by Tory Burch’s previous designer, Mercedes Castillo. They are SO ingenious because you can wear them as a slide, or slip a leather cord through the sides of the flat for a tie-up style sandal. I already have my eye on these (and every other shoe in her line- lol.)
Some beautiful old houses I snapped while wandering around Germantown. If you visit Nashville anytime soon, I would highly recommend heading to this area! We are thinking that we would like to visit Charleston soon- any recommendations?
Posted on March 21, 2017
There are very few “famous” people that I admire, and it is an odd assortment at best! I love Lori from Shark Tank, Mike + Frank from American Pickers…and of course Ina Garten from Food Network. I do not just admire Ina for her cooking skills, but for her ability to turn something out of nothing: IE the failing Hamptons grocery store she bought all those years ago and then flipped into a cooking empire.
This month, my mom took me to see Ina Garten “in conversation.” She told old stories of when she met Jeffrey and what it was really like opening up that tiny grocery store. I also got a signed copy of Cooking For Jeffrey, which I have already made three recipes out of. They were shockingly simple to follow and came out exactly as they were supposed to.
If you have ever watched a single Ina Garten cooking show, you know two things: she loves Jeffrey, but she LOVES to drink cocktails in her garden. My kind of girl. I made Ina’s Aperol Spritzers for my family and they were a hit. It is the kind of cocktail you want to sit in the warm sun and drink, plus it does not require a lot of ingredients. Here is what you will need:
Ina Garten’s Aperol Spritzers:
1 bottle of Prosecco, chilled
12 ounces Aperol
1 bottle San Pellegrino (any sparkling water will work!)
6 half-round orange slices (I prefer blood orange!)
“For each drink, fill a 14- to 16-ounce tumbler three-quarters full with ice. Fill each glass two-thirds full with Prosecco, add 2 ounces of the Aperol, a splash of San Pellegrino, and an orange slice, and stir. Serve ice cold.”
Do you have a favorite summertime cocktail? The Eastern Standard is another one of my favorites.
Posted on March 16, 2017
I live right around the corner from a little beauty shop called Scratch Goods. I had always meant to stop in, but with the cold weather I am rarely out walking. I had no idea that most of the Scratch Goods space was dedicated to a mask bar. The mask bar is much different than a facial: the Scratch Goods gals actually take the time to walk you through how to take care of your skin at home, what ingredients help fight your problem areas and all the in between. With a recent change in my health, using all-natural products is a very important thing to me and I am so happy to have found this new resource! A MAJOR plus: most products range from $14-$18.00: very affordable compared to $60 bottles of all-natural skincare sold at Sephora or Nordstrom. While I am not in any way knocking those brands, this just goes to show you that there are some affordable, organic ways to take care of your body.
Scratch Goods began out of a personal need for natural, affordable skincare. Co-founders Maureen and Elizabeth, high school friends now living in Chicago, realized that while they were eating clean, their personal care products were still laden with questionable ingredients. Knowing that 70% of what is applied to our skin is absorbed into our bodies, they slowly purged from their homes everything containing parabens, sulfates, pthalates, synthetic fragrances + dyes.
Replacing these items was much more difficult – truly natural products were hard to find, and came with high price tags. So they rebuilt their own personal care regimen from scratch, in their own kitchens. Their requirements for product development remain the same today: food-grade ingredients that are safe enough to eat, fragrance from pure essential oils only, and zero water, eliminating the need for synthetic preservatives.
Here are five (slightly shocking) things I learned today:
- Coconut oil shouldn’t be used on your skin: it blocks the skin from releasing toxins from the body.
- Caffeine is great for aiding in lightening dark spots and assists in anti-aging. Scratch Goods works with Dark Matter Coffee in their mask selection.
- You should be putting on a hydrating spray before you apply oil to the face: water is the only liquid that can penetrate to the third layer of the skin.
- Jade rolling can work wonders for you: jade has healing properties and can be put in the fridge or run under warm water to help decrease facial inflammation.
- Pure activated charcoal helps fight breakouts and blackheads.
The Roscoe Village space offers their full range of fresh, handmade seasonal goods as well as an interactive mask bar for guided, self-service facials. However, Scratch Goods is expanding to a larger store in the West Loop.
*While these services and products were provided complimentary, I only share places and products that I truly believe in. As one of my doctors recently told me, “Don’t put anything on your skin that you wouldn’t smear on a sandwich.”