vegan at home

Vegan Brownie in a Mug. You’re welcome.

It’s late at night. You’re watching Lord of the Rings. Things are getting emotional. You need chocolate.

Enter…the mug brownie.

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Now, I know this recipe is nothing new. But I had no idea what I was missing until, by some stroke of genius the other night, I remembered that I had all the ingredients necessary to make myself a brownie in a mug in under five minutes. That’s right — there’s no waiting around for the oven to preheat with this recipe. You don’t even need measuring cups! With some basic ingredients and a microwave, you can get back to your movie in no time.

Short and sweet, just like this post.

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So go ahead and treat yourself tonight. And stay tuned for my next post; a spotlight on Portland’s own Nike Run Club!  I’m really excited to get the word out about this fantastic group.

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Make Your Own at Home: Ultra Hydrating Face Exfoliant and Mask

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I don’t know about you, but I have unruly skin. It’s started to settle down as I get older, but  I still battle with uneven texture and tone, and a combination of dry and oily patches. Ugh! As you can imagine, I’m a sucker for trying different facial cleansers, moisturizers, and masks. But not one product I’ve ever tried has delivered on its promise of smooth, dewy skin. On top of that, each product usually puts me back $7 – $20 a pop!

I decided to see if I could make my own exfoliant and face mask with simple home ingredients, and I was shocked at how cheap, easy and effective this at-home treatment  has been for keeping my skin hydrated in the dry wintertime.

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Let’s start with the exfoliant. It could not be easier to throw this together. Grab some used coffee grounds and blend with 2 tbsp. of olive oil and 1 tsp. of coconut oil. (If you need the benefits of fresh caffeine — reduction of swelling and puffy eyes — toss a bit of unused coffee grounds into the mix. Better yet, grind fresh from whole beans.) Try to make the blended mixture as fine as possible — after all, you don’t want to assault your skin! The end result is naturally exfoliated skin and deeply hydrated skin.

If your face needs an extra boost — and whose doesn’t, really — supplement this treatment with an avocado-based citrus mask. I tossed 1 whole avocado fruit (minus skin and pit), a kiwi (with skin), the juice of half a lemon, and some more coconut oil into the blender. Voilà, a naturally enzymatic and antioxidant-rich mask!

This mask is full of vitamin C, an antioxidant that can promote collagen production when applied topically. Make sure you have exfoliated first with the coffee ground exfoliant so that the vitamin C has the best chance of being absorbed. Keep out of the sunlight when you’re wearing this mask as the UV rays will destroy the vitamin C compound. Vitamin E, found in the avocado, lends its antioxidant properties to skin when applied topically as well.  Again, stay out of the sun while you’re wearing this mask, since UV rays can destroy vitamin E. The coconut oil contains lauric acid, which may have anti-acne properties. The lemon juice tightens skin and reduces pore size, but make sure to moisturize properly afterwards to avoid too-tight skin.

Leave the mask on for 10-20 minutes and then gently wipe off with warm water. Pat skin dry and moisturize as needed, and enjoy your beautiful skin!