Thursday, December 12, 2019

Red Holiday Sweaters

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, and will benefit from actions taken on the links. 

I recently added two sweaters to my wardrobe that I really like. Both are red and add a festive vibe to any outfit.

The first red sweater is thinner made from a very soft material that falls very nicely. Plus, it's the perfect red. I tried it on with a white blouse underneath first, and it looked great that way. It's on major sale right now, and I'm thinking of getting another one in another color.

The second red sweater is a junky, cable-knit turtleneck sweater, and I've been wanting one just like it forever. I know I'll have both sweaters for years to come and will enjoy wearing them, especially during the holidays.

Sunday, December 8, 2019

How a Conscious Cleanse Improved my Eating (and my Life) Forever

Disclosure: I am a Conscious Cleanse ambassador, and if you decide to sign up for the program via one of my links, I will earn a commission. As always, all opinions are my own, and I only recommend products and services I truly believe in.

I just finished two rounds of the Conscious Cleanse, and I feel better than ever. I eat pretty healthy all year round, but this year has been tough because of numerous health issues and injuries, and too many indulgences had made their way into my diet. And, unfortunately, all these indulgences replaced whole foods and greens. I also drank way too much coffee, which added to my being on edge and feeling overwhelmed every day. I won't lie, getting off coffee was incredibly hard this time around. But once it was done, I felt so much calmer right away. And all the greens I ate and drank in my smoothies, helped me get over food cravings. I'm very thankful that I'm finishing this year feeling my best. It's especially meaningful to me as I was dealing with so many health issues all year long and wasn't feeling well most of the time. So feeling so good after feeling not well at all for most of the year, is especially wonderful and something I'm very thankful for. 

What I Learned by Doing My First Conscious Cleanse 

I did my first Conscious Cleanse in January 2013, and it was truly life changing. During that cleanse I found out that I was highly sensitive to gluten, and taking gluten out of my diet made a huge difference in how I felt. Gone are feeling bloated, gas, joint pain and brain fog. Since a cleanse is in essence an elimination diet where you eliminate common allergens (gluten, eggs, dairy, sugar, alcohol, coffee and some vegetables many are sensitive to), I was also able to pin point some other foods that don't make me feel my best. I discovered for example that I am able to tolerate one egg a few times per week but anymore leave me feel bloated and gassy. I also don't do too well with too much dairy. 

All these seemingly "little" discoveries have helped me feel better than ever. I hardly ever feel bloated anymore (and when I do I usually know why...), my joint pain is gone, and I don't have a foggy brain. 

Here are my thoughts after finishing the November cleanse:

What I Eat all Year Long 

After you finish a Conscious Cleanse, you first reintroduce the foods you eliminated one by one to see if you react to any of them. And then you are encouraged to live according to the Conscious Cleanse guidelines 80 percent of the time. The other 20 percent are for "fun" foods and drinks: a cup of coffee once in a while, or a glass of wine, dairy, eggs, chocolate, sweets, etc. Whenever I follow the 80/20 rule,  I truly feel my best. There is no feeling of deprivation as I get to incorporate my favorite foods (that may not make me feel my best) into my diet, but I also fuel my body with lots of very nutritious (and delicious!) foods. 

I start most days with some warm lemon water and a green smoothie. Lunch is often a big salad and some protein. And dinner may be chicken lettuce wraps. There is room for treats like dark chocolate, delicious date almond butter balls, a to-die-for raw blueberry tart (I have brought this to many gathering and everyone loves it), a glass of wine, and steak and mashed potatoes, ice cream or cake once in a while. 

The important part is that foods that nourish my body and make me feel my best far outweigh the "indulgences" that don't make me feel all that good. 

The Conscious Cleanse On Demand

The Conscious Cleanse recently introduced a new online platform that has made cleansing easy and even more enjoyable. Everything you need for a successful cleanse is in one place: the cleanse manual, daily videos by Jo and Jules that guide and encourage you, videos five days before the cleanse starts to get you ready, a huge recipe library, a place to journal and keep track of the food you ate and how it made you feel. In addition, there is a very easy button that lets you email a health coach at any time. I had an unexpected issue during my last cleanse and was able to email one of my food journals to a coach and got a response within an hour. Over the next couple days, the health coaches worked with me and helped me figure out what was going on. That support is truly priceless. In addition there is a huge community of online cleansers that support each other. You truly never feel alone. I have done the Conscious Cleanse on my own before, and I truly think all the support makes all the difference. 

Once the cleanse is over, you can choose to continue your membership, which comes with continued support. You can also start another round of the cleanse at any time. There are also numerous group cleanses throughout the year which you can join. If you decide you don't need the support, you can cancel at any time. 

Group Cleanse Starts on January 8, 2020

When you sign up for the Conscious Cleanse on Demand, you have the option to choose your own start date or join a group cleanse. I think there are advantages to both ways. If you choose your own start date, you can choose a date that's most convenient for you. You may also want to start prior to January 8! On the other hand, it can be very helpful to have encouragement from other cleansers who are cleansing at exactly the same time because you often have very similar issues and concerns like withdrawal symptoms (mainly from giving up caffeine and sugar), etc. I suggest giving yourself some time before starting the cleanse to read through the cleanse manual, watch the prep videos, browse the huge recipe library (and make a few recipes - you'll love them!), and get your mind ready for what's ahead. So don't wait but sign up now!

Information about the January 8, 2020 Cleanse and Cleanse on Demand (start anytime)

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Cookbooks to Give the Foodlover in your Life

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, and will earn a small commission if you make a purchase via a link. I was provided review copies of the I Love My Instant Pot books. As always, all opinions are my own. 

I love giving cookbooks as gifts as they are truly gifts that keep on giving. Not only can the recipient enjoy reading the book, but they can also remember you when they make dishes from the book. I have received numerous cookbooks as gifts, and I treasure them all. Following are five books I recently read and highly recommend.

Mostly Plants: 101 Delicious Flexitarian Recipes from the Pollan Family 

I actually received this book as a gift from my friend Lara, and it's especially meaningful to me because I first met Lara in person (after communicating with her via my blog and by email for about a year) at a Michael Pollan talk. That was 9 years ago. The book is beautifully written and contains recipes for foods we love to eat: lots of vegetables with a little meat sprinkled in here and there.

Salt Fat Acid Heat by Samin Nosrat

We watched the Netflix series by the same name and really enjoyed it. Samin's love for and curiosity about food really shines through in the series as well as in the book. The book contains a lot of very useful information and makes one think about how to put together meals. This is especially useful for someone like me who likes to experiment in the kitchen. The recipes are really delicious and lots feature simple ingredients and instructions. Salt Fat Acid Heat is on sale right now on Amazon for a great price.

East Bay Cooks by Carolyn Jung

Carolyn is a San Francisco Bay Area food writer, and I have been following her since she wrote for the Mercury News and then her blog. On a side note, we like to work out in the same places; her intense workouts explain how she stays in fantastic shape while eating for a living. In East Bay Cooks, Carolyn showcases a diverse and delicious area of the Bay Area that is often forgotten. I love the introductions to the chefs and their signature dishes. The recipes are wonderful. This is a great gift for anyone in the Bay Area who enjoys food and wants to learn more about the East Bay and its culinary scene and cook some delicious food.

I Love my Instant Pot Recipe Books Series

I got an Instant Pot almost a year ago as a gift, but I was too afraid to actually use it. And from what I have learned by talking to others, I'm not alone! I think there are many of us with unused Instant Pots hiding in the garage! I had been looking for Instant Pot recipes, but often they didn't quite fit. They were either not "healthy enough" or required too many ingredients I did not have or contained ingredients I could not eat. The I Love My Instant Pot books solved this problem for me. Each book starts by going over Instant Pot basics, which made me feel at ease and actually made me use my pot! The first thing I made was a "Vegetable 'Cheese' Sauce" (from Anti-Inflammatory Diet) that contains no cheese but lots of vegetables and nutritional yeast. It was quick and really tasty and a great way to use up some of that nutritional yeast I had sitting on the counter. I also made artichokes and pinto beans (from Affordable Meals). I like that the Affordable Meals book lists prices for each meal in the book.

Besides the two books above that I own, there are many more titles (click on the images to be taken to the books on Amazon). I'm especially interested in the Keto diet and the Gluten-free ones.  There is definitely no more reason not to use that Instant Pot!  

I hope I inspired you to consider giving a cookbook or two this holiday season.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Pre-Holiday Conscious Cleanse to End the Year Feeling Great

Disclosure: I'm a Conscious Cleanse affiliate and will earn a commission if you sign up via one of my links. I only recommend products and services I truly believe in and have tested myself. 

Last year in October, I decided instead of focusing on how I'll start 2019, I'd focus on how I would end 2018. So on October 1, I started an End of the Year Yoga Challenge and documented it on Instagram via posts and stories. I had several people join me, and seeing everyone's posts really kept us all motivated and also was a bonding experience.

We practiced yoga every day. There were no other rules. Some of my practices were short, some were easy, some were very challenging, some were at home and some at a studio. I love what the challenge did for me as it really made me slow down every day and take some time for myself during a very busy time of the year. I started 2019 feeling great! 

This year, I have decided to end the year with a Conscious Cleanse. The Conscious Cleanse is a food-based cleanse that eliminates common allergens from your diet. But there is so much more to it. You are also encouraged to journal, look at your surroundings, be conscious of what you put on your body, and visualize the best version of yourself. And you do all of it with lots and lots of support.

I did my first Conscious Cleanse in 2013, and it really changed my life as I learned that I can't handle gluten very well, have to be careful with how many eggs I eat, easily go overboard with sauces and function a lot better with no (or very little) caffeine. Unfortunately, caffeine crept back into my life, and I drink way too much of it at this point. So eliminating coffee will be a challenge once again this time around. So will letting go of some of the condiments and other sauces in my fridge... Plus, it'll be nice to give my body a break from some of the convenience foods I'm currently eating. I know all the seemingly small changes will make a huge impact on how I feel, sleep, move and are able to enjoy life.

What I love most about doing a Conscious Cleanse is that it "forces" me to take care of myself every day by feeding my body foods that make it feel its best. Starting my day with a big cup of warm lemon water while journaling makes for a more relaxed day. How you start your day really can make a difference in how you feel (and react to things) the rest of the day. Finally, all of the support that is provided really makes all the changes doable as there is lots and lots online support every step of the way.

Are you ready to go on this journey with me? I'm going to participate in the November 6 cleanse. I would love for you to join me. Let's start 2020 feeling great! 

Here is more Conscious Cleanse information

If you have any questions about the Conscious Cleanse and my experiences with it, please send me an email at andreaswellnessnotes[at] I'd be happy to answer any questions you may have. 

You can also check out my Conscious Cleanse page where I have a collection of posts from 2013 to the present. 

Be well,

Friday, October 4, 2019

5 Wardrobe Must Haves to Take you from Work to Play

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links and may benefit from actions taken on the links. 

What five items in your closet do you reach for the most? For me, the answer changes a bit from time to time, but at this time, here are the five items I wear the most and "couldn't live without." What I love about them is that they can be dressed up or down and literally work for all occasions of my life.

Wrinkle-free Blouse

A nice, structured blouse is one of the most versatile pieces in anyone's closet. You can wear it with business attire, to formal events or dress it down by pairing it with your favorite pair of jeans and sneakers. I love my black and white striped blouse from Chico's. It's not only wrinkle-free but also stain resistant! How great is that!

A Wrap Dress

I'm still eyeing an iconic wrap dress from Diane von Furstenberg, but in the meantime, I love my faux wrap dress from Karina Dresses. It's comfortable, flattering, and really doesn't go out of style. To dress it down, I like wearing it with a denim jacket.

I love this wrap dress

A Pencil Skirt

Often my go-to outfit is a pencil skirt and a blouse or sweater. It's one of the easiest ways to look pulled together. I love my chevron-patterned pencil skirts and have worn it a lot.

I like this pencil skirt.

A Black Top

A black top goes with everything. Years ago, I invested in a black Accomplice Top from Trina Turk. I have worn it countless times with pants, jeans, and skirts, and I often take it on trips. It has a nice weight and falls very well. I also love my Trina Turk On the Rocks top.

Colored Chino Pants

I love chino pants for casual work days and for outings outside of work. Chinos are comfortable yet you can look pulled together, depending what you wear with them. It's even better when they come in a fun color. I love my rust-colored ones.

Be well,

Sunday, September 29, 2019

The Manifestation Journal Review

Disclosure: I received a review copy of The Manifestation Journal. As always, all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. 

When I was offered a review copy of The Manifestation Journal by Amy Chace, I knew I wanted to check it out right away. Journaling used to be part of my morning routine. For several years, I would get up about thirty minutes earlier than usual, make a pot of warm lemon water, sit in silence and write in my journal. It was a very relaxing way to start the day, and I believe it actually helped me get my blood pressure under control during a very stressful period in my life.

Unfortunately, I haven't journaled in quite some time, but I always knew it was something I wanted to get back to. The Manifestation Journal is a very unique, beautiful journal. The author calls it a hybrid of a journal, a sketchbook, a planner and a collaboration between her and the owner of the journal. She wants the owner to use the artwork on the pages as jumping off points to let them take the owner where they may.

All pages in the journal are very unique and allow the owners to interact with them how they want. 

This is one of my favorite pages. It really speaks to me. I can't wait to fill it and see where it takes me. 

The Manifestation Journal is a beautiful work of art, and I am very excited that it will help guide me back to a journaling practice. It makes a wonderful gift for loved ones or to oneself. I plan on giving at least two as gifts to very special people in my life.

Be well,

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Restarting Exercise After Injury, Illness or a Longer Break

See disclaimer at the bottom of the page. 

2019 has brought much more illness and injuries than expected. I started the year with several bad colds back to back, the flu, strep throat, and the stomach flu. As a result, my regular exercise program was seriously derailed. In fact, I wasn't able to do anything close to my regular routine until May. And then it felt like starting over, which was very frustrating.

And once I was better, there were more interruptions. We traveled most of July. And while we were very active while in Germany (we got between 20,000 and 30,000 steps most days), I didn't do as many strength exercises. Once I was finally back to my program in August, I fell during a hike and seriously banged up my knee and twisted my "good" ankle, which required me to stay off my feet for close to three weeks. To say it has been frustrating would be an understatement.

Here are a few things I have (re)learned about my relationship with exercise:

  • Exercise is a huge mood booster for me and not being able to exercise is very challenging mentally.
  • It's a slippery slope for me from not exercising to not taking care of my health in general, especially when it comes to my caffeine intake and healthy food choices. When I wasn't able to exercising, I drank more coffee and ate more sugar (I suspect to get energy I usually got from exercise and because I was bored?).
  • I still have somewhat of an all or nothing attitude. It was very hard for me to do some weight exercises while being seated when I couldn't stand because thoughts of "what's the use" kept creeping into my mind. 
  • Accepting that not exercising will result in loss of strength, flexibility and cardiovascular conditioning is something I will always have to work on.

How to Get Back to an Exercise Routine*

  • Start off slowly. The longer you were away from your routine, the more patient you will need to be. It's a good idea to do less than you think you should at first so that you won't get too sore or even hurt yourself. We lose strength, flexibility and cardiovascular fitness much faster than we think.
  • Doing something is better than doing nothing.  This is especially true when you are recuperating and won't be able to do a full workout. But maybe you can do some stretches? Or a short, gentle yoga routine? Short 10-minute walks are also a great way to get moving after being incapacitated. After a few days, you can do several short walks throughout the day. Or how about an arm workout while you are seated? 
  • Focus on "Cans" not "Cannots:" Don't focus on what you used to be able to do. If you haven't lifted weights for a while, you will have to decrease the weight you used to lift. If you weren't able to run for an extended period of time, you'll need to decrease your mileage or tempo, or both. That doesn't mean you won't get back to where you used to be (and if you have been working out for quite some time, probably sooner than it seems), but focusing too much on your previous abilities can be counterproductive. Instead focus on the fact that you are able to do so much more than when you were sick, injured or not exercising. 
  • Focus on having fun. When you first get back to exercise after an injury, illness or break, focus on exercises that you enjoy the most. When you are having fun, it's much easier to keep going. Once you have regained some of your previous fitness level, add in the "less fun" exercises.

* Disclaimer: Always consult your physician before beginning any exercise program. This general information is not intended to diagnose any medical condition or to replace your healthcare professional.

Monday, September 9, 2019

Vegetable Soup with Gluten-free Meatballs

Since subscribing to the Imperfect Produce box, I have enjoyed creating meals around the vegetables in the box. One of the dishes I recently made was a vegetable soup with a tomato base. I also added gluten-free meatballs (optional).

Vegetable Soup

  • Celery 
  • Garlic 
  • Carrots 
  • Sweet potatoes 
  • Bell peppers 
  • Summer squash 
  • Pomi strained tomatoes 
  • Water ~ 2 - 3 cups
  • Olive oil
  • Spices & herbs: salt, pepper, dried oregano, garlic powder, Trader Joe's mushroom & company multipurpose umami season blend & any other spices you enjoy- start with about 1/2 tsp each and add more as you taste. 

  1. Heat 2 - 3 TB olive oil in a medium to large pot and briefly sauté the vegetables. 
  2. Add one packet of Pomi tomatoes and a couple cups of water and bring to a soft boil. 
  3. If you'll add meatballs, cook for about 3 minutes before adding the meatballs. Otherwise, cook until the vegetables are al dente (about 10 minutes, but check periodically). 
  4. Season the soup to taste. 

Gluten-free Meatballs

  • 1 pound grass-fed ground beef
  • 3-4 TB hemp seeds
  • 2 eggs
  • Seasoning: salt, pepper, mushroom seasoning blend, garlic powder - about 1/2 tsp each
  1. Mix all ingredients until combined, but don't overwork. 
  2. Form the mixture into small meatballs, slightly bigger than large marbels. 
  3. Drop the meatballs into the softly boiling soup and cook until they are done, about 7 minutes. 

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Oren's Hummus in Mainstreet Cupertino

We have gotten takeout hummus and eggplant dishes from Oren's Hummus in Mainstreet Cupertino on numerous occasions, but we had never eaten there. A few weeks ago we finally did and very much enjoyed the experience.

We got hummus with beef and the sampler dish, which comes with three different eggplant dips, a yogurt dip, carrots and beets. Everything was delicious!

I also ordered an Israeli wine, Mount Hermon White Blend. The light, fruity wine went very nicely with all the dishes. 

Thank you for a wonderful meal Oren's Hummus! We'll be back!

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Easy Travel Wardrobe

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, and will benefit from actions taken on the links. Thank you for supporting Andrea's Wellness Notes! 

When we visited Germany in the summer, we decided to travel very lightly. By taking items that easily mixed and matched (and were easy to wash and dry), I was able to fit most of what I took into a carry-on suitcase. Following is a list of the most useful items that I took.

Black (Very Comfortable!) Skinny Jeans, Black Reversible Parka & Black Sneakers

The first week we were in Germany, it was quite cold and rainy at times. The reversible parka jacket that I bought for the trip worked out great in light rain. And I loved that I could wear it with the fabric side out when the weather was nice and achieve a different look. 

The black, stretchy skinny jeans are super comfortable and turned out to be the perfect travel pants. And the sneakers are truly the most comfortable shoes I own. We walked between 20,000 and 30,000 steps most days, and my feet felt great.

Ponchos for Serious Rain

A couple days it rained a LOT, and we were glad that we had bought some ponchos. One downside to the ponchos is that they do get quite hot... But it was still worth it to be able to go outside and freely walk when it rained a lot.

Stretchy Skinny Jeans & Simple Tops

Besides the black skinny jeans, I also took blue jeans. I paired them with simple tops I have had for years. They are comfortable, don't wrinkle and wash and dry very well. I ended up wearing the blue and black top A LOT.

Finally, for a little dressier outfit, I took a black and white striped blouse that doesn't wrinkle. I love the details on the blouse and got quite a few compliments. It's a great travel option.