Have you ever tried Fresh Herb Licorice?

Hey peeps, and sorry for a little break here in Energy Spark!

Have you ever tried Natural Fresh Herb Liquorice produced by Panda? If you have a sweet tooth or you want to have something sugary occasionally you should definitely try these if you haven’t already.

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Delicious Panda Fresh Herb Liquorice is made with natural colors and flavors, there is no additives, no preservatives and the taste is so yummy and fresh! Panda is a Finnish confectionery company and in Finland you can get these at almost any grocery stores. In the UK, you can get these at Holland & Barrett and Whole Foods but the size is bigger, 200g. In the US, I know Whole Foods sells these and when I used to live in Seattle I was able to get Panda licorice at QFC as well. There’s also different flavors such as raspberry, blueberry and regular licorice but this is my favorite.

Have a lovely Friday everyone!

Xoxo, S

Why should you start your day with warm water and lemon?

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My cup of warm water and lemon this morning

Last summer I did a juice fast to eliminate toxins from my body. I started each morning with a cup of warm water and half a lemon squeezed because lemons jump-start digestion by stimulating the release of enzymes. Lemons are also high in vitamin C which helps convert toxins into a water-soluble form that can be easily eliminated from the body.

Now, I’m not fasting but I’ve been drinking warm water with lemon in the mornings and I’ve been feeling extremely good. Even though it’s been a while since a wellness educator, Ashley Pitman, wrote about seven benefits of drinking lemon water every morning, I still wanted to share the list with you guys as well.

  1. Boosts your immune system
  2. Balances pH
  3. Helps with weight loss
  4. Aids digestion
  5. Acts as a gentle, natural diuretic
  6. Clears skin
  7. Hydrates the lymph system

Have a look at this article for more info and details about the benefits!

Xoxo, S

Skinny bitches

No, I’m not going to write about the skinny bitch drink with vodka, diet coke, ice cubes and lime wedges. However, since it’s Saturday and my old junior synchronized skating team Musketeers has just won World Junior Synchronized Skating Championships (yayayaya, congrats!), I want to share two of my favorite skinny drinks which are low in calories like the skinny bitch but they taste even better!

Laurent – Perrier Ultra Brut Champagne  (only 65 calories in one glass)

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Vodka, diet tonic/sparkling water and lime

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Have a lively bubbly Saturday everyone!

Xoxo, S

Guest Post: London’s Top 5 Healthy Restaurants

One of my friends, Emma, has a lifestyle blog called London Masquerade where she writes about food, fashion and places in London. She did this lovely guest post about delis/restaurants for healthy eating out in London.

Enjoy!

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1. Itsu (http://itsu.com/)

Itsu is an Asian “fast food” made by the team of Pret-a-manger. In the menu you can find hearty salads, light soups, skinny salad sandwiches, delicious sushis and bento boxes… Everything is low-carb, low-fat and low-calories. I basically would go there everyday if I could.

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2. Ottolenghi ( http://www.ottolenghi.co.uk/)

Ottolenghi provides mouth-watering mediteranean food in its delis and restaurants. There is a selection of colorful salads, lots of veggies and healthy quality dishes.

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3. Leon (http://www.leonrestaurants.co.uk/)

You can go to Leon for breakfast, lunch and even for snacks. It has a large selection of healthy low-GI dishes such as porridge, salads, wraps, soups and cakes!

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4. Vitao (http://www.vitao.co.uk/)

Vitao is an organic vegan restaurant in Soho, its menu contains Vegetable paella, Moussaka, Greek Salad, Veg Lasagne, Asparagus Risotto, Coleslaw… You can also have delicious juices and vegan desserts! Basically you will have so much choice you will want to take everything!

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5. Comptoir Libanais (http://www.lecomptoir.co.uk/)

Comptoir Libanais offers a wide variety of lebanese home-style dishes. Affordable, light and delicious… What can you ask more?

Check out Emma’s blog http://londonmasquerade.wordpress.com  for more food and shopping tips in London!

Xoxo, S

Healthy snack combos

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These are excellent snack combos to keep your metabolism going between meals throughout the day. However, you can always mix and match healthy snacks the way you like them! Here are some of my favorite snacks I’d add to the list above:

  • Dark rye bread with turkey, smashed avocado, cottage cheese or cucumber and tomato slices
  • Apples – an apple a day keeps the doctor away!
  • A TOTAL 0%  Greek yoghurt (more protein than in a plain non-fat yoghurt)
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 What are your favorite snacks?

Happy snacking everyone!

Xoxo, S

5 Golden Rules of Effective Exercise

Like working out and determinedly want to achieve your goals before summer?

Yeah, so do I, except I haven’t really set any goals for myself even though I definitely should. Let’s make our precious spare time go even further by making our workouts more effective. By following these top tips, we’ll get more out of gym routine in half the time.

      1. Eat protein after your workout

        Protein is the essential fuel your muscles need to help them repair and recover after your workout. And studies show that it works better when you take it after exercise compared to any other time. Protein that’s rapidly digested and contains plenty of essential amino acids will work best.

      2. Do high intensity interval training for the best results

        Whether you want to strip away the fat or you want to increase your overall fitness level, you need to do interval training as well instead of only doing regular cardio. You’ll get better result in less time than with slow cardio. You can use lots of traditional aerobic activities, such as running outside/inside, cycling, stepping, etc. First, warm up for five minutes. Then start your interval training: sprint for one or two minutes, and then drop the intensity to a easy pace for 60-120 seconds. Repeat the process three to six times and follow it with a cool-down.

      3. Drop your reps and up the weight

        Too often higher repetitions (12-20) and light weights are recommended to women who want to tone up but lower repetitions (8-12) and heavier weights actually work a lot better and you’ll burn more calories as well. Try it and you’ll find your body becomes firmer and more defined.

      4. Squat

        Want to smooth and toned bum? If so, make sure you include squats in your exercise. The squat is one of the best movements for firming up your bum, thighs and your entire body, and because it works so many muscles it’s a great calorie burner as well.

      5. Focus on what you’re doing

        Do you exercise at the same time as reading a magazine? Stop, and focus on what you’re doing. That’s because thinking about the way your muscles work makes them work harder. When your muscles work harder, they tone up faster, which means you’ll get a better body in months not years.

Xoxo, S

Fresh carrot, apple and ginger juice

One of my absolute favorite fresh juices is carrot, apple and ginger juice because it tastes heaven, cleanses your body and improves your immune system – what an energy juice!

My mom introduced me to this drink when she did a cleansing juice fast ages ago, and since then we’ve been making this juice as often as possible.

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However, I had this carrot, apple and ginger juice at Caffé Respiro (authentic Italian cafe in Notting Hill) recently and it actually tasted almost as good as the one we make at home 🙂

So why is this refreshing juice so good for you?

  • Carrots are rich in beta carotene, which is an antioxidant = fights cancer and it converts in the body to Vitamin A.
  • Apples help to cleanse the system, lower cholesterol, and also keep blood glucose levels up.
  • Ginger aids digestion and helps to boost the body’s metabolism. It also reduces nausea, pain and inflammation.

Ingredients:

  • 4 carrots
  • 2 apples (preferably green ones because they have considerably more benefits than the red ones)
  • 1 piece of ginger

Preparation:

  1. Juice everything into a glass.
  2. Stir.
  3. Enjoy!

Now, who’s ready to juice?

Xoxo, S

Perfect detox salad

I recently had this delicious detox salad at Le Pain Quotiden Notting Hill that is actually one of my favorite restaurants in London, and I’d highly recommend the restaurant as well as the salad.

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This perfectly balanced detox salad includes nutritionally rich ingredients: quinoa, avocado, tomatoes, leek, red cabbage, cabbage, carrots, swede, dried tomato, lemon and organic rapeseed oil.

However, you can easily make the detox salad at home and just mix different raw vegetables you like. Besides the list above, I would like to add cucumber, pepper and cauliflower in my salad.

How would you build your healthy detox salad?

Xoxo, S

Health A-Z

Antioxidants protect your body from free radicals – rogue molecules that travel around your body raising hell and damaging your cells. Eat your antioxidant-rich fruits and veggies to prevent cancer, cardiovascular disease, and even aging.

Balanced lifestyle is the key to a healthy life. Consume a variety of foods from each food group in the right proportions, change your workout routines once in a while, get enough sleep and take care of yourself.

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C-vitamin as ascorbic acid is an essential building block of collagen, a structural material for bone, skin, blood vessels and other tissue.

D-vitamin: every tissue in our bodies needs vitamin D because it’s crucial for preserving health and preventing disease. The best sources of vitamin D are the sunlight and the supplements. I don’t get enough sunlight year-round so I prefer taking vitamin D3 supplement everyday.

Energy spark! Energy is our health and this blog is all about health and wellness.

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Fiber can lower blood sugar, cut cholesterol and it keeps us feeling fuller for longer. It also keeps our bowels healthy, and helps prevent constipation, and other digestive problems.

Goal: set some health goals to maximize your enjoyment of life!

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Hydration: drinking water throughout the day is essential for good health and wellbeing. Insufficient hydration fatigues you, weakens the body’s immune system and leads to chemical, nutritional and pH imbalances that can eventually cause sickness and premature aging.

Iron is vital for our bodies to function properly. Eat some iron-rich foods such as red meat, spinach, beans, rye bread etc. in order to avoid iron deficiency that can cause iron deficiency anemia (symptoms include feeling tired, looking pale and breathless).

Jump for joy – bounce your way to better health!

Keep going to achieve your dreams!

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I remember my synchronized skating coach, Anu Oksanen, saying this when my teammates and I were extremely exhausted because of our crazy tough practices for the world championship competition:)

Laughter relieves stress and lengthens life!

Mind and mood are essential parts of complete healthy you!

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Nutrition is crucial to overall good health! Be aware of what kind of food your body really needs for having energy during the day, avoiding any disease and feeling great in your body, mind and soul. Check out the eatwell plate here!

Olive oil contains monounsaturated fat (the good fat we need) and a single tablespoon of it increases the amount of heart-saving, cancer-fighting, vision-boosting, immune-repairing, bone-strengthening vitamins such as A, E and K, as well as carotenoids.

Protein is a major functional and structural component of all our cells, and is needed for growth and repair. It is good to eat protein at each meal because it’s more satisfying than carbohydrates or fats!

Quinoa is nutrient-rich food and it’s gluten-free. Quinoa seeds are high in protein, calcium, iron and fiber.

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Relax to remember! Besides eating well and exercising, relaxing is as important for your sustainable wellness. A nature walk or yoga are my favorite ways to relax.

Sweating helps your body get rid of toxins, gets your circulation going, increases cardiovascular activity as well as your metabolism and boosts your immune system.

Tea, particularly green tea, has been associated with several health benefits.

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Unsaturated fats (healthy fats such as monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats) are vital to do everything from building cell membranes to performing essential functions of your brain, lungs, eyes, digestion process and immune system. Hence, replace unhealthy saturated fat and trans fat foods, such as butter, red meat, and high-fat dairy products, with foods that are high in healthier unsaturated fats such as fish, beans, nuts, seeds, avocados and low-fat/nonfat dairy products.

Vegetables: due to the nutritional and health benefits, we should eat vegetables about a third of our daily consumption of foods.

Water – drink more water!

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Xylitol helps to keep a neutral pH level in your mouth. It also prevents bacteria from sticking to the teeth, and thus prevents tooth decay.

Yoga is referred to mind, body and spirit. It relaxes you and develops your flexibility, strength, balance and posture.

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Zzz: Getting enough sleep is a key part of a healthy lifestyle and it can benefit your heart, mind, wellness and more. About 7-9 hours of sleep is mostly recommended for adults. However, we are all different and your age influences the amount of sleep needed as well.

Xoxo, S