Thursday, October 25, 2012

Happy HEALTHY Halloween!

By Stephanie of Infinite Life Fitness

Happy HEALTHY Halloween!

As you all well know, one of the BEST candy/junk food holidays is RIGHT around the corner! Free candy everywhere you look!

I know my job even has people bring in baked goods to snack on during the week of Halloween!

The key to getting past any holiday is to find healthier alternatives that you can create that taste just as good. In order to start getting healthier you HAVE to start cooking healthier and finding alternatives to create healthier dishes for you and your family.

Well today I will share with you some HEALTHIER dessert options you can make for yourself, your friends, and your family so you can still indulge a bit during this Halloween!

Chocolate Oatmeal Balls


* 1 ripe banana, mashed well
* 1 cup sugar
* 1/4 cup cocoa powder
* 1/2 cup nonfat milk
* 1/2 cup peanut butter
* pinch of salt
* 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
* 3 cups instant oats


Being inspired by a recipe I saw for no bake cookies that used a banana in place of butter, I decided to try my hand at creating a healthier version of my family recipe. One mashed banana replaces the one stick of butter, the sugar is cut in half, and a low fat milk (skim or almond) is used instead of whole or two-percent. Of course, there is quite a bit of sugar (one cup) in the recipe but it’s still much healthier than traditional no bake cookies. I think regular old fashioned oats might work in place of the quick oats, but I had quick oats on hand so that’s what I used. This recipe was orginally posted on my healthy living blog.

  1. Place all ingredients except the vanilla and oats in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat – stirring often.
  2. Let the mixture boil for one minute, remove from heat and let the mixture cool for one minute.
  3. Add the vanilla and oats and stir well to combine.
  4. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto waxed paper and cool to room temperature.

Healthy Chocolate Cake

1 cup cake flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch salt
2 tablespoons applesauce
1/2 cup 2 percent low-fat milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon instant decaffeinated coffee
2 (2 1/2-ounce) jars prune baby food
1 ounce semisweet chocolate chips, melted
2 teaspoons almond extract
2 egg whites

For icing:
2 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted
1/2 cup 0 percent Greek yogurt


  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Spray one round cake pan with nonstick cooking spray and sprinkle with flour.
  2. Sift together all the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
  3. In a small bowl, mix applesauce, milk, vanilla, coffee, prunes, chocolate, almond extract, and egg whites. Fold into the dry ingredients.
  4. Bake for 40 minutes.
  5. While the cake is baking, you can create the icing. After melting 2 ounces of chocolate chips, fold them into the 1/2 cup of 0 percent Greek yogurt. Refrigerate until you're ready to ice your cake for the best consistency.
  6. Allow cake to cool before icing and slicing. It's best to slice and serve when it's still warm!

Serves 8.

Nutritional information (per serving): calories 260, saturated fat 1.8 g.

Whole Wheat Mini Pumpkin Muffins

1/2 c. vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 2/3 c. whole wheat flour
1 1/4 c. sugar
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/3 c. water
1 c. canned or homemade pumpkin puree
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F
  2. Combine eggs, oil, water and pumpkin puree (use straight pumpkin, not pumpkin pie mix). Sift dry ingredients together and gradually beat into first mixture.
  3. Pour into greased mini muffin pans (I actually use a cookie scoop to get it in the pan…it’s the
  4. perfect size for mini muffins). Bake for 10-12 minutes. Makes about 36 mini muffins.

Rich Double Dark Chocolate Brownies

• ¾ cup organic canned black beans, rinsed
• ¼ cup olive oil
• ¼ cup unsweetened apple sauce
• 1 banana (I used a frozen one)
• 1/3 cup organic sucanat or brown sugar
• 1 teaspoon stevia
• 2- 1 ounce squares unsweetened chocolate
• 1 teaspoon instant coffee
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 1 egg
• 1/3 cup flour
• ½ teaspoon baking powder
• ¼ teaspoon salt
• ½ cup 60% cocoa baking chips (I used Ghirardelli)


Place a pan over medium heat and add the ¼ cup oil. Add the banana and cook until golden in color. Add the unsweetened chocolate and melt. Remove from heat. Place the black beans into a food processor fitted with a blade. Process the beans until smooth. Add the applesauce, banana and chocolate mixture, sucanat, stevia, instant coffee, vanilla extract, and egg. Process a few more seconds to combine. In a bowl combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir in the wet mixture from the food processor to combine. Stir in chips. Bake in a 8 X 8 baking pan at 350 F for 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

This is Stephanie from Infinite Life Fitness. Please feel free to stop by my blog and check out MORE health and fitness tips!

Protective Style Lookbook || Twisted Elegance

By popular demand, this is a series showcasing various protective hair styles.  Protective styling does not have to be boring. :o)

(See video tutorial below.)

Model: Laila

Style description: Back and swooped front flat twists with regular twists styled into a side roll.

Difficulty level: 5/5

Monday, October 22, 2012

"Soul" Food Mondays || Why We Fail at Lifestyle Changes

Have you been failing at making a lifestyle change?  Then, perhaps these tips (in the video below) will help:

Underrated || Cupuacu Butter for Hair and Skin

Cupuacu butter is starting to attract some popularity but has been underrated for a while.  If you don't know much about it, you might want to continue reading ...


1.  It is VERY moisturizing.  Cupuacu butter has an amazing ability to absorb and retain water, thus restoring moisture to dry hair.  Think moisturizer and sealant in one.

2.  It has emulsifying properties.  This butter is said to aid in the stabilization of an emulsion.  (An "emulsion" is a system (as fat in milk) consisting of a liquid dispersed with or without an emulsifier in an immiscible liquid usually in droplets of larger than colloidal size).


1. Use it straight or mix with other ingredients to make a whipped butter.  Cupuacu butter can be used alone (since it is already soft and moisturizing on its own) or mixed with oils, others butters, or aloe vera to create a whipped body or hair butter.  

2. Add to a conditioner.  Add some cupuacu butter to your conditioner to make it more moisturizing.

3. Use as a styling agent.  Cupuacu butter can be used alone or mixed with a gel for twisting, twistouts, braids, braidouts, or for use as a general styling agents.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Sew-Ins & Lace Fronts 101 || Library of Video Tutorials

Celebrity hairstylist Ellin LaVar has an informational library of DIY weave tutorials for those interested in installing and caring for their own sew-ins and lace fronts.  The videos discuss how to prep your hair, cut tracks, how to put on lace fronts, and more.  Below is one of the many tutorials.  For the full library, check out this link: LIBRARY OF VIDEO TUTORIALS.

Healthy Recipes || My Very Berry Smoothie

In my determination to create a berry-laden (and antioxidant-filled) smoothie, I came up with the following delicious recipe:

Organic strawberries, blueberries, blackberries (optional),
cranberry juice (or cranberries), water, and ice. 

ABOUT STRAWBERRIES: Strawberries are loaded with Vitamin C and manganese. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that is beneficial for the skin, hair, and immune system. It is said to improve scalp circulation. Manganese is said to be a factor in hair growth.

ABOUT CRANBERRIES: Studies have suggested that cranberries 1) provide maximum effect on suppressing the growth of various human cancer cells, 2) may decrease the risk of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), 3) have the most antioxidant activity, 4) help keep certain bacteria (like E. coli) from attaching to the urinary tract wall, and 5) decrease symptomatic urinary tract infections in women.


1/2 cup of organic strawberries
1/2 cup of organic blueberries
a few organic blackberries (optional)
1-1 1/2 cup of distilled water (depending on desired consistency)
1 cup of 100% pure cranberry juice (with no added sugar)
4 ice cubes

Blend and voila!

*Creates 1 large smoothie or 2 small smoothies.
*You can use less cranberry juice and more water or use actual cranberries in place of the juice.


Monday, October 15, 2012

REVIEW #16: Homemade Deodorant - Baking Soda, Corn Starch, and Coconut Oil

Disclaimer: If you are pregnant or lactating, or have a health condition, please consult with your doctor before using an essential oil.

Homemade deodorant (on the right).

Purpose: The baking soda and cornstarch are intended to diminish the moist environment (created from our sweat) that becomes a breeding ground for odor-inducing bacteria.  The coconut oil is intended to aid in the application process and also combat the skin drying/irritation effects of the baking soda.  The addition of an essential oil is intended to deodorize any odor that does form.

VIDEO TUTORIAL for Homemade Deodorant


For trial #1This created an unscented stick deodorant.
1 part baking soda, 1 part cornstarch, 1 part coconut oil.  

For trial #2 This created a scented creamy deodorant.
1 part baking soda, 1 part cornstarch, ~2 parts coconut oil, several drops of tea tree essential oil.  

Number of trials: Almost daily over the course of about five months.

How I used it:
Applied to armpit daily after morning shower.


Trial #1:
My first trial of this homemade deodorant was somewhat disappointing.  As the day progressed, the unscented "stick" version of this mixture caked in my armpits and fell off in chunks, many times slipping through my sleeve and onto the ground.  Additionally, as I sweated, the moisture would mix with the deodorant and leave "oil-like" stains on the armpit areas of my shirts.  Even with these application annoyances, the homemade deodorant was not effective against my armpit odor.

Trial #2:   
I was actually very pleased with my second trial of this mixture.  The scented "cream" version of this homemade deodorant melted into my armpits and did not create the kind of application issues I experienced with the "stick" version (i.e., trial #1).  Also, the addition of tea tree oil increased the effectiveness of this mixture against armpit odor.  Compared to commercial deodorants that I have tried, I prefer this mixture largely because it does not result in a "sweat mixed with deodorant scent" smell.  In other words, it does not attempt to cover up the odor but actually combats it, if you know what I mean.  

Background: Compared to the average woman, I would rate myself as high in the armpit sweat and armpit odor departments.  (Embarrassing, but the truth.) I cannot go without using a strong antiperspirant, so I've been applying Certain Dri every 2-3 nights for a few years now.   Because antiperspirants are only intended to decrease sweat and not fight odor, I also have to use a deodorant in the morning.  Trial #2 of this mixture has become one of my staples (in addition to a commercial deodorant I alternate with so that my body does not get used to either one).  I would recommend Trial #2 to someone like me.

PROS: easy to mix; inexpensive ingredients; mainly natural ingredients;
scented version: effective against armpit odor;
cream: easy to apply

CONS: stick version: flaky, leaves shirt stains for those who sweat a lot;
unscented version: ineffective for those who sweat a lot.

RATING: Overall, I give the scented, cream version 5 out of 5 stars.  I give the unscented, stick version 1 out of 5 stars.

This product is ideal for those who:
- want an effective natural deodorant (use the trial #2 version for this)
- want an inexpensive, effective deodorant (")

Creamy consistency of the homemade deodorant.

"Soul" Food Mondays || Let Go of What You Don't Want

“The only way to get what you really want is to let go of what you don’t want.” - Iyanla Vanzant

What are you holding on to that you do not want?  An unhealthy relationship?  An extra fifteen pounds?  A stagnant career?  Damaged hair?  You must let go of these things in order to get what you really want.

Make room for what you do want.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Healthy Hair Feature: Shae

~3 years of growth.
1) Are you natural, relaxed, texlaxed, or transitioning?
I’m natural, kinky/coily/curly, fine, cottony with some silky in the nape.  I tried to transition but only lasted one month.  I ended up shaving it all off anyway. LoL

Big chop in June 2009.
2) What mistakes have you made in your hair care journey?
I think the biggest mistake I’ve made has been comparing my growth to other ladies with Chia hair.  You know those ladies -- they have SL hair in May and WL hair by August.  Yup, I was setting myself up for failure by comparing my growth to theirs. Once I began to think positively about my growth and even visualize myself pulling my hair down to my goal at the end of the year, I started to see more results.

December 2010.
3) What is your current HEALTHY HAIR routine?
My routine varies by the season. But overall I describe it as: 1) Low manipulation, 2) Low cones/sulfates, 3) Ayurveda and 4) PS 95% of the time.
 In warmer months, I tend to rock mini braids and water rinse or cowash them daily.  I seal in the moisture with either grapeseed oil or a cone condish. I cleanse and DC (protein followed by moisture) once per week. 
In the winter, I cornrow my hair on Saturday, cleanse and DC on Sunday, rock the cornrows under wigs or headwraps M-F and rock big hair for Friday date night :) I tend to water rinse or cowash the cornrows every other day, rub in some condish and seal with EVOO. 
Every now and then I’ll throw in some extension twists or braids for about 3-4 weeks and then go back to whatever style it is for the season. 
I primarily finger detangle (about 90%-95% of the time).  I keep my coily hair stretched at all times; never allowing it to be wet and loose at the same time (I do everything in braids/cornrows).  I M&S daily.  I cleanse and condition with Ayurveda mixes. And I rock a men’s satin skull cap under my wigs/headwraps and around the house to keep my strands protected.

August 2012.

4) Do you have a HEALTHY BODY routine? If so, what is it?
Uh, I plead the Fifth! LoL
But really, this year I’ve doubled my water intake and am doing more exercising by way of dancing.  It’s all about baby steps right?

5) Do you have any advice for those seeking healthy tresses?
Start with the basics:
-Find a good cleanser, conditioner and moisturizer.  You can add on goodies from there.
-Keep your hair clean and moisturized. .
-Baby those ends (keep them tucked away and extra moisturized) and treat your hair like fine silk.
-Take pictures every 3-6 months to track your progress.  It really helps!
-Lastly, have fun! :)

6) Where can we find you (blog, youtube, tumblr, etc.)?
Black Hair Media Forum (in the Natural and Growth Sections)
Long Hair Care Forum

Oldies, But Goodies

1. Healthy Skin Tips for the Year
2. Apple Cider Vinegar Shampoo for Dandruff
3. Household Makeup Removers
4. Fitness || Truth About YOUR Belly
5. Nutritious Bartending || The Healthier Mimosa

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Hair Diary || Caring For My Braid Extensions

I self-installed box braid extensions to be worn for the first two months of the 1in3 challenge.  It took 5 packs of hair and about 9 hours for the install.  Prior to braiding, I washed, conditioned, moisturized, and air dried my hair as usual.  During these two months, my box braid care routine will be: 

-Weekly: Spritz hair with a mixture of water, glycerin, grapeseed oil, and grapefruit essential oil.
-Weekly: Spritz scalp with tea tree essential mixed with water (to keep scalp fresh).
-Every two to three weeks: Prepoo with coconut oil, Wash with diluted shampoo, Condition with diluted Suave, and seal with my shea mixture.

Depending on how well I maintain the braids, I might wear it for longer (i.e., three months).  We will see.  Other than the basic routine above, I will continue to sleep with a satin bonnet to protect my hair and keep the braids from frizzing.  I also plan to plait my braids prior to washing in order to keep the frizzies to a minimum.

Here are some sites to check out for braid or braid extension care:
Box braids only:
Braid extensions:

Here are two youtube videos with amazing braid extensions styles that I plan to try:

And here are a few more photos of my self-install, the packs of hair that I used, and the final look ...
100% Kanekalon.  Color: 4.  Each pack was about $2.
Braiding my hair.
Finito.  The braids are about hip-length / tailbone-length.

Healthy Recipes || My Mango Smoothie

I've been on a smoothie kick for some time given that it is an easy way to absorb multiple nutrients (especially via fruits and veggies) at once.  My staples are green smoothies and banana smoothies, but lately I've been wanting to experiment with other fruits -- like the mango.

Mangos are a good source of vitamin A, vitamin C, dietary fiber, and vitamin B6.

After playing around with various ingredients and having a few failed attempts, I've finally created a mango smoothie that I find tasty while being nutritious.  It contains mango (vitamins and fiber), peanut butter (protein), almond milk (calcium), ice, and a little honey (optional sweetener).  A banana can be thrown in for extra nutrients and/or in place of honey for added flavoring.

1 cup mango
1-1 1/4 cup vanilla-flavored almond milk (amount depends on your desired consistency)
2 tbsp natural peanut butter
4-5 ice cubes
1/2 tsp honey (optional, depending on your palate)
OR 1 banana (in place of the honey)

My smoothie regimen: one every morning, whether mango, banana, or green.

Smoothie suggestion: If you want to incorporate berries (antioxidants), I'd suggest blueberries and blackberries.  Stay away from raspberries because they tend to give the smoothie a sour taste (unless, of course, your palate does not mind).  Some strawberries can also do the same but not as intense.  If you do use raspberries or strawberries, I suggest sweetening their flavor a bit with the addition of a banana in your smoothie.

My green smoothie.  Contains kale, banana, almond milk, peanut butter, ice, and sometimes blueberries or blackberries.  (I no longer use soy milk.)

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Healthy Hair Feature: Jay

1) Are you natural, relaxed, texlaxed, or transitioning? (And how long?) 
I've been natural for 3.5 years. My last relaxer was March 2009 and I BC'd in August of 2009.

2) What mistakes have you made in your hair care journey? 
My biggest mistake was thinking that some things were just normal for my hair. I have extremely fine strands that are very fragile and prone to breakage. I thought breakage was just a property of my hair and something that I would have to put up with all my life. My hair really turned around when I realized I didn't have to just deal with it. I can prevent breakage by using protein weekly and using only my fingers to detangle.

3) What is your current HEALTHY HAIR routine? 
I keep my hair in braids most of the time. I prefer wearing mini braids with just my natural hair. I cowash at least twice a week with either Tresemme Naturals or Giovanni Nutrafix. I'm not loyal to any shampoos. I don't shampoo often and I avoid sulfates- Bentonite clay is my preferred method of cleansing and I use it before and after I wear mini braids. I DC with LeKair Cholesterol weekly when my hair is loose and biweekly when my hair is in mini braids. I use Shea Moisture products as a leave in and seal with grape seed oil. I've recently added ayurvedic powders to my routine, which I use about every 6 weeks.

4) Do you have a HEALTHY BODY routine? If so, what is it? 
I always struggle with this one. I start the day with good intentions but I don't stick to healthy body practices as much as I would like. I'm newly vegetarian (It's been about 8 months) and I end up eating far too many carbs. I'm still learning how to keep healthy foods stocked in my kitchen so I don't have to reach for something easy like some toast. I don't work out as much as I should but my plan is always at least 30 mins, 5 times a week. I have a muscular build so I see better results from intense workouts like kettlebell or interval training. One thing I'm good at doing is drinking water. I drink anywhere from 3-4 liters a day of pure water.

5) Do you have any advice for those seeking healthy tresses? 
The best advice I have is to learn what works for your hair and don't settle for okay. Always strive to have your hair in the best shape it can be. I would also advise not to compare your hair to others. My hair grows slower than average and it can be discouraging to see others reach milestones way before I did. I always had the longest hair growing up so it was surprising to find out that my hair grows so slowly.

6) Where can we find you (blog, youtube, tumblr, etc.)? 
I have a hair blog on maintaining mini braids at I'm also on tumblr, which is my catch-all personal blog. Some things are NSFW. The address is

Oldies, But Goodies

1. Ingredients You May Not Want In Your Food
2. Twist Series: Mini Twists & Micro Twists
3. Hair Growth Tip - Green Tea?!
4. Women's Fitness: What's True & What's False
5. Interview with a Fine-Haired Natural
6. Dietary Fiber and Colon Cancer

Monday, October 1, 2012

1in3: Let the Challenge Begin!

Starting length: Approximately 1 inch
until waistlength (WSL).
Today, October 1, is the official start date of the 1in3 challenge!  (For challenge guidelines, read this post.)

So, what's in store for this month?  Well, our goal is to retain 1/3 to 1/2 an inch (depending on your monthly growth rate) in 31 days.  If you really think about, that leaves little to no room for trimming, breakage, slacking on your regimen, and slacking on your health.

I've been scissor happy, loose hair happy, and heat happy since the end of our first challenge.  Cuts (I wanted to diminish my naturally forming mullet) and out styles (I did more twistouts this summer than I've ever done) and heat galore (I think I've flat-ironed my hair 4+ times this summer).  Fortunately, my hair did not take a turn for the worse, BUT I did not retain as much length as I could have since almost touching waistlength last winter.  Thus, getting back to this challenge will be a real 
motivation for not just you all, but for me as well. :o)  

So what is our focus for this month?  It is the word focus.
  • F is for "Firm".  Remain firm with your plan.  Do not get lazy or sidetracked.
  • O is for "Onward".  Progress onward to meet your goal.  Do not dwell on previous setbacks.  Do not compare yourself to others.  The path to achieving your goal is in front of you, not behind you or to your right or left.
  • C is for "Care".  Retaining length requires proper care of your hair.  Look to the challenge rules for strict guidance.
  • U is for "Undaunted".  If you do face obstacles this month, remain undaunted.  Do not become discouraged along the way.  Keep on pushing ... onward.  Remain ... firm.  
  • S is for "Success".  The first step to achieving your goal is to believe that success can become a reality.  In spite of the fact that my hair never grew past my collar bone for most of my life, I believed it was possible to break that barrier ... and I did.

So stay FOCUSed this month!  This month is smoothies galore and box braid extensions for me. :o)

So, ladies.  What is your hair care plan for this month? What style(s) will you wear?

Photos of my box braid extensions coming next week!

Setting Your Fitness New Year's Resolution

By Stephanie of Infinite Life Fitness

Yes, you read the title correct. It does say New Year’s resolution. I know that Halloween is almost here, but I have a great idea for those needing that last push of motivation to jump start your health and fitness goals. How about start working NOW to reach your goals for New Years!

Every year in January, I get an INFLUX of requests, questions, and clients who want to get in shape or get healthier to “start off the New Year”. But why not start now!?! You know that sexy black dress (or any other color dress) you have been secretly stalking to buy. Well, start working NOW so you can welcome the New Year with your new, healthier, sexier body!

Here is the plan:
  1. Make a plan! How much weight do you want to lose? REMEMBER to be realistic! It is recommended to lose 1-4 pounds a week (anything more than that can be hazardous of cause health complications).
  2. Set a plan of action! How are YOU going to start working towards reaching your goals? Cutting out that midafternoon carbonated drink or sugary snack? Making healthier meals for you and your family? Drinking more water? Scheduling and completing the workouts for the week? YOU can set your plans into action. Seek the help of a personal trainer, nutritionists, or even ASK ME for advice!! It starts with eating right! The things that you consume should be fuel for your body! Eating the right things will allow your body to start making the right changes once you incorporate a regular workout routine.
  3. Make a reward! What would you like as a reward for your hard work? Yes I know that you are not a dog and should not be rewarded with treats…but we are human…and having a reward gives you something to work towards. Even if it is shopping…a trip…or that black sexy dress you have wanted to buy. The reward has to be something worth working towards. Overall your main reward is looking…feeling…and living a healthier lifestyle which in the end will benefit your overall life! Now that….is the ULTIMATE reward!

So why not start NOW!? There is no more time to waste. Only YOU can make the change. There is no magic diet…or magic cream…or magic pill that can get you the results that you are wanting. You have to work hard for what YOU want and no one else can do it for you. It starts with exercise, healthy controlled eating, hard work, and patience. Remember results will not show up overnight. It will take about A MONTH for you to start seeing the results of your hard work…and trust me….when you start to see the results that is enough motivation to make you want to work harder to reach your overall goal!

So start today!

My name is Stephanie from Infinite Life Fitness. Please feel free to stop by my website for more health and fitness related tips!


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