My experience with a Facial Rejuvenation treatment

If you have been following my blog or social media pages for a while, you know that I’m a huge supporter of all the little things that can help us to take a better care of ourselves on a daily basis. Many people think that self-care means having at least one day off each week to spend taking care of themselves and having only that single thing to do. We all know that reality is a little bit different, things don’t always go as planned and it’s not so common having the chance to dedicate one entire day each week to yourself. So, it’s important to think about what you can do on a daily basis to show yourself some love… small choices that seem simple but can actually be life-changing!

I’d like to help you figure out what you can do at home in first place and also simple treatments that you can book without necessarily have to take a day off at the spa. That’s why I’d like to meet other people who work in the wellness world and give you some examples of HOW YOU CAN EASILY SUPPORT YOUR WELL-BEING in different ways… you’ll hear from my voice about the treatment, how does it work, how it made me feel and which are the benefits that I’ve noticed.

Recently, I had the pleasure to try a Chinese Cupping and Gua Sha Facial Rejuvenation treatment with Amanda Nordell at Dublin Wellness Centre: it’s a treatment based on a combination of different techniques that Amanda carefully adapts to your own needs.

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What is it all about? The treatment lasts approx. 1 hour and includes the use of gua sha tools, a jade roller, natural facial oils, cupping (with silicone cups), basalt stones, and a face mask. You can also get a standard acupuncture treatment as part of the session as an extra support for your well-being and general balance. It’s a relaxing hour and even if it may sound a bit scary getting cupping on your face, the truth is that it doesn’t hurt and leaves no red marks, my skin was refreshed and rejuvenated following the treatment.

The combination of facial cupping and gua sha is both relaxing for the mind and body, and invigorating for the complexion and facial muscles. For this kind of treatment, Amanda works with clients who have a wide range of needs, including who have specific skin conditions such as acne, rosacea, psoriasis, or eczema and also with people who want to prevent/reduce the signs of aging. The facial can help reduce fine lines and wrinkles and reduce sagging tendencies. As she mentioned to me, there’s no downtime after the session and this makes it even easier for all of us thinking to fit this relaxing time into a busy schedule.

What I really loved about the treatment (apart from the glowing skin that I had right after it) is the idea that it helps your whole face to find its balance again and to shine from the inside out – it’s a way to give some extra support to your skin and muscles on their everyday job. No magic tricks or big promises: it’s a deep and gentle facial massage based on specific instruments, nutrients (from oils and masks), and temperatures.

Something else I really appreciated is the approach that Amanda has toward natural products. We are all aware that the word “natural” is used to advertise a wide range of stuff (and often is the perfect way to trick customers) and it can have several meanings – the best thing to do is having a better look at what there is actually behind the “natural” label. As Amanda mentioned to me, her focus is on getting products that are organic when possible, and free from parabens, silicones, mineral oil, and alcohol.

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SOME DETAILS…

My specific needs: I’ve received the treatment a few days after having a cold, with a sinus inflammation, a dry skin (I tend to have a dry skin due to psoriasis but this time was also due to the previous cold), and a few hormonal spots. Amanda took some time before starting the treatment to have a chat, tell me that the treatment could also be helpful for my sinus inflammation, explain to me that she decided to use a hydrating bamboo mask and that the hormonal spots may worsen after the session but only because the skin is clearing itself. The results: right after the treatment I was relaxed and energised at the same time – it’s a facial but it lasts one hour, so it actually feels like taking a proper “self-care break” in the middle of the day. I’ve noticed immediately the re-hydration and a clear change in my skin’s texture, the entire face looked (and felt) renovated and refreshed – hormonal spots cleared after a few days and I had a good improvement in my sinus inflammation. I always preach about listening to your body and what mine told me in the evening after the session with Amanda was to slow down and take more time off (I even went in bed way earlier than usual). Every time I go for a treatment or I do something to take care of myself, I always feel some extra motivation afterward to keep doing it and to be more consistent in adding self-care into my priorities (when I’m busy I tend to forget about using face creams, oils, self-massage, etc).

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The treatment is divided into several steps: it starts with a gentle and quick massage to apply the oil, then the use of some tools (jade roller, gua sha, etc..) not only helps with muscles and blood circulation, but it also allows the oil to be absorbed better into the skin. Gua sha, jade roller, and cupping are used before the mask, then basalt stones are the final part of the session. The tools for gua sha are used to do a gentle scraping action on the skin (this means that the layers are starting to be stimulated – you’ll also feel the skin that gets warmer), while the jade roller is naturally cold and massages the face. The technique used for cupping promotes circulation and relieves muscle tension (warm temperature), the mask nourishes the skin and the basalt stones are used again to massage the face.

Even if I love getting a massage and I truly believe that treatments like massage or acupuncture are a great and simple way to support our well-being (from both personal experience and from what I’ve learned in my training to become a Lomi Lomi massage therapist), I’m usually not keen in booking myself in for a facial. But this treatment is actually something completely different because it involves the use of tools and all the different steps follow a logical pathway that you can clearly understand and feel with all the little changes on your skin.

I would definitely recommend having this treatment with Amanda if you like in Dublin or nearby – it’s a good value for money (€65) and her non-judgemental, experienced, and down-to-earth approach will definitely help you to feel comfortable and enjoy the treatment. I also hope that what I’ve written here will be helpful and inspiring for all of you who live somewhere else!

Chiara x

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ABOUT AMANDA:

Amanda is a registered acupuncturist with AFPA, the oldest and largest professional body for practitioners of Traditional Chinese Medicine in Ireland. She is a graduate of The Acupuncture Foundation of Ireland and has completed a clinical internship at the WHO Collaborative Center of Traditional Medicine at Nanjing University, China. This programme consisted of extensive clinical instruction at Jiangsu Province General Hospital and Military Hospital 454.

Amanda was privileged to work with the renowned Dr. Wen Lei Qiao during her time in China. Dr. Qiao’s treatment philosophy is well respected across Europe and the world. Her principles of pain-free needling, use of a few needles as possible along with a gentle, consultative approach with clients is proven to create optimum results. Amanda adheres to this approach and in addition to traditional body acupuncture she uses abdominal, auricular (ear) and wrist-ankle acupuncture techniques. Also, traditional Chinese cupping therapy and moxibustion.

Amanda has 20 years of experience working in the areas of health and social care firstly as a nurse and subsequently in the area of child and vulnerable adult protection. She has worked in general medicine, surgery, pediatrics, care of the elderly, mental health, learning disability and addiction. Amanda draws on this knowledge to provide a holistic, person-centered experience for each patient treating them according to their unique specific symptoms.

Through the principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine, she focuses on promoting health, preventing illness, and treating health challenges through natural alternatives that complement and enhance Western Medicine treatments.

To find more details about the treatments and schedule an appointment with Amanda, click HERE: www.amandanordell.com

Barley Salad with Courgettes and Blue Cheese

(read in Italian)

Do you sometimes cook with barley? Do you know that barley has a good content of beta-glucan? Yes, the same fibre that you can find in oats! Beta-glucan is a glucose polymer (polysaccharides) found in the cell walls of cereals and other food (for example yeasts, seaweeds, and some mushrooms like shiitake or reishi – it’s also found in other foods in smaller amounts).

The positive effect of grains like barley and oats on cholesterol has been associated with their content of soluble fibre. The beta-glucan structure is different based on the food source (so they are for example soluble fibre in cereals and insoluble in yeasts.. the power of chemistry!). Taking good care of yourself through your food and lifestyle choices CAN BE EASY AND ENJOYABLE.. You just need to give it a go!

Below you’ll find the recipe for a salad with barley, courgettes, and blue cheese – I have used a cheese that has easily become a favorite in my house: Young Buck, a delicious raw milk blue cheese made in Northern Ireland. You can check it out if you’ve never tried it or do a little bit of research until you find your own favorite!

Chiara x

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Barley Salad with Courgettes and Blue Cheese

Ingredients (serves 2)

  • 120 g barley
  • approx. 340 g courgettes
  • approx. 40 g blue cheese
  • 1 small handful of alfalfa sprouts (or your favorite sprouts)
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 tsp fennel seeds (crushed in a mortar)
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small handful of fresh mint leaves
  • a pinch of black pepper

Cook the barley according to the instructions on the package. When it will be ready, simply rinse it with cold water and drain well. While you wait for the barley to cook, you can prepare the other ingredients: cut into small slices the courgettes and cook them in a pan with a little bit of olive oil for 1-2 minutes – you can also decide to divide the courgettes into two parts, then cook some of them and leave the remaining veggies raw (to get the best results, I’ll do this only with small, fresh and crunchy courgettes). Once the courgettes will be cold, place them in a large bowl with spices, dried thyme, lemon juice, barley, cheese, and extra virgin olive oil. Mix well all the ingredients and set them aside in the fridge for approx. 10 minutes. Add the sprouts just before serving and top your bowls with some mint leaves.



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Kale and Basil Pesto

(read in Italian)

Summer means plenty of fresh basil available.. and what a better way to use it than making pesto? I like the traditional one with cheese and pine nuts, but I get bored easily so I always like to get creative and try new food combinations. This recipe calls for basil, kale, and pumpkin seeds: the taste is a little bit different obviously, but it’s rich in flavor and pairs well with a slice of sourdough bread or some pasta.

Let’s briefly talk about kale! Are you among kale lovers or not? Kale has been one of the most trendy healthy foods around for the last few years, but honestly, if you don’t like it, there’s no need to force yourself to eat it! There are many other nutritious veggies that you can include in your days. I honestly love kale and is usually a weekly staple in my grocery shopping – I mainly use it in salads, oven-baked chips and, obviously, pesto!

Kale is a member of the cabbage family, rich in vitamins like C, A, K, B6, but also minerals like magnesium, iron, potassium, calcium. Among vitamin C and beta-carotene, it has other compounds with antioxidant activity, like flavonoids and polyphenols (antioxidants are important compounds that help us working as a protection from the effect of oxidative stress and free radicals – so, for example, they may help us dealing with inflammation and aging). Kale contains also some compounds that may help us to lower the cholesterol levels in the body. Sounds like a mighty little plant, right?

Interesting studies:
Antioxidants and kale
Binding of bile acids by kale (for cholesterol)
Kale and postprandial glucose level

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KALE AND BASIL PESTO

Ingredients

  • 100 g pumpkin seeds
  • approx. 40 g basil, stems included
  • approx. 150 g kale
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • approx. 100-120 ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tbsp capers (optional – delicious variation inspired by a post from Green Kitchen Stories)

Toast the pumpkin seeds in a pre-heated oven at 150°C for a few minutes, just until they start to turn golden. Wait until they are cold to add them in the blender, with the lemon juice and a small part of the basil: it’s better to add basil and kale in small portions – blend for a few minutes, pausing from time to time and scraping the walls. When your ingredients will be finely chopped, start adding the olive oil in portions. You can adjust the amount of both oil and lemon juice to your preferences. Store in the fridge in a closed jar for a few days with a thin layer of olive oil on top (just to keep the top covered with oil).



 

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How to start taking a good care of your gut

(read in Italian)

There are plenty of studies that underline the importance of a healthy gut to support our health and well-being from a general point of view. Keep a few things in mind:

  • embrace a healthy lifestyle rich in fibre, fruit, and vegetables, together with a variety of foods to get all the nutrients that you need daily
  • include sources of probiotics/prebiotics, spices, and herbs
  • stay active and de-stress

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Here there are also a few information that you may find useful:

1) KNOW YOUR FIBRE:

Look for a balance between soluble and insoluble fibre. They work in a different way once they get in the body, and we need both of them to stay healthy.

We talk about them as soluble/insoluble in WATER.

SOLUBLE FIBRE: they form a gel-like substance in the gut which attracts water and helps to keep clean the digestive tract. Found for example in oats, nuts, seeds, beans, lentils, chickpeas, barley, vegetables, some fruits such as apples, pears, and bananas. This gel also helps to slow down the digestion => “full sensation” that lasts longer.

INSOLUBLE FIBRE: they help to move the things through the digestive tract. Found for example in fruit, vegetables, whole grains, seeds, nuts.

START increasing your fibre intake today to keep a healthy gut => start discovering a healthier and happier you.

Remember that is important to change your diet STEP BY STEP – give your body enough time to adapt to the new habits.

2) NOT A BIG FAN OF PROBIOTICS (YET)?

Start with basic fermented foods like yogurt and kefir.

  • when choosing one of these products in the shop, look for unsweetened options – the amount of added sugar in this kind of products can be a lot, and it won’t help you with either your overall health or gut
  • choose one with only your key ingredients
  • make them part of your daily life (in smaller amounts at the begin, to check how you feel and to give your body time to get used to them)
  • pair them with fresh fruit, nuts, or seeds for breakfast or snack time
  • you can find both yogurt and kefir made with plant-based ingredients
  • at some stage, why don’t consider to start making your own?

3) A SIMPLE RECIPE TO START ADDING KEFIR TO YOUR DAYS…

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SMOOTHIE WITH KEFIR, BERRIES, AND MIXED SEEDS

(x 2 smoothies)

  • 1 small pear⠀
  • 1 banana⠀
  • 1 handful of raspberries/blueberries⠀
  • 150 ml kefir⠀
  • 1 tsp freshly grated ginger⠀
  • 1 tbsp shelled hemp seeds
  • 2 tbsp milled chia seeds
  • water (adjust to your preferences) ⠀
  • on top: coconut yogurt + cacao nibs (optional)

Blend all the ingredients and adjust the amount of water according to your preferences. To get an extra smooth finish, I like to prepare in advance a chia pudding using kefir and chia seeds – so instead of adding directly these two ingredients in the blender, I add the pudding (this is also useful to allow the seeds to mix properly with a liquid and release their characteristic “gel”).

 



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Almond, Pecan and Pumpkin Seeds Butter

How many times have you planned to start a diet next Monday, next January, next week?  And, honestly, how many times did you give up before starting or just after a few days?⠀

What if today you decide to stop looking for a quick fix or trying to follow the latest trendy diet… and you simply start working on yourself?⠀

  • rethink your goals⠀
  • set intentions⠀
  • be sure that what you’d like to achieve is something that really matters to you⠀
  • focus on simple changes first⠀
  • work on your mindset⠀
  • start creating LIFELONG healthy habits⠀

Not easy, not quick… but so rewarding! Start all of this process by speaking clearly to yourself in a non-judgemental way. Just be honest and have a better look inside yourself!

What can be your first simple step today? Write down your shopping list for this delicious nuts+seeds butter and get ready to make it soon! Use it as a chance to

  • spend a little bit of time in the kitchen
  • cook something tasty and packed with nutrients
  • get more creative in the kitchen
  • prepare in advance something to add to your next breakfast or snack
  • be more aware when cooking and eating

Enjoy your nuts+seeds butter on toasted bread with some berries, as topping for your porridge, or use it for energy balls as I suggest below!

Chiara x

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Almond, Pecan and Pumpkin Seeds Butter

Ingredients:

  • 100 g almonds
  • 50 g pecan nuts
  • 150 g pumpkin seeds
  • a pinch of vanilla powder

Place your nuts and seed on a baking tray and roast for approx. 10-15 minutes in a pre-heated oven at 150°C (I prefer to start with nuts only, then add the pumpkin seeds a little bit later since they tend to burn quite easily). Leave them to cool down almost completely and then use your mixture to prepare the butter in a food processor or blender: this part will take some time, especially depending on the kitchen appliance that you have – if your blender or food processor starts to warm up too much or smell a little, simply stop for a while and start again later. It takes a while for both nuts and seeds to release their oil and get into a smooth paste. Store your butter in a closed jar in the fridge.

A simple idea to use your freshly made nut+seeds butter…

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Nuts, Seeds, and Chocolate Energy Balls

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp of almond, pecan and pumpkin seeds butter
  • 2 tbsp raw cacao powder
  • 3 tbsp milled flaxseeds
  • 1 1/2 tbsp date syrup
  • 1 tbsp oat flour
  • 1 tbsp melted cacao butter
  • 1 tsp powdered ginger
  • a pinch of sea salt
  • a little bit of water (to help you shape the energy balls)

Place all the ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Only start adding water in small portions when the mixture will be ready so you won’t add too much of it. You can easily make the oat flour in a blender starting with regular oats. Shape your energy balls and store them in the fridge in an air-tight container.



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Brownies with Black Beans

(read in Italian)

Love when I can manage to share a nice breakfast with my better half – unfortunately, it doesn’t happen every day. I see that as a chance to spend some extra time together, talk about the day ahead, and share nourishing food… or even try new recipes! This is what happened with these brownies. I have prepared them a few weeks ago trying to get a nice texture with some specific ingredients: the first time they turned out too dry, but definitely promising! The second time they were delicious: moist but not too chewy, with a lovely crust, but not too dry. We enjoyed them as part of our breakfast (with a smoothie), and as a dessert to share after dinner.

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Brownies with Black Beans

Ingredients

  • 180 g cooked black beans
  • 110 g brown rice flour
  • 2 1/2 tbsp unsweetened cacao powder
  • 1 1/2 tbsp date syrup
  • 25 g ghee (softened – you can use coconut oil as a vegan option, add a little bit more than ghee)
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp freshly grated ginger
  • approx. 200 ml cashew drink

Blend beans, cashew drink, and ginger into a smooth paste. Place it in a large bowl and add all the other ingredients (add the baking powder at the end) – mix well until there are no lumps. Pour the batter into the pan, then smooth the top with a spatula or a spoon. Cook in a preheated oven for approx. 20-25 minutes at 180°C – they will be ready when the top is firm and you start to get a nice crust. Allow the brownies to cool down before cutting them into squares.

You can serve them with Greek yogurt, cinnamon, and raspberries on top.

  • Store them in an air-tight container in the fridge for a few days
  • It’s important to get a smooth black bean paste to get a great final texture for your brownies
  • Rice flour tends to get dry easily, so don’t leave them too long in the oven
  • Both the cashew drink and ghee (or coconut oil) are important to get the characteristic moist texture


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