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 live 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

Chickpea Flour and Kefir Pancakes

It’s that time of the year once again, the Carnival season is almost at the end and most of us are getting ready for Pancake Tuesday or Fat Tuesday (depending on where you live). Last year, I have published on these pages a recipe for pancakes made with spelt flour and flaxseeds that are still one of the favourite recipes among my readers and clients. From my point of view, pancakes should be something that you can easily cook and fit into your healthy lifestyle: in such a simple way, you can turn a regular weekday breakfast into something special, even when you don’t have too much time (and yes, you can make them in advance). Prepare a batter using nutrient-rich whole foods, experiment with different flours or combinations, try to add some colour to your pancakes (beetroots, spinach, kale, cacao, turmeric… just to name a few)… then pair them with simple toppings that will add extra nutrients to your breakfast (yogurt, kefir, nut butter, fresh and seasonal fruit, salmon, cheese, avocado, etc… GET CREATIVE!).

For this recipe, I have prepared some simple crepes-style pancakes using only a few ingredients – they are filled with a delicious raw orange cream (it’s similar to one that I have already published here, but check below for the details). In addition, I have used some dark chocolate and fresh fruit as toppings.

An alternative: you can use the same recipe to make some delicious fluffy pancakes – adjust the batter using less water since you’ll need a thicker one (then I use 3 tbsp of batter for each pancake).

Hope you’ll like them as much as I do! Chiara x

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Chickpea Flour and Kefir Pancakes

Ingredients
(makes 6-7 large crepes-style pancakes)

For the batter:
150 g chickpea flour
100 ml plain kefir
300 ml water
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp extra virgin olive oil (for cooking)

For the cream:
2 blood oranges
5 dried apricots
1 ½ tsp ginger powder

Toppings:
some dark chocolate (85% or higher)
1 apple
1 small banana

To make the batter: in a medium-sized bowl, combine the flour, kefir, water, and the baking powder. Stir until there are no lumps (add the water slowly in small portions – check if and when your batter needs more water). Let it rest for 5-10 min. Add more water if needed (the batter will be pretty liquid, to allow you to make these large and thin pancakes). Heat a frying pan, preferably a non-stick one, on a medium heat with ½ tsp of extra virgin olive oil. Use 5 tbsp for each pancake, moving the pan until the batter is evenly distributed and using a spoon to help you. Cook each pancake until it can be easily flipped with a spatula. Keep the batter well mixed. Using these quantities, you will be able to make approx. 6-7 pancakes (I usually consider 2 of them as serving size, and prepare more to use for a quick lunch or another breakfast – they keep well in the fridge for up to 3 days).

To make the orange cream: the recipe is similar to one that I have already published on these pages. Peel the oranges, chop them into small pieces and blend them with the chopped apricots and ginger (you can add in the blender some zest as well if you’re using organic oranges). Place the cream inside the pancakes or use half as filling and half as a topping.


 

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How to start bringing more awareness into your relationship with food

First of all: what does it mean EATING WITH INTENTION? In a few words, it’s related to the idea of being truly aware of the entire process of eating and don’t only mindless getting some fuel for your body.

You have probably noticed that the ideas of mindful eating and eating with intention are named pretty much everywhere lately. I absolutely love this kind of approach, but as soon as they became trends, it also started to be difficult to have a clear idea of how to apply them in the best way in your everyday life.

During the last years, I had the chance to apply the mindfulness-based approach to myself and I have found it pretty useful, both for general life issues and for the food-related ones. But I have tried to get a bigger view of it. When I talk with my clients about this kind of approach, I often refer to it in terms like “eating with intention”, “being present”, “being conscious of your relationship with food” – I use what I have learned during my holistic studies (I hold a diploma as massage therapist, and I have started practicing yoga in 2009), paired with science, to improve their relationship with food and with themselves.

Today, I’d like to drive your attention to the idea of bringing more awareness to the entire process of eating. First, let’s change that eating with nourishing – makes much more sense in relation to what we are talking about! Then, you may want to ask me: what’s included in that process?

  • your relationship with food
  • your relationship with yourself (your health, well-being, mind, and body)
  • what you choose to eat
  • your approach to grocery shopping
  • your approach to cooking
  • how you prepare your food
  • what you choose to put on your table
  • how you eat
  • your approach to the different meals
  • your relationship with dieting or ideal perfection guidelines or detox, etc…
  • your idea of healthy eating
  • how stress or a busy life affect your relationship with food
  • eating well seen as a form of self-respect
  • any food-related issue

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Let’s get practical with an example.

WHY WHEN YOU’RE STRESSED YOU COOK AND EAT AN ENTIRE CAKE ALL BY YOURSELF?

Eating well is a form of SELF-RESPECT. But ALSO understand the real reason why when you’re stressed you cook and eat an entire cake all by yourself is a form of self-respect. I could stay here every day telling you that eating an entire cake all at once is not healthy, how much sugar there is inside it, what happens in your body, etc… BUT if you don’t start to be more AWARE, things will remain the same.

I have always been the kind of person who puts all her energy and focus on what she does and I truly don’t think that this will ever change. But I have learned how to manage it better and how to take care of myself since I have seen on myself how much is difficult to stop before burning out. Now, I am definitely more aware of my body and its needs. BUT I also accept that sometimes I won’t be 100% connected with my body and that’s fine. I know that I’M TRYING TO DO MY BEST.

Something changes inside you when you decide to RESPECT yourself and your body.

ONE SIMPLE CHANGE that can help you on this pathway: start to bring more AWARENESS into your everyday activities. When we start to be more PRESENT, many things suddenly become much more clear. For example:

  • you stop making everything so hard for you
  • you want to know the real reason why when you’re stressed you cook and eat an entire cake all by yourself
  • you want to understand better why you are choosing to eat a specific food over another one

When you cook, eat, pack your lunch for the office, decide what to prepare for dinner, go for grocery shopping… really BE THERE. Connect with your food – really taste, smell, savour and appreciate it.

… remember: to get the best results, keep your mind open and allow changes to happen!


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My own soupe à l’oignon

Recently, I have been more focused on sharing tips and quick recipes on my social media pages, especially on Instagram, rather than publishing new stuff on these pages. I have also been busy writing some content for a lovely collaboration that started at the begin of the year. It’s with an Italian food blogger, Gaia from The Green Pantry – we are talking about how to rebalance and reconnect with your body using the idea of January as a fresh start. It’s all written in Italian, but if you love food pics, have a look at Gaia’s Instagram feed!

So I was supposed to share this recipe a while ago, but I’m only writing it now – hope you’ll like it as much as my better half does. I prepare this version of the traditional French onion soup from time to time and he loves it. Whenever I prepare this soup, I use a different cheese on top – we like to go to the farmer’s market and check out new cheese or buy what we feel on that day, so the recipe ends up being slightly different every time!

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My own soupe à l’oignon

Ingredients
(x 2)

2 medium-sized white onions
cashew or hazelnut drink
1/3 tsp cumin seeds
1/3 tsp fennel seeds
a pinch of black pepper
a pinch of grated nutmeg
extra virgin olive oil

* cheese to use on top: I usually put 2 slices to cover all the cocotte. I add 2 slices as soon as the cocotte is ready for the oven, and 2 extra slices when it’s almost ready. During the years, I have used different kinds of cheese for this recipe, and I invite you to do the same – get to know better your taste buds! Last time, I have decided to go for brie made with raw milk and it turned out great.

* bread, obviously, to dip into the warm soup! A slice of sourdough bread makes the perfect pair with this recipe.

Preparation

Peel the onions and cut them into thin slices. Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in a pot over a medium heat, then add the chopped onions and the spices (cumin, fennel, and black pepper freshly crushed in a mortar + grated nutmeg). Stir until the onions turn golden. Pour the warm nut drink all over the vegetables (use approx. 150 ml) and leave to cook for approx. 10-15 minutes. What you aim for is a creamy result – there should be some liquid left but not too much (add a little bit more of liquid if needed).

Place the soup into the heatproof cocottes or baking dish, add a few slices of cheese to cover the top of your soup and place in the oven at 180°C for 10-15 minutes or until it starts to turn golden. Remove the soup from the oven, add some more cheese on top and put it back to roast for a couple of minutes. In the meantime, toast some bread and serve it with the soup once it’s ready.

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Let’s talk about New Year’s resolutions

I DON’T LIKE NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS but I LIKE THE IDEA OF A FRESH START

January is a month filled with brand new resolutions, big promises, and a lot of talking about “new year, new me”. I have never liked all of these talking about setting big plans for the year ahead and judging yourself for what happened in the past.

From both a general point of view and in terms of “healthy resolutions”

Can you see the difference from

“I want to lose weight so I will do a diet in January”

and

“Lately I have been eating too many sweets because I look for them every time that I’m stressed, so I want to use the idea of January as a fresh start to both find a way to de-stress and try new healthier snacks”

=> the idea behind the first one is looking for a quick fix without questioning the resolution or asking yourself why you should do that and how you feel now or which benefits you will get from accomplishing this goal

=> read again the second sentence. Can you see how this one is not only more complete but is already getting you on a different pathway and motivates you to ask yourself more questions about that idea of losing weight?

  • You don’t need to COMPARE yourself to others.
  • You need to be focused on what really matters TO YOU.
  • You don’t need to fit into a general resolution but what you should do instead is create INTENTIONS with a non-judgemental approach.

Big, bright and shiny resolutions are definitely attractive

But WORKING ON YOURSELF is so rewarding in the long term!

It’s the first week of a new year, I don’t feel guilty for what I have done or not done, eaten or not eaten during the last year or month… instead, I am trying to focus on all the positive things and on my motivation to take care of myself on a DAILY BASIS. I have learned great lessons from my mistakes and I am ready to celebrate every little progress that will come.

* I am ready to celebrate myself, my body, health, and well-being
* I am focusing on my strengths and working on letting go of what is holding me back
* I am committed to reminding myself anytime that I will feel lost that I AM ENOUGH

Join me on starting the new year with this SELF-LOVE revolution!

Remember:
it’s not about “new year, new me” – you just need to have a better look inside you and… BE READY TO SHINE!

Chiara x

p.s:⠀
NEED HELP IN PUTTING ALL OF THESE THINGS TOGETHER? –>  There are ONLY 7 places still available on my 90-day program with a 10% OFF from the regular price! Hurry up, OFFER ENDS on the 10th of January.

From these 90-day nutrition coaching program YOU’LL GET:
* a better understanding of your body needs
* a new perspective on food (from simple fuel for your days to real nourishment)
* a renovated relationship with food AND yourself
* a new approach to grocery shopping and cooking
* more attention to your health and well-being
* the help that you need to set personal goals that actually fit into your lifestyle and needs

FALL IN LOVE WITH TAKING CARE OF YOURSELF⠀

More you work on yourself, more it’s easy to PUT YOURSELF FIRST.⠀

When you start to feel great, you find a completely new strength, and when you are motivated by a deep sense of self-love, your life is completely turned upside down.⠀

YOUR STARTING POINT: click HERE to know more about my program and apply to get your spot.

 

Mince Pies

I have finally decided to make my own version of these cute little tarts. I always want to create recipes that we can truly enjoy at home, not just something good for sharing a pretty picture, so I needed to come up with a combination of taste, festive feeling and obviously an attention to the nutrients (such as using almond butter, fresh mandarin peel, and whole grain spelt flour – not using extra sugar in the filling or on top, etc). To get the most out of this spiced filling, serve them warm – the ginger, cinnamon and mandarin peel give a perfect festive taste to these mince pies with a healthier twist.

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Ingredients
(makes 12-14 mince pies)

for the filling:
2 medium-sized apples (sweet, preferably cooking apples)
4 tbsp raisins
1 ½ tbsp almond butter
juice of 1 lemon
1 ½ tsp cinnamon powder
1 tsp ginger powder
1 mandarin (peel)

for the dough:
180 g whole grain spelt flour
25 g butter (or olive oil, 4 tbsp)
1 level tbsp dark muscovado sugar
1 tsp cinnamon powder
nut or oat drink

on top:
coconut flour

To prepare the filling:
mix the grated apples (use apples grated in small pieces, not in a paste, or finely chop them) with the other ingredients and mix well. Among other ingredients listed, there’s the peel of a mandarin: use an organic one, washed and peeled – for the filling you will need the peel finely chopped. Place the mixture in a jar and leave to rest in the fridge for at least 2 hours – you can even prepare the filling 1 day in advance.

To prepare the dough:
in a bowl, mix the sugar with the melted cold butter and cinnamon. Start adding the flour and allow it to absorb all the liquid mixture (you will get a sort of crumble). Start adding some nut or oat drink in small portions – mix well with your hands and check the dough, before adding more liquid. You want a final result that doesn’t stick to the bowl or your hands. Cover the dough and place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before using it.

You can use a muffin tray to make the mince pies if you don’t have one for small tarts. To cut the dough, I have used a 7.5 cm round cookie cutter for the base and a little star-shaped cutter for the top. Prepare the dough more or less thick depending on what are your preferences. Cut the rounded base for each pie and place it in the baking tray, add approx 1 tbsp of mince meat (filling) and then add the little star on top. Bake in a pre-heated oven for 15-20 minutes or until they start to turn golden.

Better served warm – sprinkle on top with some coconut flour. Do you have some leftover filling? Use it on top of your bowl of porridge or yogurt!


WANT TO LEARN HOW TO STAY FOCUSED AND ON TRACK IN THE HUSTLE AND BUSTLE OF THIS TIME OF THE YEAR? Download my FREE guide “Staying healthy during the holidays” HERE