Posts

Kombucha – Probiotic Goodness

Why do people drink kombucha or kefir or eat saurkraut or yogurt? Do you know what prebiotics or probiotics are?

Let’s start at the beginning

Microbes all around us, and for the longest time, the world thought that all microbes were bad. But that’s not necessarily the case. Microbes consist of bacteria, yeast, viruses, and other small cellular organisms. Mostly bacteria, they live on our skin, inside our airways, and our digestive system, working as first line defense  against pathogens or “foreign invaders” that might cause an infection or set off other reactions like inflammation.

The good, the bad and the ever changing

Each person acquires a personalized set of bacteria starting from birth but modifiable with time, called a microbiome, that sets the balance for their body, affecting the ways that person digests sugars or breaks down toxins (1), smells when they sweat, helps the body absorb essential fatty acids or make vitamin folate, and helps to repair the cells of the digestive system or help to regulate inflammation (2). These beneficial functions are usually from what we call good bacteria.

Bad bacteria can result in diseases like cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and even obesity (3). Your body’s microbiome has a combination of good and bad bacteria, with bad bacteria in the minority. The bad bacteria can sometimes take over when your balanced microbiome changes either via stress, a course of antibiotics or even a change in diet (4).

Prebiotics &  Probiotics

Although more research is still needed, there are early signs that foods with good bacteria, like kombucha or yogurt with active cultures, can improve our health and our cells. The theory is that these foods with good bacteria can help to seed your digestive system with good bacteria. There is also research that feeding the good bacteria by eating prebiotic foods high in fiber humans cannot but bacteria can digest like onions, garlic, flax seeds, apples, bananas, oats, cocoa and konjac help to support the flourishing balance of good bacteria in your system.

And your Skin

So we have talked a lot about how microbes affect your health and your gut, but what does all of this do for your skin? Keep your skin healthy and hydrated so that the good bacteria can proliferate and fight off the bad bacteria while keeping your skin’s immune system functioning well. And if you’d rather drink your kombucha, then apply that sweet black tea ferment of organic acids, minerals, and amino acids to your skin in the form of Sweet Black Tea and Rice Moisturizer, Ginger Moisturizer, and Miracle Tea Eye Creme. Cheers!

Why Ginger Can Help You Lose Weight PLUS a Lemongrass Ginger Tea Recipe

by JUARA Co-Founder Yoshiko Roth-Hidalgo

Losing, or at least not gaining weight, is hard for most of us. While there is no magic bullet, the good news is that nature has a lot of the answers.  Movement, fresh foods, fresh air, sleep, mindfulness… For most of us, it’s the good old basics that are the foundation for a healthy weight.  And it is also nature that provides us with “tricks” to help us along the way.  Ginger is one of nature’s brilliant “tricks”.  Humans have used ginger for thousands of years.  In Jamu, Indonesia’s traditional herbal medicine, ginger is one of the most revered staples for a healthy metabolism and immune system  Here is why it helps with weight management. It works!

Ginger Boosts Your Metabolism

Ginger is a spice.  If you notice how your belly gets warm after eating ginger, it’s not your imagination.  Ginger warms the body because it increases your metabolism, which is crucial for loosing weight and maintaining it.

Ginger Suppresses Your Appetite and Increases Satiety

A study by the New York Obesity Research Center and Columbia University showed that participants that consumed ginger before breakfast felt fuller right after breakfast and long thereafter, compared to those that did not take the ginger supplement. It has been theorized that ginger improves leptin levels. Leptin is a compound that plays a role in feeling full and satisfied after a meal

It really works. I have tried it as a way to control my appetite, by drinking a cup of ginger tea before the meal. I will still be hungry but less ravenous, which means it’s easier to slow down, be mindful with every bite, which in turn makes you more aware of when you are full.

Ginger Suppresses Stress Hormone Production

Hormonal changes and chronic stress can spike your cortisol levels, which disrupts our metabolism and our finely calibrated mechanism that signals hunger and satiety. By balancing cortisol production, as research has shown, ginger helps protect this natural mechanism.

Ginger Improves Digestion

Researchers have theorized that poor nutritional absorption is partly responsible for not feeling satisfied after a meal. Your body feels like it needs more nutrients! By helping in the digestive process, you “get more” from the food you eat, plus you will have fewer annoying symptoms like bloating, cramps and heart burn.

How to Consume Ginger for Weightloss?

Ginger is extremely versatile and can be consumed in various ways.  While a simple ginger tea is an easy way to incorporate it as a weight loss supplement before meals, why not get creative and have fun with it, even outside of your daily meals?  Here is a refreshing ice tea recipe my partner Metta Murdaya for those balmy Summer get-togethers:

 

REFRESHING LEMONGRASS GINGER TEA RECIPE (by JUARA Co-Founder Metta Murdaya)

The weather is warming up, time to pop out the colorful glasses and get ready for outdoor cheer with friends! What easy to spruce up a party or a meal by upping the ante on the simple iced tea with this 2-ingredient charmer. The best part is you can make this in bulk and save it!

Great things come in pairs. Lemongrass and Ginger-a combination so happy together it’s like the Peanut Butter and Jelly of teas in Indonesia. Ginger’s signature spice is warming and familiar, while lemongrass is citrusy with floral/grassy notes-together they balance each other and create a flavor that is both comforting an rejuvenating-a winning combo.

To prepare your Ginger-Lemongrass happy-duo:

  • 2 stalks of Lemongrass, cut into pieces 3″ long (or approximately the length of your index finger.)
  • A generous handful of fresh ginger
  • Honey, brown sugar, or coconut sugar to taste

Slice the ginger into thin pieces and rinse until the loose skin pieces falls off and water runs clear. Slice the lemongrass pieces down the middle from top to bottom so it exposes the center and lets the aroma out.

Fill a pot with a quart of water, add ginger slices, lemongrass and bring to a boil. Simmer for 20-30 minutes. Note this recipe is loose in ingredient percentages as it can be adjusted to taste. For a brighter, citrusy note preference, add more lemongrass. For a heatier, hotter punch, add more ginger. The amount of water used can also be adjusted to taste.

Pro tip: Smash and pan roast the ginger pieces before slicing until the skin is dark. We do this in Indonesia as this process helps release the flavors and brings out the heat of the ginger. To decorate like we do in Indonesia, add a stalk of lemongrass to the beverage which can be used as a stirrer for the sweetener. Slip in a few pieces of the boiled ginger slices in the drink as well for that exotic and enticing look.

This tea can be served hot or iced, during a meal or after a meal for a nice digestive.

 

Simple and Inexpensive Ideas to Make Mom Feel Extra Special

As the daughter of a mother who has always put the needs of others above her own, I am always in search of gifts that would show the love and appreciation I feel for my mom.  Wellness and self-care are high on my list, but I also know that spending time together is a big thing for my mom.  Interestingly, as a mother of 3 little kids, I crave me-time and catching up on sleep.  My mother, on the other hand, as I know a lot of mothers of grown kids do, values few things more than spending QT with her kids.  Here are some simple, inexpensive ideas to combine a beauty gift with time together.

 

1)  Give Mom a Hand Treatment

Who doesn’t love a great hand cream!  Hand Creams are amongst the most popular Mother’s Day gift ideas, but you can turn a simple hand cream into a super relaxing experience for Mom.  Next time you see her in person, sit down with her and give her a 5-minute massage.  There are a ton of how-to’s online, including this one on Wiki:  Want to take it even further?  Prep your mother’s hands and lower arm with a gentle cream scrub you can just wipe off before following with a hand cream.

Suggested Products:

Coconut Illipe Hand & Nail Balm ($20, 2.5 oz/ 73 mL)

Candlenut Body Crème ($35, 7.5 oz/ 213 g)

Candlenut Body Polish ($35, 7.5 oz/ 213 g)

 

2)  Found a Great Mask? Mask & Relax Together!

There is something incredibly relaxing about putting on a mask, maybe because it forces us to slow down a bit.  Why not take a 10 minute break with you Mom, apply the mask and sit down with her with a cup of soothing herbal tea!

Suggested Products:

Turmeric Antioxidant Radiance Mask ($38, 2.5 oz/ 73 mL)

Java Plum Avocado Nourishing Mask ($38, 2.5 oz/ 73 mL)

Rose Willowbark Purifying Mask ($38, 2.5 oz/ 73 mL)

 

3)  Enjoy a Home Made Jamu with Mom

What’s good for health and wellness is also good for outer beauty.  Jamu, the ancient Indonesian herbal tradition goes back centuries, but you can easily re-create a simplified Jamu drink at home and enjoy with your Mom.  Pour boiling water over a few slices of fresh turmeric and/ or ginger.  Add lemon, honey and a dash of black pepper – voila!  If fresh turmeric is hard to come by, just mix some turmeric powder with honey to create a paste and drop into a cup of hot water.

Check out this detailed recipe for a quick-and-easy Jamu!

 

4)  Try Some Beginner Yoga Moves Together (or Tai Chi, Pilates, Stretches, etc.)

Perhaps your Mom already does Yoga.  Maybe Tai Chi is more up her ally – It does not really matter, as long as it is simple for both of you and creates a shared experience that allows you to be present in the moment without any of the usual distractions.

Check out these beginner poses from Health Magazine.

You can see the JUARA products here

Happy Mother’s Day!

 

Earl Grey is so Yesterday

Juicing is popular, but let’s also not forget tea as a source of health benefits and flavor! Tea is an age-old beverage we all know and love, and we’re most likely used to our favorites – Earl Grey, English Breakfast, Green Tea, Chamomile, Peppermint, the list goes on and on. The herbal teas come with a chock-full of health benefits and are just a step away at the grocery or health food store, but if you’re wanting to try something different, try making your own from scratch. In Indonesia, where the homes are regularly stocked with spices, we have our own teas and our own explanation of benefits. Curious? Let’s see how they compare to what we know in the US! (Disclaimer – some of these may still have traditional health claims that may still be in research by western science, however the Eastern Jamu tradition, which uses these ingredients, have empirical evidence over generations of people who insist on these benefits…)
Recommendation: Try them not only solo, but in combination. Sweeten with honey, agave, or palm sugar if you can… Some can be both hot and cold – experiment or add to your favorite existing teas!

Cinnamon

Making cinnamon tea helps prevent the flu (strengthening the immune system,) keeps you warm and cozy feeling, regulates digestion and has strong antioxidant properties.

Ginger

This household root is boiled into a tea to immediately warm the system, address tummy unrest, increase circulation, which is often drunk to reduce the chances of a stroke. It is also great when feeling a bit nauseous – and when made fresh, Bang for your buck tip: Indonesians whack it till it cracks open on the sides, then pan-roast gently till it’s slightly brown on the outside so the flavors and juices become enhanced and more potent before boiled.

Lemongrass

The stalks of this fragrant, lemony grass can be used of decoration in the tea itself, but has its own benefits, including reducing pains from rheumatism and refreshes the body and reduces tiredness by increasing circulation, has slight antibacterial properties (particularly great if you live in areas where the hygiene of the food is less than pristine). Plus, blended with ginger, hot or cold it’s fabulous tasting!

Bay Leaf

It’s not only what you throw in a soup but this plant has lots of extra benefits, whether ground into a powder, or steeped in a tea. As a tea, benefits include alleviating irregular bowel movements, constipation, and even heartburn. Not sexy, but important…

Cloves

A little goes a long way – the powerful anaselgic properties of clove can numb so it is good for toothaches and helps if you have gas or heartburn. However, I’ve made this before and I recommend mixing with another natural tea, as it give a lovely fragrance, but does make the tongue feel a bit thick. Up to you!

Any specific tea recipes you love? Sign up on our mailing list at www.juaraskincare.com to be kept abreast of other news and tips from JUARA on championing your natural beauty, through skincare, food, and drink!

health tea homeade with honey

Making Your Skin Warm-Weather Ready!

It’s May 1st!

We’ve made it through the brutal winter, the polar vortexes, and the incessant rain…  But has our skin?????

It’s time to shed those winter layers and show some leg, but to ensure that your skin is as luminous as possible:

Check Out These Fantastic Tips To Make Your Skin Warm-Weather Ready!

1. Ditch That Heavy Foundation

The trick to mastering bright, fresh, spring skin is losing that heavy winter foundation. Don’t hide your face from the world! Try something with slightly less coverage like a tinted foundation or BB Creme to even out your skin tone. Not ready to completely switch beauty products? That’s okay! Try mixing your favorite foundation with a light moisturizer to let more of your natural beauty shine through. JUARA Sweet Black Tea and Rice Moisturizer is the perfect mixing partner!

2. Exfoliate, Buff, and Shine!

Nothing says winter skin like dull, ashy legs. Give your body some love by exfoliating away all of the dead skin that has accumulated over this winter season. Pay extra attention to your knees and elbows, the driest areas of your body. 

3. Moisturize!

After you’ve buffed away all of that dead skin, moisturize to keep your body luminous. Something light like JUARA Tiare Jasmine Tea Body Milk is a great option for daytime because it absorbs quickly with a nice, light scent and won’t stain your clothes! Try a heavier cream at night when the skin is most open to absorbing moisture.

4. Hydrate

No amount of exfoliating and moisturizing will illuminate your skin if you’re dehydrated. Beauty starts from within, which is why the best beauty tip ANYONE can give you is to stay hydrated. Proper hydration allows the body to rid itself of toxins so that they don’t take up residence under the skin (in the form of nasty breakouts). Staying hydrated also allows the skin cells to fill with water, decreasing fine lines and wrinkles naturally to create a beautiful glow.

 

 

Getting Creative with Kombucha – Metta Murdaya

One of my New Year’s resolutions was to not only eat healthier, but to drink healthier. No, this isn’t something that means adding fresh fruits to the martini or drinking more bloody marys, justifying its health benefits to lycopene-laden tomato juice. I suppose one could, but I’m talking about kicking out the soda and upping my intake of homemade Kombucha. For those of you not familiar with this health tonic that’s been known to do everything from curb the munchies, improve your digestion and immune system, give you more energy, and even help with migranes, check out this article. Or for a more scientific breakdown of Kombucha, see this. I’ve offered some untraditional ways to gourmet-ify this tangy treat, and I have a few more to add.

For beginners: Mix with any of the following (or mix it up!) You can add this to Kombucha from the store or from a homeade batch. Just make sure you don’t mix the mixers below in the brewing container with the scoby! Mix with Kombucha in a separate container.

To sweeten the drink and make it fruity, add one or a blend of the following:
– Apple, Cranberry, White Grape juice

To keep the flavor but add a twist, add to the Kombucha:
– Coconut Water (yes, believe it!) to make it milder and a little more round, plus it has great electrolytes!
– Sliced Ginger: To give it a heaty, spicy, exotic touch. Cinnamon – never tried personally, but I hear it’s good.

For a little more gourmet flavor, mix 1/2 to 2/3 container (or glass) of Kombucha with:
– Chamomile Tea sweetened with Elderflower Syrup. (Ikea has a nice, cheap one that’s tasty): Makes it ‘pretty’ tasting. Sounds odd, but the light floral notes and sweetness will make you smile, really!
– Chai tea & sugar:  Makes it spicy and aromatic, but still oh so delicious!
-Lemonade + Tea: Kind of like a super-healthy Arnold Palmer with a fizzy tang. Refreshing, indeed!

Where to get Kombucha? If you’re not a home brewer, get some at Whole Foods, most health food stores, and many a supermarket in the natural drinks section. The pros of making it at home is the cost is 6 tea bags and a cup of sugar for a gallon of brew, whereas at the store, a 12oz bottle can cost upwards of $4.99. But most people just don’t drink that much Kombucha in a week, the store-bought are great for convenience and variety. 2 brands I like:

Synergy – One of the best known brands. Pulls no punches, this Kombucha is pretty flavorful and tangy. Maybe too tangy for home-brewers, like it’s ‘overdone,’ but you’ll feel the effects. I when I get the muchies, a swig of this powerful stuff will curb that craving. Lots of good flavors too.
Kombucha Wonder Drink – blended with green tea, this is a milder tasting Kombucha. It’s smoother/easier to drink, might be a good  Kombucha for those who want a more palate-friendly version.

There are many other brands out there, Carpe Diem, Honest Kombucha (from Honest Tea,) Katalyst, etc… I say experiment and compare! I’m still experimenting with my own batch; right now, I’m playing with maple syrup to add to the mix somehow… Of course, I still love Kombucha straight, and drink some everyday, but this is great when you have a large batch and want to have some variety – especially great for guests! Talk about a conversation beverage…

Anyone have any suggestions too? Let’s get creative!

Ginger – Whacked, Shaken or Stirred? – Metta Murdaya

When I get the signs of a cold, have an upset tummy, or just need a little soothing but zingy pick-me-up drink, I drink ginger tea. Ginger is a wonder ingredient common in Asian food, beverages, and beauty treatments because of its great medicinal properties. In Indonesia, we consider it a ‘heaty’ ingredient that warms you up (great when you have a cold), helps digestion with its anti-bacterial properties, and can also be used in body-wraps used in spa treatments. When you’re done with these treatments, ginger tea mixed with palm sugar is also served as a traditional beverage. But I want to know – why does the ginger tea in Indonesia just taste so much more fragrant and richer than when I make it at home in NY?

I‘m in Indonesia now, and I learned an Indonesian secret in how they make their ginger tea super aromatic and delicious, so if you’re a ginger tea fan, listen up.
Normally, I make ginger tea by slicing ginger and boiling it in water, but the secret for really bringing out the aroma and depth of the flavor is to cook and whack it. That’s right. Cook and whack it! First, you have to pan-sear the whole (or large chunks of) ginger until parts of the skin are black. Don’t use oil; you’re basically just roasting the skin in a dry pan. Now peel the ginger skin off the best you can. Then, instead of slicing it into bits, whack the whole ginger chunk until it’s smashed near flat, like when you smash a garlic clove with the side of a knife. Then boil away in a saucepan covering the ginger with only a few inches of water. I personally err on the side of strong tea that I can always weaken with more water if needed. Sweeten with honey, sugar, or palm sugar – which tastes like a combination of flowers and brown sugar with a tiny pinch of salt. Delicious.
My theory is that the pan cooking heats the ginger to release the aroma more, and whacking it brings out the juices, but whatever the reason, it works.

Here’s another fun, inexpensive use of ginger in a beverage that I concocted: For a JUARA event at Fashion Week in NY this year, we made JUARA cocktails. One of them was a ginger tea cocktail in which I sliced a whole ginger (very thinly, no smashing needed) and put it in a full bottle of vodka (minus the volume of the ginger.) Leave 3 days, and voila – you have an instant ginger vodka infusion. It looks really pretty with the ginger slices floating, and tastes oh-so-spicy good. Chill and mix with tea, and you’ve got a ginger-tea cocktail. I also like mixing ginger slices in my Kombucha for a little variety, and am looking for other fun uses in drinks!

At JUARA, we use it in our oil-free Sweet Black Tea & Ginger Mattefying Moisturizer, where the ginger works as an oil-control/anti-shine ingredient, so if you want to try that out, check it out here.

Anyone have any creative uses for ginger in beverages, food, or beauty treatments?

JAMU-JUARA Inspiration #2: Crash Course in Popular Jamu – Metta Murdaya

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WaLCDUx5f5I[/youtube]

Here’s a bit more into JAMU itself – I talk about 2 of the MANY kinds of jamu that are considered ‘daily jamu’ for overall health and well-being. Get ready because after these JAMUs, on the next installment of the JAMU series, I’ll be getting into more interesting ones, such as ones that cure particular ailments and also help on relationship issues… yep, as in you and your significant other. Oh, the power of herbs and a little bit of creativity… 🙂

Also, feel free to check out our JUARA YouTube channel for more JUARA videos, where all the how-to’s on our products and other brand stuff is housed if you want to see it all in one place!