By Jashima Wadehra

It all started when I was traveling to India after all the mosquito born viruses were on a rise. I was essentially tired of inhaling chemicals and putting deet filled repellents on my skin. Naturally, I consulted the internet gods, did my research and found the trifecta that would soon be my holy grail; grapefruit, lemongrass and citronella essential oils. Shortly after finding the most effective natural remedy for bug repellent (not one bite!), I decided to invest in a cheap diffuser just too see what all the buzz was about

I’m not one to jump on the hype train y’all, with that said, essential oils have LITERALLY changed my life.
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Essential Oil Diffuser

Let me tell you- I hate being home but I was not going ANYWHERE when my apartment smelled like what I imagine a lavender massage from an attractive man does- delicious!
Here is my first ever blend:
3 drops lavender oil
3 drops eucalyptus oil
3 drops grapefruit oil
3 drops peppermint oil
3 drops of lemongrass

PEPPERMINT
If you’ve ever taken an exam you know that your mother, teacher or sweet tooth always encouraged you to eat those Life Saver Mints. Peppermint has properties that stimulate our senses and encourage focus and alertness- diffusing this oil in your home is a game changer especially if you have a home office or studio.

LAVENDER
If you’re like me sleep does NOT come easily and melatonin and diphenhydramine are not your friends, then lavender essential oil is! Lavender has calming properties that tend to soothe tensions and relax the mind and body, therefore diffuse it, put it on your wrists and wind down with a cup of chamomile tea.

Eucalyptus
EUCALYPTUS
Eucalyptus has MANY, MANY, MANY and I mean MANY benefits. It’s a natural decongestant, pain reliever, wound cleanser and essentially your respiratory saving grace, which my ineffective asthmatic lungs appreciate.

While essential oils can be on the pricier end of the spectrum they do keep on giving and come in great bundles. Ayurvedic and old Asian medicinal practices heavily use many of the herbs and plants that come in essential oil form. Aside from traditional health benefits who doesn’t love a self-curated aroma that also filters the air!

There are hundreds of brands and even more ways to use them but @HolisticHabits does an incredible rundown on her favorite brands and types as well as their hair and skin benefits!

Essential oils are very much your one-stop-shop for a natural alternative. I have gone from a girl with a fear of mosquitoes to someone who uses oils in ALL my household cleaning products, my skin regimen, my diffuser and my scalp care routine. The possibilities are endless as are the medicinal benefits.

My fav essential oils
Below is my favorite multi purpose blend, I use it to stimulate blood flow to my scalp and kick my cold’s A**.

3 drops clary sage oil
3 drops rosemary oil
3 drops eucalyptus oil
2 drops lavender oil

Be sure to mix them with a carrier oil like jojoba, castor or coconut when applying to your scalp 2x a week and reap the benefits!

I’m no aficionado but I know what’s on my #LoveYourself Christmas list this year!

Do you use essential oils? 
Jashima Wadehra is a writer, dancer, entrepreneur, and lover of people based in NYC.  She can be found blogging at overpriced coffee shops or on a plane heading to a new place to write about.  Follow her on instagram at @TheChatterboxlifeEnthusiast and check out her new blog TheChatterBoxLifeEnthusiast.com.  

This seasonal, heart-warming recipe was adapted from this recipe by the Queen herself, Ina Garten. I just love her recipes (who doesn’t) because they are ALWAYS delicious and quite easy to follow. But because I really don’t do dairy or gluten and I try to avoid excess amounts of sugar, I always have to replace Ina’s love for butter and sugar with something else. Ina loves her sugar. I actually followed her recipe pretty closely the first time I made this recipe (cutting out butter though) and it was just a bit to sweet, even for me. I think you will really love my version. It’s super creamy, filling and oh so good for you.

It’s fall in Switzerland, and it’s actually my first fall since moving to Europe in January. The leaves here turn bright orange and yellow and the air is super crisp. It reminds me of New England fall, but just grander. One Sunday afternoon, I whipped up this simple, delicious and nutritious purred soup for Henry and I, and we have been making it ever since. Like literally once a week. I will make it over the weekend and it will last me throughout the whole week for lunch or easy dinners. I like this recipe because it uses ingredients that are seasonal. I bought everything from the bio stand a the farmers market, so I know that nothing has been effected with chemicals. Butternut squash is so awesome – its low in fat and is full of fiber. It also has lots of potassium and Vitamin B6 which is essential for the proper function of the nervous and immune systems.

Ingredients

4 tablespoons good olive oil
4 cups chopped yellow (or white) onions (3 large)
3 cloves garlic
5 pounds butternut squash (2 large)
1 1/2 pounds sweet apples (4 apples)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 cups water
2 Tbs vegetable bouillon
Hefty splash of white wine

Directions

Warm the olive oil and onions in a large stockpot uncovered over low heat for 10-15 minutes, until the onions are tender. Stir often, scraping the bottom of the pot. Peel the squash, cut in half, and remove the seeds. Cut the squash into chunks. Peel, quarter, and core the apples. Cut into chunks. Add the squash, apples, pepper, water, vegetable bouillon and the white wine to the pot. Bring to a boil, cover, and cook over low heat for 30 to 40 minutes, until the squash and apples are very soft. Remove from the heat and puree the soup (in intervals) using a heavy-duty blender or Vitamix. Pour the soup back into the pot. Check the salt and pepper and serve hot, or let it cook and store it in your fridge for the rest of the week. If the soup is too thick, add in water to change the consistency.

My biggest problem with vitamins is figuring out which ones to take. There is just SO much out there. Walk down any vitamin aisle and your head starts spinning. And once you find one that looks okay, it’s tough to understand what’s actually in there. Inside many vitamins hide ingredients that you would never knowingly ingest.

Also…Where do the ingredients come from? How many should I actually take? How’s it going to impact my body? So many questions.

Luckily, the vitamin market is getting better. There are a few things I’ve discovered recently that make finding (and remembering to take) the right vitamins a little easier.

For starters, Goop recently launched a really cool subscription service that delivers your daily dose right to your door. A fresh supply of your regime will arrive every four weeks, so you’ll never run out. There are four doctor-defined regiments to choose from. They cover four acute needs as well as covering all the basics. For example, you can try “Why am I so effing tired?” (for energy) or “High School Genes” (for metabolism) The best part? They’re formulated with super-duper tested raw ingredients. You can trust that these vitamins were sourced from the highest quality ingredients, and underwent rigorous testing to ensure their purity and potency.

Next up: Dr. Barbara Sturm’s Skin Food. This amazing product promotes anti-aging and skin health. The hallmark ingredient is a mixture of a “fountain of youth” compound Purslane, which is also in all her skincare products. Purslane is clinically acclaimed for its remarkable anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidative and nutritive properties. It also activates the “fountain of youth enzyme” Telomerase and contributes to a fresh and clear appearance. It’s also formulated with Japanese Knotweed Root Extract that helps promote anti-aging. (This is what I am currently taking).

Last but not least, Ritual is another really cool subscription service that makes vitamin routines easy. At $30 per month, you get 60 capsules. One bottle delivers the 9 essentials nutrients that most women lack. Like Sturm and Goop’s versions, this is also vegan, gluten and soy free and free of synthetics and colorants. It’s also non-GMO. The idea here is to promote joy, energy and defy age. Simply, of course.

Image, Irving Penn. 

A few weeks ago, I had the most transformative experience I couldn’t wait to share with all of you. I had the pleasure of visiting Susanne Kaufmann at her spa at the Hotel Post Bezau. The blonde beauty comes from the Bregenzer Forest, a unique valley in the Austrian Alps, and has developed powerful, results-driven products (I’m sure you’ve heard of them) comprised of the cleanest, most refreshing ingredients. I was lucky enough to visit her picturesque hotel for a mini-detox and to test out her line and her treatments.

Here’s the scoop.

During my three night stay at the Hotel Post, I slept in one of the special “sleep therapy rooms.” My bed was made in a particular way to ensure deep sleep and at night, the wifi actually turns off to encourage further relaxation. The design of the room is very simple, no TV, just very zen. I ate from her Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Detox Diet, which was delicious and left me totally satisfied. The cuisine supports purification, detoxification and de-acidification of the body and the connective tissue. I could get down with that.

A typical menu sounded like this. Breakfast: hot oat cereal with fruits, pudding of chia seed with coconut and cardamom, juice freshly squeezed with linseed oil, and Susanne Kaufmann Detox Tea. Lunch: fennel tomato soup, quinoa with cucumber, bell pepper, olives and capers and SK Peppermint Tea. Dinner: stewed saffron fennel with celery, cream of parsnips and wild herbs, fennel tomato soup and SK Acid Alkalizing Tea. The teas became my addiction over the course of my stay, especially the Acid Alkalizing Tea.

The best part? I had the opportunity to meet with Susanne. I, obviously, asked her everything – from the inspiration behind her skincare line to her under-the-radar beauty secrets. Read on for my full interview with the guru.

Tell me about how you got involved with the spa.

“When I took over [the spa in 1994], there was one masseur, one therapist, a doctor, a little spa and a sauna. It was the typical European detox center, but very simple. I quickly realized I wanted to develop and focus on the spa.

A lot of the spas at the time were influenced by Greek and Italian architecture, very heavy, so I was always striving to be unique, which is why I decided to keep the spa clean, sterile, white and very medical. I wanted to have nothing in the rooms – no colors, pictures, sounds – so you can focus on yourself.”

When concepting the spa, how did you decide to develop your own line of products?

“We had tried all the big name brands – Shiseido, Estee Lauder, but nothing natural. And I was very lucky because I was told about a producer that was only 15 minutes from the hotel that has his own line using whey in his cosmetics. And at the beginning there were 24 products, now we have around 80 products. And people really came to the spa, and I didn’t know if they would like the products and would ask for Clinique or Estee, but they didn’t, they loved our line. So after a year, we fazed out all the other lines and we used only Susanne Kaufmann products. And that’s how it started.

How would you describe your skincare line?

“It’s about taking the best quality and bringing it into the skin in the most natural and effective way and really do something and work. When you bring something in very deeply, you have to be careful about what you take and which quality. For me, cooking and cosmetics are a bit the same. It all depends on the ingredients. If you make a fish that isn’t good quality, and you put on the best sauce in the world, the fish still isn’t good. And the same goes for cosmetics. You can disguise anything with fancy packaging, but if the quality isn’t right, it’s harmful.”

Susanne Kaufmann Spa Bezau Susanne Kaufmann Spa BezauWhat ingredients make your products stand out?

Ectoine. It’s a wonderful cell repair ingredient. When it comes to anti-aging and radiance and beautiful skin, it’s always about helping your cells work better. After we turn 25, the cell regeneration diminishes. The ectoine helps the cells regenerate and protect themselves. We have it in the whole A-Line, the advanced anti-aging line as well as well as the sun production creams. It’s from an algae, so they do it in the lab. They put the algae’s under stress by freezing them. To prevent the algae from dying, they give the algae a little ‘coat,’ which is the ectoine. This protects from the coldness. So when you go back and de-freeze them, they release the ectoine! It’s so natural and it’s a wonderful botanical active.

I also use arnica. In the summertime as a child, my parents would send me and my cousins to the mountains [to visit my grandmother]. We always had time to collect things. There were blueberries and ingredients for tea. And my Grandma was obsessed with arnica. She would make arnica schnapps. And whenever you had something, if it was a scratch, a sore throat, if you had problems with you knee – arnica cured everything. So whenever we would go up into the Alps, she would ask us to bring it. And it wasn’t for drinking; it was just for the cure.”

Have any favorite products in your collection?

“The Line A Eye Cream (which contains that entoine) and also the Skin Lighting and Radiance Complex. It makes your skin really even and removes the sunspots and age spots. But it takes time to really remove the pigmentation. If you really have those dark spots, it takes a year but it works. You don’t need lasers; the creams and serums will really work.”

You are known to be fascinated by Traditional Chinese medicine. How does that influence the spa?

“I was looking for something a bit deeper than only doing facials and massages. I always thought there was more more about being beautiful or healthy, so I tried a few different courses. I went to a Panchakarma course [aka the most effective healing modality in Ayurvedic Medicine] and it was a really wonderful experience but I couldn’t introduce this into the Hotel Post. Your hair needed to get really oily and this was more of a retreat, so it wasn’t right kind of experience.

Traditional Chinese medicine is all about preservation. You basically go to prevent getting sick. I thought this was the right thing. I didn’t want to be a medical center but I did want to prevent people from getting sick. If you come to the hotel for the whole detox program, you are seen by a Chinese medicine practitioner and your plan is based on your diagnosis.

From there everything falls into place and you get specific cuisine, treatments, movements and products. It’s a 360 degree approach. We see beauty in a holistic way. You have to look at the whole picture – not just at the skin. It’s what how eat and sleep, so we try to integrate all of this into your treatment.”

Susanne Kaufmann Spa BezauHow did you choose the hotel’s menu?

“The food was really important to me because I love food. If I have a 5-course menu or if I just have some cheese and potato, I always look for good quality. Food is how you feed your cells, everything. It’s really the base. Now we see, that people eat to much yogurt and have these sugar shocks so again, its so important what we give and feed our bodies from the inside.”

What’s the deal with your famous Whey Bath?

“We are doing so much cheese here in this area. If you have 1 liter milk you are only doing 90% cheese out of this, so the remaining 10% is the whey. And there are so many vitamins and minerals in this whey. My grandmother made all these different things with whey, because it was so good for you. She even made whey soup, which I never liked. She lived to 99. The reason that it’s so good for you is because of the lactic acid. We have heard all these theories about how Cleopatra bathed in milk. Well she actually bathed whey.”

Are you now as obsessed as I am with Susanne? I thought so. To give you a little mini crash course in her skincare line, I put together a shortlist of my favorite discoveries….

It was really hard to choose, but because I am such a bath addict, I love her Whey Bath (duh) and her Mallow Blossom Bubble Bath. Both look and feel incredible and actually make your skin more hydrated. The cooling and warming foot creams are really incredible products too. I bought the warming cream for myself and the cooling for my mom and she absolutely loves it.

For skincare, I am an Hyaluronic Acid lover, so it was only natural that I gravitated towards her Hyaluron Serum. The super concentrated plant-based formula is enriched with Hyaluronic Acid to help the skin retain moisture, as well as Citric Acid to reduce the appearance of fine lines.

After experiencing the anti-aging facial at her glorious spa, I knew that I needed the power trio in order to get my pre-party facial on. This means that the Enzyme Peel, the Moisturizing Mask and the Skin Lightening and Radiance Complex are now integral parts of my skincare routine. I’ll have a tutorial on how to do this coming up!

Susanne Kaufmann Spa BezauIf you try any of my recommendations, you have to keep me posted! I know they will help you get that lit-from-within glow in no time.

So, two things happened to get me to the level of sheer obsession with essential oils.

Earlier this year, I flew back to New York for my friend’s baby shower. While in the city, I spent some quality time with my college bestie Taylor (just wait for her Glow Girl!) who came in from LA. She stayed at my apartment and gave me a glimpse into her amazingly over-the-top skincare routine. It involved the usual suspects like serums, hand creams, the works… but what I was most intrigued by was her essential oils ritual. It’s her last step before bed and one that I noticed was an integral part of the routine. She uses it to enter sleep in the most peaceful and positive way possible. She used Young Living.

Around the same time, I had my sister talking about how she had recently gotten really into oils. As a mom of two young girls, she’s constantly battling whatever her kiddos bring home from the playground. She uses oils to stay healthy and centered. Genius, right?

After testing Taylor’s Peace and Calming Essential Oils and listening to my sister’s rave reviews, I couldn’t NOT get involved. Essential oils have been around since the Roman times to improve health and well-being. They work on physical and emotion levels to relieve stress and deal with with emotion, immunity, tension and mood. Are you feeling overly stressed? Theres an oil for that. Are you tired, sore? Do you have back aches, depression? Poison ivy? There’s an oil for these too.

To start, (I became a member of Young Living) and ordered a bunch of different oils and a diffuser and it was waiting for me when I arrived back in Switzerland. If you watch my Insta Stories then you saw when I finally got around to opening up the box and playing around with all the oils. I guess I had always been really intimidated by oils because there are sooo many to choose from and each of them do something different. Pinterest has been great in getting me started, too. There are so many helpful charts that break down what every oil does and helps you to create really powerful blends. You feel like a amateur chemist, mixing and creating your own scent. My favorite way to use the oils is with my diffuser. It just changes the whole vibe – for the better.

So, this is how I got started. I bought the Premium Starter Kit which comes with the 11 most popular oils and a diffuser.

Comes with 5ml bottles of:

-Thieves
-Lavender
-Peppermint
-Lemon
-Panaway
-RC
-DiGize
-Stress Away
-Frankincense
-Copaiba
-Purification

You get to choose your diffuser (I have the you choose which one), a roller ball attachment and some more samples.
AMAZING.

After you get it as a wholesale member, you will have the discount forever after on anything you ever need which is 24% off. I will also add you to the Happy Oils Facebook group – your one stop place for all essential oil questions and needs.

You can grab yours here.

Click the signup link above, and follow these steps:
1. Be sure to check Wholesale Member to earn your 24% off any future orders.
2. Then choose the Premium Starter Kit you’d like (the kit with the Home or Dewdrop diffuser is $160)
3. Unless you are ready to dive in and know you want to be ordering often, go ahead and just say No Thanks for Step 3 about Essential Rewards. No need to worry about that right now!
4. Now add another Dew Drop diffuser (the two free oils will show up automatically) and anything else you want with your brand new 24% off discount. Some of my suggestions are Grapefruit, Cedarwood, Valor II, Oregano, Citrus Fresh, Tea Tree, and Deep Relief.  Let me know if you want support for anything specific and I’ll help!

Follow the process all the way through to the end, where you will receive a confirmation email. Let me know if you don’t get that order confirmation email for any reason.

They are global, so they ship internationally. Oh, and to give to a little help, here are my 5 favorite oils: Orange, Stress Away, Peace and Calming, Geranium and Ylang Ylang. There are endless way to use the oils too. Upgrade you bath routine, mix an oil with your face or body lotion, create a relaxing linen spray and my personal favorite, purify your living space with a diffuser.

Pro tip: If you venture out on your own to find oils, make sure you buy ones that are super high quality. Sometimes it’s tempting to reach for the cheap options, but I assure you, investing in the most concentrated natural formulas will give you the best results.

Next up, I’ll be sharing with you my favorite oils for bedtime.