VF Travels: The Perfect Hat

March 27, 2017   

You can pretty much say I'm a hat person. I absolutely love them, especially when it comes to traveling. I'm always wearing one. I'm particularly fond of this white fedora I picked up at Target a few years back. If you follow me on Instagram, you've probably seen me wear it on repeat haha (maybe a little too much). I recently went on the hunt for a straw hat for my upcoming trip to Dominican Republic. 

In case you're looking to add the perfect hat for your next getaway, here are a few you might want to check out. 

1. Lack of Color Spencer Boater Hat, $53

2. J.Crew Factory Summer Straw Hat, $14 (also comes in black)

3. Target Floppy Straw Hat, $14

4. Nordstrom 'Joanna' Straw Hat, $44

5. Asos Floppy Straw Hat, $28

10 Superfoods You Should Be Eating

March 23, 2017   

Today, we're excited to have guest writer, Lauren Arboleda from the blog Food from the Heart and author of the book Pregnancy from the Heart sharing some great healthy tips! Aside from also being a proud wife and mom, Lauren is over the heels for food (real food)! She's also a certified coach from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition in New York (and did we mention she's also a fellow Colombiana).

Today she's sharing with us 10 Superfoods you should be eating:

By Lauren Arboleda

1. Goji Berries: Also known as wolfberry and one of the most nutritious berries on the planet, these tiny berries are a complete source of protein and are full of amino acids, trace minerals and vitamins. They are extremely rich in antioxidants, which protect you from the aging process. They are also known to improve vision, immune system and boost libido!

Favorite way to eat them? I usually buy dried organic goji berries, and use them as a topping in salads, homemade trail mix and on top of my avocado toast.

2.  Hemp Seeds: Another favorite of mine! One of the reasons these make my top 10 is because they are one of the rare complete sources of protein. They are rich in Omega-3, 6 and 9, which are all very important for brain functions, and deliver a balanced array of amino acids and minerals. Hemp seeds are also a great boost to your immune system and decrease inflammation due to their fatty acids. 

Favorite way to eat them? I love these seeds to make milk, and I also add them to smoothies, drinks, bowls, salads, etc.

3. Spirulina: My favorite superfood ever (which I try to sneak everywhere I can)! Spirulina is a Blue-Green Algae that is rich in chlorophyll, protein (actually has the highest concentration of protein, by weight), vitamins, trace minerals and antioxidants (3-4 times more than berries). This super algae helps to support healthy muscles, neurological health, bones, body strength, and balanced brain chemistry. It even cleanses your body from any artificial chemicals, pesticides and radioactive substances still found in some organic foods. 

Favorite way to eat them? I use powdered spirulina in just about everything - my salad dressings, smoothies and drinks, homemade granola and oatmeal, swirled into my yogurt or in my water bottle. 

4. Cacao: Cacao is known as one of the top 10 superfoods (not to be confused with the sugary, packaged chocolate bars you find at the supermarket!) because it’s a natural source for iron, zinc, vitamin C, omega-6 fatty acids, and soluble fiber. It even raises the level of serotonin in the brain and acts as an anti-depressant, promoting an overall sense of well-being and relaxation!

Favorite way to eat them? I buy raw cacao in the form of nibs, powder and butter. The use the powder in baked goods, smoothies and drinks, and the nibs are one of my favorite toppings for yogurts, bowls and more.

5. Maca: Maca is a root that is usually found as a powder because it doesn’t grow in all climates. Maca is amazing for balancing hormones and helps decrease stress levels, enhance strength, stamina and libido, as well as providing great energy and endurance. It’s rich in calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, vitamins B1, B2, C, E and iron. It also contains lots of trace minerals and is great for menstrual imbalances, lack of libido, infertility, menopausal symptoms.

Favorite way to eat them? I usually buy organic powdered maca root and add 1 to 2 teaspoons to smoothies, drinks, baked goods and anything with chocolate; it pairs so nicely!

6. Coconut: Another amazing superfood, and one that I genuinely enjoy in all its different forms, from water to oil. The coconut water is full of electrolytes, just what your body needs when active (no need for energy or sports drinks full of nasty things). It also contains kinetin, which keeps the coconut young and has has the exact same effect on our body - keeps us young! This superhero is high in protein and fiber and is a great saturated fat (essential to our body) that supports our immune system, thyroid gland, nervous system and skin.

Favorite way to eat them? I buy unrefined, cold pressed coconut oil, and I pretty much use it to cook everything, given that it doesn’t lose its any of its nutrients even at the highest temperature. I use coconut cream as a spread/butter in baked goods, coconut water is a must in my smoothies, coconut milk adds extra creaminess in pasta sauces or soups, and last but not least, unsweetened coconut flakes add that special kick to my homemade granola.

7. Golden Berries: Also known as Incan berries, golden berries are rich in beta-carotene and vitamin C, and have anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and antioxidant benefits. When eaten fresh, they are an extra push for your digestive system and a healthy alternative to drugstore laxatives!

Favorite way to eat them? I buy dried golden berries to add to my smoothies and homemade trail mix or to toss in my salads. I get really excited when I can find them fresh (it’s not that easy, trust me). When I do, I eat them like popcorn!! So good!

8. Chia seeds: Chia Seeds, aka one of my three musketeers when it comes to toppings (chia, hemp, and flax seeds). Two tablespoons of these little seeds have 4 grams of protein, 100 ml of calcium and 7.5 grams of dietary fiber that support the digestive tract. They are rich in minerals, antioxidants and have the highest omega-3 content of any plant food. This superfood not only helps clean your intestines and rehydrate you, but they increase in size once they enter the stomach making you feel more satisfied (and less hungry)!

Favorite way to eat them? I buy organic chia seeds to add to my granola, salads, smoothies, bowls, fruit, etc. I love to soak them in milk or kefir to eat as a pudding, or in water to use as a substitute for eggs in certain recipes.

9. Quinoa: From the second this food came into my life, I knew it was a superhero! What I love about quinoa, besides its versatility and easiness to prepare, is how nutritionally rich it is. It has more than double the amount of protein found in other grains, contains all the essential amino acids (meaning that with each serving, you’re giving your body all of the nine key building blocks for making protein), vitamins B6 and B2 and more. Quinoa offers many proven nutritional benefits while introducing very little calories and fat to your diet. And what’s the best part? You can call it “breakfast,” “lunch,” or “dinner” (like I happily did) and find many ways to incorporate this nutritious food into every daily meal!

Favorite way to eat them? I buy organic quinoa and cook it as a porridge with milk in the mornings; also, anywhere rice goes I tend to substitute quinoa. I also love to pop it and add it to my yogurt, granola and salads.

10. Bee Honey & Pollen: Not simply honey and pollen but all bee products are considered incredibly nutrient-dense. Honey is a very digestible, natural and a raw form of sugar. When consumed organically, raw and unfiltered, it fills the body with probiotics, antioxidants, enzymes and minerals. Honey has lots of medicinal benefits so it’s an excellent natural and safe alternative for when you’re feeling under the weather. Bee pollen is considered one of the most complete foods in the world. It contains eighteen vitamins, almost all B, C, D and E, carotenes and essential amino acids. Its antioxidant levels are incredibly high, increasing longevity and rejuvenating sexual organs. It also increases strength, energy and speed as well as promoting muscle growth and definition.

Favorite way to eat them? I buy raw unfiltered honey (even better when it's wild) and dried bee pollen (stored in the freezer to maintain nutrients). I add honey to anything that will be eaten raw and needs sweetness, as it will kill all the enzymes in the cooking process. And as mentioned, honey is also one of my main ingredients in my kick-ass drink to fight the flu.

We're also loving Lauren's new book Pregnancy from the Heart. It's a compilation of active, healthy, and "real" pregnancy tips for powerful moms, expecting moms and future moms. The book also offers many delicious easy-to-make Food from the Heart recipes and valuable lifestyle tips, so be sure to pick up your copy  HERE! 


Atlantis Paradise Island: The Perfect Spring Break Family Destination {Bahamas}

March 22, 2017   

Spring Break, for many of us, is right around the corner. And if you're looking for the perfect destination the entire family will enjoy, then look no further than Atlantis Paradise Island in the Bahamas. I love traveling and although I love my fair share of action-packed (non-stop) trips, I also love vacations where I don't have to worry about ever leaving the resort--and that's where Atlantis Paradise Island comes in. 

You can literally find everything you want without ever leaving the resort, from shopping, swimming with dolphins and sea lions, a water park with a lazy river, a casino, an aquarium, kid activities and so much more. It's a stress-free vacation your entire family will enjoy.  I recently had a chance to visit and absolutely loved it. 

The resort has several towers, which includes the iconic Royal Towers, the Coral Towers (moderately-priced, family friendly-accommodations), the Beach Tower (the most valued-priced tower), The Reef Atlantis (luxurious, residential style studios) and The COVE Atlantis (luxurious ocean view suites).  There's basically something to accommodate all budgets. 

{The Lobby at The COVE Atlantis} 

One of my favorite things about Atlantis Paradise Island is their pools and private beaches. I mean, just check out the crystal clear water of The Cove Beach--it's stunning. 

There's also this amazing children's water play area, which is one of the newest Atlantis additions. It's perfect for the little ones.

There's also something for kids of all ages, from toddlers to pre-teens at Atlantis Kids Adventure (AKA for short). For kids ages 3 to 6 years old there's a fun Sea Squirts program where they can learn about marine animals. For kids ages 3 to 12 years old they also have everything from culinary lessons, outdoor play, and not to mention cool playrooms such as a LEGO Construction room, a grocery store and a Tea Party Room.

I also had such a wonderful experience at the Dolphin Cay where I got to interact with this little guy. He was super sweet and made some of the funniest faces (it was hilarious). You can also swim with dolphins or try Snuba or snorkeling. I'm telling you, there's never a dull moment in this place.

Overall, I had a great time. So whether you're planning a family getaway (or perhaps a romantic trip as well) this place will not disappoint!

Where'd She Get It? Olivia Culpo's Norma Kamali Red High-Waisted Swimsuit

March 20, 2017   

Olivia Culpo looked stunning in this red Norma Kamali high-waisted bikini she posted last week on her Instagram. If you know me, you know I'm a sucker for a high-waisted swimsuit and I absolutely LOVE this red hot number. From the bustier top, to the studs to the high-waisted bottom that perfectly covers those trouble areas---this suit is a must-have this summer.

It's a bit of a splurge, but here's where you can get it. But you better move quick because there are only a few sizes left.

Where to Buy: 

Top: Stud Underwire Bikini Top, Revolve, $375
Bottom: tud High-Waisted Bikini Bottom, Revolve, $365

Here are some options in case you're looking for some more budget-friendly options:

Beauty Review: My Organic Beauty Favorites

March 15, 2017   

I'm constantly trying new organic beauty products and one organic beauty line that has quickly become one of my favorites is Juice Beauty. There's so many new information surfacing about potentially harmful ingredients used in cosmetics (many of them filled with synthetic chemicals and pesticides), which is why I love the dedication of this brand to use organic ingredients. I've mentioned this before, but I guess it's always worth repeating, our skin can absorb up to 60% of what we place on it, so it's important we reduce the risks of toxins that might contaminate our bodies. Juice Beauty products are made with a potent base of organic juice, vegetables and plants and best of all they're effective! They also have a new make-up line made with Phyto-Pigments, which is great. 

Here are a few of their products that I'm currently loving: 

Green Apple Age Defy Serum: You're never too young to start using anti-aging products right? This Green Apple Serum goes on super lightweight and really helps brighten up your skin. It also helped with some of my dark spots from previous breakouts. A little goes a long way and it also smells great.  It's made with an age-defying cocktail of Vitamin C, organic apple juice, organic aloe leaf juice, grape seed oil and willow bark to name a few.

STEM CELLULAR Exfoliating Peel Spray: I've been trying to exfoliate my skin once a week and have noticed such a difference with this Stem Cellular Exfoliating Peel Spray. It's a plant-based exfoliant which you spray on clean skin, gently exfoliate and then rinse off with warm water. My skin felt super soft afterwards.

GREEN APPLE Peel Sensitive: Another great exfoliant is this Green Apple Peel. It helps with discolorations and dark spots. It comes in three formulas: Full-Strength, Sensitive and Blemish Clearing. My skin is pretty sensitive, so I decided to go for the "sensitive" version. It worked perfectly on my skin and was really gentle. It's rich in alpha-hydroxy acids, which stems from the organic apple juice and also has other ingredients such as Vitamin A, organic aloe vera juice and organic lemon juice. The instructions say to use it at night, so make sure you're not using it during the day.

Phyto-Pigment Lip Crayon (Venice Shade): I had been searching high and low for an everyday wear lip color and I'm so happy I found this one. This lip crayon is the perfect hybrid between a lipstick and a lip pencil. My favorite shade is this one called "Venice," which goes great with my olive complexion. It's not too pink and it's not too dark---it's more like a mauve color, which is just what I was looking for. It also comes in more shades too. 

VF Travels: Beach Getaway Essentials (Budget-Friendly)

March 13, 2017   

I just got back a few days ago from Puerto Rico and in two weeks I'm heading to another tropical destination, Punta Cana for my birthday. With so much travel, I've realized there are those essential pieces that always make the cut when I'm packing my bag. Not to mention, they make dressing so much easier once I've arrived.

One piece I never leave without is rompers and maxi dresses. Stores such as Lulu's, Asos and H&M have some great affordable options. This Spring I'm also digging tassel earrings. They can easily dress up any outfit when you're on vacation. I'm absolutely loving the BaubleBar collaboration with Target right now called SUGARFIX (so you'll definitely want to check that out).

Anywho, I've rounded up a few pieces I think you might like for your next beach getaway.

1. Tie-Dye Dress, Lulu's, $68
2. Beach Bag, H&M, $9
3. SUGARFIX by BaubleBar Tassel Earrings, Target, $10
4. Ray-Ban Sunglasses, Saks Off Fifth, $79
5. Wide-Brim Hat, Forever 21, $9
6. Kayla Gladiator Sandals, Target, $29
7. Romper, H&M, $29
8. Tularosa One-Piece, Revolve, $138

What are some of your go-to travel essentials? 

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