Author: MsBellaDaniela

Recipe: Instant Pot Popcorn

So I don’t know about you but there is something about autumn that makes me crave some good ‘ol fashioned popcorn – while relaxing in comfy clothes and watching a movie.

But I cannot get over how toxic some of these microwaveable popcorn bags are with the overloaded fake butter or the copious amounts of salt. Plus think about how long those things sit on the shelf before you buy them! And the worst part is if you do make those – half of the bag is left unpopped!

Instant Pot Popcorn graphic

So of course I have tinkered away to find the best recipe for popcorn at home using only 2 ingredients and my trusty instant pot! It is ready in about the same time as the microwave and I can customize the final product however I want – plain, real butter, salt & pepper, caramel…

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup popcorn kernels (yellow, purple…any will do)
  • 2 tbs coconut oil

How To:

  1. Select Sauté” on your Instant Pot
  2. Wait till the display reads “Hot”
  3. Add coconut oil and melt completely
  4. Add kernels and mix in the oil so they are all coated
  5. Cover your IP with a lid (standard pot or regular lid)
    1. Make sure your lid is set to vent and NOT seal – you are not building up pressure for this recipe!
  6. Wait about 3 minutes or until the popping has almost stopped
  7. Uncover and enjoy!

And nope – you do not taste the coconut oil. And yep – I have tried other oils but coconut has been the best. Why? Because you need a high temperature oil that will not burn -that’s why olive oil or butter wouldn’t work. Avocado and ghee have had some success but nothing like coconut oil.

I also posted a quick video on the Video page if you want to check that out!

So are you going to give this a try? Let me know below or on my IG if you do and how it turns out!

Curly Hair: Scalp Detox

When you have curly hair, the amount of products you have to put in to maintain those beautiful strands can be daunting. That is also why always laugh when people tell me “oh, I wish I had your hair” because I can’t help but think “sure, until you see my Ulta bill…there’s a reason why I am a platinum member…”

But I digress.

The product build-up can be really damaging to the hair, but most importantly, the scalp. And if we do not take care of our scalp, then the hair that is trying to grow in will be compromised AND we can develop skin issues like dandruff. I have noticed that a lot of times, curly girls (and guys) forget that the hair strand is only PART of the hair and underneath those waves, ringlets, or coils is skin.

So every week, I have to do something to help my scalp revive. Some times what I do is a little more intense while other times, I can get away with a lighter regimen. Below are some of the products that I use to help my scalp, control any potential dandruff, prevent itchiness, and control sunburn because yes, sunburn on the scalp is possible and yes, it hurts like heck.

Disclaimer: None of these links are affiliated links. I do not receive any commission from any of these links. They are purely links to the actual products that I use.

When I need an intense DEEP cleansing of the scalp, I use one product that I also use for my face.
Amazonian Clay Mask
This mask is made with natural calcium bentonite clay and is meant to pull impurities out of the skin. This mask comes in the powder clay form and is meant to be mixed at home with either water (which I use for my scalp) or apple cider vinegar (which I use for my face). You have to mix this in a non-metal bowl and with non-metal spatula or spoon as the metal will corrupt the chemical compound. I personally use a glass bowl and a silicone spatula, but you can use anything you prefer so long as it is not metal. I then part my hair and apply it directly to the scalp, especially in any area that may be particularly sensitive, red, or flakey. I try not to get too much of this in the length of my hair as it is drying. After 15-30 minutes, and the mask is dry, it turns a whitish color and that is my indication it is time to rinse it out. I hop back in the shower, rinse it all out with warm water, and then usually apply a moisturizing mask to the length of my hair, but it is not always necessary.
I buy mine from Amazon typically which retails for approximately $12.90 for a 1 pound tub; Whole Foods also carries this AND sometimes offers it at a cheaper price. 1 tub of 1 pound will last you a very long time – mine has been about a year and I still have about 1/3 left.

The second product I use for scalp health, almost on a weekly basis when I don’t use any other products, is my Rawkyn scalp scrub which I did mention in a previous post. This scrub has apple cider vinegar and sugar to help lift any impurities off the scalp. It also has grape seed oil so it doesn’t dry out the hair or the scalp but does invigorate while literally lifting build-up and massaging the scalp.
This retails for $20.99 and can be bought online at the Rawkyn website.

Another product that I use daily is my RighteousRoots RX oil, coupled with my scalp massager. You may be thinking ‘but you are literally putting MORE stuff on your scalp, not removing it’. That is true BUT the RighteousRoots oil is more than just oil – this product is full of natural ingredients and essential oils that permeate the scalp to invigorate the pores, calm the skin, and much more. This oil is not comedogenic meaning it does not cause blackheads or block the pores – even my sensitive skin loves this thing! Plus I only have to use 3-4 drops to care for my whole scalp! I did write about this oil in a previous post but I still use this every day. Plus I am using the same scalp massager with the oil to stimulate the scalp and help growth.
The RighteousRoots oil retails for $15.95 for 1 bottle or $29.00 for 2. The product will last you a VERY long time and can be used to help pre-poo as well for an easier wash day. The scalp massager is from Amazon and retails for $10.99. It does require AAA batteries.

The fourth product that I use is a clarifying shampoo coupled with a shampoo brush IN the shower. While clarifying is important to do regularly, finding one that is also non-drying is difficult. So when I tried the BounceCurl Enzyme Gentle Clarifying Shampoo, I knew I had to share all about it! This pumpkin and pomegranate based product is gentle enough to not dry out or damage your hair while still cleansing the scalp of build-up. It has a nozzle tip so you can literally apply this DIRECTLY to the scalp and get in all those hard to reach spots, especially if you have any productive styles. It smells delicious and does lather but without parabens, sulfates, and silicones (it is Curly Girl (CG) method approved). And to get just a little more out of this product, I tend to couple it with my shampoo brush.
At the risk of sounding extra a shampoo brush is something that I have used for a while now and even made my straight-haired mom and curly-haired husband into! This brush does not vibrate but does help massage the scalp without irritating or scratching the skin. I know we often want to dig our nails into our scalp when we wash but you are actually irritating and cutting your scalp when you do that. So this brush does the work for you while helping build-up a lather! It is not mandatory but if you like that stimulation, it even comes in a vibrating option so it really helps go below the scalp to help stimulate the hair follicles.
The shampoo from Bounce Curl retails for $19.99 and can also be purchased through sets with other amazing Bounce Curl products. The scalp massager can be purchased on Amazon for $6.99 (for the non-vibrating option) or $11.92 (for the vibrating one [batteries required]).

I am constantly trying new products across various price ranges to find products that can fit any budget and still be helpful while being safe!

So inquiring minds want to know… Are there any products that you use to help detox your scalp? Promote growth? Eliminate dandruff or build-up?

Curly Hair + Rice Water

“Rice water rinse” – that has become a new term that is taking over the curly-haired community. In fact, to call it new is actually invalid as this has been around for years, but is becoming more and more common presently.

So on the off chance that you have no idea what I’m talking about, a rice water rinse is using fermented rice water to rinse your hair after a shampoo + condition wash day. You then leave the rinse on for a while and then rinse it out before styling as usual.

Okay so that sounds easy enough but maybe you aren’t quite sold on why you would do this…


The benefits of a rice water rinse are:

  • Rice is full of vitamins including B and C, which is helps with growth and strength
  • The fermentation the rice water helps with the occurrence/reoccurrence of dandruff
  • The antioxidants found within rice itself helps with shedding and helps combat free radicals that can weaken the scalp and hair
  • Improves shine

Now the best part for me is that this is easy to make, inexpensive, and if nothing else, has helped my curls retain their spiral.

I did just upload a video to YouTube on how I make my rice water rinse at home and it is super easy! You can always check out the video on my YouTube or on the video tab above.What you’ll need:

What you’ll need:
– 1 cup of white rice
– A strainer
– An airtight jar
– Distilled Water
– Essential Oils (optional)

What you need to do:
– Rinse one cup of uncooked rice till the water comes out clear
– Add to the airtight jar (I personally use a small mason jar)
– Add 2-3 cups of water or however much fits in your jar
– Add 2-3 drops of essential oil, if desired (I use peppermint which helps stimulate growth but I have also used tea tree and lavender)
– Store in a dark area for at least 24 but no more than 48 (trust me…more than 48 and you’re doing a science experiment)
– Drain the rice out and save the water for use post-wash!

It is really that simple. And I have tested several different types of rice and found no advantage of one over another particularly. You can use inexpensive white rice or whatever you have laying around. I just do not recommend brown or wild rice.

This can be repeated weekly, though I only do it once a month. But please be careful because it can have a drying effect if overused.

Inquiring minds want to know… What “crazy” trend have you tried that has actually worked? Any particular trends you are interested in seeing put to the test?

Recipe: Homemade Boba Tea

While under quarantine, I was craving a little something extra. Knowing that I shouldn’t go out for anything frivolous, I decided to search through the cabinets for what I could make to nip that little craving while not disrupting the work day.

Low and behold, I had all the ingredients to make a simple, and QUICK, boba tea. With little fuss, I made four servings in just about 10 minutes from start to finish!

Ingredients:
-Boba
-Almond Milk
-Black Tea
-Ice
-Water
-Coconut Sugar

  1. Add 1 cup of boba + 1.5 cups of water +1/4 cup sugar (I used coconut sugar)
  2. Cook on Manual (high pressure) for 2 minutes
    1. Natural release for 5 minutes and then manually release
  3. Remove boba and let it cool
  4. Make tea concentrate
    1. I used 4 bags of Earl Grey and 1 strainer of loose White Coconut tea and 2 cups of water
    2. Cook for 4 minutes manual (high pressure) and then quick release
  5. Spoon boba into a glass, add ice, add 1/4 of tea and fill up with milk
  6. Enjoy!

You are also able to watch my video for a walkthrough on how I made this delicious afternoon delight! Just click on my “Video” tab above!

So inquiring minds want to know… With the world experiencing this pandemic together and social distancing becoming the new norm, what are you doing to keep your life “normal”? Have you tried any new recipes?

Amazon Favorites – January & February

So when you move and do not know where to find anything, you turn to your trusty friend – Amazon!

While we are no longer living out of boxes, there are still some items we cannot find, some items that broke, or need something new because we live in a brand new city!

I wanted to take the time to share some of these new products with you that have been particularly successful!

Disclaimer: I do receive a small percentage of the sale if you purchase the item through my affiliate link. This does NOT change the price or experience for you as a consumer.


I use this scale daily to track and monitor not just my weight but also vital components to weight loss/gain such as water, protein, muscle, and fat density. AND there is an app that goes along with it so you can track and visually see the changes – you can also create more than one user profile to track the whole family!

When we learned we had extra counter space but limited cabinets, we wanted to make sure that what we had “on display” looked presentable and lasted longer! I definitely did not just want torn up bags with flour spilling out. So I purchased two of these containers that are airtight, with a built-in leveler, for some of our baking needs. I then labeled everything with my historic label-maker (yep, I’m one of those), and everything fit nicely on the counter stacked on top of each other!

Why did I not buy this sooner?! These are a lifesaver for anyone that buys fresh herbs or veggies like scallions. What used to take quite a bit of time with the kitchen knives (that frankly were NEVER sharp enough), is now done in a fraction of time. These are super easy to clean and store too.

One of my pricer purchases through Amazon, these are a must-have if you like hiking! I purchased these after we moved because we now have the opportunity to hike almost every weekend and my sneakers were not cutting it. I purchased these in an 8.5 (normally I’m an 8) so I could comfortably wear hiking socks. They are waterproof and provide enough stability around the ankles that I feel safe without being restrictive.

Smaller spaces but same need – a nice place to store our shoes so we don’t track mud everywhere inside. This rack fits perfectly by the front door and the top shelf allows us to have a little basket for mail and keys. It is sturdy and easy to clean.

I had to condense some of my *ahem* personal items and organize my drawers after we moved. So in the spirit of Mary Kondo, I wanted to organize my undergarments and see exactly what went where! These fit nicely in the dresser drawers and allow a lot of compartments for all of my items. I can clearly see what I have and it actually, ironically, gave me more space!

You have seen this before MANY times, but you never bought it because you thought it didn’t actually work. Well, I took the plunge and tested it out. Let me just tell you that between my long curly hair and my husband’s curls, this catches a lot! I won’t say it catches everything but it is actually disgusting on how much it does collect. And when you are in an apartment, it isn’t easy to clean your pipes or get something permanent, so this is the perfect solution!

Last, but certainly not least, is this book I now have on my nightstand and refer to daily. It is amazing how these devotions actually resonate with you and what is happening in your life. They are short, quick, reads but they carry a lot of power. I am grateful I was introduced to this by one of my favorite influencers: Ms. Bianca Renee.

So inquiring minds want to know… What have you tried lately from Amazon that you love? What have you been hesitant to buy that you would like for me to review?

Hair Health – Growth

Some of you that may have been joining me for a while now, know that in November 2018, I decided to chop my hair and rock some curly bangs (yep, I went through a phase). I went from curly hair past my shoulder blades to curly hair at my shoulders (and for my non-curly girls that is like waist length to shoulder length). I needed a change and my hair was one of the easiest changes I could make.

But after getting sick and experiencing some more than average stress, my hair decided to fall out and my curl pattern became more of a wave than a ringlet. If you were curious and did not read about it before, I wrote about what happened to me in April 2019 in this post after I started to recover. Let’s just say that 2019 has not been my year for my personal or my family’s health which of course added to the stress and yep, you guessed it, hair loss.

So I started to try and take matters into my own hands and recover my health which led to my healthy journey up-kick and my hair health journey. As I mentioned in this post, I started to take Nutrafol and made sure that my nightly scalp massages were never missed.

I started to make sure deep conditioning was a weekly occurrence too. And while I have to admit that there are still days I want to shave it all off, I am so excited to actually SEE the growth now.

Left – May 2019 || Right – December 2019

That is just about 6-months of hair health and growth. That is just 6-months of taking better care of myself. That is 6-months of stress, a little highlighting, self-care, moving, hard water, testing new products, using brushes, deep conditioning, and…growth. My hair is healthier than it was 6-months ago. It doesn’t shed as much as it used to (though remember that it IS normal to lose 100 strands a day). It doesn’t break like it used to. It is holding the curl pattern better (even though I am WAY overdue for a hair cut). My bangs are at that phase that they are not bangs nor normal length so they are almost always pinned back…

I am so proud and so happy to share with you all and look forward to sharing some new products, new regimens, and new self-care methods in the coming weeks!

As always, inquiring minds want to know…Have you ever had any challenges growing your hair? Have you had any hair challenges at all? What do you do to take care of your hair?

Welcome to 2020

What a holiday season! It has been such a whirlwind with having my parents in town, living in a new place, starting a new job (which means not having ANY vacation time), hosting, cooking, cleaning, wrapping… It was certainly one for the books as 2019 was able to close on a very heartwarming note.

I have to say that I was not sad to see 2019 go. Many of you know it was a very dramatic year with a lot of health issues in my family and personally. But it was also a year that got me back into writing, got me on my healthy journey where I lost 35 pounds, gave me an opportunity to move to my dream town.

So here we are in 2020 or as I like to call it “the roaring 20’s 2.0”. Get it?? I crack myself up. And before we go ANY further, I want to wish you all a very happy new year.

So with entering a new year, I want to focus on a few very important goals – no, not resolutions, but goals. I want my vision to be clear this year and establish positivity. I want to use the law of attraction AND have a vision board to help me make this year unforgettable. That is exactly why I decided to draft my Top 5 Goals for 2020.

Posted also on my IG

I wanted to make sure my goals were SMART – specific, measurable, attainable/achievable, relevant and time-based. These are all the beginnings of the next chapter in my life ‘FAMILY’. These are all within my control and realistic. These are all going to make me a better me.

So inquiring minds want to know… Have you made any New Year’s resolutions? Goals? What are you working on this year?
Comment down below or follow me on Instagram!

Intermittent Fasting

The holidays are upon us and you know what that means… A lot of people are in crunch mode to lose a few pounds before the holidays for a work party, a family gathering, or so they can indulge a bit more during those delicious dinners!

One of the methods I have been using on-and-off for the past few months to help me through my plateaus has been intermittent fasting.

Let me preface this by stating that I do this in small durations and for small cycles. I do not treat this as a diet but rather as an eating pattern. In other words, I do not conscientiously alter the foods I eat when I break my fast nor do I do this for weeks at a time. I am also not a medical professional; this is just personal experience and personal research.

What is intermittent fasting?
Intermittent fasting is a cycle of eating in which there is a period of time that a person does not consume food and other periods of time that they do. Fasting has been a practice throughout time and is still practiced today outside of the health arena. Think about our ancient hunter-gatherer ancestors – there were no GrubHub or Postmates or supermarkets, so there were times where eating wasn’t possible. Presently, people who observe Islam, Christianity, Judaism, and Buddhism all fast at some point for religious reasons.

Why intermittent fasting?
There are several changes to the human body during a fast -some on a cellular level and some even on a molecular level. Many of you may have heard of the diet trend Keto which essentially forces your body to go into ketosis, working on insulin levels and carbohydrate processing. Fasting does something similar without the diet aspect and more.
Hormone levels are altered such as the human growth hormone (HGH) which increases and helps with fat loss and muscle gain; insulin productivity increases which reduce insulin levels and makes stored body fat more accessible (think ketosis); cells throughout the body begin initiate repair which helps process/eliminate protein inside the cells; gene expression occurs which have been linked to longevity and disease protection. Coincidentally, you become more conscientious of what you eat when you stop fasting (or break a fast) which means you opt to make healthier choices overall. Also, I have noticed that I don’t need to eat as much when I am observing a fast in order to feel full.

How do you fast?
There are several different types of fasting cycles. Below are just a few examples, but these can all be customized to fit a person’s needs.

  • Circadian Rhythm – Fasting period starts at sunset and lasts till morning.
  • 16:8 – A fasting period of 16 hours with an 8-hour eating window
  • 18:6 – A fasting period of 18 hours with a 6-hour eating window
  • 20:4 – A fasting period of 20 hours with a 4-hour eating window
  • Monk Fasting – A fasting period of 36 straight hours
  • Eat-Stop-Eat – Fasting for 24 hours, eating for one day, fasting again
  • 5:2 Diet Fast – This combines dieting with fasting in which a person only consumes 500 (plus/minus) calories a 2 times a week and then eat normally the rest of the week.

What is allowed during a fast?
Not much which is why the breaks are so important and why I do this only during short durations.
You are allowed to have water, tea, and black coffee – essentially clear liquids only. So no broth, no milk, no food.

I am fasting but I’m hungry (or don’t feel well). What do I do?
EAT. You have to listen to your body and if you aren’t feeling well or you are hungry – you need to eat. This is not meant to deprive you of nutrients or what your body needs. It isn’t worth getting sick over. This is just an eating style.

I started intermittent fasting with a Circadian Rhythm cycle that I then continued into the late morning. Now I do more of a 12:12 or 16:8 cycle because I stop eating around 8 PM and do not eat again until around noon unless I’m hungry in which I will have a light BREAKFAST (does that make sense now…break…fast) of my regular coffee (with almond milk and monk fruit) and usually an avocado toast for a good dosing of healthy fats.

Again, I do this for a few weeks at a time and then resume normal food consumption. This cycle of off-and-on helps me push through some weight loss hurdles and through mindless snacking/binging.

So inquiring minds want to know… Have you tried intermittent fasting? What cycle have you tried? What has your experience been like? If you haven’t, are you interested in trying it?

And I’m Back!

Some of you that have been following my Instagram, know that I had to take a little bit of a hiatus for a couple of weeks!

Packing. Moving. Ending a chapter. Starting a new chapter. Starting a new job. Unpacking. Learning the lay of the land. Holidays.

It has been a very complicated couple of weeks. And while I had content I wanted to post, I really needed to focus on my family and my health. Please don’t get me wrong – I am NOT complaining in the slightest. I know I am truly blessed. But it has just been a very hectic few weeks so I had to forgo some extra responsibilities.

But have no fear because I am back!

I may be a little slow on the upkeep as I am still acclimating but you will start to see content on here AND IG resume! I truly missed you all and cannot wait to fully return. Thank you all for your patience, messages, and support!

Is Age Just a Number?

Let me preface this by stating this is not a typical post for me. This has been on my mind lately and I really need to express it and to what better audience than my amazing blog family?

It’s November. Yes, I am stating the obvious but that means that next month, amidst all the festivities of the holidays, I will be celebrating my birthday. My 33rd birthday. And yes, I actually had to sit down and think about what age I will be turning on December 31st (and nope, it is not a good day for a birthday but that’s for another rant). I can’t believe I had to sit here and actually think okay 30 years ago was 1989 and then another…

So what am I getting at? I don’t feel my age at all. I don’t feel 32. I don’t have any children yet and I can honestly say that 90% of my friends within the same age group have at least 1 child already -and some have a child that is already in grade school! Honestly, I look in the mirror and I still feel like a child myself so how irresponsible would I be to have a child right now? And yes, I know there is never “the right time” to have a child but bear with me – I am barely keeping myself afloat, how do I bring another life into the world to care for?

Is something wrong with me?

I look in the mirror and I don’t see a 32 year old looking back at me. What does a 32 year old look like? I don’t quite know, exactly. Am I supposed to cut my hair into a bob? Am I supposed to be getting botox? Am I supposed to wear a foundation every day? Am I supposed to take fiber supplements? Am I supposed to rock mom jeans (and not because they are suddenly fashionable)? Am I supposed to drink white wine or spritzers? Am I supposed to have 1+ child and wear athleisure attire?

Is something wrong with me?

Yes, I know I am partially stereotyping, but when I look around me, turn on the TV, talk to my friends and family…all I see and hear about are pregnancies, aging, and all that goes along with it. Instead, I am finishing my doctorate degree and starting my second master; I am moving to my dream city; I am starting a new job at an organization that is amazing; I am booking trips; I am literally working on being my healthiest self…

Am I being selfish?

I don’t know what 33 has in store for me. Maybe I’ll be writing a post in 6 months sharing with you all that my husband and I are starting our family. Maybe I’ll be sharing with you that we are traveling. Maybe we’ll be buying a house. I don’t know. But I can’t help but have this nagging feeling that I am not living up to expectations for someone my age.


I am sorry that this is not my normal content, but this is all a part of the healthy journey. Sometimes we have days that aren’t as strong as others. Sometimes we have bad mental health days. Sometimes we have doubts and want to be introverted. Sometimes we are exuberant and ambitious. Sometimes we just need to express what is weighing on our soul – talk it out and maybe, just maybe, find out we aren’t alone.

So inquiring minds want to know… Have you ever felt this way? How do you deal with societal expectations?