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Photo courtesy of exposingtruth.com

According to the Celiac Disease Foundation, gluten is a “general name for the proteins found in wheat (durum, emmer, spelt, farina, farro, KAMUT® khorasan wheat and einkorn), rye, barley and triticale. Gluten helps foods maintain their shape, acting as a glue that holds food together.” Check out this page for a detailed list of sources of gluten.

In recent years we have seen many gluten-free products pop up in supermarkets and have seen many people attempt to adopt a gluten-free lifestyle with the hopes of improving their diets, losing weight or living an overall healthier life. Only about 1 in 100 people truly needs to follow a gluten-free diet as they suffer from celiac disease; The other 99 are following what is known as a gluten-free trend.

The New York Times believes that this “gluten-free trend” is here to stay mainly because people have become so confused about what foods they should or should not consume, and also wish to lower health risks that are associated with processed foods and highly processed grains. A gluten-free diet, also referred to as the “anti-inflammatory diet” is meant to reduce these health risks, because if followed correctly, the processed foods and grains get replaced by healthier alternatives like lean proteins, yogurts and more fruits and vegetables.

At Maxim Hygiene we believe that getting back in touch with nature and your own body is very important, and a gluten-free diet could be a good way to achieve this if the diet is followed carefully and the gluten is replaced by healthy natural alternatives.

With Thanksgiving coming up, we know how difficult it could be to avoid traditional gluten-filled goodies, which is why we put together  a healthier alternative gluten-free Thanksgiving menu that’s worth giving a try. It is sure to wow your guests and also keep your waistline a bit more in check for the start of the holiday season.

Gluten-Free Thanksgiving Menu:

Appetizers: Appetizers are very important as they kick-start a meal and give guests a taste of the goodness that is to come later. Try out these stuffed goat cheese balls and vegan stuffed mushrooms which will give your guests a small nibble but not leave them feeling full.

Stuffed Goat Cheese Balls – Photo courtesy of anjasfood4thought.com

Gravy: Most gravy recipes require flour as thickening agents, rendering gravy a gluten culprit. Check out how to make a scrumptious gluten-free gravy that you can safely add to naturally gluten-free dishes like your Thanksgiving turkey and vegetables.

Bread: We all know how important bread is to a meal, especially at Thanksgiving. Try out a cornbread recipe to replace normal bread that contains gluten. One of our favorites is this skillet cornbread recipe.

Skillet Cornbread – Photo courtesy of glutenfreeonashoestring.com

Stuffing: Most stuffing recipes call for a bread base, so you can either replace your favorite stuffing recipe with a gluten-free bread or cornbread, or try out this quinoa alternative which is sure to leave your guests asking for more!

Sides: Green bean casserole is a Thanksgiving favorite, so we were pleasantly surprised to come across a gluten-free alternative. Mashed potatoes is also another Thanksgiving staple that is naturally gluten free. Use your favorite recipe or try out our suggestion.

Dessert: Dessert is the final, and usually most anticipated part of the meal. As people are usually stuffed at the end of dinner, why not try to take a lighter but still delectable approach by making sweet potato pie truffles and frosty pumpkin pie shots? The sweet potato pie truffles are a great idea as you can make them three days in advance and store them in the refrigerator, which is great when you have a large Thanksgiving meal to prepare.

Frosty Pumpkin Pie Shots – Photo courtesy of carascravings.com

We hope you will all have a wonderful (and tasty!) Thanksgiving. Let us know if you try out any of the recipes and how you liked them!

Taking Back the Vagina

Cunt. Pussy. Snatch. Box. Cum Dumpster. Cock Holster.

tbv 1There are dozens of words that have taken the place of “vagina”– a word of recluse that has now developed a strictly biological/formal tone. The word vagina has always been shrouded in attempts of modesty and by notions of shame and has thus remained unclaimed in a patriarchal dialectic constructed by men.

“While the world is only just coming to terms with saying the word vagina out loud, cunt remains a term that takes people’s breath away as they cringe at the sheer power it contains” writes Gillian Schutte for Ms. Magazine. “Pushed underground, banished from conventional language, cunt has long since been appropriated by patriarchs and misogynists and used as an utterance that disgusts or insults in the worst possible way.”

The slang for vagina, and that to replace “the C word”, is endless. Cock holster; cum dumpster; fur burger — each of these euphemisms imply that a woman’s vagina is an object or a receptacle for men. Ultimately, a woman’s agency is denied because her identity is defined not just by her relationship to men, but her use as an object by men.

tbv 3From ancient cultures to current hip-hop, the vagina is revered as sacred and powerful not only for its role in reproduction, but also for the power it exerts over men. It is in the effort of diminishing that power, that men have come up with such slang — to make the vagina itself less powerful and less sacred. Some may argue that the colloquial use of these terms have been successful in denigrating the vagina to pussy, a word whose connotation again is derogatory in its reference to a feral animal who must be or should be tamed.

The word pussy has evolved to imply a lack of courage or fear. Pussy has been established as the polar opposite of manliness; its implication is emasculating. Calling a man a pussy as an insult points to how ingrained sexism is in our culture and how much of our language fortifies our patriarchal society. Women are subjugated and oppressed by the word pussy, but also by the value implication that being the opposite (or anything but) a hyper-masculine male has less worth.

In general, the undertones of slang (such as the words above) highlight man’s obsession with the vagina, their quest to penetrate and control it, and to distinguish themselves from it. This unintentionally gives vaginas, and women, back their power. The use of such language has only augmented the taboo surrounding the word vagina, and ironically, recognizes the power of the word.

tbv 2This is similar to Hermione Granger’s refusal to use nicknames for Lord Voldemort; she explains that “the fear of a name only increased fear of the thing itself.” The vagina, like Lord Voldemort, remains a separate and protected concept. The proliferation of slang thereby strengthens the concept of the vagina as something sacred, making the word vagina something that women need to reclaim.

For a role model we can always look at one of Maxim Hygiene’s Fierce Women– Eve Ensler, author of the Vagina Monologues and leader of the V-Day campaign. She writes: “As we succeed, our victories attract a more virulent resistance. As we get a foothold on our rights and power, the push back from the patriarch[y] gets more dangerous…We must be as disruptive and loud and determined and organized… We must stop being polite and behaved and find new inventive tactics to shift the paradigm… We literally hold the future in our bodies.

We must reclaim the word vagina and re-purpose it in ways that celebrate it’s strength. Using its implied power and sanctity, we need to work to position it in clearer and more visible light so that we can shift implications within our cultural dialectic and move towards a more equally respectful society. A future post will explore how we can find lighter more empowering ways of referring to our lady parts. In the meantime, tell us what other pseudo names for the beautiful word vagina make you feel empowered or disempowered by commenting below.

Photo courtesy of you queen.com

Throughout centuries women have gone to extreme measures to be beautiful. Fast-forward to our current society, and not too much has changed. Inventors and marketers alike have been capitalizing on this insatiable quest that women have to find “miracle” beauty products, and as a result some very unique and sometimes “strange,” our focus for this post, products are created.

At Maxim Hygiene we believe that beauty comes from within, and as fierce women we encourage you not to feel like you have to change how you look based on societal trends and pressure. However, we understand that sometimes you want to do something to enhance your natural beauty or just try a new product for fun.

We scoured the web to find some of these strange, but unique products that have been specifically designed for women and that might be worth checking out or even giving a try.

Bosom Couture Boob Glue

Glue for your boobs you? Sounds a little freakish, but not to worry! This “glue” is just a gentle skin adhesive that is meant to help keep your “girls” in place and fix any boob problems you might have, which can range from sagging, to bulging side boobs to the “quadraboob.”

Dawn Jackson, the creator of the product has called it “the boob job in a bottle” because of the lifting effects the product has. The product is sweat-proof, won’t stain your clothes and washes off easily with soap and water. We like that it’s a natural alternative to taking any surgical procedures.

 

Bootie pies

These shoes were created for all of you women that love to get pedicures year-round but hate the idea of smudging the paint job when you put your shoes back on in the winter. Bootie Pies are boots that are open at the toes so that you can keep your feet toasty when it is cold outside and let your toes dry on the way home. These shoes are definitely not the best fashion statement, but if you are someone who is a regular at the nail salon, even during the winter months, this product could be one to look into.

Snail Slime Face Mask:

Snail slime you ask, for your face…? Snail slime has been an ingredient that has been used by people for thousands of years, even by the Ancient Greeks who used it for medicinal purposes. In more recent years the goo has been reintroduced into beauty products and women from all over the world have started to give it a try. Urban Outfitters has even jumped on the bandwagon and has started to sell face masks made of snail slime that retail for $15. If you are interested in trying out a snail slime face mask, cream or serum, check out this article by the popular beauty blog Intothegloss for some good reviews and suggestions.

Wine rack bra:

This sports “bra” is meant to enhance your bust and let you tote alcohol with you to any event you might have. You are meant to fill the bra with the alcohol of your choice (a bottle of wine, a mixed drink…) and then drink out of the bra with a built-in straw.

We can see the possible appeal of the product as it can give you the appearance of having a much larger bust, and lets you take alcohol with you anywhere in a simple way; However, imagine how silly you would look drinking out of your bra and having your cup size slowly decrease throughout the night… Personally this product is a dud for us, but just too funny to pass up on.

What do you think go these products? Are you offended by any of them? Do you find any of them controversial? Would you be interested in trying any of them out? We wonder, what did women think when tampons were first introduced to the market?

Photo courtesy of stormgrounds.com

Today’s society is very contradictory when it comes to women and their health. On one hand, you are constantly told to go to the doctor, get your breasts checked, and take your vitamins. On the other hand, you are expected to be able to juggle work, family and friends all at the same time, virtually leaving you with only a few hours of sleep and perhaps one or two hours to yourself in the day, if you’re lucky.

Due to this constant imbalance, it is only normal that you lose touch with your inner goddess and understanding of your connection to Mother Nature. In the past women were in sync with nature, and especially with their periods. When women menstruated in the past it was known as “Moon Time” which was a very fitting name, seeing as moon cycles last 29.5 days, and women’s menstrual cycles generally last around 28 to 29.5 days.

Before the industrial revolution women often ovulated around the full moon, and menstruated around the new moon. Most women in today’s society unfortunately do not follow this same cycle naturally, and often ovulate during the new moon and even menstruate during the full moon, throwing the body out of balance. For a better understanding of the cycles of the moon, see the picture below.

Photo courtesy of flickr.com

This connection between the moon and the menstrual cycle is not as widely discussed as it could be, because people often see it as taboo or silly. We have been wired as a society to believe that we should control our bodies with man-made medicines like the pill. At Maxim Hygiene we believe that women should not only use natural feminine products, but natural methods to get in sync with their bodies, so syncing your period up with the moon is a great way to start.

The first step to getting your period back on track with the cycle of the moon is to figure out when you ovulate. These easy to use period tracking apps can help you with this. The second step is paying close attention to your lifestyle habits, like what time you generally go to bed and wake up, what you eat, and even how much light filters into your bedroom. Ideally you want as little artificial light in your room as possible (computer screens, cell phones and alarm clocks are all culprits of this artificial light!), so try to shut down your devices or cover them up with something while you sleep.

As for your diet, there are different kinds of foods that are recommended to be eaten at different stages of your menstrual cycle. Check out this article for advice on what those foods are and if you want your menstrual cycle to be synced up with the moon.

Syncing your menstrual cycle to the cycles of the moon will not be easy, but after a few months you should start to feel more in tune with nature as well as alleviate any uncomfortable symptoms you may currently experience during your period. This in turn, will help you stay on your “A-game” and help you keep being the fierce woman you are!

Halloween is a very fun and festive time for children and adults alike, with pumpkin picking, costumes, and candy. We here at Maxim Hygiene know that dressing up is one of the most enjoyable and important parts of the holiday. We’ve compiled five Halloween makeup ideas to give you some inspiration and bring out the fierce woman in you!

Some of the makeup that is used in the tutorials below can be quite expensive, so feel free to experiment and substitute with cheaper alternatives that you can find in most drugstores and craft stores. Also keep in mind that if you ever decide to use face paint to recreate one of these looks you should look into using natural face paint, as it is better for your skin and for the environment!

#1: Cat Makeup

Photo courtesy of naturallybellexo Instagram

Photo courtesy of naturallybellexo Instagram

Meow! Who doesn’t love to dress up as a cat on Halloween? Take your look to the next level by following this cat makeup tutorial from naturallybellexo. Her eyes are absolutely stunning with the gold glitter, and she has added some colored contact lenses to give her an additional feline touch.

#2 American Horror Story – Moira O’Hara

Photo courtesy of melaniiemurphy Instagram

Photo courtesy of melaniiemurphy Instagram

This show has had great success ever since it first came out, and everyone seems to be talking about it. One blogger, Melanie Murphy has created a tutorial to help you transform into one of the main characters, Moira O’Hara for Halloween. She has recreated both the young and old versions of Moira, so it’s up to you to decide which version you prefer and like the best! 

#3 Zombie Bride Makeup 

Photo courtesy of marieclaire.com

Photo courtesy of marieclaire.com

For you girls that prefer to stay true to more traditional Halloween costumes, this Zombie Bride makeup tutorial from Marie Claire is perfect for you. The makeup artists that put this look together have struck the perfect balance between scary and sultry.

#4 Spiderweb Makeup

Photo courtesy of popsugar.com

Don’t have a costume but still want to look festive for the holiday? Try out this Spiderweb Makeup from Popsugar Beauty. You only need to complete the look with a little black dress and some nice shoes and you’re ready to go!

#5 Jeweled Eyes

Photo courtesy of Heymishka.com

Photo courtesy of Heymishka.com

Similar to the Spiderweb makeup tutorial, this look is last minute and does not require a real costume. For those of you that don’t like to dress up on Halloween but still want glam up for the holiday, these Jeweled Eye Looks that have been complied by blogger Hey Mishka are perfect.

Let us know if you try out any of these looks, and feel free to send us some pictures or your own Halloween makeup tutorials! We would love to hear from you!

Photo courtesy of Eastwestdaily.com

Seeing as October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, we here at Maxim Hygiene felt it was a good idea to tackle one breast cancer myth that you have probably questioned and debated many times before: Is there a link between wearing deodorant and breast cancer?

This myth has been studied many times before but has not produced any conclusive evidence that there is a link between the two, and even The National Cancer Institute has deducted that at the present moment there is no connection. The main reason this myth came about is due to the aluminum-based compounds and parabens (otherwise known as preservatives) that can be found in some deodorants. Both of these elements are thought to have estrogen-like effects on the body, which may promote the growth of breast cancer cells. These ingredients are thought by some to be absorbed into the body through shaving nicks and repeated use in the same area, as aluminum-based compounds are meant to block the sweat ducts to keep you from sweating.

pit pasteA great idea to bypass all harmful ingredients is to try to go the all-natural route. Many of these natural deodorants work just as well as the other commercial deodorants you can find in your local drugstore. Primal pit paste is a new natural brand we fell in love with and came across at last month’s Natural Products Expo East show. Their product has been tested and approved by our team and it’s founder is a Fierce Woman, which we always love to see!

Although there is no current proven link between deodorant and breast cancer you should still be cautious when choosing your deodorant or any other personal care item. Check out what chemicals you should avoid to stay informed and to avoid any possible risks.

Science is constantly changing and coming out with new studies and evidence so although there is no current connection between wearing deodorant and breast cancer, you should still go and get yourself regularly tested. Also pay attention if you suddenly see any changes in your breasts, as this could be a symptom of breast cancer. And if you are really interested in keeping your goddess-self in tip-top shape, check out these applications for breast health to help you stay your healthiest.

Clare Breast Cancer“It takes a village to raise a child.” Many of us have heard this popular African proverb made infamous by Hillary Clinton’s partial use of it in her 1996 book title. All too many of us have also experienced that it takes a village to support a woman affected by breast cancer. That’s why this month, in light of October being Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we elected Clare Bongiovanni, Breast Cancer Survivor & Darien Chamber of Commerce CEO, as our Fierce Woman of the Month. Clare has found a way to weave her personal experience of surviving breast cancer with her hard earned career position to help other members of the Darien, IL community affected by this second leading cause of death amongst women.

Darrien FEst

We first heard about Clare through the great store managers at the Fruitful Yield in Darien, IL, one of our favorite health food retail chains in the Chicagoland suburbs carrying Maxim Hygiene Products. Clare had reached out to Fruitful Yield to help arrange healthy product donations from vendors like us for gift bag goodies giveaways at their most popular local town festival called the DarienFest. Naturally, we donated cases of our 3-in-1 Cosmetic Accessory Travel Packs, but more interesting for us was the story the inspired ladies at Fruitful Yield shared with us about the fierce woman behind the cause and the reason for her efforts.

ChairsClare is a seven year breast cancer survivor. Earlier this year she came up with the idea to invite local Darien artists to create and design Adirondack Chairs to auction off at DarienFest to help raise money to provide meals to women in Darien going through breast cancer treatment. The meals will be provided by local Chamber member restaurants, helping both the business and women affected by breast cancer. The success of this charity at last month’s event led to the City of Darien is celebrating “Paint the Town Pink” which is in conjunction with providing meals to the affected women. This will become an annual event and the awareness will continue to grow.

Below is a little Q&A session we had with Clare to help further inspire you to be fierce in your efforts this month for raising awareness for breast cancer awareness. Every little bit counts and we want to hear about it so make sure to comment below with what you’re doing in your local community to raise awareness. All who comment will receive a $1.00 off coupon for their next Maxim Hygiene product purchase.

At Maxim Hygiene, we define a Fierce Woman as a “glorious female creature whose idea of beauty is hinged upon the idea that she can change the world with each choice, each moment and each breath of her life.” Who in your life is a Fierce Woman and why? 

My Mother is the Fierce Woman in my life. My Mother came to the USA from Sicily at the age of 16 on a boat with only the clothes she wore on her back. She first settled in New York without knowing anyone or able to speak the language. She was Fierce and determined to make a new life in this country. Her struggles were unspeakable but she was a fighter and had dreams.  She went to school, learned the language and worked to help support her Mom and siblings.  She married at the age of 19 and continued to work hard to fulfill her dreams to someday having children and owning a home.  There was never a job she couldn’t perform, she would always figure it out and give 150% and determined to succeed, whether it was working the night shift to care for her children during the day or working the school year so she could be home with them in the summer she found a way to make it work, her children are her life and will continue to be till she takes her last breath.  Multi-tasking was part of her daily agenda and continues to be at the age of 82. My Mom…. the best role model I could have ever been blessed with.  She made me the woman I am today.

What inspired the theme of your latest “Adirondack Chairs” auction event to raise money for those affected by breast cancer?

Earlier this year I presented my idea of the Adirondack Chair auction to Darien Chamber Women in business, they loved the idea. With the help of local Chamber businesses and local artists the plan stayed on schedule and the auction was a big success.  I remember what it was like and how I felt during my breast cancer treatment, I was a single Mom with young boys and all I could think of was how I was going to cook for them when I didn’t feel well, I was fortunate to have friends to help me out at times sending meals to my family. When I hear of a woman who has been diagnosed with cancer the first thing I think of is how will she cook and feed her children while she’s going through treatment?  It saddens me to hear another woman having to go through treatment but gives me joy to be able to give back to them by providing the family a meal.

What advice do you have for other breast cancer survivors looking to initiate their own efforts and charities to raise awareness and funds for the cause?

I would recommend following your heart from your own personal experience. Each individual goes through their own personal struggle and can give back to others from their heart.

Of all the many wonderful breast cancer awareness groups out there, why is the Susan G. Komen for the Cure organization your favorite?

I never thought I would hear the words “you have breast cancer” upon being diagnosed in 2007 I started doing my own breast cancer research and came across the Susan G. Komen website, part of their mission is to save lives and end breast cancer forever, immediately I knew I needed to learn more and support the organization.

What was the best help you received from others during the time you were battling breast cancer?

The best help I received from others were all the prayers, emotional support and help with my two boys. The nurses, and complete strangers at the hospital were my daily support; each morning as I raised my left arm up the Radiologist nurses would  embraced me with their smile and strength.  My fondest memory was on my last day of treatment my co-workers had a celebration for me which was my celebration of life.

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