Tuesday, December 24, 2013

10 Ways to Use Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is one of my favorite natural products. It is multi-faceted - it can be consumed and can be used for body care and home care. I mainly use it for body care and for baking and yes, for oil pulling in the mornings.

More on oil pulling can be found on here and here. It's recommended to pull for up to 20 minutes a day. I wish I could go that long but the texture gets to me after several minutes but I shoot for 7. 

What is your favorite natural product that offers multiple uses?

In this blog post, I will list 10 of my favorite ways to use coconut oil. If you'd like to learn another several hundred ways, I recommend visiting Hybrid Rasta Mama

1). We use coconut oil for a body moisturizer. After bathing and patting dry, the coconut oil works superbly for me in the warmer months. However, I find that I have to mix the coconut oil with other quality oils like jojoba or avocado, and shea butter to combat dry, wintry skin. I've made my own body butter as seen here. Either way, I'm still using the coconut oil either direct or with another product for my skin from the tips of my toes to the top of my forehead and everywhere in between (including on my hair more in #2). Coconut oil has a natural SPF albeit low (around 5-8) it is still offering some protection. I've used coconut oil on my skin directly after getting sun burned. It helps relieve the burning as well as expediting my skin's healing process. 

2). Coconut oil is a great hair moisturizer especially if your hair is thick and wavy or curly. I started no-pooing in February (2013) and use coconut oil on my hair after it's been washed and conditioned. Learn more about my no-poo experience here. I only apply the coconut oil from the nape of my neck to my ends and reapply daily as needed. I use a nickel size amount if that. A little goes a long way and you'll know when you've used too much so, start out with a pea size and slowly work your way up. 

3). Coconut oil makes a great shaving lotion. I mix equal parts of baking soda with coconut oil and apply directly to the area I will shave. If you find that your skin is sensitive to the baking soda then add more coconut oil. There is no wrong way to mix it. Adjust where you see fit. You can also leave out the baking soda. In either case, you'll find that your razors last A LOT longer!

4). The same 'shaving lotion' can be used as a gentle skin exfoliator, too. 

5). Coconut oil can be mixed with sugar and an optional essential oil for a foot and / or hand scrub

6). Coconut oil is used to calm itchy skin. Next time you experience an itchy rash, reach for the coconut oil first then reapply daily as needed. 

7). Coconut oil is a common ingredient in DIY deodorants. The image below shows what I have used during the cooler months. I live in the desert and the temperatures can get in the triple digits during the summer, so I recently purchased a natural deodorant from Tehacha-Bee Farm that stays solid. If you'd like a DIY homemade deodorant for sensitive skin using bentonite clay, I recommend checking out OhLardy!.

1/3 cup arrowroot powder
1/4 cup baking soda
5 T coconut oil
1-2 drops of essential oil (optional)

8). Coconut oil can be used to make DIY tooth powders/pastes. I have two recipes. One is hailing from Green Dreams and can be found here. I have found another one that I am most excited about and it's found on The Coconut Mama's page here. Since I've experienced better results with the latter, I'll share the recipe so you don't have to click off the page:

My 4 year old has been asking to brush his teeth in the middle of the day with the 'new' stuff as he likes the way his teeth feel afterwards. The paste is sticky... well, it's kind of like the texture of the tooth paste that a dentist uses. Takes a few thorough rinses before it's all out. But goodness it is one that I can brag about because it tastes great during and after! Thank you Coconut Mama for a home run! 

9). Coconut oil is a make-up remover

10). Coconut oil is a lip moisturizer

What is your favorite ways to use coconut oil? Did I leave any out that you'd like to share? If so, please leave a comment below.  

Choose, eat, and live well! =)

Thursday, December 12, 2013

For Fun! - Celebrating the last days of Autumn

With this season winding down, tell me, what is the best part of Autumn?

Is it the changing of leaves, going on a nature walk looking for treasures, or jumping into a pile of raked up leaves? 

Yes! It's all three! 

For my family, it is raking the leaves into a pile and getting some 'air time.' For others it is going on an adventure looking for 'gold' --- golden mushrooms while someone else simply enjoys the beauty of rich fall colors as the leaves change. Now take all three concepts and you've got an unschooling day upon your hands. (Unschooling is another term for homeschooling but students use real life experiences as part of school curriculum.)  

Today's post includes images from a few bloggers sharing their joys of the season. Feel free to comment with images from your own adventures! 

First up - my son. The first image is from 2012 and the others are from this year. We are blessed to have two mature trees in our yard offering up the best of the best of Autumn (in our opinion!). He rocked his pajamas in the back yard last year. 

This year he helped rake up the leaves into a bigger pile! Thanks for the help! 

Little Owl Momma shares their family's adventure looking for gold - chanterelles last Autumn. It was a two-fold experience one that was gently shared about her level of patience when 1) the mushrooms were scarce and 2) when the little one is ready to go. As a mama looking for treasures, sometimes we get more excited than our children do and we want to just look for a few more minutes. We can understand this reasoning when we consider how our children want just a few more minutes at the park. (Images are shared with written permission. Visit her blog for the rest of her story.) 

For JarO'Honey, she loves the crispness of the season and taking pleasure in nature's beauty of the change of leaves. Her favorite are the Aspens. (Shared with written permission.)

The Untrained Housewife shares her family's favorite 4 activities during Autumn which could be turned into an unschooling adventure. In addition to the love of jumping in leaf piles and going on a nature walk (or hike), they also planted a fall garden both in the ground and in pumpkins! (Image shared with written permission.) 

For additional learning curriculum, the Untrained Housewife has included several preschooler activities for this season including songs, crafts, and learning the alphabet via nature. I've included my son's Autumn craft from last Thanksgiving below. 

You're invited to leave a comment with a special memory from this season. 

Contributors to this blog post:
Conveying Awareness (owner)
Little Owl Momma 
Jar O' Honey
Untrained Housewife

Choose, eat, and live well! =)

Sunday, December 8, 2013

How to make a grain-free meatloaf

Grain-free Meatloaf Dinner 

I follow some awesome food blogs. Most of the time I'm pinning and sharing their resources in the hopes of making some of them for my family. This day I pinned, shared, and cooked! 

It was my first time making a grain-free meatloaf. I don't follow any diets or styles of eating like Paleo, WAPF, and the likes, but I do enjoy experimenting in the kitchen. 

For my meatloaves, I typically use plain Panko bread crumbs and add my own spices to it. I've noticed the last few times though a slight inflammation after consuming it with grains. So, why not try something different! I must say that I didn't experience the bloating afterwards. The best though was my family's enjoyment of the dish. I was about to write - entire dish, but I recall that my son is not a fan of green beans. I know, I know, most kids like green beans and corn but my son is different - he likes squash and other veggies most kids don't take to very well. He doesn't like corn either. 

The recipe for the meatloaf is from Life Made Full. I made some modifications because that's just what I do. Below is the recipe that includes my changes and the rest of the ingredients for the two sides - roasted green beans and mashed potatoes. Click on the title below for her full recipe.

1 pound of ground beef
1/3 cup of almond flour
1 egg
1 medium onion, 1/2 diced, 1/2 chopped
1/2 tsp minced garlic + 1/2 tsp 
1 T mustard
1/4 T cayenne
1/4 T tumeric
1/2 T garlic salt
1 T organic ketchup
3 T almond - coconut milk (I used Califia Farms brand.) + 1 T (a splash)
1/4 cup EVOO + 1 T
1 tsp dried oregano
3 T butter

Brown the diced onions with garlic in 1 T EVOO in a pot (not skillet) on medium low heat. You'll be using this same pot for the rest of the meal. This takes about 10 minutes. 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a broiler pan with foil. 

In a bowl, combine all ingredients incorporating onions and garlic last. Shape loaves with your hands and bake for 40 minutes. Internal temp must reach 160. 

While the meatloaf is baking, you'll be preparing your green beans and mashed potatoes. Cut off the ends as shown above. You will add spring water to the pan that you cooked the onions and garlic in. 

When water comes to a boil, add the green beans in carefully and blanch them for 3 minutes. Drain the beans saving the water from the pot. You'll need this again for the mashed potatoes. Note: Using the same pan for an entire meal helps develop flavors so that each dish has a hint or two of the other items on the plate.

While waiting for the water to boil, make a marinade for the green beans. You'll need 1/4 cup EVOO, the chopped onions, 1/2 tsp minced garlic and 1 tsp dried oregano. 

When beans have been drained, coat them with the marinade. Roast in the oven at 350 for 20 minutes. Don't rinse the bowl. You'll use this for your potatoes. 

While the meatloaf is baking and the green beans are roasting, boil the water from the drained green beans (may need to add more spring water as necessary). Wash, peel, and cut the potatoes and boil them until the right texture - about 10 minutes. Drain the potatoes and toss them in the bowl from the marinade. (No image.) Mash potatoes with 3 T butter and a splash of the almond-coconut milk. Add S&P as necessary. 

Your dinner will be done from start to finish in about 60 minutes. If you have a double oven, it helps with completion. If not, no worries - you're baking the meatloaf and roasting the green beans at the same temperature. 

Choose, eat, and live well! =)

Be sure to follow Life Made Full on Facebook

Thursday, December 5, 2013

My Chiropractor Visit

I attended a Health & Wellness Fair in Tehachapi, CA on 10/5/13 and visited a chiropractor's booth. His sign said: Dr. Robison will give you $5 if he can't find a weak muscle in your body. I went up to the table and said, you can keep your $5 because you'll find weakness in my arms. Though I've been going to the gym regularly for 6+ weeks, my true strength is in my lower half. I am working on the top half. My assumptions were correct so I booked an appointment to see him in my city. 

On the forms, I shared that I do not take any OTC or pharma meds but that I eat Juice Plus+ and take fish oil. I also shared with him that I'm a certified health coach and that I've been leading a 6-week #ctransc (Clean Transformation Challenge. See week 1, week 2, week 3, week 4, week 5, and week 6 posts for more information).

I met with him last week and he said I was his first patient that only had one bad spot in my back and that overall my back is very strong. To my surprise! My top half is coming along!! The arms, well, they're on their way. He adjusted my traps, clavicle, pecks, and sternum. He adjusted my right ankle and the top right of my back. He performed some muscle testing in addition to the "rack 'em and crack 'em."He said that he doesn't foresee me having to come back often that "I'll maintain very well" between adjustments. 

He said that I'm in good shape and that my ligaments are healthy and it's evidence of my clean eating and fitness.

More information about what we eat and how it affects the musculoskeletal system, see the Healthy Eating article about "the health of tendons and ligaments, and getting key nutrients to help keep tissues healthy and functional."

Learn more about my Clean Transformation Challenge here to make your wellness a lifestyle choice, not a fad, diet, or trend. 

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Choose, eat, and live well! =)

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Updated: Make your own body butter with 4 ingredients.

Update: I originally shared information about Vitamin E being used as a preservative, but in fact it isn't. It is an antioxidant that extends shelf life by preventing rancidity. DIY products that don't use water do not need a preservative; however, it is necessary that with this body butter and other recipes like these that you must use clean, dry fingers to prevent mold, yeast, bacteria, fungi, etc. In my quest for cleaner, safer products, I'm still learning the ins and outs. Other ingredients that prevent rancidity are rosemary oleoresin extract and grapefruit seed extract.  

This post is inspired by Scratch Mommy. I asked her how I can make a DIY body butter using coconut oil as the main ingredient. She gave me some guidelines and this is what I came up with! It was my first time whipping coconut oil into a body butter and I have to admit, it came out well. Now, I must mention that I don't know how it will hold out in the warmer months but in the coolness of late Fall, it's perfect! 

My body butter had a very light lavender scent. I will never tire of the scent of lavender. Can you relate? 

1/2 cup coconut oil (solid)
1/2 T avocado oil 
1 tsp Vitamin E (
5 drops of lavender essential oil (EO)

In your mixer, whip the coconut oil until light and fluffy. It may take several minutes. As peaks form, drizzle in the avocado oil. Continue whipping for a minute or two then add in the vitamin E. Finally add the EO of your choice. 

+ You can use any high quality skin oil like jojoba, almond, in place of the avocado oil.
+ The Vitamin E serves as a preservative is an antioxidant which extends shelf life by preventing rancidity and it's added nourishment to your skin. Find a brand that doesn't have a corn (or GMO) derivative in the ingredients. Vitamin E alone is a sticky substance and requires a carrier oil to make it fluid.

Info on EOs
The EO pictured above is from an artisan I met at last year's Holiday Craft Bazaar in Ridgecrest, CA. Her handcrafted EO is superb! The 1 oz lavender is $20 plus shipping (pictured is the 1/3 bottle at $7). You can learn more by contacting her at email (remove spaces and parentheses): DanaClair (@) rocketmail.com. She lives in Bishop, CA. 

Another place I've purchased EOs is Organic Infusions. They are also a small business and based in California. 

In my next rendition, I am thinking of using cocoa butter and a smidgen of raw honey with the Vitamin E. Essential oil may not be needed since cocoa butter has a light chocolate scent. Though a peppermint EO may make me smell like a peppermint patty and that could be kind of refreshing in the winter months ahead. What EO would you pair with cocoa butter? 

Share your favorite DIY body butter recipe or resource in the comments. 

Choose, eat, and live well! =)

Monday, November 25, 2013

Ooh La La French Toast with Plant Protein

I created this recipe for a fan on Instagram. My #youknowyouwantsome tag line got her to say, 'Yes, I want some. How do you make it?

Here it is, Just Add Laughter, the recipe for Oh La La French Toast. Maybe after this posting, you'll be ready to add JP+ Complete to your daily regimen?!

6 eggs
1/2 cup non dairy milk (almond, coconut, almond-coconut or your choice)
2 tsp vanilla extract (like this or DIY here)
1/2 cup vanilla Complete plant protein powder (like this) (DF/GF)
1/2 tsp cinnamon (like this)
8-10 slices of bread (choose your own)

Other Ingredients:
Coconut oil (or dairy-free alternative) for skillet
1-2 bananas sliced
Maple syrup (like this)
2 tsp sliced almonds (like this)

1. Add some coconut oil (or dairy free alternative) to the skillet and heat on medium-low.
2. Whisk eggs and non dairy milk. Add vanilla extract, whisk. Add Juice Plus+ Complete, whisk. Add cinnamon and whisk until just incorporated.
3. Dip bread in both sides. Don't let the bread absorb too much liquid. Just a second or two on each side. Place in pan and cook for 2 minutes until golden brown on each side.
Tip: You may need to add more coconut oil to the skillet as you go along. 
4. Top with sliced bananas, sliced almonds, and maple syrup. 

Choose, eat, and live well! =)

I do receive a small commission from Amazon.com if you purchase anything through their site using one of the links above (read my full advertising disclosure here). 

Thank you very much for your generosity in helping to offset the costs of website upkeep, so that I can keep sharing wellness resources with my community and beyond.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Parsnip & Carrot Cake Recipe

If you're a mama that hides veggies in foods, this may be a good recipe for you! I offer fruits and vegetables to my son all the time so he kind of expects for a recipe to include them. 

The cake is very moist and I used more spices than what was called for because I like them and they remind me of Autumn. 

The recipe is from the Abundant Harvest Organics Kitchen. My modifications are in parentheses below. 

Preheat oven to 350*.

Parsnip and Carrot Cake

1 cup flour (I used organic whole wheat pastry flour.)
1/2 cup almond meal
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp cinnamon (1 tsp cinnamon + 1 tsp of nutmeg)
1/8 tsp salt 
1/2 cup sugar (I used organic cane sugar.)
1/2 cup powdered sugar (you can DIY here)
1/2 cup dark brown sugar (you can DIY here)
3 eggs
1 tbs vanilla
3/4 cup butter melted and cooled (I used 1/2 cup butter + 1/4 cup melted coconut oil)
1 3/4 cups of shredded parsnips (I used 1 cup of parsnips + 3/4 cup of shredded carrots.)

1. Grease two 9 inch round cake pans. 
2. Combine dry ingredients (from flour to the salt) in a separate bowl. 
3. Blend the sugars, eggs, and vanilla together until well combined.
4. Stir in the flour mixture. 
5. Drizzle in the melted butter (or butter and coconut oil) a little at a time. Mix at each interval.
6. Fold in the parsnips and carrots.
7. Pour the batter 3/4 full into a prepared cake pan (or muffin liners) and bake 20-25 minutes. 
8. Place on rack to cool.
9. You can make your favorite cream cheese or other frosting to top off the cake. I chose to eat them as is. They are very moist! 
The recipe yields 9 in the heart shaped pan or 15 medium sized muffins. 

These will not last long in your home, too! You can store them in an air-tight container away from direct sunlight. 

Choose, eat, and live well! =)

Friday, November 8, 2013

Persimmons Chips Anyone?

Out of the MANY recipes for DIY dried snacks, this is the first one I read and said, "I can do that!" and guess what? I DID! 

Holistic Squid made it remarkably easy. She takes full credit for the recipe because I didn't put my personal spin on it but I had to share this as a post because --- I have yet to make my own dried fruit until today. I'm not a fan of fresh Fuyu persimmons but I've had them sun dried before from Buena Loma Gardens. I received nearly 2 dozen persimmons in my CSA box and I was bummed that they weren't the baking kind. So, using my mandolin, I sliced the persimmons at two different thicknesses. One was extremely thin which made my dried persimmons come out super crunchy and the other was the next thickness up and they came out chewy. Both, might I add, were tasty! I really liked her addition of the lemon juice. It brought out the sweet notes of the persimmons that I don't taste when I eat them raw. 

Please visit her blog for the original recipe (linked above), but do get inspired from my images. I dried 6 persimmons. I will be making another batch soon. Will you make some too?

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

#FoodDay - Demo on Antioxidants for #Kindergartners

#FoodDay Fruit & Vegetable Demo
 at Heritage Montessori

This year marked the third annual nationwide Food Day event that aims to bring awareness about healthy, affordable, and sustainable food. This year, I did a food demo in my son’s Kindergarten class at his Montessori school. Below is the outline from which I taught a lesson to twenty-three 3-6 year old children. I know they grasped it and they learned a new word – antioxidants! Fruits and vegetables along with nuts and whole grains are wonderful sources of antioxidants. For the demo, I focused on fruits and vegetables only.

I.                    Fruits and Vegetables

Q. What are fruits and vegetables good for? Where do fruits and vegetables grow?

A. Fruits and vegetables are filled with nutrients and antioxidants.
The children said: Fruits and vegetables are good for our body, our brain, our lungs, our heart, our muscles, and skin. They grow on plants, in the ground, in a garden, and on trees. 

Further: Fruits and vegetables are good for our body! They help us run, play, focus, learn and stay healthy.

By a show of hands, who loves: 1) asparagus (only a few hands went up), 2) broccoli (everyone raised their hand), 3) tomatoes, 3) celery, 4) eggplant (only 2 hands went up), 5) grapes (everyone raised their hand), 6) strawberries, 7) pears, and 8) apples (everyone raised their hand)? 

Though some vegetables weren't a favorite among many, every single fruit or vegetable had at least 2 hands up but some had everyone raising their hand. Fruit is a popular food among kids. I hope to change their minds over time about vegetables. Perhaps I can blend green smoothies for them for National Nutrition Awareness month in March introducing them to leafy greens! 

II.                  Traffic Light Eating Demo

The activity: We’ll stay on the line but this activity will require a little energy. I asked the children to tell me the 3 colors on a traffic light and what each color represents then I went into the lesson. See below the image.

Green light foods are go, grow foods and they’re all fruits and vegetables as close to nature as possible. When I hold up a green light food, run in place. Green light foods keep us energetic and are an excellent choice for after play time when we are hungry. I encouraged them to ask their parents for fruit or vegetables for a body friendly food item. Fruits and vegetables make our bodies happy, strong, and helps us learn! 

Yellow light foods are slow down foods. Examples: whole grains, nuts, pasta, fish, lean meat like chicken, turkey and lean cuts of beef, and dairy like milk, yogurt, and cheese. When I hold up a yellow light food, walk in place. They are healthy foods but we have to eat our portion size. We can have seconds if our parents or teachers say it is okay. 

Red light foods are stop and think foods. They are special occasion foods. Name me a special occasion. Do these happen every day? Examples include birthday cake with icing, candy, French fries and doughnuts. When I hold up a red light food, stand still. Red light foods when over consumed lead to belly aches, unnecessary sleepiness, and contributes to decreased immune systems. 

I shared 3 bins that were designated green, yellow, and red and 14 plastic foods were categorized.  

How did the children do?

The children did excellent when it came to identifying the fruits and vegetables as green light foods. The tricky part was identifying what is considered truly healthy and not just a kid favorite (i.e. pizza) but to keep it simple, I said vegetable pizza is better than the other types. I also said that french fries made at home by mom or dad is healthy compared to french fries at a fast food place like McDonald's, which would be a red light food plus I wanted to instill in them that french fries are not a reliable source for vegetable consumption. The children really enjoyed the activity where they ran in place, walked and stood still. They sat down after the 14 items and stated they were tired. This led right into free radical damage that is caused by exercise (see the other causes in section III). 

III.                Free Radicals and Antioxidants

Now that we’ve exercised, we’ve built up some free radicals in our bodies.

Q. What are free radicals?

A. In its most basic sense, when oxygen (what we breathe in) interacts (touches) cells (found in living things), it creates oxidation which is a natural job in a body. Free radicals are molecules that float around on the surface of a living thing’s cells looking for another molecule to hang out with. If the free radical meets another molecule, the body continues to work as it should but if it never meets a molecule to connect with, they’ll float around and eventually create sickness. Free radicals are created by oxygen, exercise, and pollution. There are more causes like cigarette smoke and sunlight, but I wanted to keep it brief.

I used blocks and craft balls to demonstrate our body and free radicals floating around. When the blocks are together, our bodies are stronger and the free radicals can't get through. When the blocks are open because we're not eating enough green light foods, the free radicals can get through and float around our bodies. (I had to keep it simple plus biology is not my strong suit.)

They liked it when I showed them that free radicals (the craft balls) look for a friend (another free radical) and this is a natural function in the body. I asked them, "When we are sick, do we feel like helping our friends?" They said, "No." When free radicals float around without a friend, they cause sickness. When they pair up, they're helping each other, they're friends. I reminded them that free radicals are caused by play time, exercise, sunlight, oxygen, and eating. Free radicals need antioxidants to keep them functioning normally. Antioxidants are found in fruits and vegetables. When we eat just an apple, we are choosing a healthy option. But when we pair that apple with another fruit or a vegetable later, we are building up the antioxidants in the body. Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables daily keeps our bodies stronger and healthier and reduces free radicals from floating around without a friend. 

Further: These un-paired free radicals can make us sick if we leave them in our bodies. What can we eat to get them out? Any guesses based on what we’ve covered today?

The children said: Green light foods and some even shared different food choices like watermelon, broccoli, carrots, potatoes, and strawberries. 

We can eat fruits and vegetables daily! And we’ll stay healthier, be able to think clearly, learn, play, focus, and have fun!

Fruits and vegetables are excellent sources of antioxidants. And antioxidants help our bodies stay healthy. We should aim to eat a variety every day! They’re ‘team players’ and 'friends' in our bodies.

IV.                Apple Demo

This was an apple cut in half (it had been exposed to the elements for 24 hours). One slice has lime juice on it and the other does not. Apples are a green light food, are natural and good for us. The lime juice represents an added layer of antioxidants, also a green light food.
Note: The image represented here shows an apple and a potato. The apple and potato on the left has no lime juice. This is the oxidation after 24 hours. Oxidation creates free radicals. 

Q1. When the oxygen hits the apple without the lime juice, what happened to it? 

The children said: The apple turned brown and looks yucky. I shared with them that when we don't eat a variety of fruits and vegetables daily, the insides of us can get yucky (sickness), too. 

Q2. What is happening to the apple with the extra antioxidants (the lime juice)?

The children said: It's brighter and fresher looking. 

This is why we should eat a variety of fruits and vegetables daily. We’re running, playing, learning, and our bodies require nutrients and antioxidants from fruits and vegetables to help keep our bodies strong and healthy!

V.                  Snack time!

The children enjoyed apples with lime juice.

(This lesson whole or in part may not be used without written permission from the author, Jessica David of Conveying Awareness.) 

Choose, eat, and live well! =)

Friday, November 1, 2013

DIY Organic Vegetable Stock

Organic DIY Veggie Stock

This recipe has been moved to my health coaching website. You can find the recipe and money savings tips here

Choose, eat, and live well!