The Lazy Vegetarian

Hi, I'm Courtney :)

As the web editor here at Swanson Health Products, I'm learning about a lot of products that I never would have known about otherwise, and I'm enjoying seeing the vast array of alternative health and natural beauty items that are out there in the marketplace.

Of particular interest to me are compassionate products: those made completely without animal ingredients or animal testing. I'm also expanding the scope of my vegetarian menu choices: we’ve got a lot of food items that I wasn’t familiar with before. Now I’m learning what their benefits are and what I can make with them … or rather, what I can have someone make for me, since I hate to cook. (I'm getting better about that, though!)

Outside of work, I enjoy spending time with my husband (and aforementioned personal chef), gardening, biking, and watching generous amounts of sports.
 

5-Day Detox Plan for Internal "Spring Cleaning"

Monday, June 2, 2014 by Courtney K

5-Day Detox

Since we can finally open the windows and get outside without being totally miserable, spring is the time for cleaning. And in this case, cleansing. The jury is out on whether or not a detox or cleanse is necessary, beneficial, dangerous, etc., but I’ve often been curious about them nonetheless. And while I eat fairly healthy, I’m not without my bad habits, so I figured why not give my liver and digestive system a break for a week.

There’s tons of ‘advice’ for cleanses all over the internet. I settled on a 5-day detox plan that starts out with a 3-day cleanse similar to the one promoted by Dr. Oz, then finishes with eating "raw and clean" meals for the final two days of the detox program.

You’ll notice a couple common themes to the recommended foods: boosting glutathione and flushing toxins. Glutathione contains sulfur compounds which act as a sponge, absorbing free radicals, toxins and other junk. Boost the glutathione levels in your diet to absorb more toxins, and support kidney, liver and gut health to aid elimination of those toxins. To do its cleansing job, glutathione needs antioxidants, enzymes and proteins1. You’ll see those in many of the supporting ingredients here.

 

5 Day Detox Plan for Internal Spring Cleaning!

 

Starting the 5-Day Detox Plan

It’s often recommended to ease into a cleanse, so for a few days leading up to it, I started adding detoxifying teas to my day; I cut out processed foods, sugar, and caffeine and had a chia kombucha drink in the morning. I’d never had kombucha before, and fermented foods scare me. Kombucha is another one of those things with conflicting reports on its usefulness and/or harm, but since I wasn’t going to drink gallons of it in hopes of a miracle cure, why not try it?

The tea drink (fermented with yeast and bacteria) is valued for its beneficial probiotics, amino acids and other helpful enzymes. I tried a grape flavored one from the grocery store. It was tasty, didn’t kill me, and I didn’t miss my morning coffee.

 

Pre-Cleanse: Kombucha, Dandelion Tea & Turmeric Tea

chia kombucha and Swanson Organic tea

Kombucha – Refreshing and hydrating, it provides detoxifying enzymes and bacterial acids (specifically, glucaric acid2), and probiotics for healthy digestion.

Dandelion – One of the best greens for flushing toxins and supporting liver health. I made the dandelion tea as a strong sun tea so I could have it as an iced tea later.

Turmeric – Encourages essential detoxification enzymes (specifically, UDP glucuronyl transferase and glutathione-S-transferase3); free radical scavenger. The turmeric tea is startlingly yellow (because turmeric), and has a very mild flavor.

After easing in for a few days with the above teas, the first three days of the actual 5-Day Detox consisted of a Blueberry Detox Smoothie for breakfast, a Carrot-Ginger Drink for lunch, and a Green Detox Smoothie for dinner (minus the sweetener, plus coconut water). I did change things up a bit starting on day 3 (there's only so much kale a girl can drink!). More on that later. First, let's cover this delicious Blueberry Detox Smoothie...

 

Breakfast: Blueberry Detox Smoothie

Blueberry Detox Breakfast Smoothie Ingredients

Spinach – Features an impressive 166 milligrams of glutathione per serving when eaten raw4, along with other important nutrients.

Blueberries – Packed with fiber, vitamin C, and anthocyanins that fight free radicals and boost glutathione; they also support urinary tract health.

Coconut Water – For hydration and essential nutrients; also supports healthy elimination.

 

Lunch: Citrusy Carrot-Ginger Drink

carrot ginger drink

Ginger – Stimulates digestion, circulation and sweating (another way your body releases toxins); soothes the GI system.

Grapefruit – Kick-starts detox with fiber, hydration, glutathione and pectin; helps the liver burn fat.

Carrots – Deliver glutathione for liver support, potassium, and vitamins A, B6, C and K.

 

Supper: Ultimate Green Detox Smoothie

green smoothie

Kale – Provides isothiocyanates, flavonoids, vitamins K, A, and C, minerals and fiber; helps to flush the kidneys; leafy greens also boost levels of cleansing chlorophyll.

Spinach – As noted earlier, spinach delivers 166 milligrams of glutathione per serving when eaten raw (like in this detox smoothie!)

Celery – Delivers both fiber and water, helping move food through the digestive system.

Green Apple and Unripe Banana – Provide fiber (pectin), water and electrolytes to improve elimination, and support healthy kidneys, but with a lower sugar content than other apples and ripe bananas. Unripe bananas also offer short chain fatty acids which nourish the intestines so the body absorbs nutrients more efficiently.5

 

Raw Flax Snack

Detox Detour... 

This was supposed to last three days. The drinks were palatable, and while I wasn’t “hungry” I did crave everything. Texture is such an important facet of a good meal and it’s tough to go without any texture whatsoever. I did cave eventually. I had some Go Raw Spicy Flax Snax. The salty crunchiness was just what I’d been missing.

After two days of drinking carrots and kale, I changed up the smoothie recipes and added raw foods. I’d never looked forward to a salad so much in my life. I added Vegan Protein with Probiotics to my smoothies—18 grams of protein per serving plus probiotics for healthy digestion!—with avocado, banana and grapefruit. It wasn’t pretty, but it was delicious.

 

 

Detox Part Two: Days 4 and 5 (Raw Foods)

kale salad

Kale Salad is full of detoxing powerhouses: kale, radishes, red bell pepper and more.

Radishes – Deliver vitamin C, anthocyanins, and the sulfur-based compounds common to cruciferous veggies that are so helpful in moving bile and cleansing blood.

Red Bell Pepper – Provides vitamin C, phytonutrients, and sulfur compounds.

Cucumber – Alkalizing; provides lignans, free radical scavengers and water.

Avocados – Fiber, antioxidants, more glutathione and good fats. Plus they’re just plain delicious.

 

Raw Food Favorite: Raw Veggie Sushi
This Raw Veggie Sushi recipe features shredded carrots, asparagus, avocado, cucumber, crisp lettuce, shaved cauliflower "rice" and sprouts wrapped in raw nori. To put it simply, it is yummy, fresh and satisfying!

raw veggie sushi

Asparagus – Has diuretic qualities to support liver health by helping to flush out toxins.

Nori – Seaweed offers protein, lignans and antioxidants, but watch out for added salt in nori sheets. (I used raw, organic nori sheets from Navitas Naturals; sadly, they’ve discontinued that product.)

  

Lemon Water: An Everyday Cleansing Drink

Lemons – Excellent source of vitamin C, which neutralizes free radicals; stimulates the liver (to support breakdown of toxins) and the bowels (for healthy elimination).

Water – It’s water. It’s important for pretty much everything. The Institute of Medicine has said that men should drink roughly 3 liters (about 13 cups) of total beverages a day and women 2.2 liters (about 9 cups) of total beverages a day6. “Total beverages” should be health-promoting, though—those containing caffeine and alcohol actually contribute to dehydration.

 

Snacking While Detoxing!

During my 5-Day Detox, I did keep the Flax Snax and some Organic Cranberry Trail Mix (addicted to this stuff) around for snacks. But I also made these little fruit and nut bites with Organic Dried Mango, Raw Pecans, and Artisana Raw Coconut Butter. If you’ve never had coconut butter before, try it! So decadent.

3-ingredient snack bites

 

 Wrapping It Up and Ending the Detox

A detox bath is also recommended. Add half a cup of baking soda, half a cup of Epsom salts, and ten drops of lavender essential oil to warm bath water and soak for at least 20 minutes. This was one of my favorite parts of this experiment. It was so incredibly relaxing.

There are lots of horror stories about unpleasant side effects of a cleanse (headaches, body odor, having to run to the bathroom every half hour…). I didn’t have any of these issues. Maybe my body wasn’t harboring that many toxins to begin with? Cutting out irritants like processed foods, dairy, refined sugar, alcohol, caffeine and gluten in favor of detoxifying liquids and raw, whole foods wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be, but I couldn’t maintain a liquids-only diet for very long.

 

5-Day Detox Plan Review

It wasn’t a miracle weight loss (or miracle anything else) experience, but it definitely left me feeling lighter, healthier and more relaxed than I had in a while. Plus, now when I eat not-so-good-for-me food, I can feel the difference—I eat, but I don’t feel nourished. I'm now motivated to eat clean more often.

There are some elements I’ll keep. I’ve discovered I really enjoy smoothies and salads; it's an easy way to commit to eating more vegan meals. Plus I’ve cut my caffeine intake down from coffee and soda every day to just a cup of green tea. I’ll likely do a cleanse again in the future (it sounds like the perfect antidote to the holiday season).

 

Have you done a detoxing cleanse before? What was your experience? Any recipes to share?

Water Warning: What's In Your Glass and How Can You Make Sure It's Safe?

Thursday, March 27, 2014 by Courtney K

What's in your water?

Everyone’s heard warnings about poor quality drinking water in other countries, Montezuma’s Revenge and all that. When I was studying abroad we were warned about using the St. Petersburg, Russia, city water. If you don’t have boiled or bottled water to brush your teeth, they told us, use vodka. (Recent reports out of the Olympics in Sochi hint that that might still be the case.) The recent disaster in West Virginia that left local residents without safe water for over a week (and continues to be questionable) has brought the water quality and safety discussion to the forefront again.

 

How Is Drinking Water Regulated?

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) works in collaboration with a variety of regional groups to monitor drinking water and ensure safety standards are met. The theme I ran across while researching this post was, unfortunately, we don’t really know what’s actually safe when it comes to all the various elements in our water, and the cost of figuring it all out is, predictably, prohibitive.

 

What’s in That Glass of Water?

water

Here in Fargo, the EPA’s Safe Drinking Water Information System reports no health violations and no monitoring or reporting violations. The Environmental Working Group—an environmental research and advocacy non-profit—has a National Drinking Water Database where you can find details on your local water supply provided by regional Health Departments. Their reports put Fargo on par with national averages:

  • Four contaminants that exceed federal and state health guidelines (national average: 4)
  • Zero chemicals above the legal limit (national average: 0.5)
  • Eight pollutants detected in the past 10 years (national average: 8)
  • 424 reported water quality tests (national average: 420)

What are Trihalomethanes

The four contaminants found were haloacetic acids, bromates, trihalomethanes, and lead. Three of these four—haloacetic acids, bromates and trihalomethanes—are actually byproducts of water treatment processes. They occur when certain natural materials in water react with particular disinfectants (in this case, chlorine, chloramines, and ozone) used by water treatment facilities. As happens all too often, our solution to one problem opens the door to host of new issues.

Trihalomethanes have been linked to liver, kidney, and nervous system problems. Animal studies suggest all of these contaminants may be carcinogenic, but the results of human studies vary and have yet to provide definitive evidence.

More, however, is known about lead. Long term exposure to lead can negatively impact a child’s neurological health and overall development. The National Institutes of Health state that “Other body systems may be harmed to various degrees, such as the kidneys and blood vessels. People who survive toxic lead levels may have some permanent brain damage. Children are more vulnerable to serious long-term problems.”

Tap Water Grades

The most common source of lead in drinking water is from corrosion of the pipes in household plumbing. Other sources include industrial pollution and natural erosion. According to a report from National Geographic, “In the American Society of Civil Engineers 2013 Report Card for America's Infrastructure, the nation's drinking water infrastructure was given a D grade for aging pipes, some of which date back to the Civil War.” The cost to get that infrastructure up to date nationwide is estimated to be in the trillions of dollars.

Also detected in the Fargo water system were a handful of agricultural and industrial pollutants, such as nitrates/nitrites, copper and barium. None of these were in exceedance of established health or legal limits. The degree of comfort you take from that statement, of course, is up to you.

Learn about your local water supply from the Environmental Working Group and the EPA’s Envirofacts database.

 

So How Can You Make Sure the Water You Drink Is Safe?

You could go buy bottled water, but that comes with its own complications: While it is regulated by the FDA and subject to the same safety standards as public water supplies, it is not required to meet the same EPA testing and reporting standards. Bottled water is also a major source of plastic waste, a significant environmental concern.

Another option is a water filter system for your home, either whole-house systems or point-of-use (i.e., at the tap) devices. These work on a handful of different principles, including filtration, distillation, reverse osmosis and ion exchange. A glass or stainless steel water bottle will help you to avoid reintroducing chemicals back into your water.

Whatever you do, the best place to start is knowing the quality of your tap water so you know what type of filter system you may need. Do you use a filter at home? Let us know in the comments section below.

 

Sources:

Lead poisoning. MedlinePlus. Retrieved 17 Feb 2014 from http://www.nlm.nih.gov

National Drinking Water Database. Environmental Working Group. Retrieved 17 Feb 2014 from http://www.ewg.org

Water: Basic Information about Regulated Drinking Water Contaminants. US Environmental Protection Agency. Retrieved 17 Feb 2014 from http://water.epa.gov

Water in America: Is It Safe to Drink? National Geographic Daily News. Retrieved 17 Feb 2014 from http://news.nationalgeographic.com

West Virginia Spill Reveals Threats to Drinking Water. National Geographic Daily News. Retrieved 17 Feb 2014 from http://news.nationalgeographic.com

Water on Tap: What You Need to Know. US Environmental Protection Agency. Retrieved 18 Feb 2014 from http://water.epa.gov

A Vegetarian Thanksgiving: 3 of My Favorite Recipes

Thursday, November 21, 2013 by Courtney K

I love the holidays – the family gatherings, the decorating, the food, the shopping. All of it. I also love my mother. But she, bless her heart, has not figured out how to cook for a vegetarian. While everyone else dives into the turkey or ham, I’ll be staring at a plate of mushroom-stuffed ravioli from the freezer section at the grocery store.

In all fairness, I inherited my lack of love for cooking from my mom. This is where my husband comes in. He and I bring a dish or two that are both vegetarian-friendly and accessible to my family’s non-adventurous Midwestern palate. If you’ve ever found yourself wondering “What am I going to eat?” or “What do I make for so-and-so?” here are a few of my favorites that everybody can enjoy:

 

Really Easy Roasted Broccoli

My veggie du jour is roasted Brussels sprouts. Growing up, we NEVER had Brussels sprouts. I had absolutely zero exposure to them. I have since learned how amazing they are and as much as I would love to share that with my family, it’s not going to happen. Someday, though. Someday. In the meantime: broccoli. This recipe is based on one called The Best Broccoli of Your Life, and that’s not an exaggeration.

 

Ingredients (serves 4-6)

• 2 large bunches of broccoli, cut into florets (Important: IF you wash the broccoli, make sure it is THOROUGHLY dry before cooking)

• 3 Tbsp olive oil

• 1½ tsp reduced sodium salt

• ½ tsp fresh black pepper

• 6 cloves garlic, sliced

Preheat oven to 425° F. Toss broccoli, oil, salt, pepper and garlic on a cookie sheet and roast about 20 minutes, checking periodically. The original recipe says 20-25 min, but I’ve never cooked it the full 25. You want to brown the edges and end up with crispy broccoli, but you don’t want to burn anything.

At this point, I stop.

The original recipe adds more oil, some parmesan cheese, pine nuts, fresh squeezed lemon and fresh basil, but half the time I’m nibbling off the tray already. I’m in too much of a hurry to shove this in my mouth to bother dressing it up any more. 

 

Caramelized Yam, Shallot & Coconut Soup

We discovered this recipe a couple years ago and it is to.die.for. Warm and rich and creamy and spicy, it is everything a Thanksgiving meal needs. This is not a quick process—give yourself at least 2 hours—but SO worth the time. The blog author goes into a discussion of the differences between “yam” and “sweet potato” in British and American English that’s probably only interesting to a word nerd like myself. What we get up here are generally Garnet yams. Their exterior is more potato-like than the woody-looking yams I've seen elsewhere. Either way, the soup turns out amazing.

 

 

Ingredients (serves 4-6):

• Two large yams

• 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced

• 1 teaspoon garam masala

• 1 teaspoon powdered cayenne (you can double or triple this if you want your soup spicy)

• Mild cooking oil (we used safflower oil)

• About a pound of shallots, thinly sliced (set aside one or two, depending on their size, for the garnish)

• 1 teaspoon reduced sodium salt

• 1 teaspoon sugar

• Quart of vegetable (or chicken) stock – watch the directions carefully: you won’t use this all at once (Swanson carries several bouillon options if you want to go that route)

• Pint of coconut milk

• Juice of ½ lemon (or 1 Tbsp lemon juice)

Roast the yams (in the skins) at 375° F for 60-90 minutes until completely soft.

While those are cooking, sauté garam masala, cayenne and ginger in 1 Tbsp oil until aromatic. Careful! Don’t burn the spices. Next, add the sliced shallots, salt and sugar. Stir to combine and reduce heat. Cook for 20-30 minutes until shallots are soft and golden-brown.

Something I’m learning as we get more adventurous in our cooking is what an awesome resource the local Asian market is. We have several here in town but our favorite one sells a humongous bag of shallots for the same price the grocery store charges for two or three individual ones. You can bet we’re using them liberally now.

Once the yams are done and they’re cool enough to touch (or you’re brazen enough to do it earlier), peel and add yams and about a pint of stock to the cooked shallots. Stir (or mash) to combine and simmer for another 20 minutes.

Transfer to a blender (remember to vent the lid for hot liquids!) and puree until creamy. Return to heat and add coconut milk and lemon juice. At this point, add more sugar/salt/spices to taste and more stock to adjust the texture if you want; otherwise, fry the remaining thinly sliced shallots in a little oil for a garnish and enjoy!

 

Eggplant Parmesan

Finally, my husband makes a mean Eggplant Parm. This fall we were the overwhelmed recipients of an absurd amount of tomatoes from a friend's garden. As a result, we have a ton of homemade marinara sauce. The sauce you choose will be a significant variable when it comes to the nutritional stats for this recipe -- just something to keep in mind.
 

 

Ingredients (serves 6-8):

  • 1 package dried porcini mushrooms
  • 4 cups marinara sauce
  • 1 large eggplant, cut into 1/2 inch rounds
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons salt -- I know that sounds like a scary amount, but it pretty much all gets washed off. Stay tuned.
  • 8 ounces ricotta cheese
  • 6 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil

Reconstitute the mushrooms according to the package directions. When they're ready, drain off any excess liquid, chop the mushrooms and stir them into the marinara sauce.

Sprinkle both sides of the eggplant slices with salt. This is to draw moisture out of the eggplant to help it stay firm when cooking. Place slices on cooling racks or in a colander with a tray or towel underneath to catch the liquid that drains off. Allow to sit for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Combine the ricotta, mozzarella and 1/4 cup of the parmesan cheese. Add in egg and basil.

Rinse the eggplant in cold water until all salt is removed. In a large skillet, heat 4 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Brown both sides of each slice of eggplant, using additional oil if necessary.

In a 9x13 inch baking dish, evenly spread 1 1/2 cups of marinara sauce. Arrange a single layer of eggplant slices on top of the sauce. Top the eggplant with 1/2 of the cheese mixture. Repeat for another layer: marinara, eggplant, cheese. Pour the remaining sauce over the top and sprinkle with remaining parmesan cheese.

Bake 30 to 45 minutes until sauce is bubbly.

 

 

How do you introduce new foods to reluctant friends and family? I'd also love to hear your go-to holiday recipes!

 

Nutritional Info:

Broccoli: 4 servings = 252 cal (110 from fat), 12.2 g fat (zero trans fat), 0 chol, 357 mg sodium, 32 g carbs (11.9 g fiber, 7.8 g sugar), 13 g protein PLUS it's a great source of vitamins A and C, calcium and iron!

Yam soup: 6 servings = 290 cal (170 from fat), 18.9 g fat (zero trans fat), 0 chol, 407 mg sodium, 30.1 g carbs (3.6 g fiber, 3.5 g sugar). 4.3 g protein. Yams are a great source of vitamin C and potassium.

Eggplant parm: 8 servings = 383 cal (217 from fat), 24 g fat (zero trans fat), 53 mg chol, 799 mg sodium, 25.1 g carbs (6.1 g fiber, 12.6 g sugar), 17.7 g protein PLUS 39% of your daily calcium needs!

How To: Make Your Own Toothpaste, Body Butter & Lotion Bars with Organic Coconut Oil!

Monday, August 5, 2013 by Courtney K

We redid our floors to match our cat.Have you seen our blog post on 50 Ways To Use Coconut Oil? I haven't tried all of them, but I do love cooking with it and using it in smoothies. It does work as a shaving cream, but leaves a bit of a mess behind when you're done. The post lists both sunscreen and tanning oil as uses and both seemed to work: after 5 1/2 hours biking in the July sun, my legs weren't burnt, so that's cool.

The hair tips are all good, but it takes some trial and error to find the right amounts to use. I tried oil pulling (a lazy version—not the recommended 15-20 minutes) and noticed that a cut I had from chomping down on my lip went away quickly. A clutz like me shouldn't try to walk and eat, but it was the Street Fair! It's what you do.

One of my cats insists on hanging out with me while I get ready in the morning, so I've started giving him a little bit of coconut oil. He loves it and now recognizes the sound of the jar being opened. And whines if I don't give him any. He's a (demanding) long-haired cat so let's hope it works for hairballs.

While we were putting the 50  Ways post together, I came across a few DIY 'recipes' for other coconut oil things that I thought I'd try. With the exception of beeswax (and I don't know why we don't carry that), all of the ingredients used are available at SwansonVitamins.com. Here's what I made:

 

Coconut Oil Lotion Bars

Coworker and Swanson Social Guru Ben said his wife had made these Coconut Oil Lotion Bars as gifts. Super simple: melt equal parts beeswax and coconut oil. Add your choice of essential oils. Pour into tins, molds, or muffin cups and cool. Voila! I'm pretty optimistic about these. I was worried about greasiness, but that does go away after a while. Just be careful not to get it on your clothes.

 

Coconut Oil Lotion Bars

 

I made Eucalyptus & Lavender, Sandalwood Vanilla, Sage & Cedar, and Neroli Orange versions. Looking for more essential oil aromatheraphy inspiration? Check out our Beginner's Guide to Aromatherapy! Candelilla wax is a vegan alternative to beeswax; just only use half the amount as it has stronger thickening properties.

 

Coconut Oil Toothpaste

I found a couple different recipes for homemade toothpaste and sort of cobbled them together (specifically this one and this one). Mash these together:

  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 2 tablespoons baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon coral calcium
  • 1 teaspoon of xylitol
  • 20-25 drops of spearmint oil

It seemed a bit dry at this point, so I added some more coconut oil for a softer, smoother consistency. Sweetness and degree of minty-ness are up to you, as well.

 

 

I am not accustomed to baking soda toothpastes, so this was a little startling. Plus it leaves an oily residue in the sink. It definitely makes my teeth feel clean, but I'm not sure I'm ready to give up my Auromere toothpaste. However, if baking soda toothpaste is your thing, the health properties of coconut oil make it an excellent base.

 

Coconut Oil Body Butter

Kitchenaid + Coconut

 

I thought this plan for Whipped Coconut Oil Moisturizer sounded promising. And easy, too: throw the coconut oil in the Kitchenaid and let the mixer do the work! Unfortunately, this was a complete Fail. It was supposed to get all soft and fluffy. I let the mixer run while I made all the other things and all it ever did was soften/liquefy.

Not enough cococut oil in the bowl? Too warm? Who knows. But after I was done with the lotion bars, I had some of the melted coconut oil/beeswax mixture left over so I threw that in. If it didn't work... well, the recipe was already not working so no big loss. That actually seemed to help! Unfortunately, emboldened, I thought Why not throw some of that raw shea butter in here, too? That put the concoction over the edge and back to being liquid again. Oh, well. I added some essential oils, poured the mixture into jars and hoped for the best. I made one jar that was Grapefruit and Juniper (based on a lovely Abra Therapeutics salt scrub I have) and one jar using Aura Cacia's "Love Potion" essential oil, which is an intriguing combination of mandarin orange, lemon, cardamom, sandalwood, patchouli, ylang ylang, vetiver, and jasmine oils. Ultimately, it did resemble body butter, but was way too greasy for my liking. I did find that a tiny—seriously, miniscule: do NOT over-do it—amount makes a decent hair cream to smooth out frizzy ends.

 

Homemade Coconut Oil Beauty Products

 

Only thirty-some tips to go, right?? That's not really going to happen, but I'm happy with what I've tried (and learned) so far. Have you made any beauty products like this? How'd they turn out? How did I screw up the whipped moisturizer?

 

Also On the Swanson Blog:  Oil Pulling: All Hype Or Is There Something to It?

 

BONUS: Insect Repellent with Coconut Oil

I took this homemade concoction camping with me this summer and it worked really well! A wet summer = bugs. Bugs love me. Since that's not mutual, I thought I'd try these instructions for Insect Repellent Lotion Bars. I didn't have any cute silicon molds like the blogger did, though. Melt equal parts beeswax, coconut oil, and cocoa or shea butter (I used shea -- make sure it's raw shea butter, though, and not something that's already body butter). Remove from heat and add essential oils. I found a list of oils known to repel insects and used geranium, lemongrass and citronella. Pour into molds or tins and cool.