7 ways to use coconut oil in your beauty routine!

I’ve written about the wonders of coconut before, and I’ve been using coconut oil even more in my day-to-day beauty routines since then.  I love that I’m using something that I have in my kitchen and is all natural.  It’s full of amazing fatty acids and other goodness that our skin and hair love!

Here are a few of my favorite ways to use coconut oil:

  1. Lip balm   ||    This is one of my favorites (and the easiest!).   The fatty acids in the coconut oil help lock in moisture, so when using it on your lips you’re creating an oil barrier that holds the moisture in.  If you don’t love the smell or taste of coconut, this might not be the best one for you!
  2. Oil-pulling   ||    You’ve probably heard about this one before and even might have wondered what that could possibly mean.  Take a scoop of coconut oil and swish it around your mouth like a rinse.  Make sure to spit it into the trash (not your sink!) to avoid clogs.  Your gums and teeth will feel cleaner than ever.  And some studies have shown coconut oil also helps with whitening teeth
  3. Skin Moisturizer   ||    Just like on your lips, coconut oil is great to use on your skin.  It helps to lock in the moisture and keep you nice and soft.  I especially love to use it on my feet (put comfy socks on after so you don’t slide around!), knees, elbows, and face.
  4. Massage Oil   ||    Smooth and isn’t absorbed immediately.   Perfect massage oil.  Need I say more?  Add a few drops of your favorite essential oil to give it a lovely sent as well!
  5. Hair Conditioner    ||    Take a little bit of coconut oil and apply to you hair roots to ends.  If your hair is particularly thin, use a little less and don’t go to the roots.  Do a quick wash out in the shower and feel your silky-smooth locks!
  6. Nail & Cuticle Conditioner   ||    Coconut oil is a great moisturizer for your cuticles and can also help strengthen your nails.  An added benefit:  coconut oil is anti-fungal so it’s perfect to help keep those icky feet issues away.
  7. Make-up Remover   ||    Coconut oil is amazingly good at removing make-up, especially the often-difficult mascara!  An added bonus is the moisturizer the coconut oil will also provide around your eyes.  That skin is some of the most thin and sensitive you have, so you must take good care of it!  (And as a note, be careful as you use the oil to remove the make-up:  don’t push too hard on your skin!)

I also love to use coconut oil in natural deodorant and soap recipes.  I’ll share those later down the line!

Do you use coconut oil in any of these ways?  What are your favorite ways to use coconut oil in your beauty routines?

a few things to remember as we head into the holiday season.

 

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These tips will keep your body more balanced and your digestion strong as we head into the carb and sugar-overload that is the holiday season!

  1. Grab some greens before you dive into your meal     ||    Make it a habit to grab a handful of greens before each meal.  Not only will you be getting more greens into your overall diet (more fiber, more enzymes, more nutrients!), you’ll also be filling up a bit before the meal so you’re likely to eat less overall.
  2. Eat some sauerkraut!    ||     Anything pickled will do.  If you’re not into that (it took me awhile to learn to like it!), try a probiotic pill instead.  The goal is to keep your gut and its flora healthy for better digestion.
  3. Drink water throughout the day    ||    They say you should drink half your body weight in ounces of water.  Make sure you’re doing this especially throughout the holiday season!  It will keep you hydrated, keep things moving, and will also make you feel a bit more full.
  4. Start off the morning with some lemon-ginger tonic    ||    Make a quick tea tonic each morning to kick-start your digestion.  Juice some lemon and grate some ginger.  Add some honey and some cayenne to taste.  This helps aid your digestion and keep your blood sugar levels under control.  (It’s also delicious!  Pro-tip:  if you drink this every day, make sure you drink with a straw to avoid the acid from the lemon eroding your teeth enamel).
  5. Opt for a breakfast smoothie   ||     Another great way to get more fruits and veggies into your daily routine.  Make sure you choose fruit lower in sugar (blueberries are a good choice!).  You can also add avocado for some healthy fats.  Add in some chia or flax seeds too!  This will keep you full for the morning until you’re ready to grab some lunch (greens first!).
  6. Chew your food   ||    We all know it’s easy to chow down on all of the delicious food at the dinner table.  Make sure to take a breath and chew completely between each bite.  This helps with digestion and your body will need to use less energy to digest.
  7. Take a walk   ||    Make sure you’re exercising during the holidays to top it all off!  Take a walk, do some yoga, or join your family in a fun game of catch.  Anything will do.  You just want to stay moving!

 

I hope this helps!  Do you have any routines you like to add into your day-to-day as the holidays approach?  I’d love to hear your advice!!

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on missing autumn.

“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”
― L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

I’ve lived in California for just about 3 years.  Prior to living here, I was an east coast and midwest kind of person.  I never saw myself on the west coast, until, of course, I did!  There are things I miss about my previous homes:  the people, the pace of things, the (much lower!) cost of living.  But missing autumn hits me hard every year at this time.

I love the crunch of the leaves, the crisp smell in the air, the exciting possibility that there could be flurries at any minute!

In SF, it’s still green and lush and lovely.  Which I also love.  It’s beautiful and amazing! This year, to help satisfy my yearning for autumn, I headed over to the National Heirloom Expo up in Santa Rosa.  It was a perfect little dip into this world I miss.

Some of my favorite snaps from the day are below:

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So many pumpkins, squash, and gourds.  My favorites!

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So, so many types of tomatoes!  And we got to taste a bunch as well.

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I couldn’t get enough of this colorful heirloom corn.  It’s so beautiful, isn’t it?

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Mushrooms and (weird) melons!

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Oh, and there were tiny piglets!

I hope you’re having a lovely start to the season, wherever you may be!

the perfect ingredient: coconut oil.

In most of my stove top cooking (and baking sometimes, too) I now default to coconut oil.  This is a recent switch in the last 2 years or so, but I really love the added boost of flavor and the amazing benefits that coconut oil has to offer.  It’s also my go-to ingredient in many of my skin care routines and home-made products.

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Let’s Learn More.

Coconut oil is actually almost 92% saturated fat.  Because of the fat content, it turns to a solid at room temperature.

Please don’t let the fat content deter you!  This fat offers many health benefits including the following:

  • improves mineral absorption (which can improve the condition of your scalp, hair, & skin)
  • protects the liver against toxins
  • helps prevent kidney & gall bladder dieases
  • improves blood sugar levels (& can help manage diabetes)
  • contains antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal properties

 Why It’s Important to Choose Organic:

Let’s talk a little about the manufacturing of coconut oil.  It’s a fairly lengthy process, but to summarize for you, coconuts are collected and broken open.  The flesh inside is then allowed to dry.  After the flesh has dried, it is heated at low temperatures to evaporate any additional moisture.  This leaves the manufacturer with oil residue.

Now, to expedite the process, many manufacturers use additional chemicals and additives to expedite drying and heating to extract the oils.  If you purchase organic coconut oil, no chemicals  were used during the process AND the coconut was also grown in an organic manner.

I’m not one of those people that believes organic everything is a must, but I do try to go organic when I can or when chemical absorption would be very high, like in a case like this.

Remember that we vote with our purchases.  Purchase wisely!

Why you Should Choose Virgin.

I know, who knew this could be so complicated.  Just like olive oil, coconut oil has different grades of oil.

Virgin coconut oil is oil that is made from fresh coconut while refined coconut oil is made from the dried meat of the coconut.  The refined coconut oil is typically what you see in stores.  In this process, the oil needs to be refined, deodorized, and filtered through bleached clays to remove impurities.  I try to stay away from the refined stuff, although it typically has a less ‘coconut-y’ smell if you’re not really into that.

If you see extra virgin coconut oil, note that there really isn’t a process that makes the virgin coconut oil any more virgin, so this is just marketing at its finest.

Okay, This Sounds Great.  What Do I really Do with it?

Here are a few of my favorite ways to use coconut oil in the kitchen:

  • In a stir fry or quick sauté (coconut oil is less sensitive to heat than other oils, so it’s perfect for this!)
  • As butter substitute in baking
  • To make your own raw chocolate bars
  • In a supercharged smoothie
  • In bulletproof coffee
  • Spread on toast

I’ll be posting a delicious cauliflower recipe that uses coconut oil tomorrow – make sure to check back!

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You may have noticed from the photos boldly declaring ‘THRIVE,’ but I’m also very excited to announce that we have partnered with Thrive Market (mentioned here in our Cacao Banana Shake recipe), as they are truly a company that has values that match ours.  Even better, Thrive is now offering our followers and readers a free 30 day trial membership + a free 15-oz jar of Nutiva Coconut Oil + 15% off your next purchase!  Just click here to see more details!

For Free, you say?

Yes, that’s what I said!  Just click here to sign up.  For new Thrive members, you will receive the free coconut oil to try out and see if you like it.  If you’re an existing member, you will still receive 10% off your order!

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What do you use coconut oil for?  I’d love to hear more below!

Delicious: Cacao Banana Shake (+ More on Cacao)

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I definitely have a sweet tooth.  I always have a bit of a chocolate craving, especially in the afternoons & evenings and have been playing with ways to satisfy my cravings without consuming too much chocolate.

I came up with this delicious Cacao Banana Shake that is always exactly what I want when I’m craving a little something sweet.

But First, A Little On Cacao

When you read headlines and articles about the amazing benefits of chocolate, they aren’t talking about milk chocolate you find in the store, but they are talking about raw cacao.  Lucky for us, it’s just as (if not more) delicious, but sometimes does take a little getting used to!

So what is raw cacao exactly?  It is the powder that is made after un-roasted cacao beans are cold-pressed.  Fat is removed (the butter) and living enzymes are kept intact.
Cocoa is also a powder and looks very similar, but, boy, is it different!  We get cocoa from roasting raw cacao at high temperatures, which changes the molecular structure, ultimately making it less nutritionally beneficial for us to consume.  In other words, it is the over-processed version of cacao.

There are many benefits to consuming cacao.  Here are a few of them:

  • Nervous system protection due to very potent antioxidants
  • Reduces risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, and high blood pressure
  • Guards against toxins
  • Mood booster!
  • Rich in minerals (especially iron & magnesium)

So, what do you say?  Let’s get to it!

Pro-tip:  You might find that some brands (cough, Hershey’s, cough), has a product labeled as 100% Cacao on the front, but if you look at the ingredients, you’ll see that it lists Cocoa, which is not the same thing as Cacao, as noted above.  Be careful with tricky marketing designed to pull you in!

Ingredients:

  • 1 (Over)Ripe Banana, Peeled
  • 2 Tablespoons Raw Cacao Powder (or to taste)
  • 1.5 Cups of Almond Milk (or milk of choice.  Try to avoid dairy, as research has shown that dairy can inhibit the absorption of raw cacao’s nutrition.)

Pro-tip 2:  I buy my Raw Cacao Powder (and Raw Cacao Nibs – see below) in bulk so I can get exactly the amount I need.  And label them in pretty jars with fancy labels, of course.

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Optional:

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Let’s Make it!

Simple:

  • Put all ingredients in blender (I put milk in first, then the cacao so it doesn’t stick or clump on the bottom)
  • Blend for 20 seconds or until desired consistency
  • Pour into a fancy glass and let out a big sigh – it’s delicious!

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*Thrive Market is a neat online food marketplace whose mission is to make healthy living easy and affordable for everyone.  You can get a free membership for ~30 days and then it costs ~$50 for the year.  In exchange for your membership fees, they provide a membership to a family in need.  You’ll find great deals on organic, raw, and delicious food and there are many unique finds!  Note that these words are mine and not sponsored by Thrive, however the link is an affiliate linked to my account.

Xox,

Leah

Refreshing: Watermelon Strawberry Breeze

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I didn’t realize National Watermelon Day was this past week, but this watermelon-based smoothie is a recipe you can enjoy any day of the summer!  Completely light, crisp, and refreshing, this Watermelon Strawberry Breeze is perfect to cool off and relax on these hot, fun summer days.

(Side note:  Who creates these whacky national days?  Is there a national day for everything now?)

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Anyway, here is the (extremely simple) recipe:

Ingredients

Only 3 ingredients are needed:

  • 3 Cups Cubed Watermelon  (Chilled is best)
  • 1 Cup Strawberries  (Chilled)
  • 1 Whole, Peeled Lemon

You may also choose to add (but definitely don’t need to – still delicious, either way!):

  • Mint Leaves (as garnish or blended into the smoothie)
  • Crushed Ice (for a cooler taste. I personally like it without and prefer the full fruit flavor instead)

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Let’s Make it!

Simple:

  • Prepare the fruit
  • Put everything in your blender
  • Blend for 20 seconds or until desired consistency reached
  • Pour into a tall glass
  • Garnish with mint if desired
  • Put your feet up and enjoy!

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Exploring SF: A Morning at Heartbaker

I went on a stroll this morning to one of my favorite cafes near my apartment.  I didn’t know it was there for the longest time, and it’s definitely a little hidden gem in the city.

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Heartbaker, aside from having a perfect and adorable name, has a great selection of teas (from T-We Tea, who I recently discovered, and loved, at Renegade SF!), coffees, and sweet treats in the mornings.

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delicious pastry from Heartbaker (photo source: Heartbaker)

Today I had the T-We Tea ‘Chai This’ with elderflowers in the blend (delish!) and a chocolate ricotta turnover which was the perfect combo of chocolate, crispy bread, and cheese.  Who wouldn’t love that?

On the weekends they have brunch and they have daily lunch and dinner options.

The ambiance is wonderful and the staff is super friendly.  It’s low-key and comfortable.  Perfect to meet up with friends or have a slow, quiet morning to yourself (with some people watching, my personal favorite!).

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I love their hilarious photos on the walls with food masks.  So creative and the whole place feels very genuine.

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Check it out yourself! Heartbaker can be found at 1408 Clement St. in the Inner Richmond, SF.

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