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Sunday, January 24, 2016

CRANBERRY OAT COOKIES...Take a Break From the Cold

Shoveling out from under a snowstorm is what you make of it. It can be nothing but a cursing with every shovelful or it can be a steady, take your time, meditative type of chore. Whatever it may be, there is little else more motivating than to know that when you're done you can leisurely sit and enjoy a plate of homemade cookies.

This recipe comes from Taste of Home magazine, sent in by Heather Breen
With the addition of oats and dried cranberries, it is a tasty, a bit healthy cookie, crunchy on the outside, chewy on the inside.


Mix these three ingredients together in a large bowl:
1 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
2/3 cup oil of choice, the recipe called for canola

Beat in:
2 eggs
2 tbsp milk
1 1/2 tsp vanilla

Combine and sift together in another medium size bowl:
2 1/2 cups quick-cooking oats
1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour or you can divide that up with wheat or oat flour

1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt

Gradually add the flour mixture to the sugar mixture.
Stir in:
1 cup dried cranberries

Drop by teaspoonfuls onto a greased baking sheet.
Bake at 375 degrees F for 10 minutes.
Only let cool about 3 minutes and then remove to a wire rack. If cookies remain on pan too long they will stick.

This batch makes about 4 dozen

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Coconut Oil, Hair & Body Care, Inside and Out

Coconut oil has been used for generations and is regaining its well-deserved popularity for both cosmetic and nutritional value. Known for its ability as a hydrator to help skin and hair retain moisture, coconut oil is an excellent hair oil for all hair in need of repair, but especially beneficial for people with more porous hair. A valuable oil for those whose hair becomes dry, brittle and frizzy due to chemical treatments such as heat straightening, relaxing or coloring.

Coconut oil is derived from the mature fruit of the coconut tree, Cocos nucifera, which is native to tropical regions of the world. You only have to admire the beautiful, healthy hair of the people from these areas to discover this secret to maintaining such shimmering tresses. The oil is found inside the coconut shells. Freshly picked, the mature coconut kernel is chopped, shredded and dried to a 10% moisture content, which is then cold-pressed to extract the virgin coconut oil. 

A hair is just like a hollow hose or a tube. By penetrating this hollow hair shaft, coconut oil gives more body to hair and makes it feel full of body and shine. The hair's own moisture is retained as the coconut oil seals and prevents this moisture from escaping into the atmosphere. 
By entering into the hair shaft, the hair is conditioned from within. This supplies moisture to the hair follicles which protects them from heat and environmental damage.

Our hair is make up of proteins. The usual shampoo formulations can result in protein loss during washing. Protein loss from hair results in weak and unhealthy hair. Coconut oil is unique to other oils in that it has a strong affinity for hair proteins not found elsewhere. Coconut oil is able to minimize this protein loss by its ability to seal and waterproof the hair. 
The hydrophobic oil characteristics (meaning to repel water) allow it to inhibit the penetration of water. Coconut oil is able to actually bind to the natural protein structure of the hair. This helps hair retain its natural moisture. 

Coconut oil achieves the best results when used as a pre-wash treatment. When hair gets wet the cuticle, or surface of the hair shaft, rises, which makes it more prone to breakage. (That is why it is best to be careful and not pull while combing out wet hair) As the hair naturally swells upon getting wet, a small portion of oil is absorbed into the hair fiber. Coconut oil protects by binding to the hair's inner proteins and keeps this swelling to a minimum. By inhibiting the penetration of water into the hair strands, it coats and conditions the outer cuticle layer and increases the hair fiber's pliability while reducing static electricity, thereby preventing damage and the frizzies.

Hair types such as black hair, which have more porosity problems, tend to take in more water during washing. When the hair shrinks back to normal while drying, the cuticle can split. Coconut oil helps reduce the water uptake and swelling by binding to the proteins. In keeping excess water out, the hair is under less stress as it naturally contracts to dry, resulting in less tendency for damage.

Perhaps you have heard that supposedly coconut oil makes your hair grow. Well, now we're told it is just a myth. By improving the health of your hair, there is less loss through breakage, so in reality you are just keeping your hair without it falling out by breaking off. Foods high in omega-3 fats will help with healthy hair growth.

TO USE: Coconut oil is solid at room temperature and begins to melt around 76 degrees. There are two ways to use the oil. It will melt at the touch of your fingers, so you can just dip out a bit with your fingers, let it soften in your hands, and apply. 
Or, you can put a bit into a small cup and put the cup into a warm (not hot) water bath till it melts and apply as a liquid.
Be careful not to use too much at a time or you'll end up with greasy hair. A little bit goes a long way!
Start with 1/4 tsp. for short hair and experiment depending on hair length and thickness. Long hair may need a TBSP.

Wet your hair first and place a towel around your shoulders to catch any drips. 
Distribute throughout your hair. Applying it to your scalp is optional but in doing so does aid in the absorption of nutrients and relieves dry scalp flakes. 
Once the oil is applied, cover head with a shower cap, towel or pillow case, relax and leave it on for at least 20 minutes, an hour or two would be great. You don't want the oil to chill and harden onto your hair, so the cover is important.
Follow-up with a shampoo. A trick to getting out an oil is to first apply the shampoo throughout your hair before trying to rinse it out. You may need to re-shampoo to get it all out of your hair so it doesn't appear oily.
This application can be repeated daily until the dryness is gone or just periodically to maintain a shiny head of hair. 

1. Those annoyed with a flaky scalp may see great improvement. Dandruff can be caused by skin conditions, chemicals in hair products or from the presence of yeast/fungal infection. Coconut oil contains lauric acid and capric acid whose antimicrobial properties can take care of funk on the scalp. 

2. Help increase blood circulation by giving yourself a scalp massage. Use about 1 tsp. coconut oil and use gentle pressure with your fingers for about 10 minutes. 

3. Just scrunch a bit onto the ends of your hair and leave in. Great for preventing split ends.

4. Tame the frizzies by applying just a tiny bit to hair before styling.

Coconut oil has a multitude of uses in skin care besides your hair. It can be used as a moisturizer and healing remedy as well.
Cold-pressed organic coconut oil mimics sebum, the skin’s own system for lubrication and waterproofing. Being our skin is the immune system's first line of defense, to use a product with anti-microbial, anti-viral, and anti-fungal properties, your body gets a hand in it's defense. 
Coconut oil is the perfect moisturizer because it is lightweight and easily absorbed, so use it as a skin nourishing moisturizer all over your body. It even helps serve as a natural sunblock.
Coconut oil can be used to remove make-up, but be careful if it has added essential oils to not let it get into the eyes. 
Being coconut oil contains medium chain fatty acids, such as lauric acid, coconut oil antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties, here are some further uses for coconut oil:
1. Treat seborrheic dermatitis, a fungal condition of the scalp causing itch and flakes. 
"A common misconception about dandruff is that dry skin is the root cause of this condition. Dry skin rarely produces flakes that are visible to the naked eye. Dandruff can be the result of an excessively oily scalp or a yeast infection of the scalp. An oily scalp can be freed from dandruff with regular shampooing by massaging the shampoo into the scalp for five minutes and thoroughly rinsing the shampoo out. The scalp massage loosens the dead skin cells while the shampoo removes excess oil. Both the shampoo and dead skin are washed away when the hair is rinsed. However, for dandruff caused by yeast or seborrheic dermatitis, anti-dandruff shampoos are needed to fight the fungal infection and dissolve the dead skin. Before treating any scalp condition, consult a doctor to rule out any underlying health causes for your dandruff." Source; ShawnTe Pierce, eHow Contributor 
2. Microbial infections affecting the hair follicles.
3. Protect the scalp from lice infestations. Before bed, first soak your hair in vinegar and leave in to dry. Then coat your hair with coconut oil. Sleep with a shower cap to protect your bedding. The following day the nits reportedly comb out easily.
4. High in vitamins E and K, coconut oil nourishes the scalp. Regular scalp massages makes it easier for the hair follicles to absorb these nutrients.
5. Prevent and eliminate the scaly fungus of cradle cap. Simply rub a small amount all over baby's head and brush with a soft baby brush for five minutes.
6. Rashes, Eczema or Psoriasis can be relieve by rubbing coconut oil into the affected areas daily.
7. Back acne can be treated by applying at bedtime. Wash and dry affected area. Apply coconut oil and allow about 15 minutes for it to absorb before laying down.
Acne may seem to be aggravated by using coconut oil, but this may be the result of the skin detoxing during the first week or two of use.
8. Athlete's foot can be remedied by applying coconut oil to the affected area twice a day.

Here is a wonderful herbal balm containing the healing properties of not only coconut oil but an herb known as the "mother of herbs", Plantain. A multi-purpose salve/balm useful for everything from baby bottoms to the tender skin issues of the elderly.

Topical uses for coconut oil are plentiful, but taken as part of your diet, this healthy oil can do wonders for your health.

This information below came from The Herbal Healer

This is quoted from the Coconut Research Center homepage 
Published studies in medical journals show that coconut, in one form or another, may provide a wide range of health benefits. Some of these are summarized below:
  • Kills viruses that cause influenza, herpes, measles, hepatitis C, SARS, AIDS, and other illnesses. 
  • Kills bacteria that cause ulcers, throat infections, urinary tract infections, gum disease and cavities, pneumonia, and gonorrhea, and other diseases. 
  • Kills fungi and yeasts that cause candidiasis, ringworm, athlete's foot, thrush, diaper rash, and other infections. 
  • Expels or kills tapeworms, lice, giardia, and other parasites. 
  • Provides a nutritional source of quick energy. 
  • Boosts energy and endurance, enhancing physical and athletic performance. 
  • Improves digestion and absorption of other nutrients including vitamins, minerals, and amino acids. 
  • Improves insulin secretion and utilization of blood glucose. 
  • Relieves stress on pancreas and enzyme systems of the body. 
  • Reduces symptoms associated with pancreatitis. 
  • Helps relieve symptoms and reduce health risks associated with diabetes. 
  • Reduces problems associated with malabsorption syndrome and cystic fibrosis. 
  • Improves calcium and magnesium absorption and supports the development of strong bones and teeth. 
  • Helps protect against osteoporosis. 
  • Helps relieve symptoms associated with gallbladder disease. 
  • Relieves symptoms associated with Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, and stomach ulcers. 
  • Improves digestion and bowel function. 
  • Relieves pain and irritation caused by hemorrhoids. 
  • Reduces inflammation. 
  • Supports tissue healing and repair. 
  • Supports and aids immune system function. 
  • Helps protect the body from breast, colon, and other cancers. 
  • Is heart healthy; improves cholesterol ratio reducing risk of heart disease. 
  • Protects arteries from injury that causes atherosclerosis and thus protects against heart disease. 
  • Helps prevent periodontal disease and tooth decay. 
  • Functions as a protective antioxidant. 
  • Helps to protect the body from harmful free radicals that promote premature aging and degenerative disease. 
  • Does not deplete the body's antioxidant reserves like other oils do. 
  • Improves utilization of essential fatty acids and protects them from oxidation. 
  • Helps relieve symptoms associated with chronic fatigue syndrome. 
  • Relieves symptoms associated with benign prostatic hyperplasia (prostate enlargement). 
  • Reduces epileptic seizures. 
  • Helps protect against kidney disease and bladder infections. 
  • Dissolves kidney stones. 
  • Helps prevent liver disease. 
  • Is lower in calories than all other fats. 
  • Supports thyroid function. 
  • Promotes loss of excess weight by increasing metabolic rate. 
  • Is utilized by the body to produce energy in preference to being stored as body fat like other dietary fats. 
  • Helps prevent obesity and overweight problems. 
  • Applied topically helps to form a chemical barrier on the skin to ward of infection. 
  • Reduces symptoms associated the psoriasis, eczema, and dermatitis. 
  • Supports the natural chemical balance of the skin. 
  • Softens skin and helps relieve dryness and flaking. 
  • Prevents wrinkles, sagging skin, and age spots. 
  • Promotes healthy looking hair and complexion. 
  • Provides protection from damaging effects of ultraviolet radiation from the sun. 
  • Helps control dandruff. 
  • Does not form harmful by-products when heated to normal cooking temperature like other vegetable oils do. 
  • Has no harmful or discomforting side effects. 
  • Is completely non-toxic to humans.
Suggested Usage: Take one tablespoon 1-2 times a day with meals. Can also be used in salad dressings, sauces, or any type of cooking where a source of essential fatty acids is needed. Taste is very mild and oil melts very quickly in mouth. Product solidifies at 78 degrees.

A fantastic book on coconut oil is "The Coconut Oil Miracle" by Dr. Fife