We always have an abundance of coconut oil in my house, and being that I love finding new uses for old products, I decided to turn my coconut oil into a natural shaving cream.
I wanted to compare the coconut oil to my standard shaving cream- Dr. Bronner’s Organic Shaving Gel. I’m in no way committed to my current shaving gel, as it has it’s own small issues, which I will share below.
I’ll start by saying that I am a Dr. Bronner’s fan in general. I use their castille soap as my body wash, I love their hand soaps, and really believe in the way they conduct business. O.k., o.k., so let’s talk specifically about the shaving gel…
Pros: lovely scent (mine is lavender), organic, easy to purchase (Amazon, Whole Foods), easy on the razor.
Cons: Really, there is one actual con I can think of. It’s really, really runny. I usually dump about about a tablespoon’s worth of product while getting it out of the container. I hate wasting things. If we are just comparing this product to coconut oil, we can consider price as a con as well- as 7 oz. of this product is roughly $10, much more expensive per ounce than coconut oil.
For my comparison, I used what was already in my shower (more on why I keep coconut oil in my shower on another post), which was Trader Joe’s brand, organic.
Pros: This made my legs really, really soft. If you’re going on a date and wearing a skirt- this is the way to go for the night. Coconut oil acts as a natural moisturizer as well, so my legs looked amazing and healthy all day. Price point is a pro for coconut oil- I think I spent somewhere in the neighborhood of $12 for 16 ounces.
Cons: While the coconut oil was a blessing on the legs, it was hectic on the bikini area. Not at first, but rather a couple of days later. I’ll leave it at that. More concerning was that my razor seemed to instantly dull. Just looking at the razor, the thickness of the coconut oil seemed to have clogged it up, and water didn’t help. Also, please be careful using coconut oil in the shower. It CAN clog drains, and can make the bottom of your shower feel like an ice-skating rink. I have had a near death experience… or two… due to this.
THE WINNER: DUE TO THE RAZOR-CLOGGING PROPERTIES OF COCONUT OIL, I DECLARE DR. BRONNER’S TO BE THE WINNER!
Making your own chicken stock is quite easy. Especially, if you eat whole chickens. In my family we eat a whole chicken about once a week. There are so many great things about a whole chicken; its cheaper per pound then chicken breasts (I typically pay $1.99 per pound for a whole chicken versus $4.99 per pound for boneless, skinless chicken breasts), a 4-5lb chicken will feed a four person family for dinner, roasting a whole chicken is easy AND you can use the carcass when you are done to make your own chicken stock.
Chicken stock can be used in soups and the stock can be frozen to have on hand when you are ready.
Chicken Stock Recipe:
1 chicken carcass (cooked whole chicken with any remaining meat)
Kosher salt to taste (generally I use about 1 tablespoon)
Veggies (this can be scraps you have left over or fresh veggies. Below is what I usually use)
3-4 Thyme sprigs
Parmesan cheese rinds (I save the rind from my parmesan cheese in the freezer and then throw them into the pot when I’m making stock. Make sure you are buying real parmesan to do this with. Real parmesan will have a thick rind, often times with writing on the actual rind.)
Place the chicken carcass, salt, veggies, thyme and parmesan rinds into a large pot. Fill the pot with water until the bones of the chicken are covered or mostly covered. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook partially covered for 1 hour.
Remove the pot from the heat and allow to cool. Discard all the veggies, thyme, and parmesan rinds. Once the stock has fully cooled a white film may form at the top, this is usually fat/grease. You can skim that off the top if you don’t want it in your stock or you can include it with your stock, as it will add some flavor. Transfer the stock to airtight containers. The stock will hold in the refrigerator for about 3 days and in the freezer for about 3 months.
I usually store my stock in freezer bags of 2 cup proportions. Now you are ready with stock anytime you want to make a soup.
Though making stock is very easy, if I’m not feeling up to it, I will freeze my leftover chicken carcass and then make the stock when I feel up to it. I also often times forget to defrost my stock in time and think of it as I’m putting the soup together. Not a problem! Don’t try to defrost in the microwave, just empty the frozen stock into a large pot and heat it up on your stove. It will defrost in no time.
If you are looking for a fantastic roasted chicken recipe, Ina Garten at Barefoot Contessa has it.
Here is a simple change we can all make in our daily life; eat kale!
The benefits of kale are well known and touted by many. Kale is high in Vitamin K, Vitamin A, Vitamin C and rich in calcium. Kale can be used in salads, smoothies, soups, and baked into chips.
In addition, kale freezes well. So if you have kale and you aren’t going to use it in time, freeze it before it gets that bitter taste. Fresh kale will typically hold for about 5-7 days in the refrigerator. Once it’s been frozen it isn’t as easy to bake into chips, but can still be used in soups and smoothies . If you’re still buying iceberg lettuce, don’t buy it again. Iceberg lettuce has very small amounts of Vitamin A and Vitamin C, whereas, kale has much higher amounts of both vitamins and also has fiber and protein. Iceberg lettuce does not have any fiber or protein. Kale can be your new lettuce. If you don’t like the raw taste of kale, put it in smoothies, it works well with strawberries and blueberries.
Kale is generally in season in the winter months as it grows in cold climates. However, it may be available most of the year in your area, depending on your local agriculture.
More great benefits of kale:
Kale has been named as a vegetable that has potential to lower cancer risk.
Kale can help to lower cholesterol levels.
Organic vs. Conventional:
When it comes to kale buy organic. The Environmental Working Group listed kale on its 2015 Dirty Dozen PLUS list, stating kale samples, ‘were frequently found to be contaminated with insecticides toxic to the human nervous system.’
If you can’t afford to buy organic kale then cooking the kale will help to lower pesticide levels.
Kale soup Recipe:
This is a really easy recipe that can be adapted based on personal tastes. I like it with a lot of vinegar and sausage, but any of the ingredients can be modified.
1 15oz can of red kidney beans
1 package of sausage cut into bit size pieces (any kind will do, and any amount depending on preference)
½ cup Pearl barley
3-4 cups of chopped kale
In a large pot combine all ingredients together, except the vinegar. After the kidney beans have been added, use the empty can and add three cans of water to the pot. Bring to a boil and then reduce temperature to maintain a rolling boiling. Cook for 1 hour. When there is approximately 15 minutes remaining add ¼ to ½ cup of white vinegar.
I like to serve this soup with a crusty bread and butter.
“EWG’s 2015 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce.™” 2015 http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/summary.php.
Lewis, Alison. “Top 10 Health Benefits of Eating Kale.” 2 April 2012. MindBodyGreen. 6 April 2015 http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-4408/Top-10-Health-Benefits-of-Eating-Kale.html
I, like most of you reading this, grew up with fluoride being a part of our daily lives and it still is. It is in our toothpaste, in that grainy scrub the dentist buffers on our teeth, and in our water. We are told that fluoride is in toothpaste and water to prevent cavities and promote a healthy mouth. The unfortunate fact is that fluoride is a poison, and stopping its use will not lead to cavities.
So, why do we still use it?
Well, to understand that we have to go back in history. Back to 1914, when fluoride began being added to toothpaste. Now, let’s imagine what life was like in 1914. Poor nutrition. Limited scientific data. Political agendas. As a frame of reference, this was only just 10 years after Coca Cola removed the cocaine from their sodas. So, needless to say, scientific research on products and consumer health were limited.
Then, in 1951, it became the official policy of the U.S. Public Health Service to add fluoride to drinking water. This, they felt, would ensure that those with poor brushing habits would still get the ‘benefit’ of fluoride.
So, why is it bad?
Fluoride is a naturally occurring element, but that’s not what is being added to our water. The fluoride in our water is a byproduct of the phosphate fertilizer industry. In fact, it is illegal for these companies to dump their waste, but is perfectly acceptable, according to the U.S., to add these chemicals to our drinking water.
Many developed nations in the world have banned fluoridation (the list includes: China, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Japan, France, Scotland, and Belgium. The United States is an exception. There are more people drinking artificially fluoridated water in the United States than all other countries combined, according to the British Fluoridation Society.
Some of these countries have banned the practice of adding fluoride to water due to the lack of scientific evidence that it presents a benefit to dental health, while others have banned the practice due to it being considered “forced medication” on their population. Most dentists in the United States follow the American Dental Association’s (ADA) position on fluoride, which claims that fluoride is beneficial for dental health. Unfortunately, the ADA rarely mentions the toxic potential of fluoride.
There is, however, scientific evidence that exposure to fluoride can lead to fluorosis (white or brown streaking of teeth), skeletal fluorosis, lowered IQ, neurotoxicity, and cancers. In 1990, a study by the National Toxicology Program showed that rats given water high in fluoride for 2 years, had an increased number of bone tumors. There have been few studies conducted in the United States, but many international studies can be accessed at: http://fluoridealert.org/issues/health/brain/
Dr. John Yiamouyiannis, former Science Director of the National Health Federation, and longtime opponent of the use of fluoride additives, says in his book, Fluoride: The Aging Factor, “It is quite clear that fluoride causes genetic damage. The mechanism of action of fluoride cannot be exactly pinpointed because fluoride interferes with a number of physiological processes. Most evidence indicates that fluoride acts on the DNA repair enzyme system,” he goes on to say “the fact that fluoride has also been shown to cause cancer should not be surprising since it is almost universally accepted that cancer results from genetic damage.”
Dean Burk, Chief Chemist Emeritus (U.S. National Cancer Institute), conveys the danger of fluoride poignantly, “Everything causes cancer? Perhaps. Conceivably even a single electron at the other side of the universe. The real question is, how likely is any one particular cause? In a point of fact, fluoride causes more human cancer death, and causes it faster, than any other chemical.”
My own personal opinion is that anything that can only be given to my child in “pea sized” quantities, without having to call poison control, is probably not something I need to put into my child’s body. A fluoride spill requires cleanup from a hazmat team. Again, probably something that doesn’t belong in our bodies. So, with evidence pointing to no health benefits for the addition of fluoride, it’s something my family is opting out of.
What you can do:
The first, and easiest suggestion is to choose a fluoride-free toothpaste. As the research about the dangers of fluoride is becoming more wide-spread, the options for toothpaste are expanding. In my home we use Tom’s and BabyGanics. Other brands such as, Trader Joe’s, Nature’s Gate, and Kiss My Face, offer fluoride-free versions as well. If you live in a more rural area free of Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s and Target, I suggest turning to Amazon.com.
To get rid of fluorination in water is a bit more difficult. First, you must note that purchasing a water filter (e.g., Brita, Pur) and boiling water are ineffective at eliminating fluoride. In addition, the vast majority of all bottled water sold in the United States contain fluoride.
There are a few ways you can take steps toward lowering your fluoride intake:
- Vote. Petition. Speak Loudly. Get this topic on your local ballot and scream from the rooftops.
- Purchase fluoride-free toothpaste. This one is easy!
- Say “no” when your dentist offers the fluoride treatment.
- Purchase a reverse osmosis system. Warning: this is a bit expensive. These systems can range from $300-900 for general versions, and many require a plumber to install. However, if you can budget for this- this is your best option.
- Berkey Light Water Purification System with added PF2 Fluoride Water Filter. This system is approximately $300, with the filter included. It is a BPA-free countertop system that is more economical than a whole-house reverse osmosis system.
Have another system you’d like us to investigate? Let us know in the comments section!
“Community Water Fluoridation.” www.cdc.gov. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), n.d., Web, 9 April 2015.
Lennon, Michael A. “One in a Million: The First Community Trial of Water Fluoridation.” Bulletin of the World Health Organization (WHO). September 2006: 84 (9).
“Most Countries Reject Water Fluoridation: Statements from European and other Heath, Water, & Environment Authorities on Water Fluoridation.” www.actionpa.org. ActionPA, n.d., Web, 9 April 2015.
National Research Council (NRC). 2006. “Fluoride in Drinking Water: A Scientific Review of EPA’s Standards.” Washington, D.C. National Academies Press.
Yiamouyiannis, Dr. John. Fluoride the Aging Factor: How to Recognize and Avoid the Devastating Effects of Fluoride. Health Action Press, 1993.