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beauty products from your kitchen

February 18th, 2012 | 2 Comments »

I’ve been paying attention to all things food for as far back as I can recall, and the more in-depth I go with food, in all aspects of my life, the more I can see over my lifetime that it’s been in me since I was just a little kid.

Back in the early years of college, I used to randomly read Cosmopolitan magazine, long before it became the sensationalist rag that it is today. On one occasion, while sitting in the student union at the U of M, waiting for a perpetually late friend to show up for a study date, I picked up a ragged and torn issue of Cosmopolitan and began paging through it. I came across an article about using regular, ordinary food products for beauty treatments, and read through it, transfixed. Here was simple and easy ways to enhance the look and feel of your skin, using items that everyone has at their fingertips. I slipped the magazine in my backpack, and those pages became so dog-eared from use that I eventually tossed them out. But the information I read there, and keep in mind that this was likely in 1983 or 1984, I have utilized in some way, to this day. And it’s been illuminating to see the food world around me embrace the use of everyday food items for personal use.

The best part about these treatments is that they are completely chemical-free. No worries about absorbing something unsafe into your body, and you aren’t harming the environment when you rinse them down the drain.

Here’s a few of the treatments that I love:


Avocado Hair Mask: Mash one ripe avocado in a bowl with a few teaspoons of olive oil. Apply to slightly damp hair (prior to washing) Rub or comb through and place a plastic bag over your hair to insulate. Wrap your head in a towel and let the treatment sit for an hour. Wash hair as usual. Avocado oil is also good to have on hand. Rub a few drops through your hair after styling to help tame flyaways and make it feel lustrous.

Egg White Skin Toner: Whip an egg white until stiff peaks form. With your fingertips, apply the whites to your freshly washed face. It’s messy, yes; but after a half hour or so when you rinse it off, your skin will feel tight and firm, and man alive, will it glow!! The proteins in egg whites will do wonders for your skin, as well as your eating plan. This can be used on any part of your body.

Sugar Scrubs: These are very popular now, but I’ve been using some form of a sugar scrub for a very long time. Mix a cup of plain white sugar with a few tablespoons of olive, avocado or almond oil and several drops of any essential oil you like (my favorite is bergamot oil- smells like oranges, or lavender). Mix to combine and keep in a sealed jar. Scoop a small amount on wet hands and rub sugar over skin, nail beds and cuticles. Rinse with warm water and apply a good moisturizer. This can be used all over the body for amazing exfoliation. Mix 1/4 cup of coarse cornmeal in with the sugar and oils to use on tougher areas, like feet and elbows. My friend Shaina has a lovely recipe on her blog for Ginger and Coconut Oil Sugar Body Scrub that sounds amazing.

Olive Oil Wash: Olive oil was once prized by ancient civilizations for it’s moisturizing properties, long before it became a staple in cooking. When I worked in a professional kitchen and washed my hands a million times in my 8-hour shift, I would drizzle a bit of olive oil on them to help keep them from cracking and drying out, as it wouldn’t contaminate the food I was preparing like regular lotion. A dime-sized amount in the palm of your hands make a refreshing and pure face wash, lifting dirt and oil gently and without harsh chemicals. Your skin feels incredibly soft and clean. I realize it sounds counterintuitive, but it really works.

Olive oil is also an excellent source of moisture in your hair. As a pre-shampoo treatment, rub it through the ends of your dry hair, then massage a bit on your scalp. Cover your head with plastic and allow it to sit for 15-20 minutes before you shampoo and condition as usual. If you use a deep conditioner on your hair, you can add a few drops of olive oil to it before applying for an extra level of moisturizing. {{For more information and ideas: source: Hairlicious}}

Almond Facial Scrub: It helps the look of your skin to exfoliate the dead layers on a regular basis. Crushed almonds make for an amazing facial scrub. Grind the nuts to a coarse powder; add a bit of water and gently rub the mixture over your face, avoiding the tender skin around the eyes. I love how this smooths out rough patches on my forehead, and really cleans up the pores. Coarsely ground oatmeal is also an excellent exfoliator, and is a bit more gentle for sensitive skin.

Almonds are a nutrient powerhouse for the entire body, and one food item worth incorporating in to your eating.

Apple Cider Vinegar: The astringent properties of apple cider vinegar are wonderful for neutralizing minor skin irritations and helping calm the aggravation of yeast infections. A cup of this in a shallow bath is very soothing, and you can dab it on mosquito bites to take the itch away. A cotton swab dipped in apple cider vinegar and touched to acne breakouts can help speed the healing process.

Check out Bragg Live Foods for more information on the benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar.

Baking Soda Build-Up Remover: As someone who has colored her hair for most of my life, this method for removing build-up on my hair has been the best overall natural treatment I’ve done. If you use any kind of styling products on your hair like gels or sprays, they can build up over time and cause hair to become limp and dull.  I can’t use shampoos that will do this, as they strip the color right out of my hair, making it really flat. But adding a tablespoon of baking soda to my shampoo creates a natural cleanse that leaves my hair shiny and fresh, and most importantly, with the color intact. Keep a box within reach of your shower and add a small amount to your shampoo weekly for best results. It will leave the hair shaft wide open, and your hair might feel a bit rough when you rinse but a good deep conditioner follow-up will take care of that right away. You’ll love how it feels.

Baking soda is a mighty multi-tasker in your household, as many of you know how well it works for cleaning purposes too. Here’s a good article on the versatility of this pantry standard: “51 Fantastic Uses for Baking Soda”. We use baking soda to keep the litter boxes fresh, and it does wonders on odors in your laundry too.

Shaina also talked recently about using coconut oil in your hair to tame dryness and add a lustrous shine. I’ve tried this a few times and now am hooked on how wonderful it makes my hair feel. I find it helps to enhance the natural curl in my hair too.

Sometime in the mid-90′s, I picked up a book called Blended Beauty, by Phillip B. that was filled with natural, food-based beauty treatments. Published in 1995, this book was way, way ahead of it’s time, listing ingredients like lemongrass, quinoa, kale, coconut oil, fresh herbs and a host of other novelty items that were basically unheard of, or even widely available at that point in time. The book is available on Amazon, and is well worth having in your personal library, especially if you’re like me and hate using chemically laden products on your skin. I’ve tried multiple recipes from the book, and have been very pleased with all of them.

 

Do you use any natural beauty treatments or natural remedies around the house?
What have you found in your food that you love on your skin??

 

{{photo credits: Avocado, Eggs, Sugar, Olive Oil, Almonds, Apple Cider Vinegar, Baking Soda}}

 

 

nutella pound cake

November 30th, 2011 | 5 Comments »

Pretty fantastic ending….. wouldn’t you agree???

There is a class of food folks that live for dessert. No meal is complete without some amazing sweet at the end of it- a slice of cake, a bowl of ice cream, some creamy gelato, a chewy brownie or a few crisp cookies; there is just no way any good meal is worth it’s weight in gustatory delights without dessert.

I do love something sweet at the end of a meal, but it doesn’t need to be anything very fancy. A cookie or a piece of really good chocolate is sufficient. We don’t have cake around unless it’s a special occasion or I get fixated on bundt cakes, and I can make a slice of banana bread, or sweet potato bread into a delightful ending to a meal. Brownies? Hello! Love them. Still, once I’m through with a wonderful meal, and feel stuffed to the gills with good food, dessert becomes an afterthought.

This Nutella Pound Cake is an amazing dessert. It’s amazing any time of day; with coffee in the morning, with afternoon tea, as a late night snack. It’s perfect because it’s rich, luscious and indulgent, certainly not something out of an ordinary day. Don’t slaughter me…. but I’ve never really been on the whole Nutella bandwagon. I don’t get vapors over the stuff, and once I used part of the jar for this recipe, the rest sat in my fridge and languished, untouched. For more than a month, in fact. This cake was excellent, but it’s a pound cake. Butter. Sugar. What’s not to adore about that? The Nutella was a bonus.

This recipe graced my blog just about two years ago. And I felt it to be a fitting end to National Blog Posting Month, my third go-round of posting every day for November. I’ve shared some good recipes with you, and this one needs another look. It’s that time of year when special treats are brought out, even ones as indulgent as a pound cake with half a jar of Nutella swirled through it.  This would be a wonderful treat to make as a gift, or to bring to work to share with co-workers as  a means of saying ‘Thank you’ for the past year. Share it with family. Bring a loaf to a treasured friend. Make one for a neighbor that needs a boost, or someone who hasn’t got the ability to make themselves a homemade treat. The recipe can be broken down in to smaller loaf pans, perfect for sharing. And any Nutella that’s left in your fridge? Well, I hope yours doesn’t sit for a month, ignored.

Onward in to December!!!!

Nutella Swirl Pound Cake

4 large eggs, at room temperature
2 t. pure vanilla extract
1-1/2 c. unbleached AP flour
3/4 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt
1 c. butter, softened
1-1/4 c. sugar
1 13-oz jar Nutella spread

Heat oven to 325°. Spray a 9×5 cake pan with cooking spray. Dust with flour. Fill a bowl with hot tap water and place entire jar of Nutella in it to soften. Place the eggs and vanilla in a small bowl and whisk lightly to combine. Blend dry ingredients together in another small bowl.

In a stand mixer, blend the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping down the sides at least twice. Turn the mixer to medium-low and add the egg mixture in a steady stream, stopping to scrape down the bowl once or twice. Reduce mixer speed to low and add the flour mixture, about a half cup at a time, scraping the bowl after each addition. After the last addition, blend the full mixture together for 30 seconds on medium speed. {{Be sure to scrape across the bottom of the mixer bowl too. Lots of stuff gets unmixed down in there.}}

Scrape 1/3 of the batter into the prepared pan. Smooth with a spatula. With a clean spatula, spread half the Nutella on the batter and smooth. Add in another 1/3 of the cake batter, then the remaining Nutella. Spread the last of the cake batter on the top. With a clean butter knife, swirl the batter and Nutella together to create a marbling effect. Don’t overmix the two! {{Kate’s Notes: The ‘spreading’ of the Nutella is impossible; try warming the mixture and drizzling it for ease. And I think the cake would come out better if you DON’T swirl the mixture, but that’s just my thoughts}}

Bake the cake until it’s golden on top and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool for 15 minutes in the pan, then turn cake out onto a wire rack to cool completely. This cake tastes excellent after spending a night in the refrigerator, wrapped tight in plastic. I don’t know why. But trust me on that. {{Yes, trust us on this; WAY better chilled. As in OMG I could eat the entire thing COLD it’s so good.}}

From Food and Wine magazine, originally by Lauren Chattman, Cake Keeper Cakes

 

COMPLETED!!!!