Tag Archives: benefits

Yum Friday Recipe: Vegetarian Portuguese Caldo Verde (Green Soup)

16 Sep

For some odd reason “green soup” conjures up in my mind the blue soup in Bridget Jone’s Diary.  Although, the blue in Bridget’s soup was the result of some awful blue string.  No worries here though.  Our soup doesn’t have one bit of blue string in it, but it does have a lot of green deliciousness.

Caldo Verde is considered by many Portuguese to be the national soup of Portugal; that’s how popular it.  It’s served everywhere in Portugal.  We like it not only for its healthy nutritional punch, but Caldo Verde is also a comfort food.  What better time to turn to comfort foods than when the chill of fall is in the air.  The traditional version of green soup has sausage; we use cannellini beans for the protein.

Our garden is bursting with kale, so making this soup was a great way to make use of the abundant kale crop.  Although kale is available year round, in the fall and winter it is the sweetest.  In the summer kale can be bitter.  But don’t shy away from kale in the summer, just don’t cook it longer than 5 minutes, and it won’t be bitter.

Kale is high in vitamin K.  And the skin just loves, loves, loves vitamin K.  It’s also very high in two other skin loving nutrients, vitamin A and C.  It even has omega 3; we need to get omega 3 from food sources since our bodies don’t make it.  Since most western diets lack omega 3, we need to make an effort to eat foods with omega 3.  Kale has a slew of vitamins from the B family along with some copper and protein.  Kale is also very good for lowering cholesterol.

Potatoes are the other main ingredient in Portuguese green soup.  Potatoes get a bum rap because of the carbohydrates. This is unjustified.  For one thing, your body needs carbohydrates for energy.  And for another, it’s the way most people eat potatoes (french fries, potato chip, mashed with gravy, loaded baked potatoes) that makes them unhealthy. The nutrient level of potatoes out weigh the fear from getting to many carbohydrates from them.

Recent research has identified over 60 phytonutrients in potatoes that rival those found in spinach and broccoli.  Two of these, the flavonoids quercetin and kukoamines have only been found in one other plant–the goji berry. Goji Berries are very popular because of their antioxidant properties. Potatoes also have high levels of vitamin C, vitamin B6, and copper.  In addition, potatoes are a good source of fiber; fiber removes toxins from the body so they don’t land on your skin.

Yum Vegetarian Portuguese Caldo Verde (Green Soup) – serves 6 – 8

2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion – diced
3 – 4 garlic cloves – chopped or minced
32 ounces of high quality vegetable broth and 32 ounces of water
(Just water can also be used.  Using only water for the broth is the traditional way to make the soup)
8 medium size potatoes – cubed
(peeled or unpeeled – unpeeled provides more nutrients)
1 can of cannellini beans (white kidney beans)
¾ cup fresh cilantro – chopped
½ cup fresh parsley – chopped
¼ cup fresh chives – chopped
1 teaspoon hot pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste
8 – 10 cups kale – chopped or julienne

In a large pot, heat the olive oil then add the onion and sauté until semi-soft.  Add the garlic and sauté for another 2 minutes.  Add the vegetable broth, 32 ounces of water (or 64 ounces of water if using all water as the broth), and the potatoes.  Cook the potatoes until they are very soft–about 40 to 45 minutes.  After the potatoes have become very soft and while still in the pot, mash them with a potato masher. You could also use an immersion blender to mash them; do leave some small pieces of potato.
Add the cannellini beans (juice included), cilantro, parsley, chives, hot pepper flakes, salt and pepper to the pot and simmer for 5 minutes.  Add the kale and simmer for another 5 minutes or until the kale is semi-soft.  Serve.

Gostoso! (Yummy in Portuguese)

Serve with some crusty bread.
Sprinkle some Parmesan cheese on top.
Serve with a dash of Balsamic vinegar and/or cayenne pepper sauce
Non vegetarians can also use chicken broth

A Yum Scrub Organics Recipe – adapted by Lisa Mackenzie Karson

“Worlds Healthiest Foods,” “Kale,” WH Foods. online: http://whfoods.org/genpage.php?dbid=38&tname=foodspice


Yum Friday Recipe – Veggie Mexican Chili

9 Sep

If you are living in on the East coast, chances are you have been getting a little wet with the never ending rain.   So, there’s no better time to cook up a chili.  However–what’s great about this chili (besides the taste) is that it’s light enough to eat even in warm weather.  This recipe combines some amazing vegetables with yummy spices and is topped off with a bit of cotija cheese.

Yum Veggie Mexican Chili – serves 4
3-4 poblano peppers
3-4 medium sized zucchini, squash, or a combination, cubed
1 large vidalia onion, diced
1  8 oz. package white mushrooms, sliced
3 cups baby spinach
32 oz. chicken or veggie stock + 2 extra cups for the rice
1 can pinto beans, rinsed
1 cup basmatti rice
1 Tablespoon butter or extra virgin olive oil
1 small can tomato paste
3 Tablespoon olive oil, 2 for chili, 1 to use on peppers
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tablespoon chili powder
1 Tablespoon coriander
1 Tablespoon cumin
2 Tablespoon salt
1 Tablespoon pepepr
Cilantro, tortilla chips, cojita cheese, and sour cream for garnish
Prepare Rice
In a medium saucepan add the butter (or extra virgin olive oil).   Rinse the rice and add it to the butter (or oil) and sauté for 5 minutes, be careful not to burn the rice.   Add the chicken or vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Cover and turn heat to low.  Cook rice without lifting the lid for 15 minutes or until all the stock has evaporated.  Fluff with a fork and set aside.
Prepare Poblano Chilis
First, rub the poblanos with olive oil and roast in the oven at 400 degrees for fifteen minutes or until the skin is blackened.  Remove from the oven and cool.  Peel off the skin and discard.  Roughly chop the the poblanos. (Placing the roasted peppers in a paper bag or sealed container will help release the skin from the peppers.)
Prepare Chili
In a dutch oven on medium high heat add the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil, add the peppers, and sauté for one minute. Add the chili powder, coriander, cumin and heat for 45 seconds.  Add the chopped onions, zucchini/squash, mushrooms and garlic.  Lower the heat to medium, and sauté the veggies, stirring occasionally till the onions are transparent and the zucchini is tender.   Add the tomato paste, the 32 oz of stock, pepper, and salt.  Bring to a boil, stir, and lower heat and simmer without a lid for 30-45 minutes.
In a bowl add some rice, top with a 1/4 cup of pinto beans, pour the chili mix over, and garnish with minced cilantro, crumbled cotija cheese, tortilla chips, and a smidgen of sour cream. 
Recipe by: Lisa Mackenzie Karson

Yum Friday Recipe – Grilled Peaches with Candied Hot Peppers

2 Sep

It’s Labor Day Weekend and the traditional end of summer.  We’re celebrating the end of summer like you do a good meal–with a wonderful dessert–grilled peaches with candied hot peppers.

Peaches and hot peppers are paired together in what may seem like an unlikely match.  However, the tangy juiciness of the peaches combine with spicy sweetness of hot peppers into a taste bud explosion.

We normally stay way from using refined sugar in our food recipes (we love it as an exfoliator, though) because it’s not very skin friendly or gut friendly for that matter.  But, the amount of candied hot peppers on each peach is very small, and will have negligible effect on the skin.  And sometimes we just need to step out and have a little fun, like eating something sweet once in awhile.

So, now that we have the disclaimer out of the way.  Let’s talk peaches and peppers.  Peaches are about to wrap up their show until next year, so go to the farmer’s market this weekend and grab some.  Peaches are high in the antioxidants vitamin A and C; antioxidants love to scavenge the body for the free radicals that like to wreck havoc in our body.  Peaches also have vitamin K.  Vitamin K is really good for those dark circles and bags under the eyes and helps with wound healing.  They also have skin loving nutrient E and some of the B’s.  Peaches even have drops of protein and iron.

Maybe you can’t get past the fieriness of hot pepper to think about whether they have any beneficial nutrients.  It turns out hot peppers have a good bit of nutrients.  They are very high in Vitamin A and have vitamin C along with several other vitamins and minerals.  What they are well known for though is capsaicin.  The capsaicin is what gives the heat to peppers.  If you can stand the heat, eating hot pepper can give you many health benefits.  Capsaicin has been studied for the relief of nerve pain, arthritis, psoriasis, nasal and lung congestion, and to boost immunity–to name a few.  For the skin, capsaicin brings more blood flow to the skin, which helps in healing and cell regeneration.

Yum Grilled Peaches with Candied Peppers – serves 4 – 6 

Prepare  Peppers
Preheat oven to 190 degrees
5-6 spicy peppers of your choice.  (since our CSA had Holland chili peppers, we used those)
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
10-12 wooden skewer

In a saucepan combine the sugar and water.  Heat until the sugar is fully melted without boiling the water.   In the meantime slice the peppers in half lengthwise.   Remove all seeds and pulp.  You can keep the stems on for decoration if you would like.  Add the cut peppers to the water/sugar mixture and simmer for 20 minutes.   Strain the peppers from the water.  You can keep the sugar water to add a kick to some fresh lemonade or limeade! Wrap each pepper around a skewer, forming a spiral.  You can also bake the peppers flat on a parchment-paper lined baking sheet.  Bake for one hour.

3 ripe peaches
1 cup almond milk
¼ cup maple syrup
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
pinch of nutmeg (freshly grated)

Note: I whipped the sauce with a food and cream  gourmet whipper.  With a whipper, you can whip and make foams out of many ingredients besides cream.  I love mine and use it all the time.  If you don’t have one though, that’s cool.   Just spoon the sauce on the plate before adding the peaches; it still makes a beautiful presentation.

In a saucepan combine the almond milk, maple syrup, vanilla, and nutmeg.   Simmer for 10 minutes, making sure to never let it come to a boil then remove from heat.  Chill in the fridge till ready to serve.  If using a whipper, add the sauce to the canister and then refrigerate.

Cut the peaches in half going around the seed.  Remove the seed.   Heat the grill or a grill pan to medium or medium high.  Spray the grill with cooking spray and grill the peaches cut side down.  Watch them carefully so they don’t burn.  Grill until nicely browned (about 4 min.).  Plate the sauce, add the peaches, and garnish with the chili peppers.


Recipe created by Lisa Mackenzie Karson

Yum Friday Recipe – Hearty Eggplant “Italian Sausage” Sandwiches

26 Aug

Japanese eggplant, peppers, tomatoes, onions, and spices combine to make not only a great Italian tasty dish, but a healthy one to boot.  The buns are gluten free and yeast free, which is especially good for people whose skin and digestion are aggravated by these two, and they are delicious.

We had some amazing Japanese eggplant and hot yellow peppers in our CSA this week!  CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. How it works is at the beginning of the growing season you buy a share from a local farmer for that growing season. Shares are sold as individual or family, and you can have a share for just vegetables or fruit, or a combination.  Many CSA’s have shares for flowers and eggs as well.  Weekly, the farmer then delivers (at a designated pick-up place) your share.  The CSA deliveries go until the fall or late fall.  Short of growing your own veggies, it’s a great way to have fresh produce and support local farmers.

So, we decided to make a classic and hearty dish with the Japanese eggplant that still keeps the skin happy.   These meat-less sausage sandwiches are so yummy, you won’t even miss the sausage.  Because Japanese eggplant has a meaty texture, it makes a great substitute for the sausage, and with the fennel and anise seeds you’ll be tasting Italian.   The hot yellow peppers really turn up the heat!  Although, you can substitute sweet peppers for the hot, or do a combination.

Eggplant doesn’t have much protein, but don’t worry most Americans don’t have to worry about not getting enough protein.  Eggplant is also very low in carbohydrates, but what it does have is some wonderful phytonutrients that are powerful antioxidants.  The body and skin loves antioxidants because they fight free radicals and reduce inflammation.  Eggplant is also a very good source of fiber; fiber helps to remove toxins from the body.

While we used Japanese eggplant in our recipe, you can use another variety. There are at least 15 varieties of eggplant…who knew.  So, you’ve tried eggplant, but thought it too bitter.  Try it again, but this time buy a young (small) eggplant; they don’t have as many seeds, and it’s the seeds that contribute to the bitter taste.  Also, buy a male eggplant.  We’re not being sexist or anything, but the males are much less bitter.  Go figure.  Okay, so how do you tell the male from the female?  There’s some bawdy joke probably here, but we’ll refrain.  There’s an indentation at the end (opposite the stem) of an eggplant.  If the indentation is shallow and round, it’s male.  The indentation of the female is deep with a dash shape.

Our recipe also has tomatoes.  Tomatoes are bursting with Vitamin C, and as we’ve said before, the skin loves vitamin C–helps keeps those wrinkles at bay and fights inflammation.  Of course, tomatoes have their own antioxidant phytonutrient-lycopene.  The combined eggplant and the tomato in the recipe provide almost all the B vitamins and a good amount of copper–other skin loving nutrients.

As mentioned above, the rolls are not only gluten free, but are yeast free, light, and delicious. The rolls are made by Against The Grain.  They’re sold in many natural grocery stores and coops.  Check their website for locations in your area  (http://www.againstthegraingourmet.com).

Yum Hearty Eggplant “Italian Sausage” SandwichesRecipe  serves 4 – 6
3-4 Japanese Eggplant – sliced
4 hot yellow peppers sliced (can substitute sweet green or yellow peppers for hot ones)
1 red bell pepper chopped
1 medium white onion diced
2-3 Italian tomatoes
1-16 ounce can diced tomatoes and the juice
2-3 cloves of garlic, chopped
1/2  Tablespoon fennel seeds
1/2 Tablespoon anise seeds
1 Tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Tablespoon salt

Prepare vegetables.  In a large skillet on medium heat add the olive oil, heat anise and fennel seeds for 1-2 minutes. Then add onions, peppers and saute until the onions are transparent.   Lower heat and add eggplant, fresh tomatoes, and garlic. Saute for 2-3 minutes.  Add canned tomatoes, and salt.   Allow the mixture to simmer on low heat for 20 minutes.

To Serve: Lightly toast buns; pile on the Eggplant “Italian Sausage” with the juices.  Serve with a lettuce salad and corn on the cob!

Serving Suggestion: Instead on rolls, serve it over pasta or rice.

Recipe created by: Lisa Mackenzie Karson

The Cook’s Thesaurus
. http://www.foodsubs.com/Eggplants.html

Vegetarians in Paradise. http://www.vegparadise.com/highestperch67.html

The Essential – Essential Oils

22 Aug

If you are looking to include more organic/natural solutions for personal and home use, we suggest stocking your cabinet with a few basic essential oils. Lavender, tea tree, and peppermint essential oils are good ones to begin using.

If you’ve ever sniffed an essential oil, you know what a strong scent they have.  This scent is a result of the naturally occurring chemical compounds that are in a more condensed form than you get from the plant or herb.  These same chemical compounds are also what make essential oils effective for personal and home use.  Actually many man-made medicines get their start with botanicals.

Aspirin came about because of willow bark.  Willow bark had been used since ancient times in many cultures for pain and fever.  In more recent history, Tamoxifen used to treat breast cancer is a result of the Pacific Yew tree.  And Israeli doctors are investigating cinnamon as a prevention and cure for Alzheimer’s, and hospitals in France and Israel are investigating the use of cinnamon oil to fight hard to kill bacteria.  Lavender sprayed in Alzheimer ‘s units has shown to calm patients.  And a combination of essential oils showed promising results for hair loss. 

Our suggestions for the use of essential oils will not cure cancer or Alzehimer’s, but may help with some typical personal and household problems.

Buy true lavender; the biological name is “lavandula angustifolia.”  Spike lavender though related is not the same and Lavandin is a cross between true lavender and spike lavender.  Lavender is a very gentle oil in that it can often be applied neat (undiluted) on the skin and most people have not trouble with lavender.  Be prudent in the amount of essential oils you use because too much can cause a headache or be a stimulant when you want to relax.

  • Uses
    • Burns/Sunburns.  Burn yourself taking a pot off the stove or something out of the oven, reach for the lavender.  Modern aromatherapy got its start from lavender and a burn.  French chemist/perfumer Rene-Maurice Gattefosse applied lavender after a severe burn, and as the saing goes, “the rest is history.” For small and less severe burns apply neat (undiluted).  For larger areas, dilute with a cup of water in a spray bottle and spray.
    • Sleep/Insomnia.  Lavender has relaxing and sedative properties that make it a great aid for sleep problems.  There are several ways to use it for sleep. 
      • Add a few drops to a warm bath.  Because a bath can also stimulate, take your bath an hour or so before going to bed.
      • Apply two drops to a small cloth and put between your pillow and pillowcase.  The scent will be there all night.  This is especially good if you wake during the night and can’t go back to sleep.  Do not use too much or you will be restless instead.
      • Make a spritzer with lavender oil and water and spray in your bedroom before going to bed.  To keep it fresh, don’t make more than a few days worth.
      • Inhaling lavender is calming and relaxing. 
    • PMS.  Lavender is known for relieving premenstrual symptoms.  Dilute a couple of drops in a carrier oil (almond, grapeseed, coconut, jojoba, olive, etc.) and rub on your stomach and lower back.
    • Insect bite and repellant.  For insect bites, apply neat and rub into the bite.  You may also combine it with the same amount of tea tree oil and apply.  To use as a repellant, apply neat to ankles, neck, and wrist.  You could also make a spray with 10-12 drops of lavender (again can combine with tea tree) with a cup of water.
    • Facial mister.  Do you sometimes feel your face needs a “wake me up” or feels dehydrated, and you can’t apply moisturizer?  Make a lavender face spray.  Use about 6 -7 drops of lavender in ½ cup of mineral water. Shake or mix.  Pour the spritzer in a one or two ounce spray bottle.  Whole Foods and Michael’s Craft store sale the bottles.  Store the remaining spray in the refrigerator. People with problem or oily skin can also use this.  Lavender is also good for acne, psoriasis, athlete’s foot, and other skin conditions.

The aboriginal people of Australia have been using tea tree for thousands of years.  While the name has tea in it, tea tree oil does not come from the tea plant.  Tea tree is one of the most effective essential oils because it has properties that fight against bacteria, fungi, and viruses.  As with almost all essential oils, you do not want to ingest tea tree essential oil.

  • Uses
    • Sore throat.  Add a drop of tea tree oil to ¼ cup water and gargle.  DO NOT SWALLOW.
    • Earache/Swimmer’s ear.  Warm to the touch 1/8 cup of extra virgin olive oil, almond oil, or sesame oil.  Add one drop of tea tree oil to the warmed oil.  Using a dropper or small spoon drop oil into the ear, keep ear tilted for a few minutes or place a cotton ball in the ear.  Repeat as necessary.  Seek medical attention for sever pain, bleeding, or pain accompanied with a fever.
    • Cold or Flu.  Inhale the vapors by placing 2 – 3 drops in hot water and placing a towel over your head.  Be careful not to burn yourself. Or add a drop or two to a warm water vaporizer.  You can also make a warm compress to place on the chest.  Take a couple drops of tea tree oil and mix in warm water.  Soak a small washcloth in the mixture; wring it out, and place on chest.
    • Mouthwash.  Dilute one drop of tea tree oil in ¼ cup water; gargle and swish.  DO NOT SWALLOW.
    • Dandruff.  Either add a few drops to your shampoo and/or conditioner.  You can also make a final rinse with a couple drops of tea tree in some water.  Be sure to gently massage into scalp.
    • Disinfectant.  Spray the air during flu and cold season with tea tree and distilled water to disinfect the air.  Don’t make more than you will use in a few days to keep it fresh.
    • Mold.  Use either directly depending on the size of the area or dilute with some water.

Peppermint essential oil is very strong smell and the smell lasts a long time.  So, use just a small amount.  Peppermint has also been around a long time; remnants of peppermint have been found in Egyptian tombs from 1000 B.C.E.  Don’t put peppermint oil directly on the skin.  

  • Uses
    • Bugs and Insects.   Peppermint essential oil works great on bugs.  A dilution of peppermint essential oil and water, or with a small amount of alcohol is will keep many of the creepy crawlers from invading your space.  In a 16 oz. spray bottle, drop about 6 drops of peppermint oil, add water and shake.  Spray around the outside perimeter of your house.  You can also spray around the inside perimeter.  Remember since the scent is strong and long lasting do one level at a time, beginning with the basement. 
    • Migraine Headaches.  Combine 3- 4 drops peppermint and 1 drop of lavender essential oil with a tablespoon of carrier oil (almond, jojoba, grapeseed, olive oil, etc.) and rub into temples. Make ahead so it’s ready when you need it. Repeat as necessary.
    • Achy Tired Feet.  At the end of an exhausting and perhaps your day isn’t finished, this is a great pick-me-up that sends some special love to your overworked feet.   Fill a tub or basin some very warm water to – just enough to cover the feet; add two – three drops of peppermint oil.  You can also add a couple drops of lavender to the mix.  Soak the feet, or to make them really feel good, get a stiff body brush and brush the soles and around the toes.  Soak for a few more minutes.  You may want to rinse the feet in cool water at the very end.
    • Bad Breath.  Add a drop of peppermint oil to ¼ cup water.  Rinse and gargle.  DO NOT SWALLOW.
    • Nausea/Indigestion.  Just a whiff of peppermint oil helps to settle a stomach. You can also place a drop in a tablespoon of wild honey to settle indigestion or upset stomach.

This is just a start to the uses for the essential oils listed above, and there are hundreds of essential oils that offer benefits other than for perfume or scent.  Just remember essential oils are very potent so a little goes along way.

This information is for entertaining purposes only and not for diagnosing or treatment of any conditions.

“Aromatherapy,” Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, A Teaching Hospital of Harvard Medical Center. Online: http://www.bidmc.org/YourHealth/ConditionsAZ.aspx?ChunkID=37427 .  Retrieved 19 August 2011.

Lawless, Julie, “The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Essential Oil.”  Rockport, MA. Element Books. 1997.

Yoga for Skincare

9 Aug

Traditional yoga is a discipline that integrates the body, mind, and spirit and is a way of life.  However, as many people have discovered even bits and pieces of yoga are beneficial. So, don’t worry you won’t have to contort your limbs into a pretzel while standing on your head and go into a transcendental state to benefit from yoga for the skin.

These simple techniques below practiced regularly will enhance your skin.

  • Poses
    Anytime you can get the blood flowing in the opposite direction with either forward bends or inversions brings fresh oxygenated blood throughout the body and to the skin.

    • Supported Forward Bend
      Forward bends against a wall are restorative because the wall supports you as you bend; restorative poses are relaxing.  So, you get the benefits of blood moving to the face and the benefits of relaxation that is always good for the mood which translates being good for the skin.

      • Stand against a wall with your feet about a foot or so away from the wall.  Hinge (bend) from the hips (not the waist).  Don’t force yourself to bend any further than the body is willing–allow gravity to help you to deepen into the pose.  Once you in the pose, make a “window frame” with your arms by crossing them above the elbows. Your neck can hang loose (stretches muscles) or bring your chin to towards your chest (stretches the joints in the spine).  Knees can be bent.  Once you are settled in the pose, take a deep inhale and audibly exhale allowing your body to relax in the pose.  Hold the pose from 30 seconds to 4 minutes.  Avoid this pose if you have heart disease, uncontrolled blood pressure, or eye diseases.  When you are done, inhale you way back up against the wall and relax against the wall for a few minutes.
    • Legs Up the Wall
      Legs Up the Wall pose is a simple inversion that is also a restorative pose.  The blood flows in the opposite directions with inversionsThis is a great pose to do if you have trouble sleeping or loaded down with stress.

      • Sit with a side of your body parallel to and against a wall (one hip is touching the wall).  Lie down with legs extended and swing your body around so that you leg go up the wall.  If you need to, scoot your buttocks so they touch the wall.  Extend you arms out to the side.  Take a deep inhale then audibly exhale.  Relax in this pose up to 15 minutes.  You can also place a folded blanket underneath your hips to get more of an inversion (do this before you extend your legs up the wall).
    • Simple Twist
      Twist “wring” out the organs, which helps to eliminate toxins.  Eliminating toxins from the body means they won’t show up on your skin as blemishes, red bumps, or scaly skin.

      • Lie on your back on the floor with your knees bent.  Either extend your arms out into a “t” position, or allow them to lie down along your side.  Begin by moving your knees from side to side (knees are together, moving in the same direction.  After a few movements, allow the knees to rest on the floor to one side.  Take a deep inhale and audibly exhale, relaxing into the pose. Hold the pose from 2 – 10 minutes.  Sometimes it help the twist if you move your hips and buttocks opposite the direction the knees are going–do this prior to bringing them to the floor.
  • Breath
    Breathing properly and doing breath exercises help to move nutrients throughout the body, eliminate toxins, energize, and relax the body.

    • Belly Breathing
      Belly breathing is the proper way to breathe.  It’s easier on the lungs and heart and allows you to approach life in a more centered way.

      • Can do either sitting or lying down.  Focus on your belly at about the belly button or a bit lower.  On your inhale, the belly expands and moves “up.”  On the exhale, the belly deflates and moves down.  Picture a balloon.  When filled with air it expands and when the air is removed it deflates.  Practice daily until this becomes your normal breathing habit, or do when you feel particularly stressed.  Practice slowing the breath and extending the exhale.  Great to practice at bed time
    • Kaphalapti Breath
      Kapahlapti means skull shining or skull cleansing.  It energizes the body and brings fresh oxygenated blood to the body.  You don’t want to do this breath prior to going to bed (unless you want to pull an all nighter).

      • With kaphalphti breath, the inhale is a natural breath and the exhale is a powerful exhale.  This breath can be practiced sitting or lying down.  First become comfortable belly breathing.  Allow your inhale to come naturally through the nose.  On the exhale, forcibly draw in your belly as you expel the air through your nose. Then again allow a natural inhale followed by forcibly exhaling the breath through the nose by sharply drawing in the belly.  Practice slowly until you are comfortable with the breath and then you can do a little faster.  Also, makes sure your inhaling more than exhaling (hyperventilation).  Inhale can’t be shorter than exhale, but exhales can be longer than inhale.  There are some good You Tube videos that demonstrate this breath.
  • Meditation
    Meditation is a terrific body healer and what heals the body benefits the skin.  If meditation is intimidating to you, think of it as sitting quietly or going deeply into prayer.  Begin by doing just a few minutes (3-4) and gradually build up to where you can sit quietly for 20 minutes each day.  Techniques to help you can do to help you be “in your skin” are just following your breath; do a simple chant, such as “breathing in, breathing out; don’t fight your thoughts–allow them to flow, or “watch” them.

The thing with practicing yoga is that once you begin with a few simple practices done regularly, your body will gradually want to seek out other techniques and ways of living that support your journey through life.

YUM Friday Recipe – Patty Pan and Zucchini Squash Sauté

17 Jun

It’s national eat you veggies day. So, eat your veggies! Here’s a delicious recipe that’s versatile; it works either as a side dish, a main dish, or as a filling.

Patty Pan (almost sounds like we are going to play a child’s game…) is a cute scallop looking squash; it’s also called scallop squash.  Summer is a great time to enjoy this dish because both patty pan and zucchini are summer and winter vegetables.

Squashes tend to get overlooked when looking at the nutrient contribution of vegetables. And in some circles (gardeners and the like), zucchini becomes the bane of their veggie harvest as they try in vain to pawn off zucchini by the bags onto unsuspecting family, friends, neighbors, and coworkers.  Zucchini produce like they’re the bunny rabbits of the garden.   Although…gardeners could keep their zucchini crop in line by eating the flowers.  Yes, the flowers of both patty pan and zucchini are edible and make a nice way to garnish a dish.

As far as nutrition goes, squash should not be overlooked. You wouldn’t think it (or maybe care), but summer squash is a good source of vitamin C and also has another antioxidant vitamin A.  The skin loving nutrients of vitamin K, seven of the B’s, zinc, copper, and selenium are present in squash along with other nutrients.  Interestingly, summer squash also has the two essential fatty acids omega 3 and 6 that the body needs.  The omega fatty acids are great for the skin, especially if there’s an inflammation problem.  Ricotta cheese rounds out the dish and brings some more omega 3 & 6 to the nutritional table as well as good dose of selenium and lots of calcium with some protein.

Yum Patty Pan and Zucchini Squash Sauté

4 shallots- finely chopped
1 onion chopped
3-4 patty pan squash, chopped
1 zucchini, chopped
3-4 cloves garlic- minced
1Tablespoon crushed red peppers
3/4 cup fresh ricotta (or any semi soft cheese like feta or goat)

In a large skillet on medium heat, sauté shallots, onion, patty pan squash, zucchini, and crushed red peppers.  Sauté until the veggies are lightly browned.  Add the minced garlic and sauté for an additional 1 to 2 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.

Remove from heat and stir in the ricotta cheese.


Serve as side dish to something hot off the barbie.

Steam 2 red peppers that have been cut in half with seeds and membrane removed until just tender.  Remove from heat and steamer.  Fill each steamed red pepper half with the patty pan and zucchini squash sauté.  Top with a little extra cheese.  Place under a preheated broiler for a few minutes until the cheese is hot and bubbly.

Serve as a main luncheon dish along with a salad.

Recipe by: Lisa Mackenzie Karson

Yum Friday Recipe – Sweet Potato Cucumber Curry Salad

3 Jun

In our ongoing whole-body approach to skincare, weekly we share our healthy and delicious recipes

Are you going to a picnic this weekend and want to take something different?  Try this bright looking twist on the everyday potato salad. This recipe switches things up and will have people in awe of your talents. It’s super easy and quick to make. Not to mention the great benefits these ingredients have to offer.

Sweet potatoes are a fantastic source of carotene.  Carotene gets translated into Vitamin A in our bodies.  Vitamin A is an antioxidant, and antioxidants keep inflammation down in the body.  Studies show that illnesses, such as heart disease and cancer may be caused by inflammation in the body.

For the skin, antioxidants reduce redness and the irritation in skin conditions, such as acne, eczema and psoriasis.  It also help to reduce wrinkles by promoting collagen synthesis. Sweet potatoes are also a great source of copper; copper helps to support the elasticity of the skin.

Besides being very hydrating, cucumbers have vitamin C (asorbic acid), caffeic acid, and high amounts of silica all of which reduce swelling, soothe skin irritations, and improves skin complexion.  Now you know why we also like to put them on our puffy eyes. Bet you didn’t know that cucumbers have been around for thousand of years.  They are said to have originated either in India or China.

The Vegenaise in this recipe doesn’t just bind the vegetables together and taste good it also plays an important role in the uptake of the beta-carotene.  Studies show that the body uses more of the carotene when there is some fat eaten with the sweet potatoes.  And it doesn’t take much fat to make this happen.

Yum Sweet Potato Cucumber Curry Salad – serves 4-6

2 Large SweetPotatoes
1 Yellow Onion
1 Cucumber
1/2 C. Vegenaise (see suggestions below)
1 – 2 Tablespoon Yellow Curry Powder
Salt and Pepper to taste
Handful of fresh chives for garnish

Fill a medium saucepan with water; add a dash of salt and bring to a boil.
In the meantime, dice the sweet potatoes with the skins on into ½ inch cubes––about 5 cups.  Add sweet potatoes to boiling water and cook just until fork tender––about 7 – 8 minutes. You don’t want to over cook them because then they will get mushy.  Strain and set aside to cool. This can be done up to a day ahead.

Dice the onion––about ½ – ¾ cup.
Peel cucumber, cut lengthwise, and scoop out the seeds. Cut cucumbers into ½ inch cubes––about 1 – 1/14 cups.
Whisk Vegenaise and yellow curry powder together.  Add onion, cucumber and pepper. Taste before adding salt. Mix the vegetables and vegenaise/curry mixture thoroughly.  Fold in the sweet potatoes.  Garnish with chopped chives.  Cover and chill until ready to serve.  This salad is better when the flavors have time to meld together.


  • Vegenaise is a healthy mayonnaise replacement that’s quite good.  It’s dairy free and egg free.  We like to use the one made with grape seed oil.  You’ll find it in the refrigerated section of natural grocery stores.
  • Use fresh curry powder.  If your bottle of curry powder is older than 6 months, buy a new bottle.  Old curry powder gets bitter.
  • To make raw onions more agreeable on the digestion, blanch them quickly in boiling water for about 5-7 seconds and then submerge the onions in a bowl of ice water.  Drain, pat try, and use how you would raw onions.
  • Try using scissors to chop your chives; they make the chopping much easier.
  • Taking the seeds out of the cucumbers prevents the salad from getting watery.


Recipe by:  Lisa Mackenzie Karson
Copyright: Abhijit Chandra, LLC 2011

Take the Burn out of Sunburn: A List of Remedies

1 Jun

Here are some suggestions to help heal a sunburn. While we encourage you to take precautions when out in the sun to avoid damaging the skin, sometimes things just happen.

Be aware that when you’re out in the sun and notice your skin becoming mildly red and think it’s not big deal, it may be more severe than first glance.  The severity of a sunburn may not be visible for another 12 to 24 hours after exposure.  The first thing to do when you have the first hint of a sunburn is to protect the area.  Here’s the thing: It’s too late at this point to apply sunscreen.  You need to get out of the sun completely or at the least cover-up.  The pain for a sunburn peaks about 6 hours after and can continue up to  48 hours.

Once out of the sun:

  • Showers and Compresses
    Keep the area cool by applying a cold compress or frequently taking cool showers or baths.  There are suggestions below for herbal compresses that can be applied to the sunburn.
  • Lavender
    Lavender essential oil helps heal and soothe sunburn. Make sure it’s true lavender (Lavandula angustifolia, officinalis, or vera) and not Spike Lavender or Lavandin that you use.  On a mild burn or small patch you can use the lavender directly (neat).  For other burns, dilute lavender (10 -15 drops) with water in a spray bottle and spray on the burn.  You can also make a cool compress from the diluted lavender or put some drops in a tepid bath.  Lavender and Aloe Vera (from a plant) can be mixed together with a little cool water and applied by spray or on a cool compress.  If using a spray bottle be careful to avoid spraying into your eyes.

  • Vinegar
    White or apple cider vinegar diluted with water is highly recommended by many people for sunburn relief.  Try putting some in a clean spray bottle and spraying the area frequently.  Be careful not to spray the vinegar in your eyes.  Two cup of vinegar can also be added to a tepid bath.
  • Teas
    Chamomile, black, or green tea can also help relieve sunburn.  Brew several bags to make a strong tea.  Brew the teas individually or combine chamomile with either black or green tea.  Allow the tea to cool and make a compress, or add it to a cool bath.  Be aware that tea stains fabrics.
  • Milk
    Whole milk and water in equal parts can help relieve sunburn discomfort.  Apply by soaking a small towel and applying to the area.  You can also add milk to a tepid bath. The protein in milk creates a soothing film.  You want to dilute the milk because when undiluted it hardens and cracks as it dries, which will irritate the burn.

  • Moisturizers
    Apply a sunburn friendly moisturizer to the area (aloe vera, calendula cream). 

    • Avoid moisturizes that have alcohol, benzocaine, lanocaine, or other anesthetics.  Alcohol will dry out the skin. Anesthetics haven’t shown to help a sunburn, but have shown to irritate the skin.  Best to stay away from anything that has chemicals in them.
    • According to the Mayo Clinic, benzocaine has been linked to a rare but deadly condition where the amount of oxygen in the blood decreases.  Do not use benzocaine on children under that age of two without medical supervision because children of this age group have been the most affected.
    •  Aloe Vera is often recommended, but before buying an aloe vera product for sunburn read the label.  Many aloe vera products have alcohol and other chemicals in them that could irritate the sunburn.  Buy an aloe vera plant and use the gel directly from the leaf.
    • Also avoid using petroleum products (Vaseline) and butters such as cocoa butter; they hold in the heat.
  • Anti-inflammatories
    Take an anti-inflammatory (aspirin or ibuprofen) for pain and to decrease inflammation.  There are also some good natural pain relief products. End Pain is the name of one.  Besides helping the pain, it also helps in the healing process. It can be found at natural grocery stores.  Do not give aspirin to children or teenagers because of the potential for Reye’s Syndrome.
  • Hydration
    Sunburns can cause headaches and dehydration.  Headaches are often the body’s sign that you aren’t hydrated.  So, rehydrate the body by drinking water.  Avoid alcoholic and carbonated beverages.  You can also lie down in a cool, dark room to help with the headache.
  • Vitamin C
    Increase your intake of vitamin C.  Vitamin C helps to heal skin damage and wounds.  Some foods high in vitamin C are melons, oranges, grapefruit, berries, and kiwi.

  • Calendula
    Calendula cream heals, moisturizes, and will help soothe a sunburn.  You can buy it at health food or natural grocery stores.  You can also try brewing a tea with calendula herbs; cool it and apply with a compress or put it in a tepid bath.
  • Peeling
    Peeling is part of the natural process of sunburn healing.  Continue to apply sunburn sensitive moisturizer to the burn area.
  • Blisters
    Don’t mess with any blisters that form by trying to break them open.  Allow them to heal on their own or seek medical attention. Keep the area clean and apply calendula cream to the blisters and/or cool compresses.

When to Seek Medical Help

  • If you have any of these symptoms or combination: Fever, Chills, Nausea, Rapid Breathing, Rapid Pulse, Dizziness, Dehydration, Severe Headache, Shock, Severe Blistering, and Itchy Bumps. These can be signs of sun poisoning.
  • Sunburn area becomes infected.
  • The sunburn does not heal within a week or so.
  • Eyes hurt and are sensitive to light
  • If you feel unwell anytime during the healing process, seek medical attention.

FYI:  Someone on our staff  sought to relieve a severe sunburn burn that had itchy bumps by going swimming in a  pool. The chlorine in the water turned the bumps into second-degree burns.  Talk about pain……

Prevention is the best cure….  Read our blog on Skin Cancer to see how to protect yourself in the sun.

Click to Buy Our Great All-Organic Skincare Line:


Abe’s Market bit.ly/1rueto2



Lawrence E. Gibson, M.D, “Sunburn Treatment: What Works,” Mayo Clinic. Online: www.mayoclinic.com/health/sunburntreatment/AN01423

“Sunburn: Home Treatment,” WebMd. Online: http://www.webmd.com/skin-beauty/tc/sunburn-home-treatment

Siamak Nabili, MD, MPH , Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, “Sunburn and Sun Poisoning,” Medicine Net.com. Online: http://www.medicinenet.com/sunburn_and_sun_poisoning/article.htm

“Vitamin C,” Medline Plus. Online: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002404.htm


The Essentials of Essential Oils

4 Mar

Before peeling an orange and digging into its sweet juiciness, do you bring it to your nose first and inhale its wonderful uplifting smell?  Mmmmmmm!  If you haven’t, try it.  The scent and yummy feeling that comes with sniffing an orange is due in large part to its essential oils.  

Essential oils are the “essence” of a plant.  Extraction of volatile (scent and therapeutic) molecules from petals, stems, bark, and/or other parts of a plant is what makes it an essential oil. Some plants such as cypress or patchouli are generous in giving up their essence.  While others such as the rose, which takes almost 10,000 pounds of petals to get approximately one pound of essential oil, aren’t giving their essence away so freely.  By the way, 1/8 ounce of therapeutic grade organic rose essential oil can cost well over a $100.00. And just like a great bottle of wine some improve with age, such as patchouli.

Essential oils are not just dressed up in their fine scents for showing off; they work to.  In almost every culture across the globe and across thousands of years, plant oils have been used for everything from burns to sciatica.  Essential oils were so prized they were used as money and for bartering in many cultures.

Modern aromatherapy resulted from an accident.  After a severe burn to his hand French chemist, Rene-Maurice Gattefosse, grabbed lavender essential oil and poured it on his hand.  He was surprised at how quickly the burn healed and how it prevented scarring.  Yum Scrub! Organics strongly believes in the benefits of essential oils and that’s why we add them to our products.

In addition, Yum Scrub! Organic essential oils are a cut above.  Our supplier sells only organic essential oils, using a distillation process.  Their oils are of the highest quality, and they also are in contact with the producers of the oils they don’t produce themselves.

Yum Scrub! Organics pays more for our essential oils, but we are committed to using the best ingredients that work.  And, we think our wonderful customers deserve the best!

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