I love coconut. I love making yoghurt, milk and butter from the meat and drinking the water and making Coconut water Kefir. The recipes couldn’t be simpler.

 

Coconut Milk;

I use Young Thai coconuts, they are my favourite taste. Other older meat may need straining and there are several methods of making coconut milk from dried coconut too. In the tropics we have these in abundance in the supermarkets and after using the water and meat they are a bargain. Now I just need some ideas on how to use the husks- I hate waste and live on the 27th floor!

1 1/2 Cups of Coconut water (about the contents of 1 coconut)

1 1/2 Cups of filtered Water

1 cup of coconut meat (normally 2-3 coconuts worth)

I throw all mine in my blender and blend until thick and creamy. No need to strain! This will keep in the fridge for at least a week but it is normally used up way before then!

I have also made Coconut milk Kefir from this also. Just add the milk grains and leave with a muslin cover for 12-24 hours- to taste!

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magnesium

Magnesium an element on the periodic table we can not live without. It has so many functions within the body, 50% of total body magnesium is found in bone (source) it is not a surprise most of us show symptoms of deficiency; As a Naturopath and Nutritional Therapist I  look at all of my clients individual needs before prescribing any supplement or food changes. It is recommended that you consult a professional Naturopath or Nutritional therapist before making any changes yourself.

What does it do?

It is involved in enzyme reactions in the digestive system and many other systems, helps regulate bowel movements

Helps cells to manufacture energy, will help use sugar and fat for energy so may result in weight loss,

Balances calcium, helps to relax muscles reducing pain and stiffness, regulates muscle contractions especially heart muscle, maintains muscle

Pulls water into cells and therefore is essential to rehydrate the body,

Improves insulin sensitivity and therefore is important in blood sugar balance and hormone regulation,

Reduces blood stickyness for example found in heart disease and high blood pressure,

Improves circulation, reduces pain and twitches (for example restless leg syndrome)

Enhances the immune system,

Helps to regulate temperature,

Helps transmit messages from the brain to the muscles and therefore helps to ‘turn off’ the stress response, can help induce restful sleep, also good for people with high anxiety levels

Works with calcium and Vitamin D to maintains bone structure and health,

Facilitates DNA replication (for when the body is constantly developing new cells- perfect DNA is the key to cancer prevention and prolongs ageing)

It truly is an amazing nutrient!

Where is it found?

The main place to find magnesium is in green vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds and legumes. Refined flours, rice, sugar and other products have removed magnesium and other nutrients in the processing. These are also to be avoided as they mainly need magnesium to help process them within the body.

Green leafy veg especially dark green like spinach and Kale. Whole grains such as oats, buckwheat, rye, barley, rice, Quinoa, millet and chia. Beans such as black, soy (preferably fermented), Kidney and lima, Nuts and Seeds such as pumpkin seeds, Almonds, Cashews, flax seeds, sesame seeds (tahini), sunfower seeds, pine nuts, watermelon seeds. Raw cacao, coconut (mostly in dried and creamed coconut), watermelon, eggs.

Factors that deplete it;

Stress, high blood sugar, diet high in processed foods (especially soft drinks), calcium supplements without magnesium, some pharmaceuticals, soft water, alcohol and other recreational drugs. The soil is also depleted of magnesium so there is sometimes a need for supplementation. You can also use epsom salts in the bath, or make a magnesium lotion or oil (see here, here and then use the magnesium oil to make a lotion adding it here– Thanks for the idea Coconut Mama)

 

 

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  1. Every part of the coconut can be used to nourish and support the body. Known as the ‘Tree of Life’ you can drink the water, eat the flesh and use the shell for all sorts of things.
  1. They are always in season and grow all year round. They are easy and cheap to buy. Once you know how they are also easy to open. Young meat is jelly like and really sweet and more mature meat is whiter, firmer and less sweet. You can make your own coconut water, kefir, milk, cream, yoghurt , butter and vinegar very easily.
  1. Coconut can be eaten and the water drunk during pregnancy. Both are  repudiated to nourish mother and baby and may help with a ‘quick delivery’. The oil when rubbed into the skin can help prevent and heal stretch marks. It can also be applied direct to nipples to soothe chafing and heal wounds whilst breastfeeding. The oil is also a safe and effective sunscreen for children and adults alike.
  1. When dehydrated in the hot summer months coconut water can help. Containing all the necessary electrolytes it can help get you back to balance. Coconut water also contains antimicrobial properties so is also great when suffering from bacterial imbalance (runny tummy!) and in the re-hydration afterwards. The sugar and nectar from the flowers is also full of necessary nutrients to process the sugar (improving blood sugar levels and create energy.
  1. Coconuts have been seen to help a diverse range of conditions, mostly due to their Medium Chain fatty acids. They have a positive effect on the body as they are easily absorbed, have anti-microbial properties, can boost metabolism , enhance thyroid activity, reduces pain and swelling, improve digestion, boost immune system and improve skin, hair teeth and nails. Is there anything a coconut can’t help? (Coconut Cures- Bruce Fife)

Coconut Recipes;

20121113-154836.jpgA bounty of Coconut

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Almond and Coconut Flour  Kefir pancakes

green drink

I use coconut water/ kefir for all my green drinks

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Coconut and Carrot seed oil natural Sunscreen

Affirmation of the week-

Since the theme of the week has been sunshine I thought I would first share these quotes to be used as affirmations for the weekend. Repeat as many times as you need to make your heart feel glad!;

Pink Rose

 

and

 

coli

The pool

I am off for a long weekend to Macau. So my activity tip for the week is swimming.

I know we all know swimming is good for you but there are benefits beyond the cardiovascular and muscle strengthening you get lapping a pool. There is 12-14% extra resistance (source) in walking so even walking up and down the pool is going to be 12-14% harder than normal walking, plus the added benefit of supported joints and the relaxing benefits of the hydro-electricity against the skin that is created. Simply floating is more relaxing than lying down on a lounger (think float tanks for stressed bankers!). Being in water for me is energising and revitalising. I love being in and around water (I am a water sign after all for all that means!) So if there is water near you (pool, lake, river or sea) go for a dip this week even if you dont get your hair wet you are doing your body good!

Natural Sunscreen is top of my list of things to take in my bag whilst out and about or on holiday. I make 30 ml bottles so they are easily portable and I can have one in my handbag, nappy bag, beach bag and pool bag!

carrots

There has been a lot of information about carrier oil SPF (Sun Protection Factor) and Carrot seed oil comes out pretty high (source). Beta Carotene and Vitamin E are super at preventing your skin from burning in the sun. Taken orally and applied topically as a natural sunscreen. Carrot seed oil is a powerful antioxidant when cold pressed (source) especially in fat oxidisation- which is really useful when applied to skin because all cells are made of fat and protein. So protecting that is what we want our sunscreen to do. Add that with other Vitamin E oils like Wheat-Germ and Avocado you have a deeply nutritious blend

coconut

Coconuts have been described as the original sunscreen. With a lower SPF factor but many other nutritional benefits when applied topically it is an ideal addition. Over time the coconut oil has been replaced by chemicals. Basically a fat barrier is what the skin needs to protect it- coconut oils Medium chain fatty acids are a perfect fit for this. Plus the anti bacterial and microbial benefits all together you have a match made in heaven!

lavender

on its own I think you have a great product but if you like a smell and to double up as a skin protector/ bug repellent/after sun these essential oils are key.

Lavender is a natural pain reliever, calming, antimicrobial and antiseptic perfect to ease burns and inflammation and balance and cleanse the skin. Gives that comforting herby lavender smell.

Chamomile is also a pain reliever and calming. It is also soothing and relaxing. Gives a warm sweet note too the oil

Geranium is anti-inflammatory and regulating. It is a powerful smell that insects hate but blended with the above give a nice rosy-minty hint to the oil

in the past I have often also added Neroli (very restorative for skin), Frankincense (again to restore and heal skin), lemongrass (protects from bugs) and grapefruit (although not great in the sunscreen it awesome in a bug repellent and aftersun). Please consult a professional Naturopath or Aromatherapist if worried about using essential oils.

Recipe for Natural Sunscreen

In a 30 ml bottle mix the following;

10ml Carrot seed oil

10 ml Coconut oil

5ml Avocado oil

5ml Wheatgerm oil

5-10 drops Lavender essential oil (lesser amount for young children)

5 drops Chamomile (Roman) essential oil

1-2 drops Geranium essential oil

(add some rescue remedy too if you like)

Apply often, safe for all ages (for babies best to use plain oil blend) especially if feeling burning, stay in shade at hottest times of the day or covered. See 5 ways to Stay Sun Safe for more info. Eating foods rich in carotenes (sweet potato, carrots, pumpkin- yellow/orange foods, also spinach and collards) and Vitamin E (avocado, nuts and seeds) will help protect you from the inside. Enjoy the sun but NEVER EVER Burn. 

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We hear a lot about Vitamin D nowadays. It has been linked to greater immunity, curing cancer, better mood, stronger bones, enhanced digestive health and the list goes on. There are more indications that skin cancer and breast cancer may occur in Vitamin D deficient people. This is seen in countries that have a population used to wearing sunscreen and also milk drinking populations (Vitamin D is reported to be found in milk and dairy products- especially butter). Lets have a look at what it does, where you can get it from and why you may need it. As a Naturopath and Nutritional Therapist I  look at all of my clients individual needs before prescribing any supplement or food changes. It is recommended that you consult a professional Naturopath or Nutritional therapist before making any changes yourself.

What does it do?

Vitamin D plays a big role in bone growth and development (hence why Rickets may come from a Vitamin D deficiency- interestingly more cases are being seen because our kids are not outside as much and when they are they have sunscreen on so the skin is unable to produce vitamin from the UV rays) and in the absorption of calcium (why most calcium supplements will contain vitamin D). It also lays a vital role in healthy teeth and gum repair. Taking it alongside vitamin A has shown to boost the immune system and is used in cases with asthma and allergies. It is used in many autoimmune diseases, works by helping to maintain heart muscle action, blood-clotting and is very useful for those with Diabetes. It stops the over proliferation (over production) of cells so may be used by cancer patients. It also plays a role in helping muscle spasms to relax.

sun

Where is it found?;

Vitamin D is stored in fat. This is one of the reasons that it may rise to toxic levels in your body. Unlike water soluble vitamins- fat stored vitamins do not get passed through your urine- they can be stored in the body and potentially clog up the liver. This is only really an issue if your body has a excess of fat, a insufficiency of nutrients necessary to break down and process the fat and also the mechanisms in place to utilise the fat for energy. Vitamin D also has several actions within the body which make storage necessary. It is made through the action of sunlight on your skin. It is also contained in eggs, oily fish (herring, tuna, cod, halibut), Fish liver oils (especially when fermented), butter and full fat milk (as it is stored in the fat- so skim milk doesn’t naturally contain it) and sprouted seeds.

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How do we Make it?-For the skin to produce Vitamin D from sunlight you need the following to be working together- the skin, bloodstream, liver and kidneys. The skin ‘catches the UV rays and converts then into a cholesterol which is then converted in the liver and kidneys. (5 ways to  be Safe in the Sun) The active form of Vitamin D is called D3 (which the kidneys will make) hence why we generally find this form in supplements. The darker your skin- the less Vitamin D you will produce. When Vitamin D is ingested, bile is needed to break down the fat it is stored in. A protein is then needed to carry it to the liver, where it is then stored till it is needed. The Vitamin D found in plant and meat sources is different because the fat they are in is different. Both plant and animal sources can be used – however the one contained in animal fat resembles our own more closely so requires a little less to convert it.

What should we take it with?- Vitamin D is best taken along side Magnesium and Calcium for bone and muscle health. However new studies suggest that Vitamin D must be taken with Vitamin K2 to maximise Vitamin D and Calcium’s roles and absorption.

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The sun is back here in Hong Kong, and I hear it is coming out where you are too. I love the sun and I rarely apply sun tan lotion as I have a healthy respect for it. I certainly do not use a product full of chemicals and petrochemicals (here) If I am going to be lying out in it- rare as i mostly prefer at least the top half of me to be in the shade- I will apply sunscreen (a natural one- naturally!) otherwise I abide to these 5 ways to keep myself and my kiddies burn free and Vit D rich.

1. Sunscreen– I like to use a mix of carrier oils with aromatherapy as my sun cream. Carrot and Raspberry seed oil having the highest SPF (sun protecting factor). I have quite olive skin that seems to soak up the sun, but my son is quite pale (and not 1 yet) so I am more vigilant with him. My daughter has the same skin as me. Our general rule is 10-20 mins in the sun without any barriers to soak up the vitamin D. Never Ever burn. If you feel yourself burning apply straight away (and you should seek the shade or wear a layer). The same mix of oils is also my after-sun  in the bath for the kids and slapped on for us. the oils I use are also anti-bug ones so it is an all in one product. Perfect for taking out with you and taking on holiday! This is a great link to what oils have what SPF (http://www.naturaltherapypages.com.au/article/carrier_oils_and_spf).

2. Cover up– hats long sleeves etc. But watch the sunglasses, Vitamin D is also produced through the Iris and by constantly wearing sunglasses you are missing that vital gateway to healthy Vitamin D levels. Limit your time in the sun– Its a no brainer that keeping out of the sun at the hottest points (recent studies are saying 10am-4pm) but then again that’s almost the whole day! So dipping in and out (and not just of the pool) for example go in for lunch and yes a siesta (another luxury that is far off in the future for me!) and then enjoy it again. There is nothing worse than a sun hangover- you can always have too much of a good thing!

3. Shade seeking– Its cooler in the shade but beware you can still burn so be aware of how you are feeling (and if you are going to go to sleep on your lounger- a luxury I will have to wait for a while to indulge in again- make sure you have applied or get someone to apply some cover for you ) NEVER EVER Burn! Be especially careful at the beach or where there is a lovely breeze as you may not feel that burn.

4. Keep hydrated– Coconut water is brilliant for this- it replaces all your electrolytes and is so delicious in the sunshine. Of course beware of drinking alcohol (even in the coconut water!) and ensure you maintain your water intake. That groggy  feeling after a day in the sun is generally dehydration. A good soak in the bath is a good way to rehydrate (and with the oils of course)

5. Know what to do after a day in the sun– Don’t forget natures wonder product- Aloe Vera. It is not a coincidence that it thrives in hot desert like conditions! Break it open and apply the cooling gel straight away or after a shower. If you do burn a nice hot shower or bath is the way forward (not a cold one!), Aloe Vera and coconut oil with some Lavender and Calendula tincture will do wonders. Calendula and Camomile tea or essential oils and tinctures with lavender are also good at reducing the inflammation burns produce and calming and encouraging new skin growth. Re-hydrating and ensuring plenty of rest afterwards will allow you to enjoy the sun day after day (which is what we hopefully have to look forward to till December now!)

Enjoy!!! But be Safe!

PS Sunscreen recipe to follow (includes carrot seed oil, wheatgerm oil, avocado and coconut oil- Lavender, Camomile, Geranium and either Lemongrass, Neroli, Frankinsence or Grapefruit essential oils depending on my mood!)

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It has been very damp, grey and wet here the last few weeks. Today I decided not to feel the same! For the weekend- here is my favourite picture taken last december. It always makes my heart feel glad. Along with an exept of my favourite Roald Dahl quote. Happy weekend everyone- let your face be full of sunbeams!

Sunbeams