Carrier oils and butters become something of interest when you want to start making your own beauty products, herb infused oils, and when you want to use essential oils for beauty and for wellness. A carrier oil “carries” the beauty product or essential oil to broad area of the body. Imagine if you will, putting a drop or two of lavender oil on your fingers. How far will those drops of lavender go? How much skin can be covered? The answer is not much. This is why a carrier oil or butter comes in handy. Not only does it dilute more potent ingredients, it also allows you reach more skin with your homemade creations.
Here are some of the common carrier oils and butters and their benefits. Whenever possible go for a cold-pressed oil. Cheaper refined oils have gone through extra processes to remove odor, remove color, and lengthen shelf life. These processes also remove some of the therapeutic components.
Sweet Almond Oil - Derived from the kernals of sweet almonds. It is fine, emollient, and great for dry, normal, and combination skin types. It is good for recipes designed to soothe itching, cracking, and inflammation.
Apricot Kernal Oil – Very similar to almond oil and suitable for all skins types.
Avocado Oil – My personal favorite. It is a dark green oil rich in vitamins A, B1, B2, D, and E. It is very rich and nourishing and great for sensitive and dry skin. All of the vitamins make it amazing for reducing scars and age spots. The vitamin E content helps preserve other oils in any blends you make.
Cocoa Butter – A solid fat rich in antioxidants and vitamin E. Use it for body butters and lotion bars. It has the aroma of chocolate so be aware when you are adding other oils.
Coconut Oil - A wonderful lubricant that is not greasy, extracted from the fat in the meat of coconuts. Use it to make oil blends, soaps, and personal care products. Use fractionated coconut oil if you want a liquid consistency.
Evening Primrose Oil – Made from the seeds of the evening primrose. It is great or mature skin and a variety of skin conditions. Also great for the hair and scalp.
Grapeseed Oil – Produced from grape seeds. It is light, clear, ungreasy, and unscented making it a great all around carrier oil.
Jojoba Wax – This is a liquid wax made from beans of the Jojoba plant. It is very similar to our own skin’s sebum (natural moisturizer) so it is good for all skin types. Great for lotions and massage oils and the shelf life is 25 years!
Macadamia Nut Oil – Solvent free processing means that all the natural therapeutic qualities are retained. Leaves the skin supple and not greasy. Penetrates deep for quick delivery of essential oils.
Olive Oil – This oil is skin softening and emollient. Extra virgin is also cold pressed and has a high vitamin and minerals content. Due to the stronger aroma though it is not as favorable for essential oils usage.
Rosehip Seed Oil – Very high in vitamin C and rejuvenating to the skin. Great for blends that treat wounds, burns, and damaged tissue.
Shea Butter – A natural fat from the fruit of the Shea tree. It is anti-inflammatory and helpful in skin regeneration and healing.
Sunflower oil – This oil needs to be organic and cold pressed. High in vitamin E and very cost effective.
Now that you know some of the basics about various carrier oils get busy making some of your own healthier and safer beauty and wellness products!
Spices and seasonings have a lot to offer by way of health benefits. They aren’t just for making your food taste amazing, they can also do amazing things for your health and wellness. This is typically the “season” for stress, over indulging in empty calories, and also getting sick so we might as well add some “seasoning” to kick our wellness efforts up a notch.
Clove – Clove has one of the highest antioxidant rankings of any spice. This makes it excellent for antiaging. Add it to fruit salads, mulled cider, or spicy curries.
Cumin - This is what gives Mexican food it’s fire. It has also been shown in studies to reduce levels of bad cholesterol, reduce inflammation, and significantly lower blood sugar. This makes it a powerful fighter in the war against type 2 diabetes.
Cinnamon – This is another great spice for blood sugar and preventing or controlling diabetes. Take one teaspoon daily in fall soups (pumpkin, squash) or on sweet potatoes.
Anise – Helps with tummy troubles and digestion. It actually relaxes your gastrointestinal muscles and provides you with relief.
Sage – Helps with mental clarity and memory. Perhaps this is why a profoundly wise person is called a sage??
Horseradish – This seasoning is a natural antibiotic and infection fighter. It can be taken to fight everything from bronchitis to UTIs.
Thyme – The antioxidants in thyme help with respiratory issues such as bronchitis. It just helps you breathe easier. Roast it along with meats, and add to seafood and soups.
Fennel Seed – This seed can help relive menstrual cramps and pain just as effectively and sometimes more effectively than those using the drug.
Turmeric – This spice is antiaging, it helps boost immunity, it fights disease by inhibiting the metastasis of cancer cells, and it helps you maintain a healthy weight. It is amazing.
It might be the season for stress and illness but a little “seasoning” can help!
This is a new favorite of mine. I could eat it a couple times a week. It really warms you up on a cold day and it is so good for the immune system with its garlic and gingery goodness. The fish sauce and peanut butter combo gives it a savory-salty kick. As a soup fan and an Asian food fan…this dish totally satisfies. Try it, you won’t be disappointed!
Spicy Peanut Shrimp Soup
6 cups chicken broth
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 small sweet red peppers, sliced
2 small red chilis, sliced
1 Tbsp fresh ginger, chopped
2 Tbsp fish sauce
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter (look for no sugar added)
1 lb shrimp, cleaned – tails off
3 cups frozen or fresh baby spinach
5 green onions (whites and greens)
In a saucepan simmer the broth, garlic, chilis, peppers, ginger, fish sauce, and white onion for a good ten minutes to allow the flavors to fuse. Whisk in the peanut butter. Add the shrimp and cook until opaque if raw. Add frozen baby spinach and green onion and stir for a minute or so. If using fresh spinach you can put a handful or two in the serving bowls and ladle the soup on top.
If you want to avoid spice just remove the chilis. Easy peasy.
This is a wonderfully hectic season. So many people get stressed out during the holidays and winter itself can be a real downer for our mood and general happiness levels. It is so very easy to forget the simple pleasures of life and to put your own health and mental well being to the side. By making a few quick and simple changes we can make feeling happy in the moment a little easier…
Turn It Off – The TV that is. Holiday ads are screaming “BUY, BUY, BUY!” Quiet the craziness by pushing the off button. Let your DVR handle things for awhile. Instead pick up a book or put on some music that you love.
Sleep Well – When things are hectic it is more important than ever to pick a reasonable bed time and stick with it. Your body needs to have a routine and you need the sleep. Get some blackout curtains and a wake up light if you can.
Let Nature Be Your Decorator – You don’t need pricey decor. Grab some pinecones, holly, evergreen boughs, stones, and citrus fruits (to make pomanders). You get lovely, sustainable, low cost decor and you benefit from the being outside to do the gathering.
Take a Whiff of Citrus – Speaking of citrus fruits…researchers have found over the years that citrus fragrance boosts feelings of well-being and increases levels of norepinephrine, a hormone that affects mood. Clean your house with citrus and use essential oils. I like to diffuse Citrus Fresh and also a combo of Purification and Lemon. Sooooo very nice! When out and about add some oils to a handkerchief and keep it in your pocket.
Drink Your Veggies – Don’t skimp on seasonal veggies when all those holiday goodies are around. Blend up some beets, carrots, kale, apples, and pears into a yummy green smoothie.
Don’t Try to Do It All – Make a list of all your planned activities and things that need to be done and delegate. There is no reason why you can’t spread out of the tasks and alleviate some of your burden. Also say no to some events, activities, and people when you just feel like staying home or doing nothing.
Self Care is King – Make plans to take care of you. Get a massage, visit a juice bar with a friend (yes even if you have out of town family at home), drink herbal tea and sit by the fire for as long as you want. It is not selfish to take care of yourself!
Go Tech Free- Get off Pinterest and Facebook and stop obsessing over the perfect lives and perfect homes you see represented on the net. Constantly comparing your life to the “highlight reels” you see on social media can make you feel bad about yourself. Also, constant cell phone buzzing, notification chirps, and email alerts keep us in a perpetual fight-or-flight mode due to bursts of adrenaline. This is this exhausting mentally and physically. Put the gadgets away and “just be”.
Add Some Spice – Spicy meals trigger the release of endorphins, the morphine-like compounds that give you a natural high.
Make a few changes and “choose” to be happier…
I love cooking with garlic. Lots of garlic. Luckily this yummy soup does indeed have lots of garlic…two whole heads actually. What is that…20-30 cloves? You just can’t have too much.
I like to make this recipe when it is cold because it is very warming. It is also great to eat during cold and flu season because garlic helps boost the immune system. It is also very affordable for eating well on a budget. Potatoes and garlic don’t cost all that much so I splurge and buy really good parmesan cheese to go with it. Enjoy!
Roasted Garlic Soup Recipe
8 Ounces yukon gold potatoes, chopped (3/4 of a one pound bag)
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 Heads of garlic
6 Cups chicken or veggie broth
1/4 Cup parmesan cheese (plus more for sprinkling)
Salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Pull loose skin off of garlic heads and cut the tops off so that the cloves are exposed. Cover each in one tablespoon olive oil and wrap in foil. Roast or 45 minutes in an oven safe baking dish. Allow the garlic to cool and then squeeze the cloves out of the skin.
Bring the potatoes, garlic, and broth to a boil. Cover and simmer until potatoes are soft. Pour all ingredients into a blender, including the 1/4 cup cheese, salt and pepper. Blend well and pour into bowls. Garnish with more cheese (optional). Pairs well with a nice crusty bread.