Thursday, 20 June 2013

Love for Coconut Oil

I would like to share with you my love for coconut oil. This aromatic oil has many health benefits, for which I urge you to read the linked article from Wellness Mama who has an informed approach at describing this in detail.

I am particularly inspired by a great website that I've recently become privy: Mind Body Green. From which, I daily find myself reposting articles. MBG posts articles that are info dense in the health and wellness sphere and fun to read. Anyway I was getting a kick out of this article 20 Signs You're A Wellness Junkie (Hilarious). Going through mentally, saying yes.. check to that, yes to that, and definitely yes to You’ve made peace with the fact that you smell like coconut oil. What else would you use to cook, moisturize, remove makeup, floss, and fuel your car? 

So I don't fuel my car with it... yet, but I do use it extensively on a daily basis. I've turned my sister in law onto it for moisturizer, and I myself lather head to toe with it in place of lotion. I also use it for near everything in the kitchen. It can handle the high heat, and it just enhances the flavor of just about everything. (I haven't found a time when I've thought, nope, using a different oil next time).

So why am I so obsessed with coconut oil? Well, a teacher of mine, and Ayurvedic practitioner, Lalita Devi, first turned me onto coconut oil mixed with neem oil for my face due to some tenacious adult acne. (yuck!) While it helped a little, I was able to find that my gluten allergy was the cause... but that's another story. Anyway, in Ayurveda I learned that skin is considered an organ. A major component of overall health is through oleation of the skin organ. Huh?! So I learned that our skin soaks everything up, moving absorbed nutrients (or toxins) into the blood and bones which circulates all through the body. A crazy novel thing I was learning! A real game changer in my life actually. After that I really began taking a close look at ingredients in my beauty products. I urge you all to do the same. Whatever you're puttin' on that skin's going into your whole body!

From Ayurveda, I learned that coconut oil is particularly cooling for strong and more fiery body types (aka Pita Dosha). For a face that requires moisture, but light moisturizer at that, coconut oil has become my entire cosmetic supply kit. I don't need much else. And since moving to tropical Dominica, due to it's cooling properties, coconut oil is a great choice not just for face but for everything: applied both topically and absorbed through nutrition.

I can tell you from personal experience that when we use coconut oil on our bodies we actually contribute to a healthier immune system, but go ask a holistic/Ayurvedic doctor about the specifics on that one. I also hear that it contains a natural SPF... but I don't rely on it for a full few hours exposed in the sun, only on cloudyish days when I'm not going to be in the sun for long.

Enough rambling, now uses:

1. Face Moisturizer

2. Whole Body Lotion

3. Food!

5. (specific favorites for 5, 6, 7) Coconut rice

6. Coconut curry or Dal

7. Frying (not that frying is so healthy, but I loved my coconut oil fried okra).

8. Adding to anything in your daily diet, as 20 ml a day is good for brain function and memory

9. A tonic for fresh wounds

9. A mild sun block

Now that I'm writing, I'm realizing my list doesn't seem all that extensive, but it really is a big part of this household. Try it for yourself. Read the articles I've linked so that you know some of the super groovy health benefits. And then... never turn back!

Peace Ya'll,


Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Blessings of the 28th Year

I recently had a birthday. We all have them of course, but as I was perusing through my pictures I thought: I need to do a recap of my 28th year. Holy cow was it full of blessings, adventures, and an exploration into the mysteries of life like one cannot fully describe.

Now (take a deep breath)'s the short play-by-play:

I was in a movie about one year ago.. (okay I was just an extra). I saw Phillip Glass in concert on the summer solstice accompanied with my sweet angel "formally" asking me to marry him. I visited my brother and sister in law in Finland, accompanied with traveling around the country of Finland, then going to Sweden and Denmark. I traveled back and forth from NYC to the Yoga Ranch quite a bit where I stayed for extended periods in a tent. We went to Canada, Maine, and Vermont. I finished up an MBA at Baruch in Entrepreneurship & Sustainable Business, and I loved every minute of it. We had one wedding which we decided upon the date seven days before its occurrence which meant me running around Curry Hill gathering Indian food ingredients and going to M&J trims to buy random strings, ribbons, and other various decorations. I tried on lots of wedding dresses for our more traditional ceremony that was held in Texas on New Year's Eve. A kitten came into our lives and became number 3 in this new family. We waited out a hurricane in an airstream as trees crashed down all around us. I had one last hurah with a bachelorette party where, afterwards, I swore off drinking and smoking forever more. Christmas in Houston - Wedding in Austin - New York goodbye - then INDIA for 7 weeks. Back to New York where I battled vertigo but had some deep spiritual insights (in India too). I housesat at the most magical home in the catskills where we had to nurse a sweet little pup to her last days on earth. I experienced blizzards. My brother Jeff had his first sweet baby, Magnus. We packed up the Rav and a UHAUL and put the kitten in her travel house and drove from New York to Houston. Along the way we stopped first in Nyack to say bye to Cassy and to eat gluten free sweets. We celebrated Dennis' 60th birthday in Arlington. We spent the night in Gatlinburg and dropped in at Dollywood. We stopped at "The Farm" then drove onto New Orleans where we visited our friend Joe for lunch. Then Houston. We packed up and got rid of most of my entire life's belongings. Now my parents can move into their new home and not need to sort through 29 years of their princess-daughter's life. Then. We boarded a plane with Kitten, stopped overnight in San Juan. And alas, Dominica. Whew.

Thank you Lord for this year. My heart is filled with gratitude. The people, the places, the spaces. Wow. How can one girl afford such a wealth of experience? My heart is overflowing.

And now for the pictorial recap:

Movie Set in Parksville, NY
Phillip Glass at Battery Park

July 4th at Battery Park over the Hudson River

Trying on dresses, this was my favorite

with Jeff in Helsinki at the Hyatt by the airport

in Helsinki with Alex, Jeff & Molly 

Picnic on a hike

In Turku Castle, Jeff put on full metal chain-male 

Stockholm with Alex

Mom as a Finnish maiden

Coppenhagen Sand Castle Exhibition

With Mom at a cafe somewhere in Scandanavia

At the Subramanya temple in Canada

In some caves in Vermont nearing New York state border

In Maine sailing a boat

Near Woodbourne, NY doing some yoga exercises

Trying on "the dress" at Kleinfeld's

Ma making our malas for our Indian style wedding

Kitty relaxin' out the storm in the airstream

Trying not to freak out at the stripper ordered for the bachelorette

My lovies in Austin at Karaoke before the wedding

Stevie outside a Ganesha temple in Goa

In a hidden treasure nook on the grounds of a Rajasthani Castle

The Taj

Lighting our unity candle

Bathing in the tirtum in Kanyakumari

Babysitting Oscar in the snowy New York Catskills

Loving Magnus from afar

our favorite Annopji at the Yoga Ranch

Visiting my childhood first idol: Dolly

At The Farm in an octagonal stain glass dome

Mom with her Bluebonnet-wildflower bouquet in Mexia, TX

Kitty traveling in the Miami airport

Our first meal in Dominica!

Thank you for sharing the memories and the journey. Love and Peace to all!

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Stir It Up

Little darlin' stir it up..... Your recipe is, - darlin' - is so tasty, when you show and stir your pot. (ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh).

I have been cookin' lots lately, lots and lots. It's much more practical for us budget wise, and on an energetic level its more healthy. You see, the thoughts and mental juju of the cook go into the food, did you know that? Well, it is true. Do a taste test between one meal cooked with love and another, same ingredients, cooked with depression and anger. I can guarantee the meal cooked with love is going to taste better and effect the body in a more agreeable manner. Maybe I could even find some scientific evidence to prove this. The first thing that comes to mind is the book Hidden Messages in Water by Masaru Emoto. This is an experiment that shows the energetic effects of words on molecules of water. Positive words like love make pretty crystal shapes. Angry messages like I'm going to kill you make awful looking shapes. Ick, just thinking about the negative effects makes my skin crawl. Look it up, it's good stuff. 

I have learned through the study and practice of Yoga that not only should we eat the freshest most healthful foods, but foods with the most prana (or life force). For example, freshly picked spinach, all lively and green is much better than wilted spinach, and even better than frozen spinach, which loses its alive-ness when it goes into frozen mode. We literally are what we eat. The food we eat transforms into our flesh, blood, and bones. 

Another facet to my husband's and my mindful approach to food is that we try to avoid foods that will make us unstable. For me, very cold foods can make me sleepy, hazy, and even pretty gassy (I'm sure you wanted to know!) For Steve, acidic foods, onions, and garlic, not only make his breath stinky but give him more tendency towards anger. These specific traits that guide our diets can be explained more broadly in terms of Ayurveda, or the science of traditional medicine which originated in ancient India. If you need any help understanding what foods are best for your body type and demeanor, ask me about it, I can either help or guide you to some useful texts. 

Now onto the Jackson-Miller Dominican kitchen highlights:

Coconut Rice & Lentils

The recipe off of the back of Silk Coconut Milk for coconut rice is insanely good! Add dry roasted coconut flakes on top, words can't explain. 

The French lentils are super easy. Just boil and simmer for 20 minutes, then add salt, fresh herbs like rosemary, and a little olive oil. 

Plain avocado is enhanced with some salt, ground black pepper, and maybe a little olive oil. 

Silk Coconut Rice Recipe:

1 cup jasmine rice
1T coconut oil
1.5 cup coconut milk
1/2 tsp salt
Toasted coconut flakes 

1. Coat rice in coconut oil over medium/low heat 120sec

2. Add coco milk and salt, bring to boil
3. Turn down to simmer, cook 15-20 min
4. Fluff, add toasted flakes on top.
French lentils, coconut rice, and fresh avocado.

Indian Style Dal  
A standard in our house - dal with red lentils. I was stoked when IGA had fresh cilantro AND red lentils, so I made this.


Chief Brand Curry Mix
Oil of your choice (I used almond I think, which I brought from the states, but you can use any as long as you don't over heat the olive oil)
Whatever other veggies you have - here we used some red potatoes that our neighbor brought by
Fresh cilantro if you have some
Jalepeno Pepper

Coat the pot with oil and heat

Add ab a T of curry powder and stir in and mix, opening up the tumeric but not overheating cause it will burn!
Stir in ginger coat and cook for a few minutes
Add in potato (or other root veggies) coat add salt to taste
Cook and simmer in oil and spice for 10-15 mins, feel it out
Add 2 cups water
Add 1 cup washed red lentils
add salt
Bring to a boil, then turn down and simmer about 15-20 minutes - lentils should be all mushy
Stir in fresh cilantro
Add some pepper


Indian style daal with West Indian curry mix

Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies
We've participated in 2 bake sales now, Ross is home to many of these. I am using bake sales as an excuse to perfect chocolate chip cookies because I can't buy them already made here. I found a recipe on the blog Peas and Thank You - Find it HERE 

I found the flours I needed (oat and brown rice) & xantham gum at Fresh Vitamins in Roseau. Everything else came from IGA - though I had to stalk the baking isle for the arrival of chocolate chips. Oh, and haven't used vanilla, cause haven't found the gluten-free-certain kind yet.
Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

I finally gathered enough unsalted, un-roasted nuts and dried fruit to make some granola. It was pretty good, though a little chewy. Next time, I'll have to boost the heat up higher. But first... will have to scrounge for all my nuts again... like a squirrel.
Gluten Free Granola Mix

Chia Seed Breakfast of Champions
I spent entirely too much on these Chia Seeds and Hemp Oil from Fresh VItamins, but I've been enjoying my Aztec super food. I feel the body getting stronger with every chewy chia seed. I add the organic Dominican honey that I've been getting from another spouse on campus who is helping out an organic farmer, Jah Call. We're calling his products Nature Warrior I believe, and a bunch of us have banned together and voted on starting a co-op. I can't wait! We've heard that Jah Call is humbled by our interest. It's one of those special win-win things that brings sweetness to all of our lives here on the island.

New breakfast habit - Chia Seed with hemp oil and Dominican honey

Gluten Free Mac & Cheese
And finally, the jam - gluten free mac and cheese. Today was my first attempt, and Steve and I both were amazed by the magic that happened in the oven. Here's how this process went:

Cook the gluten free macaroni purchased from Astaphan's in Roseau
Grated as much cheese as possible - white cheddar, mozzarella, and orange cheddar. Almost too much to fit in the baking dish.. almost.
Rinsed mac with cool water - put in baking dish
Added olive oil, about a T of milk, butter, salt, cracked pepper, and the very large bowl of cheese. Saved it for after Yoga class to bake.
Baked at between setting 3&4 - 325ish - (most ovens here don't seem to have temperature markings) It was a little lower than the standard baking setting which is between 4&5 at our apartment (350ish to 375ish)
Baked for about 15-20 minutes
Gluten Free Mac & Cheese

Next time I go to Roseau, I'm picking up ingredients for making pies.... so stay tuned. I'm thinking mango pie. Never made a pie before. It's going to be awesome.

Love to all, Peace to all.