Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Essentials of Oils

When I was younger, I always wanted to have a signature scent. One that everyone would know as mine. I asked for a then popular perfume as a birthday gift and when received, I put it on daily, spraying my wrists and clothes. I was content; I had found a scent for my own. Shortly after, I started getting headaches. One day when sitting in class, with my chin propped in the heels of my hands, I became acutely aware of the smell of my perfume and thought to myself that perhaps the headaches were related to the perfume. I did an experiment and stopped wearing my new found scent for a few days. Sure enough, the headaches disappeared. Hmm, allergic to my signature scent! How could this be? Needless to say, I was very disappointed.

It wasn't until years later after working in a health food store in North Carolina and learning from good friends that I was taught about essential oils, their wonderful signature scents as well as their aromatherapeutic properties! I also learned that many people have very strong reactions to the alcohol in perfumes or the large amounts of chemicals in other lotions and fragrances.

Basically, there are numerous essential oils that have amazing fragrances and can be mixed with a base and used just like perfume - and they don't cause me headaches! There are also blends of them already pre-made, just check out your local health food store.

I also learned about the benefit of using body oil instead of lotion. I used to think all body oil was like baby oil - and if you've ever put that on your body, you know how slimy and oily it makes you feel. I really didn't want that but I wanted something that was going to hydrate my skin in a way that lotion just wasn't. Many people will use Almond, Olive, Sesame or Sunflower Oil as the base for creating their own scented body oil - instead of buying a $30 bottle from some of those "Body Shops." Making these oils are easy and fun and you can create one just for your own needs.

A massage-therapist friend of mine likes to use sunflower oil for her personal body oil as it dries most quickly so there is less possibility of it getting on clothes. I used to use almond oil but just recently switched to sunflower oil and have found that I also prefer it. I buy Spectrum brand refined, organic Sunflower Oil from the cooking oil section of any health food store.

Below is a recipe I use for creating. I STRONGLY recommend that you read up on the properties of any and all essential oils you opt to put into your concoction so that you know what you're getting into (see links at the end of this post and do your own research!). Also, my motto is less is more; first try out a smaller quantity of an essential oil and then increase if you do not smell it once mixed with your base oil.

My favorites:
Lavender Oil *- Relaxing, Calming
Grapefruit Oil *- Uplifting
Peppermint Oil *- Stimulating
Eucalyptus Oil *- Refreshing

Jyoti's Oil Recipe:

What's in it:
  • 12 - 15 ounces base oil (Organic Sunflower Oil)
  • 8 - 12 drops Lavender Oil
  • 5 - 12 drips Grapefruit Oil
  • 4 ounces lotion of your choice (I like Kiss My Face Lavender or Mountain Ocean Skin Trip Coconut Lotion)
  • You can add peppermint (2-4 drops) or Eucalyptus (2-4 drops) but bear in mind that they will add a cooling and stimulating effect. I have decided to not use them much in my whole body oils but have made separate oils with them for my feet only and use sparingly.
How's it done:
  • Pour your base oil into either a pump bottle or a leak proof squeeze bottle of your choice. It is recommended to use a dark, glass bottle if you can.
  • Add the number of drops of the oils of your choice.
  • Add the number of ounces of the lotion of your choice (optional)
  • Shake the concoction up and lube yourself up!
Enjoy creating your own scents tailored to your own wants and needs, just be sure to thoroughly read up on the properties for each oil before using. I actually began to find peppermint to be too cooling and stimulating for me to use after using it for a long time. Have fun!

I also found the following sites helpful and informative:

Information on oil properties:
Recipes and general information:
Properties and general information:
*The links in this post are not intended to urge readers to purchase these particular brands or from these specific sites but are more for reference and informational purposes.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Hemp Seeds and Oil

I was recently re-introduced to the wonderful benefits of hemp seeds and hemp oil. Most people these days have heard of Flax seeds and flax oil. Well, hemp seeds and oil offer very similar benefits as Flax yet according to some, hemp is the better choice. At the core of both hemp and flax is the buzz around "Essential Fatty Acids" or EFAs.

Basically, our bodies don't create these EFAs, but they are "essential" for our health and vitality (we'd have to speak to my sisters the doctor and PA to really understand the "how/why" behind the essentialness of these EFAs). But the basics are that they're good for us.

According to one site I visited, hemp seeds and oil have the best ratio of omega-3 and omega-6 EFAs, that being 3:1. According to this same site, "EFAs help to prevent or relieve inflammation problems, arthritis, asthma, osteoporosis, cardio-vascular disease and hormonal disturbances linked to menopause, These substances play a role in preventing autoimmune diseases, overweight and cancer."

In addition to providing EFAs, hemp seeds provide a wonderful amount of protein, calcium, iron, vitamin A and Vitamin E. I like to put both the seeds and oil into my morning smoothies. You can also add either the seeds or oil to soups, salads or any other food item that sounds good to you.

In my own experience, hemp seeds and oil have a much better flavor than flax. I've always found flax to taste rather fishy, not suspicious but actually like fish. - and I never really liked most fish when I did eat meat. I still incorporate both into my diet, but if there's ever a possibility that the taste will shine through, I opt for hemp. So, you don't have to choose one over the other; you can use both or alternate one from the other.


I found these other sites to be helpful in understanding the difference between hemp and flax:

Monday, January 28, 2008

Sathya's Saag

The following is another of my father's yummy renditions of a popular Indian dish. It is most commonly found in "North Indian" restaurants and with cubes of paneer - Indian Cheese and therefore called Saag Paneer or Palak Paneer. Some good friends of mine always ask for me to make this one. Enjoy!

What's in it:
  • 2-3 tbsp organic canola oil
  • 1-2 tsp brown mustard seeds
  • 1 big handful of cilantro (fresh coriander leaves)
  • 1 inch of peeled fresh organic ginger
  • 2 cloves organic garlic
  • 10 curry leaves
  • 2-4 tsp cumin
  • 2-4 tsp coriander
  • 1/4 tsp garam masala
  • 1/2 - 1 tsp turmeric
  • lime to taste
  • salt to taste
  • 2-3 bunches of fresh spinach or 2 packages chopped, frozen organic spinach
  • 1 big organic onion
How it's done:
  • Chop onion into small cubes
  • Wash cilantro and chop leafy part (discard the stems)
  • Wash and dry curry leaves
  • Chop or press garlic
  • Grate or puree ginger
  • Heat the oil in a pan (you can eliminate this step for a healthier saag)
  • Add mustard seeds (these can be dry roasted, without the oil)
  • Mustard seeds will heat and eventually start popping
  • Add onion, ginger and garlic when mustard seeds start to pop
  • Let the onion cook until it starts to turn clear
  • Add cumin, coriander, turmeric and garam masala.
  • Allow spices to cook with onion until the onion is completely cooked (completely clear)
  • Add spinach
    • If using fresh spinach, allow to cook until tender
    • If using frozen, allow to defrost and heat up
  • Once spinach is cooked, add cilantro
    • You can blend this mixture in a food processor to make smooth or keep it as is
  • Add lime and salt to taste
This goes well with a nice organic brown rice seasoned with cumin seeds or a nice spelt tortilla in place of a chapati.