by Maria Koropecky, Homespunspa owner
I love yogurt. I used to eat a bowl full of plain, no-fat yogurt with blueberries, cinnamon and ground flax seeds along with half a toasted English muffin, slathered with margarine, plus cup of coffee with milk every morning for breakfast.
That was my stand-by for years because it was quick, easy, tasty and filling and I didn’t have to think about it. Life was good. But things change. I have decided — after watching JJ Virgin on Public TV — to see what would happen if I followed her advice and took soy, peanuts, sugar, eggs, corn, dairy and gluten out of my diet for three whole weeks. I was hoping to lose some weight and clear some skin issues. As an esthetician, I know about the relationship between good nutrition, good digestion, and healthy body weight and healthy skin and I knew the food I was eating wasn’t doing me any favours.
I knew it would be challenging to avoid bread for a few weeks. That was a given. Soy has proven to be very challenging because it seems to find its way into everything — especially gluten-free stuff — and it was in my margarine which I wasn’t aware of until I read the label. Eggs, corn and peanuts are probably the easiest, though I do like my popcorn, sunny side up eggs on Sundays, and celery with peanutbutter. I had given up dairy before and I knew what that was all about so I wasn’t too concerned about things like cheese, butter and ice cream. The yogurt, though, was closest to my heart and I was most sorry to see it go.
I didn’t think I could have my dairy and yogurt too but I’m happy to say I was wrong about that.
JJ Virgin suggested replacing dairy yogurt with coconut yogurt. I thought that was too good to be true. And what were the chances of being able to find this stuff in Canada?
Much to my surprise, I found “Cultured Coconut Milk” at a nearby Planet Organic and it was on sale! I was so excited!
Bowl of cultured coconut milk or coconut yogurt with blueberries for breakfast..
When I saw the containers of cultured coconut milk in the refrigerated dairy section of the grocery store, I picked one up and quickly read the label: Dairy free and Certified Gluten Free. Check, check. The ingredients include: coconut milk, water, organic coconut cream, chicory root extract, organic dried cane syrup, rice starch, pectin, tapioca, kelp, magnesium, locust bean gum, live cultures, guar gum, carrageenan and monk fruit extract. A serving of 175 grams has 140 calories, 5 grams of fat, 0 cholesterol, 135 mg’s of sodium, 23 grams of carbs (9 grams of fibre and 7 grams of sugar), 2 grams of protein, 0 vitamins A or C, 35% Calcium and 6% Iron.
Sounded good to me.
I couldn’t wait to taste it so I bought the coconut yogurt and tried some as soon as I got home.
Another pleasant surprise! Coconut yogurt tastes really good. Although I’m not a Top Chef Canada judge, I really think So Delicious Cultured Coconut Milk is a winner. It’s really thick, rich, creamy and smooth. It’s even thicker than no-fat Greek yogurt. The taste of the coconut is strong but it isn’t overly sweet. And this brand comes in different flavours but I’m happy with the plain. Unfortunately, it’s a bit on the expensive side. When compared to regular yogurt, the coconut yogurt container is smaller and costs as much, if not more. I may not have it everyday but I’ll have it often enough.
So far I’m on week two of the Virgin diet. I can’t say I’ve seen any difference at this point in terms of my weight and my skin but I’m pretty sure I’ll see a slight improvement at the 3-week mark. I’ll keep you posted. Finding the coconut yogurt was definitely the highlight of this entire exercise.
Have you tried to tried coconut yogurt? Did you like it? Please leave a comment.
Have you tried to avoid certain foods to see if you have issues with them? Have you read the Virgin Diet book and are thinking about taking a vacation from soy, peanuts, sugar, eggs, corn, dairy, and gluten? If so, let me know.
Till next time, Maria
by Maria Koropecky, Homespunspa owner
For the month of April, 2011, I am offering mobile mani’s and pedi’s by donation and the proceeds will be given to the Canadian Red Cross.
The cost of the manicure or pedicure is up to you. My goal is to raise at least $500.
The idea for this mani and pedi pledge drive came to me in bits and pieces. For the last couple of months, I’ve been having a hard time coping with day to day life and the earthquake and tsunami in Japan didn’t help. My anxiety was getting the better of me. Then I had a really bad day at work. It all started with a bad smell and got worse from there. It’s a long story that I won’t get into but as a result, I was consumed with self-doubt and I didn’t know what to do next. I had to ask myself, “Do I give up and quit everything that I have been working towards or do I (as the old song goes) pick myself up, dust myself off and start all over again?” Between you and me, I wasn’t sure which way that coin would land. Thankfully, there were a lot of people (friends and strangers) who showed me tremendous kindness during that rough patch and I will forever be grateful.
Then I volunteered to give my friend a pedi for her birthday. I went to her house on Saturday morning and gave her a birthday pedicure. She chose OPI’s Austin-tatious Turquoise and it looked really good. She was so happy and said, “What a great thing to be able to do for people.” At that moment I realized I do have something to offer the world. It felt really good to do something nice for someone else without any expectation of a return and it took me out of my woe-is-me headspace long enough to shift focus to the bigger picture.
I had to be reminded that what I’ve been going through doesn’t compare with what others are experiencing around the world. Something clicked and now I am hoping to pay the kindness I received forward and help people work through their challenges one step at a time, whether it’s dealing with the aftermath of an earthquake in Japan or with something more personal on a smaller scale closer to home. We’re all connected.
If you’d like to participate in this charity fundraising event for the Red Cross and Earthquake Relief for Japan, please post a comment on this blog or send me an email. I’d be happy to book an appointment with you. As an added bonus, Homespunspa is mobile, so I’ll come to your house. Feel free to check out the nail polish colours on the OPI website and let me know which ones you prefer and I’ll make sure I’ll have those colours available when it comes to polish time.
Thank you for your generosity.
See you in April.
by Maria Koropecky, Homespunspa owner
I love my iPod. Admittedly, when I found out my new car had an iPod jack on the dash, I was sold. I have access to 14.2 days of music and a playlist for every mood.
According to Spa Finder, the Global Spa & Wellness Directory, “high tech” is one of the top spa trends in 2010. Apparently, some people are gravitating to spas that allow them to listen to their iPod while getting a massage.
At first blush, the idea of using techno gadgets in a natural spa setting sounded a little counter-intuitive to me, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized technology and gadgets may have a place in spa land.
Originally, I was concerned that the relationship between the customer and the massage therapist, would be compromised because a big part of going to a spa and getting a spa treatment is interacting with the people who work there and not tuning them out. But some people aren’t chatty and don’t want to engage in small talk. Personally, I never want to chit chat during a massage and I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, I always close my eyes and listen to the music when I get my hair washed at the hair salon. For those five minutes, I just want to relax and soak it all in.
I guess it all depends on the treatment you’re getting. Like if you’re getting a face-to-face, hands on manicure or pedicure then maybe leave your iPod at home. And by all means, don’t even think about your Blackberry or cell phone. Texting is a sure fire way to wreck a fresh manicure. And this is your time to relax. The outside world can wait.
I probably wouldn’t bring my iPod to a massage simply because it’s one more thing to drag around and one more thing to accidentally forget and leave behind. Hello, high tipper. And where are you going to put it while you’re receiving your treatment?
On the other hand, if I were to bring my iPod to the spa, I have a few ideas on what the soundtrack would be. For a spa-like ambiance, I’d pick my aromatherapy playlist, with titles like “Awaken the Senses,” “Eternal Wave,” and “Lavender Mist.” Over the years, I have collected several spa-themed cd’s to help me relax and fall asleep. The (often instrumental) music is gentle and soothing and may have overlapping layers of nature sounds like waves rolling onshore or birds chirping in the trees, for added comfort. I’m actually listening to “Natural Sleep Inducement” right now as I write. Yawn and stretch.
Of course you can’t go wrong with Enya. Her music will whisk you off to the Caribbean in no time.
If, however, world music isn’t your cup of tea, and you prefer white noise or selections that have been specifically designed to help you reach a deep, meditative state, then I recommend Holosync from Centerpointe. I have been listening to their cd’s for years and really enjoy them. Check out Holosync through my banner “Meditate like a Zen Monk at the push of a button” in the sidebar to get your free demo. I think listening to Holosync while getting a massage would be a stellar combination.
More and more, people are bringing their iPods to the spa. Photo by Maria Koropecky.
What do you think? If given the choice, would you prefer to listen to your iPod while receiving a spa treatment like a massage? Do you think your iPod would enhance your spa experience or would it get in the way? Would you pick a spa that said “thumbs up” to iPods over one that didn’t? Please leave a comment, I’m curious to know your thoughts on this topic. And if you’re a spa tech or massage therapist or an esthetician, I’d like to hear your opinions too.
By Maria Koropecky, Homespunspa owner
Books, books and more books. Someone asked me if I was an “information junkie” the other day and I had to raise my hand and say “yes.” I love books.
In this post, I would like to recommend five fabulous home spa books that I have in my own library that you can get online through Amazon. Shopping online is a less stressful way of getting all of your Christmas shopping done because you don’t have to fight the weather and the crowds. You just have to be organized and get it done early enough to have things shipped on time.
Book recommendation #1: Home Spa
My mother gave me a book simply called Home Spa by Anne Harding and Janice Biehn. I was delighted when I read the names of the authors because I went to school with one of them. Janice and I worked on the student newspaper together. The authors talk about how to remedy stress with nutrition, exercise, massage, aromatherapy, skincare and show you how to organize your own day at the home spa. It’s an excellent reference.
Book recommendation #2: Fragrant Herbal
Crabtree and Evelyn’s Fragrant Herbal, Enhancing Your Life with Aromatic Herbs and Essential Oils by Lesley Bremness is one of my favourite home spa books. I can remember when I first discovered the Crabtree and Evelyn store when I was in high school. I couldn’t get enough of the peach and apricot bubble bath. My sister-in-law gave me this book for Christmas many years ago and it has been my go-to book for inspiration ever since because flipping through the pages whisks me off to an English garden. It’s a definite “must have” in your library.
Book recommendation #3: Herbal Teas
Herbal Teas, 101 Nourishing Blends for Daily Health & Vitality by Kathleen Brown and Jeanine Pollack is a book I refer to again and again. Not only do they give unique recipes, they summarize the health benefits of all of the plants involved. My favourite recipe is the Anxiety B-Gone Tea because of the lemon verbena.
Book recommendation #4: Making Natural Liquid Soaps
Learning how to make soap, especially liquid soap, is on my to-do list. I recently bought Making Natural Liquid Soaps by Catherine Failor and can’t wait to dive in. Wouldn’t it be great to learn how to make your own herbal shower gels, conditioning shampoos, moisturizing hand soaps and luxurious bubble baths? There’s even a chapter on dog shampoos!
Book recommendation #5: The Herbal Home Spa
The Herbal Home Spa, Naturally Refreshing Wraps, Rubs, Lotions, Masks, Oils, and Scrubs by Greta Breedlove is one of several in a series by different authors from Storey Books, including the Essential Oils Book, the Herbal Home Remedy, Natural BabyCare, The Natural Soap Book, Milk-Based Soaps and the Herbal Body Book. I’ve learned a lot from these books over the years.
If you would like to see more home spa books, music cd’s or videos, browse through my Amazon store. If you can’t click through from here, try going to my Fantastic Gifts Ideas page on my website, www.homespunspa.com and click on the Amazon Store link, under Accessories, to the right. Of course, you can always go straight to Amazon through my affiliate link located on the sidebar of this blog and do a search that way. There are many books to choose from on this topic and I’m confident you’ll find something of interest. Happy shopping!