Nothing Beats Beets!

Posted by Maria on January 13, 2014 under Ayurveda & Elemental Nature, Dating, Home spa, Homespunspa, Homespunspa Wellness Tour, Ingredients, Nutrition, Recipes, Self-Care, Uncategorized, Weight Management, Wellness | Read the First Comment

by Maria Koropecky, Homespunspa owner

Many years ago, I invited a guy over to my apartment for dinner and asked him if there was any food he didn’t like. He said, “I don’t know…beets?” I said, “OK, I won’t serve beets,” (not that I would have anyway that night) but now that I’m reminiscing about my younger years, I can’t help but think this guy is missing out on a really yummy root vegetable. And because I love it so much, I’m going to expand on my earlier post, “Nothing beats borscht” and talk about beets again! In my opinion, nothing beats beets!

Right now, I’m writing a book called “Supernatural Spa Ingredients” and here’s what I know about beets:

BEETS & BEET ROOT POWDER (Beta vulgaris): Beets are highly nutritious and detoxifying. Beet juice can be rinsed through hair to achieve brilliant red results and beet powder makes soap turn rosy.

Home spa recipes: hair colour rinses, soaps, lip balms, blush, eyeshadow.

Role in cosmetic formulation: antioxidant, binding, cosmetic colourant, hair conditioning, hair dying, skin conditioning, skin protecting.

Hair: Infuse into a hair rinse as a colouring agent.

Soap: Add to soap recipes.

Make-up: Add to lip balms and makeup for colour.

Food: Blend in a smoothie for iron and antioxidants. Eat for nutrition.

Balances: Vata dosha, Infinity/Air Elemental Natures, Root Chakra.

Region: North America, Central America, Europe, North Africa.

Find: Grocery store, health food store, garden.

Caution: May stain.

And here’s a home spa recipe for Rosy Guest Soaps that I’ve taken from my first book, “How to Throw a Home Spa Pajama Party the Homespunspa Way.”

Rosy Guest Soaps

I like to use plastic molds in the shape of sheep for these little beauties but you can use whatever you have on hand and your soap will turn out just as sweet.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup glycerin (melt & pour) – A by-product of soap-making which is used as a soap base foundation in quick, easy, and re-batched soap recipes.
  • 1/4 cup cocoa butter – Used in skincare for its moisturizing and cleansing properties.
  • 1/4 cup beeswax – Can be used in many applications around the spa but is most often used for its comforting scent and to thicken cosmetics.
  • 1 TB evening primrose oil – Use externally to help skin.
  • 1/2 tsp vitamin E – Prevents scar tissue and may reduce anxiety. Also acts as a preservative.
  • 1/4 tsp beet root powder – Highly nutritious and detoxifying and makes soap turn rosy.
  • 10 drops rosewood essential oil – Calming, head-clearing and relaxing. Often included in romance-eliciting fragrances.

Method: In a double boiler, (I use a metal bowl resting on a pot with one inch of water on the stovetop), gently and slowly melt the “melt & pour” soap base, cocoa butter, and beeswax over low heat and add the evening primrose oil. Keep the pot covered to conserve moisture and try not to stir the ingredients too much because that will add bubbles to your finished product. Once the solid ingredients have turned to liquid, remove from heat and take out a spoonful of the soap and pour it in a Pyrex container. To the spoonful of soap, add the vitamin E and beet powder and mix until well blended. The powder will want to clump, so gently break it up. Pour the rosy liquid back into the rest of the soap and whisk in. By now the liquid soap should be cool enough for the essential oils, so add 10 drops of rosewood essential oil at this time. Mix gently. Have your molds lined up on your counter. You can find plastic molds at craft and candy-making stores in all kinds of shapes and dimensions. I like to use sheep and/or hearts about the size of a box of matches. Pour the liquid soap into the molds. The cocoa butter may separate out a bit but that just creates a pleasant double-decker, marbled effect. Once the soap has hardened, unmold the shapes.

Manner: Wash your hands with the soap and rinse.

Storage / Shelf Life: Unless you plan to use the soap right away, wrap the soaps in plastic to keep the moisture in. Will keep for at least 6 months.

As you can see, beets are lovely and can be added to any spa, wellness and nutrition program. If you’d like to learn more home spa recipes or keep up to date on the progress of my book or to find out about upcoming, “Make Your Own Cosmetics Workshops,” please sign up for my mailing list at the top right corner of this blog to keep in touch. Thanks.

Nothing Beats Borscht!

Posted by Maria on January 8, 2014 under Energy Healing, Green Living, Ingredients, Nutrition, Photo gallery, Recipes, Seasonal, Self-Care, Spirituality, Uncategorized, Weight Management, Wellness | Read the First Comment

by Maria Koropecky, Homespunspa owner

Many Ukrainians celebrate Christmas Eve with a 12-dish vegetarian feast on January 6th. Borscht is one of the dishes and I absolutely love it! When prepared to my taste (and no two batches, let alone recipes, are the same) it’s like a fine claret with complex notes. Borscht is also a soothing, comforting, warming, and healing soup and I’m inspired to share a recipe with you today.

Meatless Borscht for Ukrainian Christmas Eve

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup or more dried mushrooms
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 TB vegetable oil or olive oil
  • 1 red bell pepper (optional)
  • 2 medium beets, peeled and cut julienne
  • 1 bunch parsley, chopped
  • 3 to 10 peppercorns to taste
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 8 to 9 cups of water
  • 1 carrot, cut julienne
  • 1 small potato, diced
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 3 cups cabbage, shredded
  • 1/2 cup tomato juice or 1 small can tomato paste or 3 TB ketchup
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup cooked white beans
  • 1 beet, peeled and whole
  • sea salt and black pepper to taste
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper (optional)

Method:

  1. Notice my stained fingers after peeling this beet for borscht.

    Notice my stained fingers after peeling this beet for borscht.

    To rehydrate dried mushrooms, pour hot water over the mushrooms, drain and wash. Cover the mushrooms (again) with lukewarm water and soak for 30 minutes or longer. Cook the mushrooms in the same water as they were soaked in earlier, until tender. Set aside the mushrooms and reserve the mushroom stock for later.

  2. In a large stockpot, caramelize the onion in cooking oil. You can add the optional red bell pepper here if you wish. It’s not traditional but I like to do it. Cover with 8 cups of water and add 2 beets (reserving a third for the end), as well as parsley, peppercorns, and bay leaf. Cover with a lid and cook until the beets are al dente.
  3. Add the carrot, potato and celery and continue cooking for about 15 minutes.
  4. Add the cabbage and continue cooking but make sure the cabbage retains some crispness.
  5. Add the tomato juice or paste, minced garlic and cooked white beans.
  6. Add the cooked mushrooms (if you aren’t using them elsewhere) and mushroom stock. Bring to a boil.
  7. Add the last whole beet at the end to brighten the colour of the borscht.
  8. Season to taste with salt, black pepper and/or cayenne pepper.
  9. Strain out the cooked vegetables and serve.

Note: The borscht is served clear with vushka (translated to “little ears” that are closely related to mushroom-filled tortellinis) on Christmas Eve. During the rest of the year, you can garnish the borscht with jullienned vegetables and sour cream and use a meat stock. The borscht should be mildly tart but not sour.

Borscht is one of the healthiest soups I know and if you’re suffering from some sort of health crisis like quitting smoking or fighting cancer, borscht will nourish you and will make you feel better and will help your chances to be successful with your health goals and new year’s resolutions.

I hope you enjoy this recipe. Let me know if you’ve ever attempted to make borscht from scratch before and if you have any tips or tricks for the rest of us. Happy New Year!

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