Happy World Coconut Day!

Posted by Maria on September 2, 2014 under Aromatherapy, Ayurveda & Elemental Nature, Gift Ideas, Green Living, Guest Bloggers, Home spa, How to throw a home spa pajama party the Homespunspa way book, Newspapers and Newsworthy, Nutrition, Photo gallery, Recipes, Seasonal, Self-Care, Skin Care, Sponsors, Uncategorized, Wellness | Be the First to Comment

By Maria Alexandra Koropecky, Homespunspa owner
& Laura Benvenuto, guest blogger

Did you know that September 2nd is World Coconut day?

Coconuts (Cocos nucifera) are one of the world’s most nourishing, versatile and popular foods and to celebrate World Coconut Day, I’ve teamed up with Laura Benvenuto of Truth be Told New York and Nutiva in this blog post to showcase the many wonderful health benefits of coconuts.

From my research, I’ve found many fun facts and interesting applications for coconuts.

First of all, the word “coconut” comes from “cocos,” a 16th century Portuguese & Spanish word that means “grinning face.”

COCONUTS AND COCONUT WATER, JUICE, MILK

  • Home spa recipes: cleansers, refiners, creams, lotions, moisturizers, soaps, spa snacks.
  • Role in cosmetic formulation: abrasive, skin conditioning, emollient, hair conditioning, humectant, masking.
  • Face: Add to facials to soften, exfoliate, protect skin, strengthen elasticity, promote healing, fade age spots, and minimize acne scars.
  • Skin Types: Use especially on AGING skin.
  • Food: Eat for nutrition and to quench thirst.
  • Balances: Sacral (2nd) Chakra. Calms Vata (Infinity/Air), calms Pitta (Fire), and increases Kapha (Water/Earth) Doshas.
  • Native Region: Tropical and sub-tropical countries worldwide.
  • Find: grocery stores, health food stores.

COCONUT OIL

Emollient Coconut oil is moisturizing to the skin and the scent can whisk your imagination off to a tropical beach. It’s also considered one of the “super foods.”

  • Home spa recipes: cleansers, make up removers, creams, suntanning lotions, moisturizers, shampoos, conditioners, massage oils, soaps.
  • Role in cosmetic formulation: emollient, skin conditioning, hair conditioning, masking, solvent.
  • Face: Add to facials to cleanse pores, remove make-up, moisturize, soften, protect, and heal skin, to reduce the signs of aging skin, relax facial expression, de-stress, for fragrance.
  • Skin Type: Use especially on DRY & SENSITIVE skin types.
  • Massage Oil: Add to massage oil to relax, to condition, soften and cool skin, for sun protection, for anti-fungal, anti-viral, and anti-bacterial properties, to carry ingredients and for scent.
  • Body: Use in body care products to moisturize and cleanse skin and as suntanning lotion.
  • Hair: Apply to hair as lathering agent to revitalize hair, curb dandruff, cleanse hair, condition normal, dry or damaged hair, and inhibit static.
  • Soap: Add to soap recipes for lather.
  • Food: Use as a delicious and nutritious cooking oil as it contains Lauric Acid, one of the good fats.
  • Balances: Sacral (2nd) Chakra. Calms Vata (Infinity/Air), calms Pitta (Fire), and increases Kapha (Water/Earth) Doshas.
  • Native Region: Tropical and sub-tropical countries worldwide.
  • Find: grocery stores, health food stores, online.
  • Caution: 1) Solidifies and melts according to room temperature. 2) Can irritate skin for some. 3) May be drying to skin. 4) Do not confuse with hydrogenated coconut oil.

Nutiva’s products (including Coconut Oil, Coconut Manna, O’Coconut, and Coconut Sugar) can be used to enhance a favourite recipe or make a DIY beauty product. All of Nutiva’s products are non-GMO and organic and certain products are vegan-friendly or have low-cholesterol.

Below are two of Nutiva’s most popular DIY summer beauty recipes.

Home Spa Recipe #1: Ocean Hair Spray

Use this ocean-in-a-bottle spray for gorgeous beach hair. Salt water provides texture and coconut oil provides moisture and nourishment for dry hair.

Ingredients

  • 3 tsp Nutiva Organic Coconut Oil
  • 4oz Purified Water, warm
  • 3 tsp Sea Salt
  • 4 drops Rosemary Essential Oil

Directions

  1. Put coconut oil in an 8 oz canning jar and place in a pan filled with several inches of water. Melt the coconut oil over low heat.
  2. Meanwhile, fill an 8 oz spray bottle about ¾ full with warm, purified water and add the sea salt. Stir until the sea salt is dissolved in the water.
  3. Use a funnel to add the coconut oil and essential oil to the spray bottle.
  4. Shake the bottle to blend, then fill to the top with purified water.

Yields 8 oz. Sometimes the oil solidifies. If this happens, run the bottle under hot water to melt. Shake the product and it’s ready to use.

To use: Shake the bottle and spray 2 to 5 pumps on damp hair. Try different amounts to see what works best for your hair.

Home Spa Recipe #2: After-Sun Calming Balm

A soothing blend of coconut oil, shea butter, calendula, aloe and lavender to calm the skin after spending time in the sun. Shea Butter is available at most natural foods stores.

Ingredients

  • 6 Tbsp Nutiva Organic Coconut Oil
  • 1/4 cup Shea Butter
  • 1/4 cup Aloe
  • 2 Tbsp Calendula Oil
  • 1 tsp Vitamin E oil
  • 25-60 drops *Lavender Essential Oil

*Note: Lavender is well known for its skin healing properties and is especially soothing for burns. Be sure to use lavender and not lavendin, which can actually cause more inflammation.

Directions

  1. In a double boiler over low heat, gently warm the coconut oil and shea butter. Be careful not to melt the oil and butter — heat just enough to blend easily. Once incorporated, transfer the oil and butter mixture to a bowl.
  2. Using an electric mixer, blend the coconut oil and shea butter mixture on low to medium speed until well incorporated, 1 to 2 minutes. Use a spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl and avoid having clumps in the final product.
  3. Add calendula, aloe vera and vitamin E oil. Blend for 3 to 5 minutes until thick and creamy.
  4. Add essential oil and blend to incorporate.

Yields 8oz. Transfer to a container like a wide-mouth canning jar for easy scooping. Keep out of direct sun as the oils and butter will separate if melted.

Thank you, Laura, for sharing these lovely home spa recipes that include coconut oil.

Please let us know in the comments how these recipes have worked out for you or if you have any other ideas on how to celebrate World Coconut Day.

Happy World Coconut Day!

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.

Home Spa Recipes for Bananas

Posted by Maria on October 27, 2011 under Books, Magazines, Music, Gift Ideas, Home spa, How to throw a home spa pajama party the Homespunspa way book, Ingredients, Nutrition, Photo gallery, Recipes, Sleep, Stress Management and Relaxation, Uncategorized, Weight Management | 8 Comments to Read

by Maria Koropecky, Homespunspa owner

When my family was living in Hawaii, we had the luxury of having real bananas growing in our yard right outside the kitchen door. At the time, I didn’t think I liked bananas at all (hard to believe, I know) until my father coaxed me into trying one. I remember how we chose a small, greenish-yellow banana together and then we sat down and peeled it ribbon by ribbon and then I tasted it and it was good. Now I think bananas are really awesome.

Here are 10 excuses to eat more bananas:

  1. Quick energy boost: the sugar and fiber in bananas will boost your energy for your high-intensity workout.
  2. Help digestion: the fiber in bananas will help with digestion and constipation and over time will help manage your weight.
  3. Improve your mood: eating a banana will simultaneously help calm your nerves and lift your spirits.
  4. Relax: bananas contain tryptophan which your brain converts to serotonin which in turn will help you relax.
  5. Brighten Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD): As we head into the gray, winter months, the tryptophan in bananas will help prevent SAD symptoms from emerging.
  6. Reduce PMS: The high levels of Vitamin B6 in bananas will help manage your monthly PMS symptoms.
  7. Reduce restless leg syndrome (RLS) and sleep better: If you have RLS and involuntary muscle twitching, it could mean that you have a definciency in Vitamin B6. If that’s the case, eat more bananas for their Vitamin B6 and see if your sleep improves.
  8. Increase your iron intake: Bananas are a good, vegetarian source of iron. Get more iron in your diet to prevent anemia.
  9. Lower your blood pressure and risk of stroke: Bananas are high in potassium and low in sodium, so they are great to add to your daily diet to manage stress and lower your blood pressure which will reduce your risk of having a stroke.
  10. Quit smoking cigarettes: If you’re trying to quit smoking, the Vitamins B6, B12 & C, plus the potassium and magnesium in bananas will help your body deal with nicotine withdrawal.

Today, I’ve decided to profile bananas in my blog and offer two home spa recipes. The first recipe is for a banana bread. When I made this recipe for a breakfast starter at the Beacon Inn, one gentleman said, “Your banana bread is outstanding” and another gentleman from Denmark said, “this is excellent and I should know because I bake for a living — when I come back, I hope you’ll give me the recipe.” Well, here it is. It’s from Company’s Coming, Muffins and More, by Jean Paré, published in 1983, page 40.

Banana Bread

  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup (3 medium) mashed, very ripe bananas
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts

Method: In one mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar together. Beat in eggs one at a time. Add mashed bananas (if they’re frozen, defrost them in the microwave first to make things easier). Add vanilla. In a second bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and walnuts, making sure all the ingredients are evenly distributed. Add this dry mix to the banana mixture and stir only to moisten. Transfer the batter to a greased 9×5x3 inch loaf pan. Bake at 350 degree Fahrenheit oven for about an hour. Test with a toothpick or skewer and if it comes out clean, the banana bread is ready. Let stand for 10 minutes. Remove the loaf from the pan and place it on a cake rack to cool.

The second recipe is for Peanut butter and Banana Lip Balm. It’s one of my original recipes. Peanut butter and bananas are a classic flavour combination and this lip balm really feels good on the lips.

Peanut Butter and Banana Lip Balm

by Maria Koropecky, Homespunspa

Try making some peanut butter and banana lip balm today.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 banana, chopped in 3-4 chunks — moisturizing for all skin types.
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar — to achieve glowing skin, add sugar crystals to exfoliating scrubs.
  • 1/3 cup water — extends recipe volume and provides a base to blend ingredients.
  • 1 TB smooth peanut butter — provides a creamy yet solid base for cosmetics and is loaded with skin-loving Vitamin E and other antioxidants.
  • 1 TB beeswax — mostly used for its scent and to thicken cosmetics.
  • 1 TB almond oil — good for normal, dry and mature skin. Has cleansing, moisturizing and conditioning properties.
  • 1/4 tsp honey — antiseptic, cleansing and ideal for treating chapped lips and wrinkles.
  • 1 Vitamin E capsule — good for skin and acts as a preservative.

Method:

  1. Wash your containers in hot soapy water and dry thoroughly. If you’d like to buy some containers for lip balm, please go to the containers page on Homespunspa.com.
  2. To make a simple syrup with sugar, water and bananas, melt equal parts of sugar and water over low heat on a stove top. Add large pieces of banana and stir until the sugar dissolves completely. Let the syrup simmer over low heat to infuse the banana flavour into the syrup.
  3. Meanwhile, in a separate pan, melt the smooth peanut butter, beeswax, almond oil (or peanut oil, sunflower oil, vegetable oil, etc. — almond oil is what I had on hand today) and honey over low heat. Stir until smooth.
  4. Strain out the bananas from the liquid sugar and set them aside. Add 1 TB of the banana-flavoured syrup into the peanut butter mixture. Turn the heat off but keep the pan on the heated element. Keep stirring. Add the contents of the Vitamin E capsule.
  5. Pour the mixture into your containers. The lip balm will harden within a few minutes.

Manner: Apply the peanut butter and banana lip balm to your lips as needed.

Storage: Your lip balm should last up to 6 months.

Warning: Do not make or wear this recipe if you or someone you know has peanut allergies. Discard your batch if it starts getting sticky or tasting rancid.

As always, let me know what you think. I would love to post your comments on my blog.

P.S. Pour the left over bananas and sugar syrup over ice cream and use the syrup in cocktails to add another layer of flavour. And I just thought of something else: use the banana flavoured syrup in a lip gloss!

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