I'm always nagging you to eat your dark green leaf vegetables, because they are a rich source of Vitamin A which helps your skin. However, not many of you know what they are and how to eat them. Yes, most are bitter, and it takes a little getting used to, but the health benefits are terrific. Here are some of my favorite ways to use them.
1. Throw a handful of chard or collards in the blender when making a fruit smoothie - you will not taste it.
2. A nice combination for an energetic morning drink is beet tops, lemon, ginger, and a green apple. I just clean and chop everything, including the skins, throw it in the blender, and drink the pulp and juices together. If you include some of the beet or its stems, it turns the color a gorgeous red and gives a nice sweetness!
3. Massaged Kale Salad - slice kale into ribbons; coat with some olive oil and lemon juice, then roll up your sleeves and massage that kale until wilted. Add some chopped mango and pumpkin seeds, serve chilled. Keeps well for a second meal.
4. Mustard Greens with Sesame Oil - saute chopped mustard greens in some sesame oil until tender. Serve warm or chilled.
Growing herbs in your garden? Choose your favorites to make a beautifying herbal massage oil to soften your skin, ease muscle soreness and relax your mind. You’ll need;
- A bunch of your favorite herb or herb blend (I’m using the lemon verbena and peppermint that Farmer Tony grew organically for me this year). Try lavender for relaxation and acne, rosemary for achy joints, peppermint for menstrual bloating, cramps, headache or fatigue, basil for respiratory ailments and energizing.
- A cold pressed oil without much scent. I recommend jojoba, apricot kernel, almond or grapeseed oil. Olive oil's scent is too heavy. You’ll need enough oil to cover the amount of herbs your collect plus one inch.
- A non-reactive pot, preferably glass, but stainless steel, enamel and cast iron are fine. Do not use aluminum, copper. or non-stick coated pots. Double boilers work well.
- Pure vitamin E oil. Watch the ingredients, as some have other ingredients mixed in.
- Sterilized glass jar with cap (run it through the dishwasher on hot/sterilize setting) and a peel and stick label. Colored jars are the best (cobalt blue or amber), as they keep sunlight out.
Here's the procedure;
- Shake off herbs from the garden, or rinse if really dirty. Let the bunch you want to use sit overnight in a warm, dry place so it will lose some of its water content. Too much moisture left in the herbs can cause a moldy finished product.
- Fill your pot with as much herb as you want to infuse.
- Cover the herb with oil and add one more inch of oil.
- A double boiler is convenient, but if you don't have one, put the pot in a bigger pot that has water in it. The oil should heat slowly over low heat for three hours. Do not overheat because too intense heat will destroy the volatile oils you are trying to collect. Alternately, you can do this in a crockpot on the lowest setting. I did mine in the oven on the lowest setting, in a covered glass casserole dish, 200 degrees for 3 hours.
5. Add a 1/2 teaspoon of pure vitamin E oil per pint of infused oil as a preservative.
6. Strain oil into your jar with cheesecloth, cap tightly, label, and store in a cool, dark place.
Massage in this lovely herbal concoction whenever you like. Keeps for about 6 weeks.
Summer sun feels good on our skin, but sunburn, premature aging manifesting as wrinkles and dark spots, and skin cancer are concerns. Here's how to protect and repair skin exposed to summer sun.
Use a sunscreen with an spf of at least 25 that have zinc and/or titanium dioxide. Don't use spf above 50, as it has more chemicals and doesn't give significantly greater protection. For example, a 30 spf supplies 97% coverage; a 50 spf supplies 98% coverage. The FDA says that values above 50 are "inherently misleading", giving a false sense of protection. Research has shown some of these chemicals, like oxybenzone and avobenzone, are absorbed by skin and are hormone disrupting. Look for natural ingredients that provide spf, like zinc and titanium dioxide which are not absorbed by skin.
Avoid retinol, retinyl palmitate and AHA's in your summer daytime moisturizer, sunscreen and foundation. These can increase the risk of sunburn and actually deepen wrinkles when exposed to sun. For a retinol alternative that won't cause issues in the sun, use the Eminence Age Corrective products under a good organic sunscreen.
Take cover, and reapply sunscreen frequently. Wear protective clothing like hats, seek shade and avoid sun between 10am – and 2pm. The FDA now recommends that consumers reapply every 2 hours, but also keep in mind that you'll need to reapply when sunscreen's effectiveness is reduced by sweat or water activities.
Avoid sun when taking certain drugs. Common medicines that cause sun sensitivity include antibiotics, antidepressants (even natural ones like St. John's Wort), benzoyl peroxide, antihistamines, diuretics, antihypertensives, cholesterol drugs, oral contraceptives and HRT's. You are at greater risk for sunburn, skin damage and more when exposing your skin to sun while taking these meds.
Add nutrients and moisture to your skin. Help keep skin healthy and efficiently heal when you do burn. Part of your daily skin routine must include proper hydration and nutrition inside and out. This means drinking adequate amounts of water, avoiding caffeine, eating a broad range of fruits and veggies equal to about half of your plate, and using a nutrient-rich moisturizer of serum on your skin.
If you get a burn - hydrate inside and out, and try these natural sunburn cooling ingredients - stone crop, aloe or apple cider vinegar, applied to skin as cool compresses; oatmeal in a cool bath followed by aloe gel or stone crop lotion; cucumber slices for small areas, like a burn on your nose or cheeks.
So remember, that prevention is key. Moderating sun time and using a proper sunscreen will still allow you to tan, without harmful, aging effects, and you'll have an even look when your skin is well hydrated after sun exposure.