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My dance career has brought me many interesting opportunities, the latest of which is getting to dance in, and around, a swimming pool.  It’s the perfect way to finish off a hot Texas Summer, but the chlorine is leaving my body feeling dry and chemical-ridden.  

I found myself with a morning off from rehearsals and bodyworking, so I decided to do a little Self Care in the form of Skin Care.

My go to mask is usually a Bentonite Clay, Apple Cider Vinegar, and Water detoxifying mask.  But today, I wanted more detox, and less drying so I went with This one:

Detoxifying Face Mask with Activated Charcoal and Bentonite Clay

Activated Charcoal and Bentonite Clay

 

Ingredients

1 tsp Aztec Secret Bentonite Clay 

2 capsules Activated Charcoal (or 1 tsp if you by it in powder form )

1-2 tsp Water

 

Directions

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Empty the charcoal capsules into a non-metal bowl, and add the clay.

 

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Add as much water as needed to get a paste-like consistency.  Stir it all together with a non-metal utensil (I suggest using your finger because it’s about to get messy anyway).  Mixing Bentonite Clay with metal will cause it to lose it’s efficacy.

 

charcoal and clay mask

 

Slather it on, being sure to avoid eyes and mouth.  (it’s challenging to get out of your hairline, but not so difficult that a little shampoo won’t get out).

 

Wait 5 minutes…

 

Rinse your mask off while it’s still a little tacky.  You may need to follow it up with a little coconut oil, and a warm wash cloth to get it all off.  I followed this up with a little Chainwax for moisture, and my face feels so smooth and refreshed!

vegan chocolate with coconut

Because I whole-heartedly believe that anything I put on my body should be able to go in my body, I used some leftover ingredients from a batch of Amy’s Chainwax and from a chocolate sugar scrub recipe I’ve been working on, to make these super simple vegan dark chocolates with coconut flakes.  I could go on about the antioxidants and other health benefits of chocolate and coconut, but sometimes you just need a little sweet treat.

Ingredients

chocolate ingredients

1 1/2 Cups Cocoa Butter

2 Cups Organic Unsweetened Cacao Powder (or Cocoa Powder)

2/3 Cup Organic Maple Syrup

3/4 Cup Organic Unsweetened Shredded Coconut 

Organic Unsweetened Coconut flakes

 

Directions

1. Melt the Cocoa Butter, over low heat, in a double boiler.  You can make your own double boiler by filling a pot with about an inch of water, and placing a heat-resistant bowl over the top (be sure the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the top of the water).  

cocoa butter unmelted

2.  While your Cocoa Butter is melting, combine the Cacao Powder, Shredded Coconut, and Maple Syrup in a separate bowl.

maple syrup into chocolate

3. You’re Cocoa Butter is probably still melting, so take this time to sprinkle a few Coconut Flakes in the bottom of your mold (I love using silicone ice cube trays because they make for easy removal.  You can also spread the chocolate mixture over a parchment lined baking sheet for chocolate bark)

coconut flakes

4.  Once the Cocoa Butter is fully melted, wipe any condensation off the bottom of the bowl (careful, it’s hot).  Water in your chocolate will give it a grainy consistency.  Slowly pour the Cocoa Butter over the chocolate mixture, and combine completely.

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5.  Pour your mixture into the molds, and bang the mold on the counter to remove air bubbles.

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6.  This is the hardest part.  Put your mold in the freezer, and wait.  Don’t worry, it should be ready in about 30 min.

7.  Once your chocolate has had time to set, pop it onto a plate, and into your mouth!

vegan chocolate with coconut

roller bungee

I recently had the pleasure of performing in my second show with site-specific aerial dance company, Blue Lapis Light (thanks to Earl McGehee for this, and so many other great photos throughout the process). That meant six weeks of five days a week, three hours a day rehearsals in the Texas Summer sun. That’s about 90 hours spent dancing around with the sun’s rays shining down on us. What a great opportunity to test out some natural sunscreen!

In the past, I’ve used combinations of carrot seed oil (which has an SPF of 38-40) and different carrier oils. Avocado is my favorite because it has a relatively high SPF (4-15). This page has a list of some common oils and their SPFs. Unfortunately, most seed and nut oils only protect against UVB rays.  

The only oil that seems to also protect against UVA rays is red raspberry seed oil.  But I didn’t have any of that on hand, and none of my usual suppliers carried it (I know, silly excuse, but I was on a time crunch to have it ready for rehearsals).  I did, however, have access to some non-nano zinc oxide.  Why is non-nano so important?  Well, this Goddess Garden Organics article  explains it really well.  But, basically, nano particles are too small for our bodies to defend against.  The only down side of non-nano zinc is that it doesn’t absorb.  Catch 22, right?  We don’t want the white pasty streaks of sunscreen all over us, but we don’t want our bodies to take in all that zinc either.  So I played around with some different blends, and ended up with something that had pretty great protective qualities (I didn’t burn once during the entire six weeks), and didn’t leave me looking like a ghost.  

please note: This sunscreen is NOT WATERPROOF!  It worked so well for rehearsal that I decided to try it out during a day at the pool.  After about 4 hours in the sun/water, and 2 applications, I had a pretty pink tan line.  My poor partner in crime, John, ended up with pink shoulders that ended up peeling several days later. 

Homemade Sunscreen

1 Cup Avocado Oil

3 tsp Non-nano Zinc Oxide

50 drops Carrot Seed Oil

combine ingredients, and apply liberally before sun exposure.

 

 

carved pumpkins

One of my favorite memories of growing up in the Midwest is the changing of seasons.  Especially Summer to Autumn.  Watching the leaves change color and cover the ground, the smell of cocoa and cider, that crisp breeze, and pumpkin carving.  Autumn in Texas is a little different, but at least I can still enjoy my pumpkin.

This year, I thought it might be fun to try and utilize the entire pumpkin.  It is, after all, full of antioxidants and sweet yumminess.  

First, I invited all of my friends over to carve pumpkins, and to share pumpkin inspired recipes.  Once everyone had a vegan pumpkin spice latte or pumpkin beer in hand, we popped the tops on our gourds.  I collected the seeds to clean and roast, and sent the insides home with a friend, for her chickens to feast on.  After the last guest left, inner child satisfied, I whipped up some pumpkin mask to maintain my own youthful glow (or, perhaps, in order to regain it).

Aside from just being tasty and fun, pumpkins are also really good for us.  Check out these benefits:

Anti-depressant- They contain L-tryptophan, which helps boost your mood naturally.

Osteoporosis Prevention-They are loaded with zinc, a natural protector against osteoporosis.

Anti-inflammatory-  The magnesium in pumpkin is an excellent aid in reducing inflammation, and muscle soreness too.

Kidney Stone Prevention-The seeds have been proven to help the formation of kidney stones, and help with proper bladder function too (in humans and dogs).

Tapeworm Treatment-What a tasty way to get rid of such an unpleasant parasite.

Lower LDL Cholesterol and Cancer Prevention-They contain phytosterols compounds, which aid in reducing LDL levels in humans, and help prevent some cancers too.

Prostate Health-The oil in the seeds promotes prostate health, and helps alleviate painful urination.

Now that you love pumpkin as much as I do, here are some great recipes for both internal and external well-being.  Enjoy!

Sweet Curry Pumpkin Seeds

pumpkin seeds

ingredients

 pumpkin seeds (one medium sized carving pumpkin will give you about 2 cups)

fine sea salt (1 TBS for every 1/2 Cup of seeds. I like La Baleine brand)

sweet curry powder (I use this blend from The Spice House on everything!)

olive oil (I like Whole Foods’ 365 Organic Cold Pressed Olive Oil)

1. Rinse your seeds to get rid of all the pumpkin guts.  Add 2 cups of water, 1 tsp sweet curry powder, and 1 TBS sea salt for every 1 cup of seeds.  Bring this mixture to a boil, and let it simmer for 10 minutes.

2. lightly coat a baking sheet with olive oil.  spread the drained seeds, in a single layer, over the sheet.  Bake at 400 degrees, on the top rack, for 5-20 minutes (until seeds start to brown). 

3.  Cool, and enjoy!

 

Pumpkin Face Mask

ingredients

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1 TBS cooked pumpkin (canned works great too.  I like Farmer’s Market)

1 TBS raw organic honey (365 Organic’s Mountain Forrest is my go to)

1 tsp vitamin E oil (I get mine from Bulk Apothecary)

3 drops each of Lavender and Frankincense essential oil (you can find both at Young Living)

1. Mix all the ingredients, and apply to a clean face with your fingers (yes, you can lick your fingers). 

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2. Leave the mask on for about 20 minutes before rinsing off with warm water.

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*you can add some sugar or fine sea salt to the leftovers for a body scrub

 

 

 

 

 

 

Raise your hand if you are allergic to citric acid.  Folks with corn allergies, that probably means you too (here is a great list of things that are corn derived).   If you are of the lucky many who do not have your hands up, then perhaps you are just looking for an alternative to putting all of those icky toothpaste chemicals in your mouth. 

Most store bought toothpastes (whitening or otherwise) contain citric acid, as well as a bunch of other things that you may not want to be swallowing (let’s face it, everybody ingests a little every now and then).  But we all want clean teeth.  And society teaches us that the whiter, the better the smile. 

In my quest to diminish chemicals and allergens from my daily routine, I have experimented with different teeth cleaning/whitening recipes. I’ve tried:

whitening with hydrogen peroxide-my teeth felt clean, and slightly whiter, but it made my gums really sensitive.  Considering both of my siblings have had gum surgery, I quickly nixed the peroxide.

brushing with baking soda-this is a great abrasive with which to scrape the plaque from your teeth.  However, it may also scrape away enamel (which doesn’t grow back, y’all). 

bentonite clay as tooth powder-It works great mixed with a few other key ingredients.  I’ve made a recipe similar this one, without the stevia.  I don’t have any complaints about the clay, it’s just not Today’s recipe.

What is Today’s recipe?  I’m so glad you asked. 

Tooth Whitening Paste

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1 capsule Activated Charcoal

1/4 teaspoon Turmeric Powder

1/2 teaspoon Coconut Oil

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Empty the charcoal capsule into a small dish, add the other ingredients, and mix into a paste (to be honest, I just eyeball the amounts and stir with my toothbrush).  Then brush as usual.  Don’t worry, the black-tooth zombie effect will rinse away to reveal whiter, cleaner teeth. 

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But why does this work so well, and is it really as effective as store bought toothpaste?!

First of all, I recently visited my childhood dentist.  Over the years, my teeth have seen braces, two root canals, a handful of crowns, and more fillings than I can remember.  I’ve been using mostly homemade tooth paste for the last year, and he literally said “your teeth look great.  Whatever you’re doing is working”.  Thank you, Dr. John!

Here’s why it works:

coconut oil is a natural anti-bacterial (I won’t go off on the tangent that is the multitude of benefits and uses for coconut oil)

Turmeric contains curcumin, which is both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory.  Your gums will thank you.

Activated Charcoal absorbs toxins.  I was going to post my own before and after photos to show you the difference it makes, but Tina, from Humble Lore, has even better ones.

 

 

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