9 Reasons You Need Coconut Oil In Your Life

I am SO excited to share a guest post today written by my long-time friend, Dana Gelsomino, RN. She’s been a force for good in my life for over a decade, and I can’t say enough about her medical knowledge and personal wisdom. I’m thrilled to see a  conventionally trained nurse ready to profess the wonders of coconut oil in her new book, Coconut Oil Made Easy: Answers to the 102 Most Frequently Asked Questions. Check it out on Amazon — TOTALLY FREE through May 17th at midnight.

Take it away, Nurse Dana!

coconut oil made easy

Hi, I’m Dana, and I’m a coconut oil devotee. I discovered coconut oil about 6 months ago, and the radical changes to my health that have come as a result are truly hard to believe. But first, a little background on me …

For years I suffered with severe, chronic depression — to the point that I was hospitalized for it twice. I was also diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), which means my hormones had gone rogue, and I was prone to acne flare-ups, irritability, weight gain, and painful periods. You can also add chronic back and neck pain to my list of complaints.

Like most people with chronic pain and health challenges, feeling sub-optimal had become my new normal. Don’t get me wrong; it’s not that I didn’t try to feel better—believe me, I tried everything. Over the years I have been on Accutane, a handful of different anti-depressants, prescription pain killers and muscle relaxers. I’ve gone to chiropractors, massage therapists, doctors (was even physically carried into urgent care once for debilitating pain), physical therapists, herbalists, nutritionists, live blood cell analysts, Reiki practitioners, acupuncturists … You name it, odds are I tried it.

My First Teaspoon Of Coconut Oil

I first tried coconut oil at the behest of a good friend from Columbia. He said that he mixed some into his coffee every morning, and it really helped increase his energy. In no way was I expecting an effect on any of the health challenges I just mentioned.

The idea of oily coffee both disgusted and intrigued me — I had to try it for myself. After adding that first teaspoon of coconut oil to my coffee, the physical signs and symptoms of every one of my health challenges began to reverse, and now they are completely gone. I have no more chronic pain in my back or neck, no more severe PMS, no more depression and no more low energy. I don’t even take an Advil for cramps, because I don’t have cramps!

If I hadn’t experienced this first hand, I wouldn’t believe it. I began researching coconut oil and learned that my experiences are not unique! Thousands of people swear by the healing properties of coconut oil and have so many amazing stories to tell. Fascinated by Coconut Oil Made Easywhat I was reading, I decided to commit to using coconut oil for thirty days and recording what happened. Over those thirty days I learned more about coconut oil than I ever knew existed on the topic! I cooked with it, I used it on my body and face, I drank it in my coffee, and I replaced a few beauty products with it. I also  began telling anyone who listen about my experience and found myself answering the same questions over and over again.

And thus a book was born!

Here’s a sneak peak of some of the information you’ll find in my new book, Coconut Oil Made Easy: Answers to the 102 Most Frequently Asked Questions. I hope you enjoy exploring this amazing, healing food as much as I have — it just might change your life.

9 Reasons You Need Coconut Oil In Your Life:

  1. Lauric acid’s “Anti’s”
    Coconut oil is packed with over nine “powerhouse components” including perhaps the most important one, lauric (aka monolauric acid). This acid is anti- “bad” bacterial (fights off “bad” bacteria, while leaving beneficial bacteria alone), anticarcinogenic, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial/infection fighting, antioxidant, antiparasitic, anti-protozoa, antiretroviral, and antiviral.
  2. Easy way to go chemical free
    Using coconut oil is an easy substitute for lots of chemical-laden products in our health and beauty routine. You can replace tens, if not hundreds or products  with a jar of $12 organic extra virgin coconut oil. There is no complicated labeling to decipher and no added ingredients—it’s just coconut oil. I’ve successfully rid my cabinet of eye make up remover, shaving cream, face and body moisturizers; all have been replaced with one jar of coconut oil.
  3. Few if any side effects
    Prescription and over the counter drugs often come with potential side effects. Some of these side effects are long-lasting, permanent, and can even be fatal! I’ve replaced my dog’s arthritis medication with coconut oil, and you won’t believe the spring in his step! The vast majority of people aren’t allergic to coconut oil, and those who are often find that any reaction they may have disappears with discontinued use.
  4. Saves money
    You can either spend hundreds of dollars on multiple products, or you can use a $12 jar of organic, extra-virgin coconut oil. The small list I named above are great examples from my own bathroom cabinet.
  5. Saves the planet
    By using one jar of coconut oil in place of so many other products, you are consuming less in general, which means less manufacturing, storing, packaging and shipping. Not to mention there is no toxic run off into the water table when you use coconut oil!
  6. Reduced transdermal exposure
    Our skin is our largest organ. Everything we slather on our bodies is absorbed to some degree. Most people find this fact interesting, but don’t take it as seriously as they should when it comes to choosing body care products. Lots of different medications come in a transdermal form — nicotine, birth control and pain patches as well as burn gels and creams, to name a few. Transdermal medications are just as effective as the oral medications or herbs that we swallow. Coconut oil can replace your chemical-laden moisturizers for your face and body. Good rule of thumb: if you wouldn’t eat it, you shouldn’t put it on your skin.
  7. Easy way to simplify your life
    I live in a small house where storage space is a luxury. Using one product instead of tens or hundreds, is an easy way to begin simplifying your life.
  8. The refreshing aroma
    Most people love the smell of coconuts — it’s like summertime in a jar! I love to throw it in a pan for stir fry and fill the house with the smell of the tropics.
  9. Fantastic flavor
    I encourage you to try using coconut oil as your main cooking oil for one week. The flavor is a lot milder than most people expect — I was a skeptic at first myself! Some delicious dishes to cook with coconut oil are fried plantains and sweet potato fries. Just pour a tbsp of coconut oil in a frying pan, chop up the plantains or sweet potatoes, let brown and serve! YUM!

Author bio:

Dana Gelsomino is a Registered Nurse practicing and writing in Haslett, Michigan. Her miraculous experience using coconut oil to address her severe depression, low energy, hormonal issues and chronic back and neck pain has turned her from a skeptic to a coconut oil devotee. Dana recently published her first book on coconut oil, Coconut Oil Made Easy: Answers to the 102 Most Frequently Asked Questions. She has several other coconut oil related books in her writing pipeline, and is always open to any coconut oil related conversation and success stories! She is most easily reached through her Facebook group Real Coconut Oil or by email at dana@realcoconutoil.com.

 

 

Be Yours, Not Mine – Taking Back Valentine’s Day

I have to admit, I think Valentine’s Day is a little silly. The history of the actual figure, St. Valentine of Rome, is vague at best, and the holiday we know today is little more than a boon for the vendors of greeting cards, diamonds, flowers, chocolates, and teddy (Have a look at this ridiculous ad and tell me that this holiday hasn’t reached out-of-control proportions.)

Do we put too much pressure on Valentine’s Day? I would answer that with a resounding YES.

The stated goal of the holiday is to show someone you care about them. But If we don’t have a partner, if we are upset with our partner, if we can’t afford diamonds, if we don’t care about flowers, if we can’t get the perfect reservation … you get the point. It’s too much pressure for those IN a relationship and too depressing for those NOT in a relationship. How has a holiday that was meant to encourage love and affection turned into this chaotic, one-upping mess?

Be Yours, Not Mine – I’m saying that today to encourage you to take back Valentine’s Day. Make it about loving yourself, about treating everyone around you (including yourself) with love and respect, and take the commercial and material expectations out of it.

If you are not in a relationship, take yourself on a date; treat yourself to a night of relaxation at home with a book or movie; invite friends over for a potluck.

If you are in a relationship, agree that today isn’t about gifts or expectations, and instead do something extra around the house or offer a foot massage, or just be your usual, amazing self.

Loren and I don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day, because we feel that it’s important to show each other appreciation, love, and devotion year-round, and that material gifts on a day when it’s expected aren’t necessarily the best way to do that.

This Valentine’s Day, I challenge you to remove yourself from the hustle and bustle and redefine the holiday into something with less pressure and expectation.

Let me know what you come up with — we could start a revolution!

 

 

Happiness, Health, and Pets – Dexter Gets a Sweater!

You may have noticed the presence of an adorable K9 on this blog. She’s sitting on my lap on my About Me Page; she’s featured in my Coaching ad; and she’s licking her lips in my Pumpkin Soup recipe. Oh what the heck, here’s another one.

D1smallI think it’s safe to say that I adore my dog Dexter. But before you start thinking that Loren and I are crazy dog people, consider the fact that having a pet can actually improve your health.

That’s right, studies show that taking care of pets provides us measurable health benefits from stress reduction to cardiovascular health improvement. Pets are used as part of physical and emotional therapy, they’re great companions for the elderly giving them a daily sense of purpose, and they just downright make us feel good when they wag their tails or purr in our laps. (Looking at cute animals on the internet is part of my personal daily stress relief. If you haven’t had your dose of cuteness today, this should do the trick.)

It’s also been shown that infants and children growing up with furry pets in the house (or on a farm with barnyard animals) are far less likely to suffer from allergies or asthma as adults. Compelling arguments have been made that our germaphobic society is the culprit for the ever-rising chronic allergy problems Americans face today, and having extra “pet microbes” around seems to be safe-guarding some of us by building up our immune systems early in life.

Now that I’ve convinced you to head to the shelter for a new pet this week, let me tell you a quick little story about my most recent sewing accomplishment — I promise, it’s related! I made a sweater for Dexter!

Dexter Gets a Sweater!

Two weekends ago, we took Dexter camping for the first time. Unlike most of our other climbing trips, dogs were allowed at the crag, so we decided to see if she could behave herself as we scaled Gold Wall outside of Sonora. The behaving part was questionable, but one thing was certain that night as our group of 8 humans and one dog sat by the fire.

Dexter was cold.

DexterSweater

We came prepared with a sweater I’d been planning to donate. (Loren is adamantly against dog clothes, but he was willing to make this one exception for our short-furred friend on a cold evening in the mountains.) Dexter was tripping all over the sweater, and we ended up tying it into a knot so that she could move freely. That’s when I got the idea to turn this “give-away” sweater into a new sweater for Dexter!

Dogsweater4

Steps:

  1. Get dog off the couch and put on ill-fitting garment inside-out.
  2. Pin garment using safety pins so
    that she doesn’t get stuck when you pull it back off.
  3. Do the same thing with the sleeves if they’re also ill-fitting (I ended up cuffing these and sewing on a cute green button with pink thread!)
  4. After removing the sweater, replace all safety pins with straight pins for safer, easier sewing.
  5. Sew along the newly created seam, first on the body, then on the sleeves — this material wouldn’t hold tailor’s chalk, but chalk might be helpful with a different fabric since you’re not sewing a straight line.
  6. It’s up to you how fancy you want to get with the raw edges. I didn’t make mine perfect on the body, because this fabric won’t run, but I did cuff the sleeves.
  7. Turn the garment right side-out and dress the dog for a photo shoot.

Considering the fact that I was laughing for the entirety of this sewing project, and I laugh again every time I look at her face in these pictures, I’d say that both Dexter and this project were good for my wellbeing. After all, laughter is the best medicine.

I challenge you to spend time this week relaxing with a furry friend — yours or someone else’s. You won’t regret it.

Dogsweater1

 

Kitchen Alchemy: Cran-Strawberry Sorbet

I have to admit, I don’t like cranberry sauce. Every year at Thanksgiving, I try it, and every year I don’t like it. Whether it comes right out of the can or someone offers me a “family recipe” that’s been perfected over the years, it’s just not my favorite thing. But for some reason, when I was wandering through the produce section at Berkeley Bowl, I felt compelled to buy a box of fresh organic cranberries.

cran2

When I brought them home, my husband asked what I’d planned on doing with them. I said maybe I’d make a holiday smoothie, and he laughed, suggesting that I try a raw cranberry before making that commitment. SOUR!!!

I decided that if anyone could make a cranberry sauce that I’d like, it would be me. Even though I’ve never made one before. Even though I had no idea what I was doing.

Because I was doing 4 things at once, and because my heart wasn’t really in it, I threw the cranberries into a pot, filled it with water, turned on the stove, and proceeded with my other kitchen tasks (baking muffins, mixing homemade humus, and making chicken salad out of leftover chicken breasts). As a result of this unplanned process, the recipe will read more like a story. Hopefully it will inspire creativity when something doesn’t go quite right in your kitchen. This post is about a poorly thought out experiment, so the measurements will be very approximate. But my mess of an attempt at cranberry sauce transformed into something delicious! Creamy sorbet!

After about 30 minutes on the stove in a covered pot, my cranberry sauce was a red soup. I uncovered it and let it cook a bit longer and then I gave up and poured it into a glass bowl. I squeezed the juice of 1/2 a lemon in and tasted. SOUR!!! And really really soupy.

Crans1

I thought maybe I could add some gelatin and leave it in the fridge over night to see if I could turn it into a “healthy jello” type concoction. The gelatin I use comes from grass-fed cows on pasture and is designed to dissolve in cold water. I’ve only ever used it in smoothies, and only very recently, so I had no idea how much to add and no idea what it would do.  I would guess that I used about 3 or 4 tablespoons.

gelatin

I also added in roughly 1/4 cup maple syrup, 1/2 a box of my favorite coconut milk (Arroy D).crans2

After dinner the following night, I pulled my bowl out of the fridge, and it was still soup, although it tasted pretty good. After a few soupy spoons a lightbulb went off. Freeze it! I poured what was left in a silicone ice tray and stuck it in the freezer for a while.
crans4

My impatience got the best of me, so I pulled out the ice tray and threw some frozen strawberries (maybe like 10) and about half of the not-quite frozen cubes into the food processor, and voilà!

Cran-Strawberry Sorbet was born!

crans5

I still have the other half of the cranberry coconut gelatin in the freezer. I think when I do this again, it will be a more solid sorbet because the cubes will be completely frozen, but this was definitely delicious, creamy, and refreshing. I’d say that my fresh cranberry purchase turned out to be a success after all!

Sewing Patience

For my 30th birthday, my husband Loren gave me a Singer Curvy Sewing machine. At 5’3” with my mother’s build, I find myself having to hem nearly every pair of pants I purchase, and after hearing me complain about this while pining after a sewing machine for months, he surprised me for my birthday. (Although I may or may not have guessed that I’d be getting one.) Being the considerate and forward thinking man that he is, he also gave me 4 hours of private lessons with Better Living Through Sewing. Unfortunately for my sewing endeavors (but fortunate for every other reason), the year of my 30th birthday was also the year we got married, so the sewing machine sat in the garage unopened for a year as I planned for the big day. 

The week before my 31st birthday, I booked my first lesson — STOKED to get started. 3 lessons in, I broke the machine. 🙁 I had apparently messed up the timing, and it was a $100 fix. Considering the machine itself was only $179, they offered to give me a $100 credit toward a better, more durable machine.

After weeks of deliberation and consultation from the ladies at a local sewing machine shop, I decided to trade in my Singer for a Viking Emerald 116. It subsequently sat in the garage for another three months, but last week, I pulled it out for the first time, ready to hem some clothes!

I pulled out the video that Diana from Better Living let me shoot — instructions for a how to do a roll hem — and got to it. I started with an old pair of climbing shorts that I’d been rolling up 80’s style for over a year.  I figured that if I messed those up, I wouldn’t be heart-broken. I successfully hemmed one side, and then suddenly, things went awry. I got these crazy loops on the underside of the fabric, and the machine was making these loud banging sounds. I panicked. If I just broke my second sewing machine the FIRST time I pulled it out of the box, maybe sewing just wasn’t for me. I was nearly in tears.

For those of you who don’t know me, the words “patient,” “careful,” “gentle,” and “precise” are not in the top 100 words to describe me. And unfortunately, all of these things are required to be good at sewing. I’m pretty sure that I can pinpoint the moment when I disturbed the timing on my Singer. My guess is that it happened when I tried to rip out some denim that was stuck in it during a lesson when Diana wasn’t watching. I think I yanked the needle. No, I know I did. I yanked the needle.

Loren tells me that when he was little, his dad used to say “don’t force it” when they were building something or putting something together from a box. I never received such wise instructions as a child. Instead, I learned to push hard, to pull harder, to force large objects to fit into small places, to glue them if they broke, or turn them into an art project. And if all else failed, to buy another one.

Not “forcing it” hasn’t really been in my vernacular until sewing entered my life.

I read the owner’s manual (not something I do often), tried adjusting the top tension, the bottom tension, made sure there was no thread stuck inside any of the parts near the bobbin, and there was no change. (Mind you, while I was doing this, I was learning what these things were and where they are on my machine, because I’m still a total novice) Nearly resigned to failure and dreading having to tell Loren that I’d messed up a second sewing machine, I came across this Youtube video. I could kiss this woman! She saved my evening! And my shorts (which I’m wearing to the gym today)! I was back in business, and the problem was a super simple fix!

On fire with my newfound confidence, I pulled out a pair of red jeans that I’d been stuffing into my boots, also for over a year. I watched the video again, measured everything out, and got to sewing. When I put them on, I saw that I’d made one side an inch longer than the other… ahh, precision … and patience.

There’s more work to be done for me on these fronts, but I think sewing can get me there. I think Diana might be onto something with this whole better living through sewing thing.

2013-11-06 20.16.04

The following evening, I fixed my red jeans and wore them out to a nice sushi dinner. I even tapered the bottoms!

Last updated by at .