Branching Out: Coconut products

Over the past two weeks, I’ve been using coconut products in my daily diet.  I didn’t want to post about it until I decided whether or not I would continue with this change.  I’m happy to report that I have started two new, healthy routines!

The first thing I did a few weeks ago was to purchase a big container of coconut oil.  My Costco has a great deal on Carrington Farms coconut oil for around $16.  This is a 54 ounce container and is raw, cold-pressed, organic, and unrefined.  That is the way to go.

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The entire jar (which is pretty big) will last about a year or so before it spoils.  I keep it on my kitchen countertop and haven’t had any issues with it getting liquified by the stove or anything like that.

I’ve been putting it in my egg pan in the mornings instead of using spray (read: plastic) oil.  I just take a small fork and drag out about a half of a teaspoon.  It can be used up to 350 degrees, so it melts really well without smoking.  Any leftover on my fork goes straight to my cuticles.   I’ve found that my eggs actually taste buttery using this oil, but I’ve used too much once and it does taste a little tropical.  I also have noticed that my eggs seem fluffier (remember, I use two egg whites and one regular egg).

I also purchased some coconut water to drink after my yoga classes.  I got a case of it for $14.  know it seems like a lot, but I actually only drink about a third of the carton for each class so I’m not going through them really fast.  I think I drink about 8 ounces after each class.  The brand I got is Zico, which is one of the three that most people by (Vita Coco and O.N.E. being the others).  I researched and Zico is better in terms of chunks (none) and less calories and no added sugar.  I learned that coconut milk is made from the meat of the fruit, while coconut water is the clear stuff in the middle of the fruit.

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Apparently, Zico makes flavored waters, but I just got the plain.  At first taste, I was surprised that it didn’t taste very sweet. Now, I’m just used to it.

I chose to start adding these two products into my diet for two reasons:

1)  The coconut oil has great health benefits.  While some people argue that the saturated fat in the oil is bad for you, it’s actually not.  The reason this doesn’t apply to coconut oil is that about half the saturated fat in the oil is medium-chain fatty acids, which are easier to digest than the more prevalent long-chain fatty acids in most other oils, including butter.  Nearly 50 percent of the fat in coconut oil is of a type rarely found in nature called lauric acid, a “miracle” compound because of its unique health promoting properties. Your body converts lauric acid into monolaurin, which has anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-protozoa properties.   The cool thing about lauric acid is that it is only found in high concentrations in one other source….breast milk!

2)  Coconut water is, in my opinion, the best natural electrolyte drink out there.  It’s naturally high in potassium.   I’ve seen recipes for making your own electrolyte supplement using water, salt, lemons, and a host of other things.  Frankly, I don’t want to drink salt water after class. I still haven’t decided if I really need salt after yoga, but if I do, I’ll figure out a way to get it in without giving up my coconut water.  Coconut water also has lauric acid in it, so that’s even better.  I’ve learned also that in WW2, coconut water was used on the troops as a universal blood donor.  It is identical to human blood plasma!

 

So there you go.  Yay for coconuts!  I purchased some coconut flour last weekend and I plan to try some baking with it this weekend.

Because my bestie knows me best: holiday edition

I think I need to start a new segment on the blog called “because my bestie knows me best”, sort of like the meet my owl.  Seriously, if there was ever a person that knew me as well as Mr. Hall, it’s my bestie Gretchen!  We are quite opposites, but the same in so many ways.

Here’s a pic of us at a recent ODU football game.  Aren’t we cute? 

Getting back to the post, we exchanged holiday gifts today!  True to form, my bestie gave me two thoughtful gifts that were perfect.

I think everyone on the interweb and ODU now knows about my hip spasm, but only a bestie would give you a heating pad so you don’t suffer all day at work.  Bonus that it is small and purple!  I plugged it in as soon as I got back to my office.  Ah, happy hot hip.  That’s what I’m calling it now.  Hot hip. 

That’s me rocking it out at my chair.  It’s just the right size.  It is also discreet, so people walking by aren’t thinking I’m like an old lady with a big rectangle heating pad on my butt.  Did I mention it’s purple?  Cori, this may bring down my whining to a respectable level!

I haven’t unpacked my second gift yet, but it’s a fuzzy foot massager.  It makes me wonder if she talked to Mr. Hall and he told her that he was tired of: 1) rubbing my feet and 2) me sticking my cold feet under his leg when we are sitting on the couch!

I will be breaking that bad boy out tonight when I’m drinking on the couch.  What?  It’s the last day of ODU for another week and a half.  I’m celebrating!

So thank you, my bestie, for knowing me so well!

 

Things I Love Right Now: Spring Edition

Time for the springtime edition of “Things I love right now”!

1) EOS lipbalm, lemon drop flavor.  This stuff is sitting on my desk at work.  If you know me, I’m always talking and drinking water during the day, so my lips are chapped.  My desk is like a menagerie of products for dryness: hand creams, lotions, and chapsticks.  Right now, I love this EOS stuff.  It has a flat bottom so it doesn’t roll everywhere and the lemon drop flavor is very refreshing!  It kind of reminds me of the Strawberry Shortcake doll that was the lemon character.  Remember how those smelled?

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2) Lush’s hair henna.  They call it “caca”, which I think is hilarious because it really looks like a poop helmet when you put it on!  This should be a long-ago “thing I love”, because I’ve been using this for a year now.  One year ago, I decided I would stop putting chemicals on my hair to color it and my hair has thanked me ever since.  I like Lush’s product because it comes in a pre-formed bar, which has the henna in there, but also additional things like cocoa butter.  I use two squares per henna-ing session.  There’s six squares per block.  That’s been a great money-saver for me because the entire block is $23, so that’s less than $10 per session.  Way better than the $50+ dollars I spent every six weeks to get my hair chemically treated.  Plus, it’s the only colorant I’ve used that has given me a true “chocolate” brown color.  I can’t say enough good things about this product.  It’s completely changed my hair texture and made it so much more managable.  The only downside?  You can’t chemically color over henna, so if I want to go back, I have to grow it out first.  I don’t think I’ll go back any time soon!  My color is caca brun.

3)  Croc’s Patricia sandals.  My friend Morgan introduced these to me last summer after the unfortunate foot injury.  They saved my little pigs.  I had forgotten how much I love them until I put them on last week when we had our first really hot day at work.  The slight heel on them takes the pressure off of my instep and they provide a good level of softness when you walk that Croc’s are known for- without the gaudy slip on, huge toe Croc style we all know.  $40 at Dick’s sporting goods store and a good variety of colors.  I have a crazy-high arch so I lined the bottom of the straps with a stick-on moleskin, which helps with the rubbing of the top of my foot.

4) foodgawker.com   This is the best website for recipes.  It’s basically a dumping ground for food bloggers.  Check it out and prepare to find a million things you can’t wait to make!

5) Fun on the cheap.  I can’t deal with these gas prices. I also can’t deal with the cost of margaritas at restaurants, which lead to my Margaritaville purchase last month.  How can margaritas at home be even better?  When you have great friends over and play board games!  For two hours on Saturday, Gretchen, Bill, myself, and Mr. Hall enjoyed a rousing game of Clue.  So much fun!!!  And even better, it was free.  If the price of gas gets up to $6 a gallon this summer, I’m going to buy more board games.

What I love right now: Margaritas!

I don’t know about you, but there is something about springtime that makes me crave a margarita!  The warm weather teasing us for the past few weeks hasn’t helped either.

Last weekend, we went over to John and Annette’s house and they have a fancy Margaritaville machine.  We made tasty drinks all night- on the cheap!  It is so expensive to go out for margaritas.  We can’t get out of a restaurant without spending $40 in margarita money.  Ridiculous!  I don’t even want to think about how much money I spent last summer in margaritas.

So yesterday I decided to do something about it.  I told Kevin we were going to make an investment in our own Margaritaville machine.  Now these things are expensive, people.  I’m not gonna lie.  But I was on a mission.

At Bed Bath and Beyond and other retailers, you can’t get out of the store without paying over $250-$300 for one of these machines.  However, I am the super shopper and found out that there is one model of the Margaritaville for $200 that was sold last year at Walmart. After checking out several empty stores, we went to one last store, ready to give up on our beloved Margaritaville machine.

Imagine my surprise when I stumbled upon one lonely machine, marked down to $150!  Mr. Hall snatched that thing up quicker than I could say, “on the rocks or frozen?” and we were out of there!

Both of us had a lot of work to do around the house, so we didn’t get to the machine right away.  But, after many hours of waiting….margaritas!!!

Here is my review of the machine:

First of all, this is a heavy machine.  I was surprised how much room it takes up on the countertop.  The glass pitcher holds 36 ounces, so it’s enough for a few drinks.  The top part is where the ice goes and that shaves the ice into the pitcher.

You put all of your mixings in the bottom part and the shaved ice falls into the pitcher.  Then, it blends it up. 

Verdict?  The best damn margarita I’ve ever made at home.  EVER.  Totally worth $150 to avoid $6 or $8 margaritas at a restaurant. 

I also enjoyed the Trader Joe’s margarita mixer, which is super tasty.  Kevin has some issues with artificial sweeteners, which give him allergic type reactions when we get margaritas at restaurants.  The TJ mixer is all natural so he appreciated that too.

Two thumbs up!!!

Things I love right now

In honor of my love for all things organized, I dedicate this “things I love right now” to the office supply industry.

1) With the upcoming Student Success Center opening this fall, we are taking on some new initiatives in our division.  Of course, this means new ideas and collaborative opportunities.  What a better way to keep track of it all by developing a new filing system???  I love files.  Purple, straight, and nicely labeled.  I’m not done yet, but here’s a peek of my new filing system in progress. 

2)  Post-It notes!!!  If you have been to my office or worked with me on any project, you know my love for the Post-It brand.  I love the square notes, the little tiny notes, the removable tabs you can use with binders to divide sections, the big ones you can stick on the wall like an easel, the ones you put on papers to make an “arrow” at something, even the ones that come out like an accordian.  While I admit my Post-It addiction is severe, I haven’t got to the point where I’m decorating my office walls in them, like this picture below.  Yet.

3) Levenger’s Circa notebook system.  I don’t use these at work, but Levenger’s stuff is super cool and well worth the money.  I used these when I wrote my dissertation.  Most of it, in my opinion, is a little overpriced, but I love the functionality of their products.  Take a look at their website.  It’s an obsessive organizer’s dream.  (swoon)

4) Sharpie pens.  I LOVE THEM.  They are great for writing because they don’t smear and have a nice line.  I think they are acid free too. I don’t have any at work because I’m afraid they’ll disappear, but I have them at home and that’s all I use.

 So there you go.  My current top four office supply swoons.

Things I love right now

It occurred to me today that most people don’t know me, or at least me away from being a student.  I thought that maybe I could share things with you that I am loving *right now*- what a better way to get to know someone?!

I think I’ll do this once a week, just like the Meet My Owl posts.

Without further ado, here is what I’m loving big time right now…

1.  The Company Store flannel sheets.  I’m a Michigan girl.  I love flannel sheets, but it’s hard to find nice flannel in the stores.  It’s either too thin or pills up.  The Company Store has a great flannel sheet line, which I adore.  I just took mine out of the dryer and they are so toasty warm…zzzzzzzz

Who wouldn’t want to snuggle up into these super cute sheets?

2.  Philosophy‘s Amazing Grace shower scrub and perfume:  if you are not familiar with Philosophy, it’s a skin care company that moved into full body care product lines.  They’re known for their body line scents with fun fragrances.  I love their things year round, but this time of year it’s their Amazing Grace scent that I gravitate towards.  If I had to describe the scent, I would say it’s floral, but it’s very subtle and musky.  Every time I wear this scent to gigs, one of the guys in the band inevitably tells me how good I smell.  Philosophy’s body scrub wash is fabulous this time of year when you feel like your skin just can’t get any more wintery.

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3.  The Body Shop‘s Hemp Hand Protector.  This is my go-to hand lotion for the winter, but I use this year round.  During the summer, it goes on my feet and heels.  I’ve had the same tube for probably about three years.  It lasts forever.  And the scent…it’s masculine and earthy, but not offensive.  Love it.

Hemp Hand Protector4.  Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot.  For those of you who don’t know about my love for mystery, I am a HUGE mystery reader.  When I was in my graduate and doctoral programs, the only books I really read were mysteries.  When Kevin got us Netflix last fall, one of the first things I did was put all of the Agatha Christie movies into my list of things to watch.   I love Agatha Christie anyway, but David Suchet does a phenomenal job in his portrayal of Hercule Poirot.  Try as I might, I can never figure out the ending of Agatha Christie stories!

 

Hopefully this helped you to learn more about me through my current loves.  Every week I’ll share something new!