Friday, January 22, 2010

Treat Your Skin With Oatmeal

My sons have very sensitive skin. We are constantly battling hives, eczema, diaper rashes and other irritations. Lately I have found oatmeal baths to be one of the best remedies - it is natural, cheap, and easy to use.

Putting oatmeal in your bath water is one of those folk remedies known to heal things like bug bites/stings, sunburns, psoriasis, rashes, chicken pox, and many other common skin problems.

Here is why oatmeal helps soothe skin:

  • The saponins (the coating of the oat) act as a natural cleanser by absorbing dirt and oil, normalizing your skin's pH balance. In plants, saponins protect against fungi and microbes (the avenacins in the oats are also antifungal). Although you don't want to consume the saponins in your oatmeal (this is why you soak them), they are believed to be beneficial helping to heal skin irritation.

  • The phenols and flavanoids in the oats provide UV protection and fight free radicals. These are ingredients you often see added to anti-aging creams.

  • Oatmeal also contains Vitamin E, which helps fight inflammation.

How to prepare an oatmeal bath

You are supposed to grind your oats into a powder so that when water is added, they are evenly dispersed and do not just simply sink to the bottom of the tub. This ground oatmeal is called colloidal oatmeal.

I use a method that saves me a step. Simply take either the leg on an old pair of hose or one of your trouser socks and fill it with whole oats. You can use this as an oatmeal "teabag" in the tub.

Colloidal simply means "gelatinous". By taking my bag of oatmeal and squeezing it, I can feel a "gluelike" residue filling the tub.

Once I have steeped the bag in the water long enough that the water looks cloudy, I then take the actual bag and rub it over the rash, making sure to squeeze the "juice" from the oats directly over it.

Your skin will feel slimy to the touch when you are done, but don't rinse off before you leave the tub. The residue will help protect your skin.

After you are done with the bag of oatmeal, just squeeze out the oats, turn it inside out and rinse. You can reuse the hosiery over and over again.

What about the oatmeal bath products sold in stores?

Aveeno products are the most common oatmeal-based products and actually score well on the Skin Deep Cosmetic Safety Database. The ingredients in the Soothing Baby Bath Treatment are: mineral oil, laureth-4, calcium silicate, and colloidal oatmeal. The only questionable ingredient is the laureth-4, which is actually a skin and eye irritant (it seems silly to treat your skin with something that will irritate it).

Why purchase a product with extra ingredients that may not be helping you, when you can use the real thing for much cheaper?


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

How To Make Homemade Cottage Cheese

Not only does making your own cottage cheese save you money, but look at the number of unnecessary ingredients you eliminate.

Ingredients in store-bought cottage cheese (I used Horizon Organic brand as an example): Organic Pasteurized and Cultured Skim Milk, Organic Milk, Organic Cream, Organic Nonfat Milk, Salt, Tri-Calcium Phosphate, Locust Bean Gum, Carrageenan, Microbial Enzyme (Non-Animal, Rennetless)Live and Active Cultures: L. Acidophilus and B. Bifidus.

Ingredients in homemade raw milk cottage cheese: Milk.

Additives like xanthan gum and locust bean gum have been linked to gastro-intestinal and respiratory problems, while carrageenan is thought to cause ulcers and inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn's and Ulcerative Colitis). If these studies are true, it's a good thing the store-bought cottage cheese contains active cultures (that are added to replace the natural ones killed during pasteurization) to help repair all of the damage it is doing.

How to make cottage cheese from raw milk

The process I use for making cottage cheese from raw milk is very similar to the process for making cream cheese, but instead of starting with yogurt, I simply leave the raw milk out on the counter for several days and allow the curds and whey to separate on their own. Remember, this will only work with raw milk, which contains the beneficial bacteria that is normally killed during the pasteurization process. Pasteurized milk spoils when it is not kept cool.

Here is what my milk looked like after 5 days on my kitchen counter:

Once you can see that your curds and whey have separated, simply strain it using cheesecloth or a dishtowel until you reach the desired consistency. If you strain it longer, you will get cream cheese.

Once you have reached the desired texture, simply salt to taste.

Save the whey to use for lacto-fermenting or to make some ricotta cheese.

How to make cottage cheese from pasteurized milk

I have never actually tried the following methods, but I was given the recipes by one of Adam's patients, who says she has the best luck with recipe 2. You would not want to try recipe 1 with raw milk, because the heat would kill all of the beneficial bacteria.

Recipe 1:
Boil one gallon of milk. Add 1/2 c. apple cider vinegar and stir. The milk will immediately curdle. After it cools, pour it through a colander and add cream until you reach your desired consistency. Salt to taste.

Recipe 2:
Heat 2 gallons of fresh milk until it is barely lukewarm (do not heat past 110 with raw milk). Add 1/4 tablet rennet (if using junket rennet add 1/2-whole) dissolved in 1/4 c. water. Let it stand until firm and then cut into small curds. Heat the curds until warm (100 - 106) for 5 minutes and be careful not to let them mat together. Drain. Rinse with cold water. Salt to taste and add a little fresh milk or cream.


Friday, January 15, 2010

Q&A: Sesame Oil

This question was asked in response to my post about olive oil.

Where does sesame oil fit in? Is it worse than those on your list?

I've been using an unrefined, expeller-pressed sesame oil for med heat (up to 350). The more I look into this oil, I'm finding that it's a really bad thing that it's in a clear bottle and isn't refrigerated. It's been in the cupboard for over a month (opened). Is it rancid? Should I just toss it?

According to Nourishing Traditions, sesame oil is very similar to peanut oil in composition. Because it contains high amounts of Vitamin E and antioxidants, it does not become rancid easily. These special antioxidants aren't effected by heat either, which would make you think it is good for cooking.

But, there are dangers associated with the use of sesame oil, and other similar oils that are high in omega-6 linoleic acid (peanut, safflower, corn, sunflower, soybean and cottonseed oils) and research is showing that too much in your diet may be bad for you. This same research suggests that heating the omega-6 oils is also bad.

Omega-6 can actually be really good for you if it is combined with the proper amounts of omega-3 (ratio of O-6 to O-3 should be somewhere between 3:1 and 1:1), however most of these omega-6 oils contain very little omega-3. Eating the improper ratio of these acids can lead to arthritis, heart disease, osteoporosis, cancer and inflammation. Unfortunately over 70% of the food in our grocery stores contain these types of oils.

The bottom line: if you're going to use sesame oil, or other omega-6 oils, use them sparingly and never when heated.


"The Danger Of Too Much Omega-6 EnergyFanatics.Com." EnergyFanatics.Com - Physical Emotional Mental and Spiritual Energy. Web. 15 Jan. 2010. .

Fallon, Sally. Nourishing traditions the cookbook that challenges politically correct nutrition and the diet dictocrats. Washington, DC: NewTrends Pub., 1999. Print.