Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Making the Perfect Baked Potatoes

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Russet the Rascal

So let’s check our Mr. Potato Head and his fellow companions….actually the group has two different cliques—each based on the amount of  starch and water that they contain.

These groups are the following…

  • Starchy
  • All-purpose
  • Waxy

Let’s look at the characteristics of a starchy potato…

  • absorbent almost all of the butter and cream that you place on them…yum…
  • break down easily when cooked
  • don’t hold together very well when cooked
  • flesh coats your knife with a white, milky film when you cut into it

  • high in starch
  • low in moisture

The most common type of starchy potato is the russet potato, also known as an Idaho potato or Burbank potato.…russet potatoes are in fact the most common type of potato grown in the United States. Russet potatoes are the type of potato most people think of when they think about buying potatoes in the grocery store.

There are actually numerous varieties of russet potatoes. A few of their characteristics are…

  • brown
  • easily absorb butter and milk making them ideal for mashed or baked potatoes
  • just a few shallow eyes
  • light, fluffy texture
  • medium-to-large size
  • oblong or oval shaperough net-like skin that becomes chewy when cooked
  • white flesh

Cooking methods that are best for starchy potatoes include…

  • Baking
  • Deep Frying
  • Pan Frying
  • Roasting

These cooking methods create a crisp crust and keep the interior moist.

Starchy potatoes are not good for dishes that require the potatoes to hold their shape.—such as potato salads, soups, stews, and potatoes au gratin—because the flesh flakes and easily separates after cooking.

However, these potatoes are great for making…

  • baked potatoes
  • French fries
  • potato chips
  • gnocchi
  • mashed potatoes

So let’s start actually cooking by using the cooking method that we are currently talking about—deep frying—by frying up some potato chips and French fries..

 

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Mr. Potato Head and His Friends

When you mention the word potato, most of us automatically think of McDonald’s French fries that have been fried in tons of oil or a great big baked potato stuffed with butter, sour cream, cheese, bacon, the kitchen sink, and so on and so forth.
Yeah, I do realize that these are bad for you….But potato chips that have been baked with one of the healthier cooking oils can actually be both good for you and a great treat,
(Note…Don’t worry, I do realize that deep frying is definitely not the healthiest way to make homemade potato chips, so eventually we are going to learn how to make them in both the microwave and the oven….)
Potatoes actually contain many nutrients and minerals —such as potassium, Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, and  copper. A potato actually contains more potassium than a banana…half of the RDV of vitamin C…no fat, sodium, or cholesterol…
Potatoes contain very little to no fat.
One medium-sized, unadorned, skin-on potato contains just 110 calories per serving.
But for right now, let’s take a quick look at a few of the estimated two hundred varieties of potatoes sold in the United States…
These potatoes vary in texture and act differently when cooked. For example when you are making a pot of soup, your potato chunks will either remain intact, or disintegrate…depending on the type of starch and the amount of moisture in the flesh.not bless with too many ”
Because the result that you get depends on the amount of the starch contained in the potato, these varieties are typically broken down into three basic categories—:starchy, all-purpose and waxy.
In the next few posts we will be look at each of these different categories, but here are a few things to remember regardless which type of potato you are looking for…
Shopping…When you are shopping for potatoes, look for ones that are…
heavy
not green tinged
very firm
void of soft spots, cracks or cuts
without sprouts
Storing…Potatoes will last a few weeks when properly stored, but don’t refrigerate potatoes because this causes some of the starches to convert to sugars, giving them an odd flavor.
photo of pile of potatoes
Photo by Marco Antonio Victorino on Pexels.com
Sweet, Sweet Sunday

A Chip Off the Old Block

Now that we’ve basically covered every single use for baking soda known to man, let’s finally get back to cooking.

Our detour on the many uses for baking soda began as an ADHD tangent on the fact that baking soda can be used to make a batter for the cooking method that we’re focusing on now—deep frying.

And as soon as I hear the word “deep-frying,” my mind automatically thinks about potatoes—potato chips…and French fries…

So let’s talk potato chips…

Potato chips are obviously one of the most popular snack foods around the world…but I honestly have gotten where I hate store-bought chips. To me they often taste soggy and greasy, instead of crispy and crunchy.

Also most of the chips available at your local grocery store either contain all sorts of words that none of us can pronounce…or cost too much and have so few chips in the bag that you can’t justify spending that much.

So instead we are going to make our own potato chips that are crispy, easy to make, and a good-for-you snack your whole family will devour. 

But before we can ever expect to make the best potato chips…and French fries possible, we must first learn to select the ideal potatoes for frying…

After all, as a musician we are taught that there are only two really important parts of a performance.  It is important that you start well, and that you end well…

So let’s start well!!!

 

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Just Like Grandma and Her Grandma Before Her

For decades our mothers and grandmothers have all taught us to keep an open box of  baking soda in the fridge, but baking soda also can be used in many other ways to help whatever “junk” causes the “funk” around your home.

 

 

 

Home Odors

Baking soda works by actually interacting with the odor particles, naturally neutralizing the pH balance, and totally eliminating these odors.

Basing soda works so much better than any “multipurpose odor remover” that you could ever buy at Walmart…or for those of us who don’t shop at Walmart, at Target or Tom Thumb that simply release fragrance molecules and temporarily mask the smell.

    1. Cat Box…Sprinkle baking soda all over the bottom of your cat box before filling it with kitty litter.
    2. Dishwasher…Toss it into the bottom of your dishwasher.
    3. Trashcan…Sprinkle it over the layers of garbage in your trash can. Research shows that putting baking soda at the bottom of your trashcans can get ride of  70% of the bad odor in the typical kitchen trashcan..

 

 

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Fire

Baking soda produces carbon dioxide when heated, which can smother and extinguish small oil, grease and electrical fires. So assuming you don’t panic and try to beat the fire out with a towel like I did once, throw some baking soda over the fire instead.

 

 

 

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Cleaning

Cleaning with baking soda is a much safer, natural, and cost-effective option than most of the commericial cleaners that contain chemicals that can be harmful to pets and children.

Not only can baking soda remove tough stains, but it also eliminates foul odors, whitens and disinfects

Here are a few of the things around your house that you could clean with baking soda.

  1. Carpets…Sprinkle your carpet with baking soda. Wait twenty minutes. Vacuum.
  2. Coffee Pot Cleaner…To remove tough coffee stains and funky tastes from your coffee pot, combine 1/4C baking soda with one quart warm water. Rub the mixture on and in your pots. Wait a few hours. Rinse.
  3. Dish Washing…Add baking soda to your regular dishwashing cycle to help eliminate unwanted grease and grime that builds up on your dishes.
  4. Drain Cleaner…Pour baking soda and then vinegar down your drain to create your own drain cleaner. Wait 15min. Rinse with hot water.
  5. Oven Cleaner…Add 1tsp baking soda to a damp sponge or rag and wipe away food and grease.
  6. Scorched Pots and Pans…To save a scorch pot, sprinkle a generous amount of baking soda over the bottom of the pot. Add enough water to cover the burnt areas. Bring the mixture to a boil and empty the pan as usual. Scour with dishwashing liquid if needed.
  7. Scouring Powder...Sprinkle baking soda on the surfaces in your kitchen and use a sponge or rag to scrub. Make a paste using baking soda and a bit of water. Then clean away.
  8. Silverware Create a paste that is three parts baking soda and one part water. Rub the paste onto your silverware. Let it sit in a large tray or bowl. After twenty minutes, rinse the silverware.
  9. Silver Polish..Silver undergoes a chemical reaction when it comes into contact with aluminum pan and baking soda that transfers the tarnish from the silverware onto the aluminum pan. .To do this, add 1tsp baking soda to an aluminum baking pan. Slowly pour in 1/2C white vinegar. Next, pour in 1C boiling water. Place the silver in the baking pan. This should work in less than a minute.

 

 

 

Laundry

Baking soda is often used as a detergent booster and fabric softener.

Adding 1/2C baking soda to your regular amount of laundry detergent in each load is a great and inexpensive method for removing odors from clothes, whitening them, and cleaning them.

 

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Baking Soda and Your Health

Before moving on, let’s take a look at the other benefits that baking soda can offer as far as health.

 

 

1.Cancer..Research shows that baking soda may help alleviate chemotherapy side effects and help chemotherapy medicines work more effectively by making th4e aread around the tumors less acidic.

Suggestions are to rinse your mouth three times per day with a mixture of 1C warm water, 1/4tsp baking soda, and 1/8tsp salt,..followed by a rinse with plain water

 

 

 

2.Heartburn and Other Digestive Problems…Most heartburn medicines available at your local drug store—including Tums and Rolaids—contain baking soda,

This is because baking soda has been proven to neutralize the acid in your stomach that can cause such problems as acid reflux, ulcers, heartburn, and indigestion…and get your body’s pH back in order after overeating acidic foods, stress and eating greasy or spicy foods.

To do this, add 1/2tsp baking soda to 2C water, Drink this an hour after eating to gain some relief.

 

 

 

3, Kidneys…The kidneys help remove excess waste and water from the blood….as well as help balance important minerals—such as potassium, sodium and calcium.

But often people slowly lose function of their kidneys, and their kidneys are no longer able to remove enough acid from their blood.

We’ve already seen that baking soda buffers acids in the body and helps keep pH levels in balance.

Taking baking soda or some sort of bicarbonate as an oral supplement can replace the bicarbonate typically made by the kidneys that acts as an acid buffer in the body.

 

 

 

4. Muscle Fatigue and Physical Fitness…Baking soda has become a popular supplement among athletes because supposedly it can help you perform at your peak for longer periods of time,while doing high-intensity exercise…especially during anaerobic exercises—such as high-intensity training and sprinting.

Baking soda has a high pH, which may help delay fatigue by slowing down the rate that your body starts producing lactic acid.

This lactic acid is what causes the burning sensation that you may get when you exercise and that lowers the pH inside your cells, possibly causing your muscles to get tired.

After your workout, you may want to reduce fatigue post-workout by soaking in a warm warm with a 1/2C baking soda to help neutralize lactic acid build up in the muscles.

 

 

 

5. Urinary Tract Infections…Urinary tract infections are one of the most common infections, especially among women.

Research has shown that after four weeks of taking sodium carbonate orally is an easy, inexpensive way to improve these symptoms with little to no unwanted side effects.

 

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Cruelty-Free and Vegan Dental Care Products Review—Don’t Forget to Floss

Like we just said in the previous post about using baking soda for dental care, it’s good…but alone it’s not great…

It’s still important that you brush twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste, floss daily, and have regular dental checkups in order to keep your teeth healthy.

But in our quest to avoid chemical-containing products, what are we supposed to do?

First of all, check the labels of your dental care products for certain keywords—such as certain ingredients that you want to avoid and certain other ingredients that you are actually looking for.

As far as ingredients found in dental hygiene products, here are a few ingredients to avoid…

  • Artificial Colors, Flavors, Sweeteners
  • Benzoic Acid
  • BPA
  • Fluoride
  • Glycerin
  • Gluten
  • GMO
  • Parabens
  • Preservatives
  • Saccharin
  • SDS
  • SLS
  • Sorbitol
  • Sugar
  • Sulfate

As far as ingredients to look for, look for…

  • Aloe Vera...Aloe vera gently cleans the gums and soothes any irritation or infection which may be present
  • Baking Soda...This is used in many DIY types of mouthwash and toothpaste and is great for getting rid of stubborn plaque and also acts as a whitener for your teeth.
  • Cinnamon…Cinnamon freshens your breath and keeps the mouth clean.
  • Clove…Clove is used by dentists as a painkiller as it contains eugenol, and they will usually apply this to the teeth while pulling a tooth or applying a filling. As well as an anesthetic, it is also an antiseptic so wipes out germs.
  • Echinacea…Echinacea is a natural antiseptic that fights off nasty bacteria and prevents gum disease.
  • Grapefruit Extract…Grapefruit extract prevents tartar build up and bad breath.
  • Myrrh…Myrrh is used to help prevent bad breath, as well as providing a powerful soothing agents for any irritation or inflamed gum problems.
  • Pomegranate Extract….Pomegranate extracti helps prevent iplaque.
  • Peppermint…_Peppermint also provides a fresh, minty taste, fights halitosis, and prevent  bad breath.
  • Perilla Seed Extract…Perilla seed extract prevents  tartar build up and bad breath.
  • Spearmint…Besides from providing that fresh, minty taste we all know and love- these oils are great for fighting halitosis and preventing bad breath.
  • Tea Tree Oil…Tea tree oil acts as a natural antiseptic, fights harmful bacteria, and leads to a healthier smile.

Go beyond your ordinary toothpaste brands—such as Aquafresh, Colgate, Crest, Aim, Sensodyne—–that are not vegan or cruelty-free.

Instead look for other brands of toothpastes that actually are cruelty-free and vegan, such as…

  • David’s Natural
  • Dessert Essence
  • Dr. Bronner’s
  • Hello Oral Care
  • JASON
  • Nature’s Gate
  • Simply Sooney
  • Uncle Harry’s
  • VITA-MYR

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Mouthwash

Even though the most common toothpastes are not vegan, most mouthwashes are. Yet many of the most popular brands of mouthwash are owned by companies that do still test their products on animals.

Here is a list of available mouthwashes that do not have any link to animal testing and byproducts.

  1. Dale Audrey’s Oral Pulling Rinse…The active ingredients in this mouthwash are neem and myrrh, both natural antiseptics that help protect your teeth and prevent infections.
  2. Eco-Dent Ultimate Daily Rinse…The active ingredients in Eco-Dent Ultimate Daily Rinse are twelve different essential oils, echinacea is used as a natural antiseptic to fight off nasty bacteria and prevent gum disease., and baking soda.
  3. JĀSÖN Healthy Mouth® Tartar Control Cinnamon Clove Mouthwash…The active ingrefdients in this mouthwash are grapefruit and perilla seed extracts, both of which prevent  tartar build up and prevent bad breath….clove and cinnamon, both of which freshen your breath and keep the mouth clean….aloe vera, which gently cleans the gums and soothes any irritation or infection which may be present…tea tree oil, which acts as a natural antiseptic, fights harmful bacteria, and leads to a healthier smile.
  4. Eco-Dent Ultimate Daily Rinse…The active ingredients in Eco-Dent Ultimate Daily Rinse are twelve different essential oils, echinacea is used as a natural antiseptic to fight off nasty bacteria and prevent gum disease., and baking soda.

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Floss

Most dental flosses are not vegan for two reasons…first of all, many dental care products are tested on animals and therefore are not “cruelty-free”…secondly many brands of dental floss are coated with beeswax, which isn’t considered vegan because it’s made by exploiting honey bees.

Alternatives that are cruelty-free include…

  1. Eco-Dent…Mint, Cinnamon…No Beeswax, No Mineral Wax
  2. Nature’s Answer…Wintermint, Cool Mint, Cinnamint….Alcohol Free, SLS Free, Fluoride Free, Gluten Free, Soy Free, Perservative Free

RADIUS…Mint, Cranberry…Gluten Free, Paraben Free, non-GMO, No Artificial Colors, Sweeteners, Perservatives, Phthalates

 

 

 

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Activated Charcoal

Brushing with powdered charcoal supposedly pulls toxins from the mouth and removes stains from teeth.

 

 

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Kaolin Clay

 

Many prople claim that brushing with kaolin clay helps remove stains from teeth.

 

 

 

 

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Fruit Peels

Rubbing orange, lemon or banana peels on your teeth is claimed to make them whiter.

 

 

 

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Oil Pulling

Another technique that many people claim will remove toxins and bacteria—such as Streptococcus mutans, one of the primary types of bacteria in the mouth that cause plaque and gingivitis—and effectively fight plaque and gingivitis, and prevent your teeth from looking yellow is the traditional Indian folk remedy of oil pulling. 

To do this swish 1Tbsp of any type of oil—such as coconut, sunflower, sesame—around in your mouth for about fifteeen minutes.

This is safe enough to do daily because this does not expose your teeth to acid or other ingredients that erode the enamel.

 

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Apple Cider Vinegar

For centuries apple cider vinegar has been used as a disinfectant and natural cleaning product. because of its content of acetic acid, an ingredient that effectively kills bacteria.

Apple cider vinegar can also be useful for cleaning your mouth and whitening your teeth because of its bleaching effect.

To use it as a mouthwash, dilute it with water and swish it around in your mouth for several minutes. Then rinse your mouth with plain water.

But the acetic acid found in apple cider vinegar may soften the teeth and erode the enamel on your teeth.

So do not use apple cider vinegar only use this a few times per week, and limit the amount of time that the apple cider vinegar stays in contact with your teeth.

 


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Fruits and Vegetables

Finally many people claim that fruits and vegetables may be good for your teeth.

Eating crunchy, raw fruits and vegetables helps rub plaque away as you chew.

Not only that, but people claim that two certain fruits that can help whiten your teeth are strawberries and pineapple.

StrawberriesMany people claim that the malic acid found in strawberries removes discoloration on your teeth, exfoliates your teeth, and makes them appear whiter. To do this, smash up a fresh strawberry with some baking soda and brush the mixture on your teeth. Limit doing this to only a few times per week because.excessive use could cause damage.

Pineapple…Finally mane people claim that the bromelain, an enzyme found in pineapples, can whiten teeth.

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Baking Soda and Dental Care

Getting Dressed

Vegan OTBC Face Masks

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Face masks are a great addition to any skincare regimen. They can help keep your skin clear and healthy, and help you unwind after a long day.

 

And doing a face mask while you are already in the shower is great because the steam from the shower opens your pores and allows the nutrients and vitamins to actually be absorbed into your skin much more easily.

 

 

Key factors to consider when choosing a face mask include…

  1. Skin Type (best for)...People with oily skin should look for a mask that helps control oil and shine, while those with dry skin need a hydrating mask that will restore moisture to the skin.
  2. Specific Issue…such as acne, wrinkles, dry skin
  3. Time Commitment
  4. Type Mask…Masks can be found in several different types…such as vegan sheet masks, powder masks you can mix with water or your favorite skin serum, gel-like masks, and clay masks

 

Some popular cruelty-free and vegan face masks that are available include..

 

  

1. Acure Radically Rejuvenating Face Mask

  • Availability…Walgreen’s
  • Best for…aging skin
  • Ingredients…Moroccan red clay, marshmallow root extract, aloe vera
  • Price…$15
  • Specific Issue…cell repair
  • Time Commitment…10-15 minutes
  • Type Mask…clay

 

2. AHAVA Purifying Dead Sea Mud Mask

  • Availability…Ulta, Macy’s
  • Best for…acne prone skin
  • Ingredients…Dead Sea mud, kaolin, vitamin B, chamomile
  • Price…$35
  • Specific Issue…helps clear acne and prevents further breakouts
  • Time Commitment…two minutes
  • Type Mask…mud

 

3. Aubrey Organics Age-Defying Therapy AHA Mask

  • Availability…Amazon, iHerb, Vitacost
  • Best for…aging skin
  • Ingredients…sea buckthorn oil, natural fruit acids, rice spheres
  • Price…$15
  • Specific Issue…exfoliating
  • Time Commitment..5-10 minutes.
  • Type Mask…clay

 

4. Camu Clay Invigorating Anti-Aging Clay Masque

  • Availability…Live Ultimate website
  • Best for…all skin types and needs, from acne control to hydration to anti-aging
  • Ingredients…organic green tea extract, bentonite clay, kaolin, walnut extracts, acai, Camu Camu berries
  • Price…$34
  • Specific Issue…exfoliating
  • Time Commitment…10-20 minutes
  • Type Mask…clay

 

5. Dr. Alkatis Organic Universal Mask

  • Availability…online
  • Best for…acne-prone or sensitive skin
  • Ingredients…seaweed, vegetables, organic grass juice complex
  • Price…$39
  • Specific Issue…deep cleansing
  • Time Commitment…10-20 minutes
  • Type Mask…powder

 

6. Lush Cup O’ Coffee Mask

  • Availability…online or Lush stores
  • Best for…oily or acne-prone skin
  • Ingredients…coffee grounds, cocoa extract, kaolin
  • Price…$12
  • Specific Issue…under-eye bags and circles, oil control
  • Time Commitment…15 minutes
  • Type Mask…scrub

7. Pacifica Wake Up Beautiful Super Hydration Sleepover Mask

  • Availability…Target, Ulta
  • Best for…dry or sun damaged skin
  • Ingredients…sunflower oil, shea butter, avocado oil
  • Price…$15
  • Specific Issue…moisturizing
  • Time Commitment…overnight, does not require rinsing
  • Type Mask…leave-on
Getting Dressed

Vegan Face Mask Recipes

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Face masks are great for both winter weather—with its snow and hail, cold winds, and indoor heating systems—and summer weather—with the damage that may have been picked up from being out in the sun way too long.  They can also be great for many different skin issues, such as dry skin and acne breakouts.

Below is a collection of simple face mask recipes that contain ingredients that you possibly already have on hand.

 

1. Almond Oil1Tbsp lemon juice, 1Tbsp almond oil or coconut oil

 

2.  Avocado…1/2 of a mashed ripe avocado, 2Tbsp honey

  • Benefits..extremely hydrating
  • Best for…all skin types, especially dry skin

 

3. Banana…one mashed banana, 1Tbsp honey

  • Best for…dry skin

 

4.  Chai...1Tbsp honey, 1/2tsp cinnamon, 1/2tsp cinnamon nutmeg

  • Benefits…gently exfoliates skin
  • Best for...oily or normal skin

 

5.  Chamomile Tea…1C brewed chamomile tea1Tbsp manuka or raw honey, 1tsp nutritional yeast

6.  Cinnamon...2Tbsp warmed honey, 1tsp cinnamon, 1 wedge of fresh lemon

7.  Clay…bentonite or kaolin clay and enough water to make a paste

8.  Cocoa…1Tbsp cocoa powder, one mashed quarter of avocado, 1Tbsp hone

  • Benefits…pore-refining and a great antioxidant

 

9.  Coconut Oil...1Tbsp coconut oil, tea tree oil or lavender essential oil

  • Benefits…moisturizes, helps fight off any skin infections, helps to keep your skin clean and clear

 

10.  Cucumber...1/2 of a cucumber, 1Tbsp honey, 1tsp or more bentonite or kaolin clay as needed to create a paste

  • Best for…especially oily or acne prone skin

 

11.  Eggsan egg yolk, 1Tbsp of honey, 1Tbsp olive oil, 1/2C oatmeal

  • Benefits…egg white proteins tighten pores and zap acne-causing bacteria 
  • Best for…oily skin

 

12.  Honey...1tsp honey, 1Tbsp natural yogurt

  • Benefitshealing and antibacterial, makes a perfect base for acne-fighting masks.
  • Best for…acne-prone skin
  • Note…True vegans can either substitute a little bit of pureed banana for the honey, or simply omit it.

 

13.  Matcha...1tsp matcha, 1tsp chlorella, enough water or aloe water to create a paste

  • Benefits…”wakes up” the skin and gets your skin glowing

 

14.  Nutritional Yeast…1tsp nutritional yeast, 1Tbsp organic yogurt

  • Benefits…great acne fighter, rich in vitamin B
  • Best for…acne-prone skin

 

15.  Orange Juice…3Tbsp orange juice, 1/2C hone

  • Benefits…vitamin C, helps even out your skin tone

 

16.  Papaya…2Tbsp honey, 1/2C mashed ripe papaya

  • Best for…those who have hyper-pigmentation, sun spots, and uneven pigment

 

17.  Strawberries…3 strawberries, 1oz lemon juice, 8oz plain Greek yogurt, 1oz honey

  • Benefits…exfoliates and brightens the skin, refines pores, natural antioxidant
  • Best forall skin types

 

18. Tomato…Blend half of a ripe tomato into a puree with a fourth of a cucumber

  • Benefits…contains silica which helps firm up sagging skin, improves complexion, soothes skin irritations, reduces puffiness, and balances skin pH
  • Best for…those wanting an even complexion and soft, smooth, flawless skin

 

19.  Turmeric…2Tbsp flour, 1tsp turmeric, 8Tbsp milk or yogurt, a few drops of honey

  • Benefits...antioxidant that slows down skin cell damage, exfoliant that improves skin texture, diminishes wrinkles
  • Best for…acne, dry skin, psoriasis, eczema, and wrinkles

 

20.  Yogurt….…1tsp plain organic yogurt, 1tsp honey, 1/2 ripe avocado, 2tsp olive oil

  • Benefits….yogurt contains lactic acid, an alpha hydroxy acid that dissolves dead skin cells, helps create a natural glow, prevents breakouts, and instantly softens and smoothes skin
  • Best for…dry skin, acne-prone skin