Thursday, October 6, 2011

Pumpkin: Super Fall Vegetable

Pumpkin comes with fall....courtesy of
Pumpkins make good luminaries—Jack-O-Lanterns are synonymous with Halloween. They make beautiful fall decorations and if you’re into eating (who isn’t?)—there are pumpkin soup, pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread and pumpkin scones.  Every culinary magic has been done to pumpkin from frying them up as fritters to mashing them to make pasta. In the colonial days, pumpkin was used to make pie crust, not the filling. 

Then, there is the medicinal aspect of it. It was once used to treat freckles and snake bites. It was also reported that dried pieces of pumpkin were ingeniously put together to make floor mats. Wow—people can get creative. 

What makes pumpkin so special? This fall vegetable is quite a celebrity in the world of vegetables. It may not look quite a star, but it has no lack of nutritional star quality.

First, the color is a giveaway. The bright orange color is indicative of the presence of beta-carotene, a carotenoid that gets converted to vitamin A in the body. Beta-carotene is a powerful antioxidant. Meaning? It keeps the damaging free radicals from wrecking cellular damage and triggering off various forms of cancer and degenerative diseases such as macular degeneration and Alzheimer’s disease. Current research also shows that beta-carotene offers protection against cardiovascular diseases. 

That’s the most obvious fact about pumpkin. However, it is not a one-trick vegetable. It has other nutrients that boost health. It is has iron to build strong blood, zinc for proper growth and maintenance, potassium for the proper functioning of cells, tissues and organs and fiber. 

If you’re looking for ways to enjoy pumpkin, consider the following:

Use in Culinary Preparation
Put them in soups, roast them and toss them in salads, puree them and put them in pies, bread or muffins. Pare away the hard exterior and slice them up—fry them in tempuras, sautee them with pieces of meat, bake them or grill. My mother used to cut pumpkin into cubes and cook them with a little brown sugar for a sweet dessert. 

Beauty Purposes
Pumpkin moisturizers, pumpkin mask and beauty products with pumpkin are rather common these days. You can make your own beauty aid with freshly pureed pumpkin. Add a little honey, milk or yogurt—they’re all skin enhancers. 

Pumpkin Seeds
Don’t discard seeds—they’re actually very nutritious. They are high in essential fatty acids, vitamin E and A. When you scoop out the seeds, wash out stingy slimy part, toss with olive oil and a little salt (if desired) and roast at 350 degree Fahrenheit for approximately 15 minutes. 

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Uses for Argan Oil

Dry Hair...and skin too? Freaked out? courtesy of

Dry skin, dull hair, brittle cuticles—do they freak you out? If you’ve been wondering just how to get rid of these annoying problems, you don’t have to look high and low in the cosmetic aisle. There is a natural oil, taken from the argan nut that has amazing cosmetic and therapeutic properties. Although the Berber women of Morocco have long known this beauty secret, the world is just catching on. In fact, argan oil is now used in various cosmetic products including moisturizer, soaps and hair products.

So what the hype about? Let’s find out.

 Interesting Facts About Argan Oil:

  • Argan oil is extracted from the nuts of the Argan trees, Argania spinosa.
  • Argan trees grow exclusively on the southwestern part of Morocco.
  • The oil is extracted by hand and it’s labor intensive. The raw form is used for beauty and cosmetic purposes. The oil extracted from the roasted nuts is used for cooking purposes, so look for raw organic argan oil if you’re using it for your skin and hair.
  • The oil, also known as liquid gold because of its magical healing and therapeutic capabilities, is rich in skin-rejuvenating nutrients, hydrating essential fatty acids, powerful antioxidants and polyphenols that are three times higher than vitamin E.

What’s so Special about Argan Oil? Argan oil has the following:

Vitamin F

Vitamin F which is made up of two essential fatty acids (omega-3 fatty acids and omeg-6 fatty acids). In terms of skin health, vitamin F brings about cell rejuvenation to keep skin looking supple and young. It fights wrinkles, dryness and premature aging.

Vitamin E

Helps to protect against ultraviolet radiation and promote cutaneous micro-circulation, keeping skin nourished and healthy.


Phenols are powerful antioxidants. They also exert anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial capabilities. As such, argan oil is often used to treat skin problems such as acne, scars, eczema and psoriasis. It can also provide relief for rheumatism, arthritis and sore muscles.


 Is a necessary component of skin surface lipids and it helps to promote healthy and youthful-looking skin.

How Can You Use Argan Oil for Your Benefit?


Since argan oil is rich in skin-rejuvenating nutrients, use argan oil to moisturize skin. Simply add a drop of argan oil and mix it with your moisturizer to moisturize skin. You can also use it on its own, under makeup. Argan oil has an inbuilt sun protection factor, so it’s ideal for daywear. Since argan oil is very rich, a little goes a long way. People with very dry skin may also use it at night to revitalize skin.


If you’re out in the sun a lot or you treat your hair with chemicals often, hair can become dry and damaged. Rescue poor hair health by applying argan oil. Start with the ends and work your way to the scalp. Wrap hair with towel and shampoo off after 30 minutes.

Therapeutic Effects on Body

When used as massage oil, argan oil may ease tired, stressed muscle, joint pain and aches. Add argan oil to body moisturizer and massage into skin after a shower. Alternatively, fix up a massage blend using carrier oils (such as sweet almond oil, olive oil, avocado) and argan oil and massage body for a relaxing experience.

Other Uses

Rub argan oil on brittle cuticles to promote healthy nails. Chapped lips? Inflamed, sunburned skin?—apply argan oil and allow the healing properties of argan oil to do its work.