MCT Oil

My husband went on a bulletproof diet earlier this year. He would start his day with a cup of bulletproof coffee. To make bulletproof coffee, it’s best to use MCT (medium chain triglycerides) oil. Before we got hold of it, I made do with Virgin Coconut Oil (VCO) as we always have it in our pantry.

Once we bought the MCT oil, he encouraged me to take some of it due to its benefits like providing instant energy, improve metabolism, etc. I wasn’t too keen on it as I didn’t think it would help me much. But I took it since it seemed to be doing him some good. I started out taking 1 teaspoon of it straight and built up to 1 tablespoon daily. 

I didn’t feel the instant energy that they claim, but I did notice one thing after awhile — my face felt smoother and my forehead cleared up a bit. Previously when I was taking VCO, my face felt smoother but it got oilier. So I stopped as I didn’t like having an oily face. Now with MCT, it’s just nice. Well, that’s my experience with MCT oil. Don’t know how it’ll benefit you.

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Diet Matters

I was reading this article the other day about The Alkaline Mediterranean Diet and came across this sentence which I whole-heartedly believe in:

DIET MATTERS – no creams, potions, vitamin supplements, prescription medicine or surgery can compensate for an unhealthy diet.

When I say diet, I talk about the definition which means “food and drink regularly provided or consumed” and NOT “a regimen of eating and drinking sparingly so as to reduce one’s weight”. Just because I naturally like to eat healthier food than most people, it doesn’t mean I’m on a diet… it’s just my preferred choice of food.

For example, my favourite drinks are mineral water, mineral water with some freshly squeezed lemon juice, young coconut water (straight from the shell with no sugar added and I love to eat the soft coconut flesh inside — what a treat!), and fresh watermelon juice with no sugar added (although I much prefer eating the watermelon instead of drinking it). People usually think I’m a health nut but I’m really not. I just am not into coffee, tea, soda and juices (I would always prefer to eat the actual fruit).

As for food, I loooooove eating clear meat/chicken/seafood soup with the veggie cooked in it. That way all the nutrients are in the broth right? I super love a good, spicy Tom Yam, a hot bowl of Vietnamese Pho, or just a simple clear vegetable soup. All that soup just makes me so full that my stomach has no space for any additional beverage.

But of course, like I said, I’m not a health nut. I do love delicious cakes and cookies. So having a healthy diet allows me to splurge once in a while on naughty desserts.

Natural Dental Care

Well, I’ve blogged about no ‘poo, natural soap, and natural skincare; so I guess it’s time to write about taking care of oral hygiene naturally.

My dental background: Truly, Alhamdulillah, I’ve been blessed with nice and straight teeth. So much so that when people meet me, they’ll ask if I’ve ever worn braces. I am very thankful and grateful that my teeth naturally grew in place and I have never had to go to a dentist for anything except for a check-up (and for an occasional scaling because I felt like I needed something for the dentist to do). I’ve never had any cavity and the dentist would always say my oral care was great. To be honest, I didn’t do anything special and I only brushed my teeth once a day with a regular toothbrush and toothpaste. Could also be due to my diet where I don’t like to drink tea, coffee and other teeth-staining beverages; amongst others, and I also don’t snack on sugary stuff.

Since my teeth were doing good, it didn’t occur to me to go with a “more natural” oral care. Until one dreadful day when I went to the dentist and he found 2 small cavities. They weren’t serious and were easily patched up. I wondered what I was doing differently. It could be due to getting older or not getting enough calcium or a number of things. It was then that I decided to google up natural dental care.

So I read about oil pulling, homemade toothpaste, healing tooth decay and all. I tried out the oil pulling method whereby you swish virgin coconut oil (VCO) in your mouth for 20 minutes to draw out the toxins. The process is fine but since I always swish at the bathroom sink, I will automatically spit out the oil there (which isn’t good for the pipes). Plus your sink gets dirtier faster with the oil residues. I figured that it wasn’t worth the hassle.

I also tried a homemade toothpaste mixture of just baking soda, and then I tried mixing it with VCO, and then I tried baking soda with clove oil. My tastebuds have gotten used to the awful taste of baking soda that when my mom gave me a tube of herbal toothpaste (because she said she gagged a lot and didn’t like the taste), I told her it tasted just fine.

The homemade toothpaste mixture and brushing my teeth with a toothbrush just wasn’t doing it for me. I felt like I wanted a truly natural way to brush my teeth and wondered what people used to brush with before toothbrush and toothpaste. That’s when I remembered that our beloved Prophet Muhammad S.A.W liked to clean his teeth with a miswak/siwak/tooth-stick. You really should google it and read about it. This is what they’ve used since thousands of years ago, and it’s as natural as you can get! Honestly, I don’t think you can get anything more natural than a tooth-stick. Also, there are many benefits to using the miswak, not just religion-wise but health-wise too. So I went to one of those “Islamic” stores which sells pomegranate juice, argan oil, all-natural olive oil soap, and all kinds of other stuff which I didn’t really pay attention to because I was looking for the tooth-stick.

Once I found it in its lovely individually vacuum-packed plastic, I saw that there were different types. There were some thin ones, thick ones and medium ones. I bought them all to try which I liked best. The following results would differ with different people. For me, the thin one didn’t feel like it cleaned my teeth much. The thick one was just too big and wasn’t comfortable to brush with. The medium one was juuuuuust right. It was the best out of all the sizes and it made my teeth feel clean and my breath neutral.

So the next time, I bought a whole bunch of the natural medium-sized ones. No fancy mint-flavoured ones for me. The lady at the counter was amazed with the amount I wanted to purchase that she gave me a small discount. The next time I went, it was a different lady and she asked if I actually used it. Another time I went, it was a different lady and she asked if I was going to re-sell it. (Heck NO!) The times I went after that, they would immediately recognise my car when it entered their parking lot and once I entered their store, they would just smile and point me to the miswak section. I guess they were intrigued with me as you don’t really get “young-and-modern-looking girls” coming into that kind of store to buy handfuls of miswak.

And, Alhamdulillah, I’m proud to say that I’ve been on the miswak for a few years now without fail! And the last time I went to the dentist, a few months ago, she said that my teeth were perfect with no cavities. So yes, you can survive with just a miswak and not get cavities. Alhamdulillah. In the beginning, I used it once a day. But my mouth didn’t feel fresh throughout the day. So I felt compelled to use it more frequently. Plus, we know that it’s sunnah to use it when taking ablution (which should be done at least 5 times a day). Our beloved Prophet Muhammad S.A.W used it all the time, as often as he liked. That’s how safe it is! The more I used it, the fresher, better and cleaner my mouth felt too.

It’s also great for when traveling. You know when you have a long flight and you just need to brush your teeth before landing or after a meal or whenever you feel like you need to clean your mouth? Well, you can easily bring this little tooth-stick in your carry-on bag and use it with great success! It’s just one item instead of two (toothbrush and toothpaste).

I love my miswak and the only time I get really sad is when the store is out of stock!

 

The BEST Yogurt!

Remember My Yogurt Buying Adventure Part 1My Yogurt Buying Adventure Part 2 and my Update on Yogurt Buying posts?

Well, I haven’t been a good blogger so yes, the following info is much too late. But better late than never. All I want to say is that the best yogurt (you can buy in stores) that I have ever had so far is FAGE Total Classic Greek Yogurt (the full-fat version please) and it has the Live Active Yogurt Cultures that I was looking for in my initial search (L. Bulgaricus, S. Thermophilus).

The texture is just superb. It’s thick and creamy. It’s tang is lovely when paired with dates. I love eating my yogurt with dates. You have to try it and tell me what you think.

Anyway.

It is pricey but for the taste and great health benefits, I would splurge a little. It can be found at Village Grocer, 1Mont Kiara but if you know of anywhere else, please let me know.

Skin Care (Face)

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The top-most square of the picture above was the condition of my skin during my teen years and early twenties. Overall, my skin was smooth but I remember my face being oily and having the usual pimples during that-time-of-the-month.

The horrendous group of pictures in the middle was during my mid-twenties where pimples started to erupt all over my face. Long story that I’ll tell you about later.

Lastly, the group of 3 pictures on the bottom is the condition of my current facial skin (late twenties). The terrible acne condition has gone away (Alhamdulillah) and my skin is ok. Of course, not as smooth as my school and university years, but definitely better than during that horrible pimple phase. Will also jot down of how I cured it.

How My Face Erupted
* Disclaimer: This is my story and every person will have different skin conditions and reactions. There is NO one cure for everyone. I’m just penning down my experience in case anybody would like to take this route.

First of all, during my teens and before my mid twenties, I remember having combination skin and was always trying this product and that. Cleansing, toning, moisturising; spending money unnecessarily on beauty products that made me think the product was working or improving my skin. In retrospect, I believe I didn’t have to use anything on my face and could’ve just washed with water. That’s definitely the power of the media having me believe that my face condition could “heal” or get better with beauty products. I think that if your facial skin condition is without any serious problems, you can just clean your face with water. (Alhamdulillah as Muslims, we wash our faces 5 times daily during ablution before performing our prayers. I feel that 5 times [plus 1 final wash with just water before going to bed] is sufficient for daily facial washes.)

Wow, that intro was long! So, how did my face erupt? Well, it happened after I graduated from university and went on an island holiday in beautiful Malaysia. In all that excitement, I religiously slathered on sunblock lotion to my face and all over my body because I didn’t want to get burnt by the sun as I was out all day. This was my first time using a lot of sunblock on my face for a couple of days so I guess my face reacted with all the “chemical” ingredients that it wasn’t used to coupled with the amount of sun exposure I was getting. My face was okay during the first day. The second day, I noticed it getting red all over and brushed it off thinking I was getting burnt by the sun by being out too much. The third day, it got even redder and started to itch a bit. The condition just worsened and by the time the holiday was over, I thought that if I rest and cool off by staying indoors, my face would heal itself and go back to normal. I don’t really remember how the eruption started to look because I was traumatised. But I can say that after a month, my face did not heal itself. I tried so many products and my face just stayed red with big, ugly acne (filled with pus sometimes) all over my cheeks, chin and forehead. Very gross.

After many months, my dad was concerned as he saw that it didn’t go away and he is a big advocate of healing naturally and using natural products (always was and always will be. I wasn’t aware of this fact while I was growing up because as a young adult I thought I knew better than my parents). I don’t remember what he made me try but I do remember that he bought a lot of fresh goats milk and had me drink it. (I didn’t try washing my face with it though because of the smell.) But I think the condition of my skin was something that needed to be repaired with something more than natural products.

Oh yes, I think I must mention that my eating habits has always been quite healthy in the sense that I LOVE drinking water only and I liked eating fruits and I REALLY dislike junk food, fast food and soda. I didn’t eat as many vegetables as I should but I did eat the vegetables that I liked. I did increase my water and vegetable intake but still no change with the acne problem.

Later, my dad suggested I try Clinique and I went to the counter but the lady there said that my facial skin condition was too severe. Even the lady at the SKII counter told me to check with a dermatologist first and only try their products once the inflammation died down and the huge pus-filled pimples were gone.

Going to a skin specialist at the time was out of my parents’ budget so I had to endure my bad skin problem for 2-3 years until I got a job and saved enough money to see one. During that whole time, I had to tell myself that my face wasn’t that bad and I still looked good. I know the pity looks and the disgusted looks I got from people who knew me from before it happened.

Anyway, life went on and I wasn’t actively looking for a cure. On one fateful day, I got sick and went to a normal clinic to see the doctor for my flu or whatever it was and he got concerned with my acne. He was so kind and gave me some antibiotics for the acne and told me to see him once I’ve finished those pills. (During this time in my life, I hadn’t learned and cared about organic products and healing naturally, etc. But in retrospect, even if I had, I believe I would’ve taken this route anyway because nothing else was working.)

So after I finished the course and went to see the doctor, he saw that the pimples were still there and the medication he provided didn’t help. He then suggested I see a specialist and wrote me a referral letter. His kind nurse wished me luck and hoped my skin condition would improve. I called up the specialist’s office and set up an appointment for as soon as possible.

Like most popular skin specialists in KL, it’s normal to wait for a long time as there will always be many people wanting to see the doctor. This was no different. The specialist I was referred to almost a decade ago was Nathan Skin Clinic at the PKNS Building on Jalan Raja Laut in KL. If you’re interested to see him, google the info because I went many yonks ago and for only 6 months. I wouldn’t know if they’ve moved or changed phone numbers, etc.

So Dr Nathan took a look at my face and prescribed me some pills which I was under strict orders not to get pregnant as it could harm the fetus. I told him that that was no problem as I wasn’t married yet. I believe these were Retin-A pills; I don’t remember the exact name of the pills. Anyway, he told me to just wash my face with water and gave me an liquid lotion which I was to put on my face before bedtime. I think my first consultation costed me about RM180 (not sure about the prices now as this was almost a decade ago!). After the first week, I could see that my skin was improving.

During the second visit, I got my pill supply topped up and I think that visit costed RM300+. Every subsequent visit after was about RM300+ as well. Basically, my skin regime during that time was washing my face with water and eating the pills as prescribed. My face cleared up extremely well and after 6 months, I stopped seeing him. He didn’t say to stop; but I didn’t see the need to keep up with the medication as my face had cleared up of the nasty, pus-filled acne. It was clear but not baby-butt smooth. But I was ecstatic.

Current Facial Skin Condition
Now, after many years of pretty clear skin, I guess I can say that the Retin-A pills had killed whatever bacteria was in my body that made those mean, red pimples. I don’t even get pimples as often anymore (could be due to getting older anyway). I also am more aware of my whole body and its changes so I can tell that I might get some of those little, sandy acne when I’m stressed or the weather is too hot, etc. And I still am just washing my face with water ONLY (for at least 5 times a day)! I don’t spend on any beauty products but then again, I don’t wear makeup. I don’t use any cleansers or toners. I don’t moisturise my face. I don’t wear sunblock (heck, I stay far, far away from it since it scarred my face and traumatised me!) This current skincare regime suits me especially when I travel cos I don’t have to worry about packing any skin care essentials. I’m not saying that my face is flawless, but I like the fact that I don’t need special or specific facial products. Simple and minimalist is the best way for me.

Things I Now Know & Tips
1) Face condition:
– I’ve gotten in tune with my body and have discovered that before and during my “monthly visit”, my face will become slightly oilier and I will need to wash it more often.
– During my fertile days (when I’m ovulating), my skin can either be super smooth and beautiful OR I can get a friendly pimple or two on my face. My skin condition during this time will be a surprise. And these pimples only last a few days so they will go away. No pimple cream will make it vanish faster, I’ve tried.. However, if it’s one of those stubborn ones, I dab some baking soda mixed with water on it, let it dry; then wipe it off with some Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) diluted with water. Do it at night before bedtime because ACV is a nasty smell.
2) Since I’m into natural things now, when I feel like pampering my face, I’ll try out a one-minute face mask with either spreading :
– plain yogurt on my face (don’t wear it too long because the smell of yogurt even after you rinse it off isn’t that nice)
– oats mixed with plain yogurt (rub the oats off in a circular motion)
– honey (it’s sticky and you just need to spread a thin, even layer on)
– a solution of baking soda mixed with water (not too much baking soda that will make it pasty, but just a little so the water feels “slimy”; then wipe off with a bowl of water with a few drops of ACV mixed in)
3) Makeup remover: Like I’ve said before, I don’t wear makeup but during the rare times that I do, I will wipe off the makeup using the Oil Cleansing Method (OCM). Have you tried this? It’s pretty neat and I like it. I’ve tried it a few times (even if I’m not wearing makeup and want a night pampering session). Google it cos there are many types of face-safe oils you can use; but for me I like to use castor oil mixed with either almond oil or virgin coconut oil (VCO). I massage it on my face then place a hot (make sure you can tolerate the heat or else let it cool a bit) face towel and steam my face until the towel is cooler and wipe the oil off with the towel. You can repeat the towel-steam-face step. I find that my face feels soft and smooth the whole of the next day. Plus, my skin doesn’t break out! Pretty awesome, methinks.

I Love Grass-Fed Beef

I remember when I had family dinners at restaurants and they would state on the menu whether the steak was grass or grain fed, and I didn’t give a hoot about it at the time. It didn’t occur to me that there would be any difference health-wise. Alhamdulillah, I am not that ignorant anymore.

It all started after I got married and started cooking for my husband. On our grocery trip (we were living overseas at the time), we saw that the beef were clearly labeled as “grass-fed” or “grain-fed”. After a bit of pondering which was better (health-wise), we chose “grass-fed” as we knew cows naturally eat grass.

Later at home, we researched the topic and were glad we made the right choice. Some reading material that might be of interest:
Grass-Fed Meats
Grass-Fed vs Grain-Fed Beef: Is There a Taste Difference?
Corn-Fed vs Grass-Fed Beef
Why Grass-Fed Trumps Grain-Fed
Raising the Steaks (A cook-off. See who won.)

I wouldn’t call myself a meat connoisseur, so I can’t really tell if grass-fed tastes better than grain-fed. All I know is that the beef tastes delicious when I cook it and the fact that grass-fed is healthier makes it the only reason for me to buy it. Some of the articles I linked above might say it’s a bit difficult to cook grass-fed meat as it’s leaner, but I didn’t encounter any problems and I’m no masterchef.

Anyway, upon returning to Malaysia, I checked the meat labels at the grocery stores (Cold Storage, Village Grocer, Mercato, etc) and was disappointed to find out that they weren’t marked as grass or grain fed. I was contemplating asking the workers there because you know how it is — they don’t know themselves. I also wondered about going local and buying from the “pasar tani” (farmer’s market) because I figured our cows would eat grass. But the thought of asking the seller there to confirm the cows’ diet kind of put me off because I don’t want my question to be answered with a blank expression. Haha. Any of you know what our local livestock are fed?

Well, Alhamdulillah, my prayer was answered a few months ago. I recently found that the grocery stores were now stating whether the meat was grass or grain fed. Although some that I came across didn’t do a good job at labeling — due to the character limit of the label, they came out as “GRA”. Thanks, that helps a LOT! GRAss or GRAin? Hmm.

Update on Yogurt Buying – Whole Milk, Sheep, and Goat

Disclaimer: I do not work for any of these companies and I do not work in the food industry. I am not sponsored nor paid for promoting any of these products. (I wish I was though :P) I am merely sharing these wonderful finds so that others may benefit too.

After my previous post, I received a lovely comment from a representative of Mawai Dairy Farm. And from there, I learned that Farm Fresh Natural Yogurt contains live cultures which consist of Lactobacillus Acidophilus, Bifidobacterium and Streptococcus Thermophilus. Good to know.

Farm Fresh Natural Yogurt 1.5kg tub

Jalna

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On my last grocery  run, after I picked up my Farm Fresh Natural Yogurt, I saw Jalna’s BioDynamic Organic Yogurt with Bush Honey. I’ve stated before that that particular Jalna yogurt is the only other yogurt I found made from fresh whole milk. It’s not plain yogurt if that’s what you’re looking for but the ingredients look good.

And sitting there prettily beside Jalna was some SHEEP Yogurt! I’ve never noticed it before (think I was too busy searching for whole milk plain yogurt from cows). It’s Meredith Dairy’s Pure Sheep Milk Yoghurt. There were two types — one with a green label & lid, the other a blue label & lid. The blue one says it’s Mediterranean-style. Read the labels on both yogurts and the ingredients were identical — pasteurised sheeps milk, live cultures. Figured I would try it next time and do some research on it first.

Meredith Dairy Sheep Milk Yogurt

Once home, I checked on the Meredith Dairy website and it states:

GREEN LABEL & LID – is made using Lacto Bacillus Acidophilus & Bifidus (Probiotic).
BLUE LABEL & LID – is made using Greek Lacto Bacillus Thermopilus & Bulgaris (preferred by Chefs).

So the only difference would be the cultures used. Interesting. I’d love to try them both though. Plus since Ewes’ milk has a higher fat content, it must taste nicer! 🙂

Now I’m wondering how come I haven’t come across Goat Milk Yogurt. Wonder where I can find that..