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30 Ways to Use Coconut Oil

You may already cook with coconut oil, but did you know that it also does wonders outside the kitchen? We’ve listed 30 of our favourite ways to use coconut oil – as a beauty product, as a home remedy for all sorts of ailments, and even for babies and pregnant mothers. Can a jar of coconut oil really work magic? Try it for yourself and tell us what you think!

1. As a skin moisturizer
Instead of your usual moisturizing lotion, try a tiny dollop of coconut oil. A little goes a long way!

2. As a conditioner
Deep condition your whole scalp or just use coconut oil on the ends of your hair for shiny tresses.

3. As an ingredient for homemade soap
Coconut oil, water and lye combine beautifully to make homemade soap!  

4. As a lip balm
Try this lip balm recipe to protect those puckers. Coconut oil will even give your lips a very mild SPF protection from the sun!

5. As a body scrub
Melt some coconut oil and stir in sugar. Let it cool and voila – you have an exfoliating body scrub.

6. As a makeup remover
Rub coconut oil onto your face with your fingertips and rinse it off with water for a gentle and natural makeup remover. It even works with waterproof eye makeup.

7. As a massage oil
Using coconut oil for massages not only helps moisturize your skin, it also leaves you smelling wonderful!

8. As a shaving cream 
Coconut oil is a perfect in-shower shaving cream since oil doesn’t dissolve immediately in water. It leaves your skin soft and protects it from razor burns. Try this recipe.

9. As a nail and cuticle treatment
Coconut oil is a cheap, natural substitute for store-bought cuticle oil. Simply rub a little into your cuticles and over your nails.

10. As a deodorant 
Mix one part of arrowroot powder with three to four parts of coconut oil and apply as needed.

11. To lighten blemishes
Coconut oil can help lessen the appearance of a wide variety of skin blemishes, including sun or age spots. Rub coconut oil onto the spots daily.

12. To reduce dark eye bags
Rub a little coconut oil under your eyes before bed to reduce puffiness and eye bags.

 

 

 

All About Coconut Sugar

Coconut sugar is an unrefined sweetener made from the nectar of coconut flowers. It resembles brown sugar both in appearance and taste, with a subtle caramel flavour. In case you’re wondering, no – it doesn’t taste anything like coconut!

Coconut sugar is a whole, pure and completely natural sugar that hasn’t been through the extensive refining process that regular sugar has. It’s naturally full of vitamins and minerals like amino acids, potassium, magnesium, iron and zinc. It’s also a safe diabetic sugar substitute as it has a low glycemic index, preventing blood sugar spikes, sluggishness and bloating.

You can use coconut sugar in any way that you would use regular white or brown sugar, including in your coffee and cooking. Coconut sugar also bakes really well and can be substituted for regular sugar in baking recipes. Here are some additional baking tips adapted from Burnt Apple.

 

Tips for Baking With Coconut Sugar

1. You can substitute coconut sugar for regular white or brown sugar 1:1 in baking recipes. Since coconut sugar tastes like brown sugar, it may work better in recipes that call for brown sugar.

2. Coconut sugar is more coarse than white or brown sugar. If the recipe calls for creaming the butter and sugar, the finished product will have a speckled look after baking and will appear more porous.

3. For recipes using liquids like melted butter, milk, water or oil, dissolve the coconut sugar for approximately five minutes in the liquid. Stir occasionally. After five minutes, add the mixture to the rest of your ingredients in your recipe. When your baked goods are done, they will have a very smooth texture. 

Why We Love Avocado Oil

 

You may be famiiar with the health properties of good old olive oil, but have you tried its equallty nutritious alternative, avocado oil?

Avocado oil, derived from the avocado fruit rather than its seed, boasts some unusual and uniquely healthy properties. It takes 15 to 20 avocados to make one 250ml bottle of oil!  Avocado oil is high in vitamin E and unsaturated fats and contains more protein than any other fruit and more potassium than a banana. It lowers cholesterol and is good for your heart, boosts your eye health, and helps your body absorb important nutrients. The vitamin E in avocado oil also makes it an ideal beauty product!

The flavor of avocado oil is clean and mild, with a lovey buttery texture. It tastes more neutral than olive oil, especially once it's cooked. Avocado oil is meant for medium-high heat use. That means you can use it to sauté and bake, but you can't deep fry with it.

Next time you reach for that bottle of olive oil, try making your dish with avocado oil instead. Enjoy its pure flavour in homemade salad dressings and dips, or drizzle it over your dishes just before serving for an additional touch of creaminess. You can even use avocado oil in your regular beauty routine – try it as a leave-in conditioner or skin moiturizer, or even as a diaper rash cream or home remedy for eczema!

Once opened, a bottle of avocado oil will stay fresh for six months, so it's a good idea to label it with the date it was opened. Store the bottle in a cool, dry place away from sunlight.

For more ideas on what to do with your avocado oil, check out these 27 suggestions from Nutrition Secrets.

 

Tips for Baking Rye Bread

 

Rye bread is delicious in all of its many forms, whether it’s a dark, dense pumpernickel loaf at a German breakfast table, a thin open-faced Swedish sandwich topped with smoked fish and eggs, or a New York Jewish deli treat piled high with pastrami.

A hardy grain that’s closely related to barley and wheat, rye has been grown for over 4,000 years and has been popular across central and eastern Europe since the Middle Ages.

Rye is particularly nutritious -- rich in fibre, manganese, phosphorus and copper. It is also naturally lower in gluten than wheat flour and can help to promote weight loss, prevent gallstones and lower the risk of type-2 diabetes.

Baking rye bread uses all the same basic techniques you’d use when baking a standard all-purpose flour loaf. Follow these four easy tips and you’ll be enjoying your own homemade loaf in no time.

 

(Adapted from King Arthur Flour)

Tip 1: Use white or light rye flour for less dense bread.

White or light rye flour, without any trace of bran, will give you the lightest-coloured, highest-rising bread. Using medium, dark or whole rye flour will result in not just denser, heavier loaves. If you’re after that chocolately dark pumpernickel colour, a little caramel colour (a dark powder) will do the trick.

Tip 2: Mix rye flour with regular flour for a lighter texture.

Rye bread made with 100% rye flour turns out dense and heavy. The more regular white flour (all-purpose or bread flour) you mix in with your rye flour, the higher your bread will rise and the lighter its texture will be. The extra protein in wheat flour balances the lack of gluten-forming protein in rye flour and helps it rise.

Tip 3: Give your rye dough more time to rise.

When kneading your rye dough, you will find its texture more clay-like than elastic, making it almost impossible to knead it into a smooth shape. Instead of struggling with your dough, shape the dough into a ball, place it in a lightly greased bowl, cover the bowl, and let the dough rise, covered. It should rise nicely. Compared with wheat flour doughs, rye dough takes much longer to rise. Be patient – some recipes require a whole day of rising time!

Tip 4: Top your rye bread with seeds for more flavour.

Caraway, fennel and anise seeds are wonderful additions to rye bread and provide a lovely flavour contrast.

Tips for Baking with Whole Wheat Flour

 

Whole wheat flour adds more nutrition to your baked goods, with almost four times more fiber than all-purpose flour and more potassium, magnesium and zinc. Research shows that whole grain as part of a low-fat diet may help reduce the risk of heart disease and some cancers, and help with weight management.

To enjoy the health benefits, not to mention the nutty and tasty flavor, of whole wheat without sacrificing any delicious texture, follow these five helpful tips.

To start experimenting with whole wheat flour, check out these recipes and try our varieties of organic whole wheat flour, organic white wheat flour and wholemeal wheat flour

Happy baking!

 

For bread and pizza dough:

  • For sturdier-textured baked goods like bread and pizza dough, swap at least 50% of the all-purpose flour with regular or white whole wheat flour. When altering a white bread recipe to become whole wheat bread, you may need another ¼ cup or so of liquid.

For cookies, cakes and pie crusts:

  • For tender-textured treats like cookies, cakes, pie crust, use whole-wheat pastry flour in place of up to 50% of the all-purpose. Whole wheat pastry flour is lower in protein and milled from a softer wheat—yielding more tender results than regular whole-wheat.

  • When making cookies with whole wheat flour, reduce the butter or shortening by 20 percent. When making cakes with whole wheat flour, add another tablespoon or two of liquid.

General tips:

  • When baking with whole wheat flour, let the batter rest for at least ten minutes before baking. This gives the liquid in the batter a chance to hydrate and soften the bran and germ in the wheat, ensuring a tender crumb.

  • To maintain the freshness of your whole wheat flour, store it in an airtight container in the freezer.

Foodsterrs - Whole Wheat Flour

- Joanna Kang

5 Health Benefits of Prunes

 

Prunes are well known for their ability to relieve constipation, but did you know that they have many other health benefits as well? This unassuming fruit is a powerhouse of fibre, vitamins and minerals. Just one cup of prunes provides 87% of your recommended daily intake of vitamin K, more than 20% of most B vitamins, 8% of calcium and 27% of potassium! Here are five great reasons to add prunes into your daily diet.

1. Improve your vision

Prunes are a great source of vitamin A, which is essential for healthy vision. A single prune delivers three percent of the recommended daily intake of vitamin A, which helps prevent night blindness, dry eyes, macular degeneration and cataracts.

2. Boost your antioxidant intake

Did you know that prunes have an even higher concentration of antioxidants than blueberries? A study by researchers at Tufts University in Boston ranked prunes as the number one food in terms of antioxidant capacity, with high amounts of manganese, iron and plant phenolics that help protect cell membranes from free radical damage.

3. Keep your heart healthy

Prunes are high in potassium, an important mineral that ensures proper functioning of the heart and nerve response throughout the body. Daily intake of potassium helps lower blood pressure and reduces the risk of problems such as dizziness, heart disease, heart attack and stroke.

4. Relieve constipation

With their high fibre and sorbitol content, prunes help with digestion, relieving constipation and promoting regular bowel movements. Sorbitol, the natural sugar present in prunes, functions as a laxative because it pulls moisture into the digestive tract and facilitates bowel movements.

5. Prevent osteoporosis and relieve arthritis

According to researchers at Florida State University, prunes may be able to reverse osteoporosis in postmenopausal women as potassium and boron in prunes help to support bone health. Prunes also have anti-inflammatory properties and are highly recommended for people suffering from arthritis.

5 Great Reasons to Eat More Raisins

Raisins are so sweet and tasty, we seldom think of them as health food. But these are snacks that you don’t need to feel guilty about eating – because they come with a multitude of health benefits.

Apart from the usual dark-coloured Thomson seedless raisins which are the most commonly consumed variety, you can find a similar nutrition profile in currants, sultanas and golden raisins, which are also different varieties of dried grapes. If you can’t decide, try our popular organic three-fruit mix with currants, sultanas and raisins all in a convenient pack!

Here are five great reasons to snack on a handful of raisins every day.

Boost your energy
Raisins are rich in natural sugars, so they give you a quick boost of energy when you’re feeling sluggish -- without weighing you down. For this reason, raisins make an excellent pre- or post-workout snack.

Reduce constipation
Eating raisins regularly can help ease or prevent constipation. Raisins are a good source of dietary fiber. Raisins contain both soluble and insoluble fiber, which both help keep things moving through the intestinal tract in a healthy way by reducing constipation but discouraging loose stools as well.

Prevent cavities and gum disease
Contrary to what you might expect from a sweet dried fruit, raisins can actually improve oral health. In fact, they’re one of the best ways to naturally reverse cavities and heal tooth decay. The antimicrobial phytochemicals in raisins suppress the growth oral bacteria associated with dental cavities and gum disease.

Lower your blood pressure and reduce stroke risk
Researchers have found that consuming raisins daily may significantly lower blood pressure, especially when compared to eating other common snacks. In addition, raisins are rich in potassium. People who get a lot of potassium in their diets have a lower risk of stroke, especially ischemic stroke.

Prevent cancer
Studies show that dried fruits, especially dates, prunes and raisins, contain high phenolic components that have strong antioxidant powers. Antioxidants are extremely important to our health because they prevent free radicals, which are one of the primary factors that lead to the spontaneous growth of cancer cells.

Baking with Spelt Flour

If you’re looking for some variety in your baked goods, spelt flour might just be the answer.

Wholesome, tasty and versatile, spelt is an ancient variety of wheat cultivated in Europe since 5000BC. Spelt is red and looks a bit like barley, with a mild, slightly sweet and nutty flavor similar to that of whole wheat flour but with none of the bitterness. It is a light grain, so it doesn’t weigh down baked goods the way whole wheat flour can – in fact, spelt flour breads and pastries are usually light and tender.

Spelt is a nutritious whole grain flour, rich in vitamins and minerals such as magnesium, calcium, selenium, iron, manganese, zinc, vitamin E and B-complex vitamins. It is high in protein and lower in calories than wheat flour and also easier to digest than wheat. It also has a low glycaemic index, which means it can help keep hunger pangs away - important for people on a weight-loss diet.

It's not completely gluten-free, so it's not suitable for people with coeliacs disease. But many people who are intolerant of wheat (as opposed to gluten) find that they have no problems eating products made with spelt.

Baking Tips

• Since spelt does have gluten, it can be used to substitute for other flours such as whole wheat flour. If you are baking something that requires structure such as bread or cakes, you can use spelt to substitute for up to half of the usual flour. A good way to do this is to use spelt for 25% of the flour in a recipe, see how it comes out, and then try increasing the amount you use from there.

• The gluten in spelt is more fragile, breaking down easier. This means that vigorous kneading and mixing should be avoided when using spelt flour or you could get a crumbly texture.

• The more fragile gluten in spelt also means that foods baked with spelt flour will not rise as high as those with wheat so you might want to use a spelt starter for recipes where you want that rise. You could also try using more yeast and more baking powder than the recipe calls for.

• Spelt requires less liquid than called for in your wheat flour recipe. To substitute spelt flour for wheat flour, you will want to make some quantity adjustments. The most reliable way to duplicate the results from your wheat flour recipes is to decrease the liquid in your recipe by 10—15%.

For more detailed spelt flour baking tips, refer to this handy guide at bake-with-spelt.com.

Producer in the Spotlight: Stahmann Farms

 

Have you tried our delicious pecan products from Stahmann Farms in Australia?

Stahmann Farms prides themselves in quality, setting and maintaining the highest standards in their industry. Stahmann Farms Inc. was established in New Mexico, USA, in 1932 by Deane Stahmann Snr. He and his sons, the late brothers, Deane Jnr and Bill Stahmann, planted more than 100,000 pecan trees on a vast property still operated by the family.

In 1965 Deane Stahmann Jnr arrived in Australia with the intention of creating the first commercial Pecan operation in the Southern Hemisphere. He planted trees first at Gatton in Queensland and shortly after at the flagship property Trawalla near Moree in New South Wales.

Spread over 700 hectares and with more than 80,000 mature and highly productive trees, Trawalla's climate is well-suited to Pecan trees, with low pest pressure and near-perfect growing conditions. Stahmann has pioneered the development of insecticide-free farming methods, and continues to employ advanced biological pest control technologies. Stahmann's Trawalla farms produce some of the most sought-after pecans in the world. 

Try Stahmann Farms' favourite pecan recipes here.

Canihua: Superfood from the Andes

 

You already know all about quinoa and its multitude of health benefits, but have you heard of its close relation, canihua? The reddish-brown seeds are also a precious ancient super grain, with a common history and similar nutrition profile as the highly sought-after quinoa. It has a nutty flavor, and is slightly milder and sweeter and a little crunchier than quinoa.

Canihua was a staple food for the Inca and Aztec cultures and has been prized in South America for thousands of years. Canihua is grown at altitudes of over 3800 metres in the Andean highlands of Peru and Bolivia, in extreme cold and drought. This resilient plant is one of the toughest crops, growing in conditions where even quinoa may not survive.

Canihua is now a globally recognised superfood. Like quinoa, canihua is exceptionally rich in protein, with a balance of all the essential amino acids. It is also a good source of calcium and zinc, as well as antioxidants and omegas 3, 6 and 9. As an added bonus, canihua is naturally gluten-free, making it a great choice for people with gluten sensitivities.

At less than half the size of quinoa, canihua is a superb source of dietary fibre. A single serving will give you a whopping 60 per cent of your recommended daily intake of iron, four times that of quinoa. They also contain no saponins – the natural coating that gives some other grains soapy, bitter flavour unless washed thoroughly. Hence, there’s no need to rinse or soak canihua before cooking.

To prepare canihua, put in a cup of grains with two cups of water or stock, cover and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to simmer until all liquid is absorbed, about 15-20 minutes. Canihua pairs well with both savoury and sweet dishes. Try it in salads, stir-fries, soups and stews, or simply served as a delicious side dish. 

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