Wednesday, May 27, 2015

What's A Good Front Row Diva?

This is my first post on Zumba and Bokwa. 

These dance fitness classes makes me feel alive like someone's lit a fire in my pants. I get stressed when I'm late for class and might miss my usual spot. I'm a "Front Row Diva" but I try to be the likeable kind. 

Here's a blog post on Front Row Divas which I completely agree with. 

I can add a few more points on what I think makes a good Front Row Diva:

1) They observe personal space, including view of the mirror. 
I'm not going to lie, one of the reasons why I like the front row is so I can monitor my movement in the mirror without obstructions. And so do others because most people want to improve their dancing. I try to position myself so people behind me can see themselves in the mirror too. Bad FRDs are oblivious to this. 

2) They interact with others. 
It doesn't mean you have to be chatty with everybody but it helps to smile, laugh a bit and engage with the class. Maybe even make friends. The likeable FRDs are positive influences and want to share their enjoyment. The bad ones are frowny and look like they don't want you anywhere near them.

3) They keep up with the routine. 
I used to think it wasn't fair for newbies to be in the back and not see the instructor as well. The reality is that everyone is learning at different levels and for someone who is experienced, it doesn't help to have newbies crashing into you or be behind people struggling with the choreo. Competent dancers in the front also keeps the routine going for the rest of the class if the instructor pauses from doing the moves. 

4) They don't take breaks mid-class. 
Obviously unless it's an emergency. I've seen a person who is routinely in the front, stop when it's too intense to check their phone or take a break. Maybe they don't care what other people think but simply put, are you a team player? If you're in the most visible part of the room, set an example of yourself.

5) They don't crack the sh*ts if they miss their spot. 
It's first come, first served. New people join the class or your spot is just too tempting for others when you're not standing in it. It happens. Does anyone want to see a tantrum or sulker because a spot was "stolen"? Make an effort to show up earlier next time. And whatever you do, don't ram your way into the studio to nab your position or saunter between people where there isn't enough moving space. No one is falling for that-you're a bad FRD.




Monday, May 25, 2015

7 Things I've Learned From Water Kefir Making

It's been three weeks since I started making water kefir. The grains are growing and I can't give them away fast enough. I have a glass of cold fizzy water kefir with dinner every night. Water kefir making is a permenant second day routine for me now.

Here's what I've learned from my experiences.

1) Friends will be intrigued but only a minority will be genuinely interested in making water kefir.
I posted a picture of my water kefir jars and offered grains to my friends on Facebook. I got a lot of comments but only two friends asked for grains. Not many have heard of water kefir. For those who have, it's because they have allergies or food intolerances and they read on the internet that it's good for them.

My sister didn't like the idea of growing bacteria and yeast and drinking it. But then again, she's the type who won't have a steak cooked anything less than well done. A few friends found it too time consuming or too much of a hassle to keep the grains alive when not in use. But for those who have a condition to treat, that's reason enough for them to keep maintaining the grains. And they're not disappointed with the results.

2) You need to eat the grains or give them away if you don't want to waste them.
They grow like crazy. In the English summer they grow up to 30% in one day. I hate wasting them but they consume too much sugar. So if I can't give them away, I'll just eat them with a spoon. They're tasteless so it's like chewing on gelatine chunks. They go well in a smoothie. Or you could eat them Malaysian style with palm sugar and coconut milk.

3) If you ferment more than three days, it will taste alcoholic. 
I don't like to get it to that stage because it no longer tastes healthy to me. It's like drinking a Magners. It could be the taste you're going for in which case the longer the second ferment, the more alcohol the yeasts produce. Just don't forget to burp the bottles everyday or you can have a nasty explosion.  

4) Hands down, your digestion will improve.
I'm going to get TMI here. I'm a first thing in the morning person now. Sometimes after dinner too. My stomach is flatter and bloats less. Can't complain about that! If you have IBS, it worth trying out. Some people say it can cure your symptoms. Just make sure to slowly introduce water kefir daily to ensure your gut can handle the introduction of bacteria. If water kefir doesn't do anything for your allergies, it will surely improve your digestion. 

5) The grains do not like to be refrigerated.
I put my grains to rest when I had too many drinks. I put them in sugary water and kept them in the vegetable crisper. They were only there for three days and they weren't as active as they used to be. They also crumbled into finer grains. It will take a few more rounds of feeding to perk them back up again. 

6) Cheat-cordial makes a delicious and easy flavouring.
This is my favourite tip. Despite recommendations of using organic fruit or freshly squeezed juice in the second fermentation, I cheat. I add cordial. After all, it's mostly sugar and that's what the yeast feeds on. I use a delicious peach and lychee cordial from Five Valleys. You only need to add a tenth of the the volume of kefir and once chilled, it tastes like a gourmet soft drink. It fizzes well and tastes even better with thin slices of lemon.

7) You don't need narrow necked bottles for fizzy drinks. 
It helps but I've made do with recycled passata bottles and Voss water bottles. Anything tall and narrow gives the best fizz but heck, I've even made drinks in jam jars. They still work. The key is that they are airtight so don't bother shelling out for fancy flip top bottles unless you want to when recycled bottles do the job. 




Sunday, May 24, 2015

What I've Learned From Kim Chi Making

After reading about the health benefits of kimchi, I started making it at home. I can buy it ready made but it just feels so dang wholesome to make it myself. That's what most Korean households do and with a bit of practice, it gets easier.

The development of kimchi is simple-you just wait. Two weeks if you can for the best flavour. The hardest part is putting the ingredients together. I just made my second batch, including half a cup of leftover kimchi brine to kickstart the fermentation process. There were bubbles on the 5th day when making from scratch, whereas the kimchi was bubbling on the second day with the leftover brine.

For this second batch as you can see here, I've cut the nappa cabbage and kohlrabi into bite sized chunks. That way it's less fiddly to salt the vegetables, add the hot pepper paste and serve later. It also accelerates fermentation.

I left the kimchi on my countertop for two days now and it's fermenting like crazy. The kitchen smells like kimchi and that's after we've been out of the flat for a day!

The kimchi is now in the refrigerator. The biggest challenge is to figure out how to eliminate a bitter taste. I reduced the amount of ginger but I don't think that's what's causing it. From what I've read, its a sign the kimchi is not ready and it needs more fermenting.

Since I've started eating kimchi everyday, my digestion has improved. I'm also drinking a glass of water kefir daily but as fermented food, kimchi is a similar thing. The downside is that I have kimchi breath so I only eat in the evenings at home.

I like watching the kimchi rise from the bubbles and squishing them down with a fork :)

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Allergy Testing - What To Expect

I've always have problems with blocked nasal passages so my ENT arranged an allergy test. It was also helpful with my crazy eczema/hives outbreak. 

I had the test done privately at London Bridge Hospital and it was an interesting experience. Even the consultant (as they call specialist doctors in the UK) was surprised that I took photos of the process. I suspected allergies to certain things for years and it satisfying to get proof.

First numbered tape was put on the underside of my forearm and he put a drop of allergen on my skin. Then with a new lancet on each drop, he scratched the skin so there would be contact with blood. It's not as scary as it sounds but it's not exactly comfortable either. There's wasn't any bleeding. 

Almost immediately I noticed itchy swelling on number 12 and he said it was histamine. "Ahhhh, that must be the control!" I said and he seemed impressed that I used the right terminology, thanks to science-fan Grant's influence. He wiped away the allergens and I had to wait 15 minutes for the reactions to come through.


I could already see and feel "mosquito bites". Just a warning I'm about to show you what my arm looked like with the reactions!

So I'm allergic to silver birch pollen, grass pollen, dustmites and cat hair.

The grass pollen and cat hair is of no surprise. I always come out with a rash when my skin comes in contact with those things. And my eczema flares up too.

As for the dustmites and silver birch pollen, that explains the hayfever. The only things I can really avoid are cats and dustmites. Luckily we don't have carpet at home although it does get very dusty.

I can't say I'm surprised by the results. But who would have thought to test these things thirty odd years ago. Throughout my childhood I played on grass and always had itchy legs-so much suffering could have been avoided!

After the test I was supposed to wait another 20 minutes before I was free to go. Since I had hydrocortisone cream in my handbag, I put it on and was allowed to leave. Maybe that's a tip for anyone who's doing an allergy test, to bring some antihistamine cream so you don't have to wait it out before leaving.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Incredible Water Kefir Growth After One Week

Somewhere in this jar are the 3 tablespoons of water kefir grains I bought from Ebay. After a week the grains are like rabbits on steroids! 

Look at the greedy jelly chunks. They're eating me out of sugar. I've started giving them away to friends and failing that, I'll have to eat them. 

So how am I getting this amazing growth?

It's not due to fancy water kefir making equipment. The only thing I invested in were the grains. Everything else was already in my kitchen. I have two of the above jars, which are for pickles. I use those for the first fermentation. Then I have two narrower and taller passata jars for the second fermentation and storage. Their mouths are small enough to capture carbonation and large enough to decant without a funnel. I don't use flip top bottles because they're fiddly and hard to clean.

And then I use a metal sieve, a no-no in the water kefir world. With the way I decant the water kefir, there's hardly any contact with the metal. There's no harm to the grains if they are sitting in the sieve for a very short period of time.

I don't feed my grains with anything else except half and half moscavdo sugar and white cane sugar in the first fermentation. My grains LOVE moscavdo sugar, probably because of the extra nutrients. Gives them a nice golden "tan" too.

And finally I use filtered tap water. None of that fancy spring water for me. I live in north London where the water is hard. Maybe that's one of the secrets to the wild growth-there's alot of minerals in the water already. 

I've dropped a square inch of boiled egg shell with the grains as an experiment. The shells are shrinking or absorbing into the fermented water. If you need to add more minerals in the water, use eggshells. It really works if the grains are mineral deprived.

So having broken some of the rules set by the youtubers and bloggers about water kefir making, you're probably wondering how the heck am I getting this incredible growth. Here is my list of dos and don'ts if you want your grains to grow:

Water Kefir DOs:
1) Use unrefined sugar-it has more nutrients and the grains thrive on it. You don't have to shell out for rapdura or palm sugar. Raw or better yet, moscavdo sugar works well.
2) Place the jars in a dark, not cold spot-My jars have their own cosy corner in my kitchen.
3) Use filtered tap water-if that's what you drink already. As it's not chlorinated it's fine to use.
4) Watch the water temperature-I use hot water to dissolve my sugar but always top up with room temperature water and test before pouring it on my grains. If water is fairly warmer than you, it's too warm.

Water Kefir DON'Ts:
1) Sterilise anything-but of course I'm sanitary. I don't double dip. I wash everything with detergent and hot water. I think sterilisation is overkill-literally.
2) Disturb the grains too much-most of them stay in the pickle jars and by not breaking, thats how they get fat. Only a small amount of grains makes it into the sieve and I carefully return them into their jar.
3) Cram the grains-as long the grains are in contact with each other, it should encourage growth but they don't like to be crammed and have to compete for food. 

If you're still not getting any growth or the grains are shrinking or becoming slimy. It might be your water supply or they're too weak to reproduce and you need to source new grains. 

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

How To Make Water Kefir

I went on a probiotic spree when my eczema flared up and was keen to try natural remedies. I tried milk kefir but my stomach doesn't agree with it. I turned to water kefir and have not looked back.

I've been drinking water kefir daily and my digestion quickly improved. After 6 months, my eczema settled down and now I don't have to treat it anymore. In fact as long as I keep my skin moisturised, it's like I don't have eczema at all.

This is what I do to make water kefir. Don't worry about buying special brewing jars. Cleaned out pickle and pasta sauce jars do the job.

Instructions for 3 tablespoons of water kefir grains:
1) Put the grains in a large wide mouthed jar. You can make up to 400ml of water kefir and increase as your grains grow.

2) Add sugar, preferably a raw or brown type and top up the jar with lukewarm to cold filtered water. For 400ml of water kefir, I add roughly three heaped tablespoons. You can adjust sugar and water ratio accordingly to your taste as you make more batches. Just remember the water can't be too warm or you could kill the grains. 

3) Cover mouth of the jar with a coffee filter or a double layered paper towel and secure with a rubber band.

4) Place the jar in a dark place that's not cold or warm. Leave it for 24 hours.

5) After 24 hours you will notice small bubbles raising from the grains when the jar is tapped. Give the water a stir if there is undissolved sugar at the bottom. In summer you can taste test with a clean spoon after a day. If it's sweet, you need to cover and wait 6 hours before testing again. If it's NOT sweet or rather, on the tangy side, the water kefir is ready to drink or to be refermented with cordial/juices. You can also tell when it done when the water becomes cloudy. In winter, taste test after 48 hours.
6) When it's ready, pour the water kefir into a bottle through a sieve over a funnel. It can be stored in the fridge or be re-fermented for carbonation.

7) Repeat the above for the next batch of water kefir. 

The longer the fermentation process, the stronger the taste and smell. When it ferments with exposure to air (lid off), lactic acid and good bacteria is produced. You can drink it after the first ferment although it taste better with bubbles and flavouring.

When it's fermented the second time with the lid tightly on, probiotic production ceases. Alcohol and carbonation is produced from the new sugar. The second fermentation takes 24-48 hours. The best carbonation is made in narrow necked bottles with flip top stoppers. You can use the narrowest tallest jars/bottles I can find. Recycled Voss water bottles have served me well. 

For the second fermentation, you will need to add roughly 1/8 of the water kefir amount in fruit juice or cordial. This is where you can experiment with flavours and sugar sources. I've made delicious ginger ale with lemon juice, sugar and grated fresh ginger. 

Make sure you leave an atleast an inch of space at the top of the bottle before capping the bottle tightly. Leave in a dark, not cold place for 24 hours.

After every 48 hours you need to burp the bottle to avoid an explosion. You can taste to check if further fermentation is required.  For a stronger flavour or more carbonation, give it another 24 hours. Don't exceed more than this because it will become sourer and alcoholic.

When it's ready, store in the refrigerator. Consume within 3 days for maximum probiotic benefits.

There are many internet resources and youtube videos on water kefir making. This is my favourite website:  http://www.yemoos.com/faqwaintro.html

First fermentation with white cane sugar and dried fruit.

The left and centre bottles are ready for drinking. The bottle on the right has the grains with unrefined sugar water. The grains loved it.

Proof that you can make fizzy drink at home without a Sodastream! 

Sunday, May 10, 2015

A Kimchi Recipe For Single People (Or To Use One Nappa Cabbage)

Kimchi is fermented nappa cabbage, a staple in Korean food. My Korean grocer charges up to £4 for a bag and it's shipped all the way from Korea. On my probiotic spree, I decided to make my own kimchi.

I used to live with a Korean family when I was at university. My lady landlord spent Saturday mornings making kimchi and she'd make a huge box, sometimes two boxes. They ate it with their meals everyday. The bottom of the fridge the spot dedicated for kimchi. I should have paid more attention or even asked to be taught how to make it. It wasn't until years later, I tried it for the first time and became addicted to it's tangy spicy taste. Aside from the probiotic benefits, I've found that it helps settle a stomach after an overindulgence of alcohol.

Making kimchi is easy but there's a lot of prep time so it's worthwhile making it in bulk. Kimchi keeps for months. But if it's just you in the household that likes it or you have limited refrigerator space, you might struggle to find a recipe for a small quantity.  

Here's my recipe for one nappa cabbage. You need a very big plastic container to store it. I must have an airtight lid as otherwise your fridge will smell like kimchi!

Ingredients:
1 large nappa cabbage/wong bok
Salt 
1 tab of rice flour 
12 tabs water (or enough to make a runny sauce with the rice flour)
3/4 cup Korean red pepper flakes or powder (add another 1/4 cup if you like it spicier)
1/4 cup minced garlic
2 spring onions finely sliced
1 cup julienned mooli/daikon and/or carrot
1/4 cup fish sauce
1 tab sugar
Optional: 1 tsp of minced ginger (I personally don't like it but it's traditional)

1) Trim the root end of the cabbage. Cut into quarters by slitting the thickest part of the stalk (white parts) and pull leaves apart with your hands. That way you won't get lots of broken leaves in your kimchi.

2) Rinse the cabbage quarters in water so the salt sticks to it. 

3) Sprinkle salt between each leaf (more for the white stalk) and sit aside in a bit container. Let the quarters sit core side up for 2 hours. Turn them over in the salted water every 1/2 hour.

4) Make a runny sauce with the rice flour and water by cooking over a medium heat for a few minutes. 

5) To the sauce, mix in the other ingredients. It will be like a paste. Let it cool.

6) After two hours salting, rinse the cabbage under running water. Twice as a minimum to make sure most of the salt is removed. Shake off excess water.

7) Put on disposable food prep gloves and apply the red pepper sauce on every part of the cabbage, making sure the core areas are well covered. Place into a plastic container box, make sure you have an inch of space left at the top for expansion as the kimchi ferments.

Kimchi ready for fermentation.


8) Press down the cabbage and put the lid on. Leave the container on the countertop away from the sun for a day (two if it's winter) before storing in the warmest part of the refrigerator. 

9) The kimchi will develop brine and air bubbles after day 5. Burp the container by taking the the lid off and putting it back on when you see the lid of the container bulge a little. 

10) After 7 days the kimchi should be ready to eat. Taste it and give it a few more days if you like it more sour or if it's bitter tasting. It should taste really good after two weeks. Make sure to keep the kimchi pressed down so air bubbles are not trapped. When it's too sour, you can cook it but hopefully your kimchi won't have the chance to be over-fermented.

The finished product. It smells and tastes amazing!

Friday, May 8, 2015

Ssamjang Sauce - Korean Crack Sauce

You know those annoying friends who posts their dinner on Facebook? That was me tonight. 

It's because I made the most awesome sauce. The stuff that makes me want to fly to Korea just so I can eat their delicious lettuce wraps with Ssamjang sauce.

Salty, garlicky, sweet and spicy. The sauce is made of RAW minced onion, garlic, spring onions, soybean and chilli paste. (Needless to say I had very "fragrant" breath after my meal.) It's magic on rice wrapped in fresh lettuce. I grilled salmon for protein but the sauce is packed with so much flavour the wraps didn't need it.

A good recipe for Ssamjang is here. I love Maangchi's website and her cooking videos. Makes me want to skip the Korean restaurants and make the food myself at home.


Dinner for two, but for me really ;) Ssamjang with rice, raw carrot, baby corn and lettuce. I love the fresh crunch of the veggies and I just reheated cooked rice from the freezer. The sauce easily makes a vegetarian meal out of simple ingredients. My tummy was very happy!

Monday, May 4, 2015

A Bank Holiday In The Life Of Me

I got up at 9am and made grilled cheese pumpernickel toast with cornichons for breakfast and watched Frasier and an early Simpsons episode. (The earliest ones are the funniest.) 

The sun was shining. It was just right for the early May bank holiday. I went out to Soho for brunch. 

I met my friends at Cafe Boheme, a French bistrot on Old Compton Street.

Sante! Old school champagne coupe glasses.

After brunch I picked up supplies for kimchi in Chinatown. I adjusted a recipe from the internet to use only one head of nappa cabbage. Grant doesn't like kimchi and we have limited refrigerator space.

It took 2.5 hours of salting, rinsing, mixing and smearing of garlic and red pepper paste. It as my first attempt at making it and I wanted to reap the probiotic benefits of kimchi. 

When I used to live with a Korean family, the mother spent hours making vast amounts of kimchi. Enough to fill two huge boxes at a time. Now I understand why because there's alot of work making it.  Can't wait to test mine out in a few days time after it ferments!


Sunday, May 3, 2015

A Sunday In The Life Of Me

This morning I dreamt I was at a rave and there were two guys dancing on stage. We were supposed to follow their moves. They suddenly disappear before our eyes but their shoes are still dancing like crazy on stage. We're confused-not at the fact the two guys vanished, but we're bewildered as to how we were supposed to become invisible like they did. The dance track which I've never heard before was stuck in my head 10 mins after I woke up. 

The first thing I do on Sundays is Facetime my sister and chat to my family. Here's my niece Lillee showing off her sunglasses. 

Then I'm out the door to meet a girlfriend for breakfast. It was raining :( 

We meet at a cafe down the street. I try gluten free toast for the first time and it was dry and disappointing.  

I browse at my local charity shop and have a cup of lemon mint tea at home. Grant makes kielbasa (polish sausage) for lunch and we have it on rye bread with ketchup and mustard. 

My second outing was to visit Kim in Winchmore Hill. It's surprisingly warm and sunny. I didn't even need a cardigan. I had to take this pic of the blue sky while I was on the train. 


I have a second lunch at Kim's and we have a few proseccos at her local pub.

Then we go for a lovely walk around Groveland Park. 

Later back at home, I chill. For a Sunday, I'm knackered!

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Soapnut Recipe For Surface Cleaner, Laundry Liquid, Handwash and Shampoo

The benefit of soapnut liquid is that you can use it for a variety of cleaning purposes. Making it is super easy!

Instead of using whole soapnuts to wash my clothes, I use liquid because I prefer a clean rinse. I have eczema so I didn't want any residue. 

This batch size lasts a month or so as long as it's kept in the refrigerator. You could add vinegar or citric acid after it's boiled to prolong the life of the liquid. Otherwise if you make more than enough to last you a month, you can freeze the soapnut liquid.


Instructions:
1 cup of soapnuts (no seeds)
4 cups of water

1) Put soapnuts and water in a saucepan and gently simmer the soapnuts for half an hour. Let it sit with the heat turned off until cool. A warning that if you boil your soapnuts too rapidly, it foam and boil over. Also you will notice it smells like fermented/rotten fruit. Don't worry, your clothes won't smell of like this!

2) Once cooled, squeeze out the soapnuts with your hands to extract as much of the saponins as you can. The spent soapnuts can be composted.

3) Pour the liquid through a sieve into a wide mouth jar. You're done!


I use 50ml of soapnut liquid for a normal wash. Or 70ml for an extra dirty wash. You will need to pretreat stains. My clothes come out soft and clean. They won't smell of perfume of course but you can use fabric softener if you wish to scent your clothes.

Don't believe soapnuts will make suds in the washing machine? Here's proof.

For Surface Cleaner: Store in a cleaned recycled handwash/moisturiser bottle with a pump. To use, pump directly onto a sponge or kitchen wipe. You also pump into a mop bucket for cleaning floors.

For Laundry Liquid: Keep in a bottle (one with wide mouth makes it easier to refill) and give it a shake every time you use it. The solids in the liquid will settle. 

For Handwash: Keep in a foamer pump bottle. Don't fill up too much because you don't want the liquid to go off before you use it up.

For Shampoo: Apply from a recycled squeezable honey bottle. That way you can squirt a couple of tablespoons directly onto your head. It won't sud in your hair but trust me, with a gentle massage, it will clean. 

Enjoy using soapnuts. They're better for the environment and your hip pocket!

Friday, May 1, 2015

Eczema and Hives vs Natural Therapies

I feel like I've been attacked by stinging nettles. I've had hives (or urticaria) for almost a week now.

Weeks ago my eczema was flaring up. Then my calves were suddenly covered in hives. 

I've been keeping a food diary and my suspected allergens are eggs, nuts, and dairy. I've had these foods most of my life and the last time I took antibiotics was 20 years ago. I really don't know what's causing this reaction. 

On the first night I put on hydrocortisone cream and took an allergy pill. I feel stressed, even "dirty" when I'm itchy. 

The next morning I applied apple cider vinegar and my hives settled down after 15 minutes. I don't want to take drugs so I started researching natural therapies. Here's what I'm trying:

UVB Narrowband Light: 
I know I shouldn't be using this at home without medical advice but my eczema is under control when I'm exposed to regular sunlight. It's rare I get more than 5 minutes of direct sun a everyday. 

Medical research supports UVB as the safest of the ultraviolet light therapies for auto immune skin conditions. So I bought a UVB lamp off Ebay from Poland. The bulb is Philips, which is what the hospitals use. Unfortunately there are no clear instructions and even the lamp is a bit dodgy because it doesn't have a timer. 



How do I use it? I used it twice for about 3 minutes so exposure was minute. The lamp hums quietly and the light feels warm against my skin. You have to be careful because you can burn yourself and long time exposure increases risk of skin cancer. When I had the hives outbreak, I was scared of using it as it was the latest new thing I tried so I'll hold off until I see a dermatologist.

Red/Blue LED Light Therapy:
Recommended by my friend who swears by it. I bought a handheld device, cheap from Ebay. It's seemingly harmless so I use it nightly whenever I can remember. I mostly use the red light but I've found blue to be calming for my hives. Of course it could be a placebo effect or the fact I applied apple cider vinegar on the area just earlier.


How do I use it? Turn it on and hover the light over the area for 10 mins. I start with the red light and then blue. 

Oil Pulling:
Not really for my skin problem but on the subject of natural therapies, I'm doing it in the mornings. It was gross to begin with. The idea of starting my day with a hunk of solid coconut oil in my mouth doesn't appeal but I'm used to it now. The theory that it detoxifies the body is lost on me. There is no scientific evidence that supports this. I don't believe it cures any disease but it refreshes my mouth without chemicals. Hoping it actually whitens teeth as well, but we'll see about that.

How do I do it? They say to use raw, unrefined, organic coconut oil but I don't think it makes a difference unless you eat it. I have a huge cheap tub, intended for cooking. It is refined, hence the price and has a faint coconut flavour. I take a heaped tablespoon of it and put it in my mouth. Then without gagging, I let it melt and swish it around my teeth. I do this for 10 minutes, spit it on in the bin (not the drain as it solidifies and blocks the pipes) and rinse with warm water. 

These are the products I use for sensitive skin:

Ecozone Ecoballs:
For my laundry. I inherited two of them from my flat vendor. I put these in the washing machine with my clothes and a small scoop of washing soda crystals. My clothes come out clean (atleast, enough) and soft. My hands used to feel dry after hanging my laundry but they feel fine after washing with the Ecoballs. They're cheap to use by the wash and good for the environment. 

Soapnuts: 
So far I've had one wash with soapnuts (whole nuts in a muslin bag) and I was happier with the Ecoballs. My clothes were just as clean but not as soft. I know soapnuts can clean because I already use the powder to wash my hair. But having them in the rinse cycle leaves a residue so I'm now using soapnut liquid in the laundry as as a handwash. I've been using the powder to wash my hair for years so I know I'm not allergic to them.


Aveeno:
Their products are specially suited for sensitive itchy skin. Contains colloidal oatmeal and no colours or fragrance. 

Hope's Relief Premium Eczema Cream:
A brilliant Aussie invention and more effective than Moo Goo's eczema cream. Pricey but I think it's worth it considering that it definitely cools down the itches without steroids.

What's really working for me is the daily allergy medication (Loratadine), apple cider vinegar and Hope's Relief Premium Eczema Cream. Sadly when I have flare up, I tend to use everything at once. I'm not sure if the red/blue light therapy achieves anything on it's own. 

On the to do list is making water kefir to restore probiotic activity in the gut. People have said it helps their eczema. I just ordered a few tablespoons of live water kefir "grains" or the culture used to make kefir water. Currently I'm taking small amounts of store bought kefir. The cheapest is found at Polish grocery stores. Milk kefir is like drinking yoghurt, runny, tart and a bit fizzy from fermentation.