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Cooking without calories

Cooking without calories. What does that even mean? A super, disgusting tasting diet food? A new health gimmick? Nope, not at all, I’m talking about cooking yummy and delicious smelling skincare, cosmetic products and candles.  

Like so many of you, for many years, I spent an enormous amount of time at the kitchen sink, as well as at the stove.  I shopped, cooked and cleaned in a repetitive, seemingly never ending cycle, I was shocked by the amount of food that was consumed as well as the realization that they would expect to eat again in a matter of hours, if not minutes. This burden of cooking daily dinner was overwhelming, yet I learned to make the best of what was, and decided that if I needed to make dinners every single day, I was going be the best darn dinner maker that I could possibly be. I would make delicious dinners, I would do it with love, and I would use it as a method to heal my family by creating meals that would heal. I am not a naturopath for nothing, after all. 

Ironically, while trying to feed my family healthy, nutritious, delicious meals, I became an excellent cook. I cooked using the five flavor method. Understanding the five flavors, which correspond to the five organs, is a holistic approach to food. Spices and herbs became a powerful tool to work with, a means to achieving a balance of flavors and nutritional healing. Slowly, I came to the realization that, while cooking family meals was hard work and might seem like a chore, it was actually a gift and should be treated as such.  

When I taught cooking, I would teach that cooking dinner gives us an incredible opportunity to heal our families through both the love that we cook with, as well as the enormous strength nutritional healing has which can be found in a healthy, home cooked meal. The power to heal is in our hands, our pots and those plates we are putting on the table.

And then one day it stopped, the nest emptied out. I would cook these incredible meals, and no one would show up to eat them. It was very depressing, until it wasn’t, and I realized that now I had time for other things in my life.  

So I stopped cooking dinners and started cooking cosmetics. And I realized, Hey Ma, Look!  No calories!!! This is so much fun! The same process that I had learned in the kitchen while cooking dinner, I now applied to skincare. Just like a good meal is about harmony and balance, a good skincare product is also all about harmony and balance.  

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As in any dish, in skincare as well, you are looking for that perfection that happens when you balance all the different elements to achieve harmony. Like with food, the ultimate skincare product not only looks good and smells good, but it is a tool, a method of healing which helps you to improve the way your body functions.  

Here’s the secret: pepper, in your food or in your skincare product, functions exactly the same way. Pepper is warming and invigorating, it increases blood flow and encourages circulation, this same function will happen if the pepper winds up in your stomach or on your toes. Likewise, lemon is cooling, uplifting and refreshing. That same cheerful lemony feeling will happen to you if you’re drinking a refreshing glass of lemonade on a hot summer day, or if you sniff a breath of lemony scented candle. The difference is, that while in the kitchen you use actual foods, herbs and spices, in skincare and candles, you use waxes, oils and essential oils.  

This, my friends, is incredible news. The 10,000 hours you have spent in the kitchen have not been wasted. They are not put on hold until you become a grandma and cook elaborate meals for your ganza mishpoche. Take those culinary skills, and cook yourself some calorie free, creative cosmetics. Enjoy the benefits of those years spent at the stove and do something exciting with them that is just for you!   

Candles are a great way to start on this new adventure. Candles are popular, they are fun, and they are relatively simple to make. If you mess up while making a candle, it’s also not the end of the world, nothing will happen. So, if you are a little bit nervous about making your own skincare products, making a candle can help get you over the hump. Additionally, while skincare products list their ingredients, there is no actual way to really know what is in your candles, and it is extremely important that your candles be healthy, because you will be breathing in whatever it is that is inside your candle. If it is important for you to eat well and to use healthy skincare products, obviously, your candles should be healthy too. Candles should be made with natural ingredients that are not only safe to inhale but safe enough to use on your skin.  

Candles are simple. You can use any blend of waxes or oils that you like. You can use any blend of fragrance that you like. True, essential oils don’t have the same staying power as chemical fragrances, so you are better off sticking to the scents that do hold well. To make your scent stronger, try adding some dried herbs to the jars and keeping the jars covered.  Below is a recipe for a nice summer blend that will also serve as a natural insecticide and will hopefully keep the moths and mosquitoes away. 

Helpful Tips:

  • It is easiest to work with a pot with a spout, if you don’t have then use a measuring cup with a spot.
  • Cover the work area with paper towels or newspaper to make clean up easier.
  • Use glass jars with a lid to preserve the fragrance.
  • The candles can be easily decorated or naturally colored with spices, oils or dried herbs.   

You Will Need

  • A double boiler
  • 100 gr. beeswax
  • 100 gr coconut oil
  • 50 gr shea butter 
  • 50 gr cocoa butter
  • 30 drops of essential oil blend (see below)
  • Jars with lids which can hold the equivalent of the mix (300 ml)
  • Wicks 
  • Dried herbs and/or spices to color your candle.  

Use a double boiler to heat the waxes and butters together.  They should be completely melted at 90-95° C.  While the wax is heating, decorate your jars.  This can be done through adding a mix of dried herbs or flowers.  The ones that will work best in your candles are lavender, rosemary and rose petals.  Chop the dried flowers/herbs into small pieces and layer them close to the wall of the jar and away from the wick.  

Allow the wax to cool to 70° C and then mix in your essential oils, spices and/or natural colorants. 

Dip the wick into the hot wax and then press into place until the wax has hardened. Use a clothespin or tweezers to hold the wick in place, and then gently pour the wax into the jar.  When the wax hardens, trim the wick with sharp scissors and then cover the jar.  Let the candle rest for two weeks before using.  

Essential Oil Blend

  • 7 drops citronella
  • 10 drops geranium
  • 10 drops lavender
  • 3 drops eucalyptus

Natural Colorants

  • Turmeric (yellow)
  • Yarrow/chamomile oils (blue)
  • Sea buckthorn oil (orange)

Bonus:  Since all of your ingredients are natural and healthy, any candle can also be used as a massage candle or as a hand cream.  

About the Author
Sima Herzfeld Navon is a Naturopath and the owner of Navon Naturals Skincare Products. Her goal is to help people eliminate toxic chemicals from their daily lives through eating a whole food diet and using 100% natural skincare products.
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