We've all heard of the health benefits of coconut oil, but do you know all the ways you can use it? This healthy, unrefined (or virgin) oil can be used for so much more than your sauté pan. Here are 10 healthy ways to use coconut oil. 1. Cooking Not only is coconut oil suitable for sautéing, it's also a great substitute for butter in baking or on toast.
2. Coffee Drinking a coffee spiked with coconut oil, called bulletproof coffee, is a great way to fuel your morning workout.
3. Moisturizing Whether you're looking for a post-shower full-body moisturizer, an intense facial night cream or a dab of moisture for chapped lips, organic coconut oil is a great option that will quickly sink into your skin. And its antioxidant and antibacterial properties carry extra skin benefits.
4. Stretch Marks Pregnant women have found that rubbing the oil on their growing bellies can help prevent the development of stretch marks.
5. Makeup Remover The oil can break down cosmetics on the eyes and face so makeup wipes away easily, without the need for any harsh chemicals.
6. Hair Mask Rubbing the oil into your hair, from roots to tips, then leaving it in, deeply conditions strands. Wash it out and dry your hair to find healthier, shinier locks.
7. Teeth Cleaning While some people have tried making their own toothpaste using coconut oil and baking soda, others swear by oil pulling, a practice of swishing the oil in your mouth to remove plaque and toxins.
8. Massage Coconut oil serves as a natural massage oil with its own relaxing scent of the tropics. Get your partner to give you a relaxing coconut massage, or rub the oil into your own temples when you're stressed.
9. Treat Cold Sores While the moisturizing effect of the oil helps with skin healing, the antibacterial and antiviral properties of this wonder oil can also fight cold sores at the source. 10. Natural Deodorant It might not be quite as effective as the stuff you buy at the grocery store, but coconut oil's antibacterial qualities can defend against the bacteria that causes odors—no chemicals necessary.
Treat your cat like the queen she is with this awesome castle made out of cardboard boxes. Cats are notorious for their love of hanging out in boxes, so there's no doubt your fur baby will put this to great use.
When Chanie Wenjack died of exposure in 1966, it triggered the first-ever inquest into the treatment of Indigenous children at Canada's residential schools. Decades later, this searing novella tackles his tragic story.
The first time Canadians heard Chanie Wenjack's story, it was 1967 and it had been months since the 12-year-old Ojibwa boy had died while running away from the residential school he had been forced to attend. At the time, Chanie's tragic fate barely made a dent in our collective consciousness, but 50 years later, Canadian artists—such as Tragically Hip frontman Gord Downie, graphic novelist and artist Jeff Lemire, electronic music group A Tribe Called Red and author Joseph Boyden—are working to make him a household name. Take, for example, Boyden's latest novella, Wenjack. It's a much shorter read than his last book, The Orenda, but no less critical.
Wenjack follows Chanie on his ill-fated journey home, where, shivering and starving, he's followed by manitous—spirits that take the shape of animals—which observe his journey through sympathetic eyes. Home, you see, is much farther away than Chanie realizes. Wenjack turns a scathing eye on residential schools and reminds us that Chanie's desire for his family, his language and his pet dogs is not a singular story, but, rather, evidence of a dark stain on Canadian history. Boyden continues the difficult conversation of reconciliation by allowing us a glimpse into the frightened mind of a child who only knows that home is where he should be—and that Cecilia Jeffrey Indian Residential School is not it.
Wenjack (Hamish Hamilton Canada)by Joseph Boyden, $12.
To discover more Penguin Random House reads click here. Plus, enter our contest for your chance to win six Penguin Random House titles.
Is the anti-aging ingredient retinol worth all the hype? You better believe it!
One of the most potent anti-agers on the market was discovered by accident. Twenty-five years ago, dermatologists noticed that retinol, an acne treatment, also reduced fine lines, refined large pores and reversed sun damage. But there was a catch: The vitamin-A derivative also irritated skin, causing dryness and redness. As a result, many women were reluctant to add it to their skin-care regimens.
Today, however, retinol comes in a variety of formulations and strengths, so you can get the benefits without the irritation, says Dr. Paul Cohen, a dermatologist at Rosedale Dermatology Centre in Toronto. "The industry has come a long way," he says. Here's how you can take advantage of modern retinol.
Retinoid: A vitamin-A derivative available only by prescription.
Retinol: An over-the-counter derivative of vitamin A, found in concentrations of up to one percent.
Microencapsulation: This delayed-release delivery can help prevent skin irritation.
"Skin has its own natural renewal process, but as we age, skin renews itself less often," explains Dr. Cohen. "This results in the early signs of aging," including fine lines, wrinkles and sun damage. Vitamin A, either in an over-the-counter retinol or a a prescription retinoid, works by "stimulating cell turnover to help skin repair itself," says Dr. Cohen. The result: diminished fine lines and wrinkles, a more even skin tone and a finer texture.
Finding your formulation
Retinol is available in cream, gel and serum form. Whichever you choose, consider the overall strength of the product. For over-the-counter retinol, one percent is the highest strength allowed by Health Canada, but stronger isn't always better. "You don't necessarily have to go to that one-percent level in order to reach the results you want," says Kirk Brierley of RoC Skincare. If you're concerned about sensitivity, consider a lower strength that will deliver retinol to the skin in a more gentle manner. You can also try microencapsulated retinol, which is gradually released into the skin.
The perfect application
The best time to apply retinol will depend on the product. Serums should be applied immediately after cleansing, and creams after serum. Dr. Cohen recommends using a pea-size amount of retinol every other night to start, and eventually upping application to every night. "If your face gets red and itchy, or if it peels or burns, skip retinol for a day or two," he says. You can also apply a layer of moisturizer before your retinol; it will act as a barrier, keeping skin hydrated and reducing the risk of irritation. Finally, despite what you may have heard, retinol won't sensitize your skin to sun exposure. UV rays do, however, destabilize retinol, rendering it ineffective. So as long as you wear sunscreen every day (which you should in any case), retinol is your anti-aging friend.
No one wants to feel hangry or get hit with a midday crash—but that doesn't mean you have to visit the office vending machine. Instead, curb hunger pangs with these healthier, expert-approved alternatives.
1. Swap: Microwave popcorn for cauliflower popcorn
Even light microwave popcorn can be loaded with sodium, trans fats (which raise bad cholesterol and lower good cholesterol) and artificial colours and flavours, says Kelowna, B.C.–based registered dietitian Tristaca Curley. Instead, cut a head of cauliflower into bite-size pieces, then roast in the oven with some olive or coconut oil and sprinkle with sea salt flakes. This low-calorie, folate- and potassium-rich sub is a satisfying twist on that movie-night favourite.
Photography by Angus Fergusson
2. Swap: Store-bought gorp for DIY trail mix
Ready-made trail mixes can be full of sugar and salt, so create your own snack of walnuts (the nut with the highest levels of omega-3 fatty acids), unsalted sunflower seeds, dried apple bits and unsweetened shredded coconut. Add chocolate chips for an extra hit of sweetness. "For a tart superfood top-up, add golden berries, which resemble golden raisins," says Toronto-based registered nutritionist Joey Shulman. "They're lower in sugar versus other small berries, and they contain linoleic and oleic acids, which help with fat oxidation." Or add resveratrol-rich mulberries for their antioxidant punch.
3. Swap: Potato Chips for kale chips
"Regular chips contain trans fatty acids, the bad fat that can lead to heart disease and elevated cholesterol," says Shulman. "This superfood alternative is loaded with vitamins A, C and K." Tear kale leaves into bite-size pieces (discard thick stems), toss with olive oil and salt, then roast until crisp.
4. Swap: Salted pretzels for roasted chickpeas
Sure, pretzels may be low in fat, but they're loaded with salt and have no real nutritional value, says Curley. For a crunchy alternative, try oven-roasted chickpeas. These legumes are high in fibre, protein and iron, making them an ideal "fill me up" snack. Toss together chickpeas, olive oil, sea salt and your favourite spice (think smoked paprika, ground cumin, cayenne pepper or garlic powder), then roast until golden brown and crunchy.
5. Swap: Cheese crackers for a seaweed snack
Most crackers are processed carbs laden with artificial colours, preservatives and other additives. "In their place, top a sheet of nori with some canned tuna, smoked salmon or a meat alternative, like grilled tofu," says Curley. The seaweed is super satisfying and guilt-free: There are only five calories per sheet. Plus, sea vegetables are full of vitamins A and C, calcium, iodine (essential for metabolism) and iron.
6. Swap: Chocolate pudding for avocado and cocoa pudding
Chocolate puddings can be drowning in high-fructose corn syrup. For a healthier treat, mash an avocado, then stir in two tablespoons each of cocoa powder and hemp seeds and a quarter cup of honey, says Curley. This pudding is low in sugar and a great source of monounsaturated fats, vitamin C and fibre.
7. Swap: Granola bars for energy balls
Granola bars can contain as much sugar, fat and refined carbs as a chocolate bar. "Instead, stir together a cup of oatmeal with half a cup each of nut butter, hemp seeds and dried fruit," says Curley. Maple syrup or honey will help it stick together. This homemade option is high in fibre and protein, low in sugar and free of additives.
8. Swap: Chips and dip for hummus and carrot or zucchini coins
Processed foods like chips can raise blood sugar, triggering a release in insulin, which then lowers blood sugar. In the short term, these highs and lows actually increase cravings; in the long run, they can lead to weight gain. Try this clever swap from Curley. Using a mandoline or a sharp knife, slice carrots or zucchini into coins. Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper, then bake until golden brown and crisp. Serve with a side of hummus. (Brownie points if it's homemade!)
9. Swap: Banana chips for a loaded banana
This snack is often coated in sugar and deep-fried to give it crunch, so choose a fresh banana, which is glycemic index–friendly, suggests Curley. (Foods with a low-GI value are digested more slowly, so they won't cause a spike in blood sugar.) Top the banana with two tablespoons of your favourite nut butter, then roll it in hemp seeds. "You'll get a slow, steady rise in your blood sugar, so you'll feel full for longer," says Curley. Plus, this satisfying switch-up delivers potassium, protein, iron and omega-3s.
10. Swap: Chocolate-covered almonds for apple rings with nut butter
Almonds are a great snack, but when they're coated with chocolate, they turn into a treat. For a healthier option, slice a cored apple into rings. Top each slice with natural peanut, cashew or almond butter and sprinkle with hemp seeds, which are a great source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids. "Apples are loaded with fibre and vitamin C," says Shulman. "Look for unprocessed nut butters; they're rich in good fats, which contain essential fatty acids such as omega-3s and monounsaturated fats."