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Products working overtime

Rhoda-Mary Health
Avoiding The Snip is an art form. Flexible people dodge scissors better, just as hardworking natural products help blunt Snip's edges by turning frugal living into recession chic. The beauteous thing about Nature's bounty is its army of multitaskers. The cinnamon that adds zing to your apple pie can also lower your blood sugar. The chamomile tea that sings you to sleep at night (yep, truly...!) also aids digestion and helps soothe your little one when baby fangs cut holes in tender gums. If you don your field glasses and trek down to The Hopsack, you'll find lots of hidden treasures there. You just need to bring the right map Ҁ“ and hey ho! Ҁ“ you have it in your hands! Some of the coolest multitasking products The Hopsack offers sport a tropical twist. My favourite is Barlean's virgin coconut oil. It's the nicest, freshest oil I've ever tasted. I've tried lots of brands and a few smell and taste like something died inside. Barlean's costs ҂¬17.49 for a 473mls/16oz jar. On the surface, you may think you're trading rubies for a product you could buy for pebbles at the Asia market. Not so. Cheaper coconut oil is made from copra Ҁ“ the dried meat, or kernel, of the coconut. The goodness is refined, bleached and deodorised right out of it. Virgin oils, on the other hand, are rich in nutrients and sport a wide range of health benefits that lesser quality oils cannot boast. So how can coconut oil be deemed a multitasker? Well, it's not just for chefs, though it is superior to other oils for cooking. Being a healthy saturated fat, it is less vulnerable to oxidation and free-radical formation than polyunsaturated fats are. Heat damages fats, creating a 'spanner in the works' effect in the body. Polyunsaturated fats, such as vegetable oils, are particularly vulnerable to heat damage, whereas coconut oil is less so and remains healthy at higher temperatures. Vegetables stir-fried in coconut oil retain a bright, crisp appearance and cookies and cupcakes stay fresher for longer when made with coconut oil. In addition to being a whiz in the kitchen, L'Huile de Noix de Coco is a doyenne of beauty. A mild-scented oil like Barlean's makes a luscious massage balm when used alone or paired with Atlantic Aromatics essential oils. You don't need to buy a separate base oil if you have coconut oil in the cupboard. You can also use it to remove make-up; moisturise your face and body; protect your skin against viral, fungal and bacterial infection; reduce skin inflammation; remove scars (over time); condition your hair (warm a tiny amount between your palms and scrunch through damp hair, or use as you would a hot oil treatment); and as a lush lip balm. When you add up the amount of money you could be spending on hair treatments and skin creams it starts to look cheap. Honey is another busy bee. The Hopsack sells everything from light orange blossom honey to miraculous Manuka but my favourite (and one of the least expensive) is Tropical Forest Organic Forest honey. Coming in two varieties, creamy and clear, it is organic, cold-pressed, high-pollen and yummy and costs only ҂¬3.99 for a 340g/12oz jar. If you're curious about the health and beauty benefits of this amber ambrosia, click here. Although many herbal products are sold in tincture or tablet form, The Hopsack sells a range of loose medicinal herbs that can be very effective for considerably less outlay. Powdered arrowroot, at ҂¬1.27 for 50g, can thicken gravies and stop the trots in their tracks (maybe I shouldn't have put those two together?!). A packet of marigold flowers, also known as Calendula officinalis, can calm a slew of skin problems and add sunset tones to fairer hair. But many of the herbs, includingΓ‚ marigold, have serious medicinal properties, so please ask the lovely girls and boys in The Hopsack for advice if you are interested in using loose herbs. You can also special order them in bulk. Still on the topic of herbs, the culinary herbs and spices can tart up a meal beautifully and many of them, such as ginger and turmeric, have medicinal properties too. Furthermore, if you loathe buying boxes of herbal tea merely to find that the flavours are rather non-U, trying individual Pukka teabags willΓ‚ help you avoid such a dreadful fate. At 19c a pop you can go wrong but it simply won't matter! A Recessionista needs refillables, so before you go home, there are a few environmentally and fiscally friendly products you might like to try. It costs ҂¬3.59 (including bottle) to make up a Healing Herbs flower remedy tailored to your needs. Once it's empty, bring the bottle back and we'll refill it for ҂¬2.65. The Hopsack's own-brand miso, apple concentrate and peanut butter can all be refilled, as can some of the Ecover and Lilly's ranges of cleaning products. You need to bring back the original bottles for cleaning stuff, though, so hang on to the empties! Did you know? Have you kissed the Blarney Stone lately? Whether you've caught the gift of the gab or something else, this tea will soothe your sore throat. Put 1 teaspoon marshmallow, ½ teaspoon sage, ½ teaspoon raspberry leaf and a mug and a half of pure water into a saucepan. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 20 minutes. Allow to cool and drink. Or make triple the quantity and drink throughout the day. Do not drink this tea if you are pregnant. If you're on medication, consult with your GP before drinking it, as medicines and herbs can interact in a negative way.

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