Wednesday, 13 June 2018

what we ate on monday & my bircher muesli recipe

is 'what i ate wednesday' still a thing? i feel like it got taken over as soon as instagram arrived... but i wanted to write a post about what we ate monday, because it was TASTY, and i finally filmed a 'what we eat in a day' video for my YouTube channel (scroll down if you're interested, because i'll pop the video at the end of this post for y'all).

it's my most commonly requested video, and perhaps that's because so many of those following from the old school days of blogging remember my food posts. let me start by saying that the day went super smoothly, i literally only spent 69 minutes cooking and preparing food (because that's as much footage i had from the day) and that's all because i actually PLANNED what we would eat. meal planning makes all the difference for my sanity and our health as a family.

so if you're looking at the day thinking "i could never feed my family like that" just know that you simply need to sit down and write a plan for 30 minutes at the weekend and you'll be much more likely to feed your family nutritious food! you can grab my example template and meal suggestion guide here and find out how i meal plan here in one of my recent-ish videos.

ok, enough pre-amble, into the food...

we started out the day with bircher muesli, topped with raspberries. and even though we eat this ALL the time, i've never actually shared a recipe on my blog, so today is the day!

bircher muesli
serves 2-3

2 eating apples, skin on
1/2 cup porridge oats
1/2 cup dairy-free yogurt
2/3 cup soy milk
1/4 cup raisins
a sprinkle of cinnamon
a squeeze of lemon
a dash of maple syrup, optional/to taste

1. grate the apples into a bowl.
2. add in the rest of the ingredients and stir.
3. leave overnight or for a couple of days in the fridge.
or eat it straight away covered in fresh raspberries.

for lunch we had some roasted potato fries/wedges, along with leftovers and veggies from the fridge, including some leftover lasagne, some pesto olives, some avocado, hummus and some corn on the cob. truly delish leftovers!

for dinner we ate pizza!! not just any pizza, but homemade pizza base pizza ;) i use this Jamie recipe, which is divine, easy and reliable. and then topped it with tomato puree, frozen spinach, sliced tomatoes, salmon and Sainsbury's Dairy Free grated cheese (i prefer Daiya, but i wanted to try out something new).

and for dessert we had apple, peach and nectarine crisp - it was supposed to be crumble but it came out really crispy and delicious, so i renamed it! really delicious with a drizzle of Alpro cream.

and of course, he didn't eat it all! my 27 month old boy ate all his breakfast (no raspberries though), most of his lunch (minus the potato wedges), and then basically nothing for dinner other than a banana before bed (i think he was full from a liqorice bar he had that afternoon!). but i enjoyed it! and there were a lot of leftovers for the rest of the week.

please let me know in the comments how you feel about everything we ate today, and let me know if you'd like more posts like this going forward? i won't know unless you tell me ;)

and as we're going old school today, i'm ending the post by telling you my latest favourite song...

currently listening to: the proof of your love by for King and Country

Monday, 4 June 2018

my favourite non-toxic deodorant: salt of the earth

if there's one product that i'd love for everyone to switch over to being non-toxic, it's their antiperspirant deodorant. so, i hope you stick with reading this little blog post that explains a little bit about why i think so, and also the things i've tried so far...

why switch to natural?

because conventional deodorants have aluminium salts in them, which are a potential carcinogen. and because they work by blocking up your sweat glands, which actually is an essential part of the body's detoxification process. and the aluminium can also be absorbed by the body (particularly after shaving) - and in studies in past they've found high levels of aluminium in breast tissue (because the breast tissue begins in the armpit and goes down in a teardrop shape from there...

so, for me, this was a definite switch i needed to make, but it wasn't easy to find one that would work! i started with sprays and sticks that looked the same as my old conventional one, but sure enough by the end of the day i would start smelling. the only other two options i found that i kind of liked are:

bicarbonate of soda - which does a fantastic job to eliminate any scent, however hard you exercise. BUT it is messy, it's a little weird to explain at airport security, and when it mixes with sweat it actually becomes quite acidic and starts to really irritate my skin and produce a rash - so bicarb is a no-no in summer or when i exercise. actually Schmidt's is something lots of other people use, which is bicarbonate of soda mixed with a few other things and the pot comes with a spoon, so it's a little easier to use (try it here - US/UK).

Jason's deodorant - this stick deodorant has a very similar feeling to conventional deodorant and works well, but i don't find it lasts all day, or is as reliable as the salt stick. but if it's not the middle of summer and you're not doing intense exercise then it's pretty good and nicely scented (try it here - US/UK)

BUT, the absolute winner has to be Salt of the Earth (try it here - US/UK) because:

  • it's easy to use - simply run it under water and swipe it under your arms, or use it straight out of the shower before you dry off
  • it has no scent, which means it's also unisex
  • it leaves absolutely no white marks
  • it has just one ingredient
  • it gives ALL day protection
  • the actual rock lasts for ages! i only bought a new one two years in, and finally upgraded to the full size, instead of the travel one - so i expect full size to last 3 years or so.

you can of course buy alum rocks from other companies, but i do like the convenience of this one, despite the plastic packaging (which is in theory recyclable anyway). it's great for travel and reliable.

how do you use it?

i keep mine by the sink, so i run it under the tap before i brush my teeth in the morning. then quickly swipe under my arms back and forth a couple of times to make sure i've covered the area. then it's important to leave the stick to dry out without the lid on. i only use the lid when i need to travel actually.

how does it work?

it's kind of strange to use the first time, because you can't see anything when you apply it - it's totally clear. you just feel like it's water that's on your underarms. according to their website it works by "leaving a microscopic layer of mineral salts on your skin.  These mineral salts inhibit the growth of odour causing bacteria leaving you feeling fresh and scent free."

there's an absolutely brilliant article on their site that is a must-read if you're interested more in how alum actually works.

will it stop me sweating?

no. it doesn't block your pores. but i find that the more i used it the less smelly i became. perhaps because i'm not naturally super stinky, or maybe because my body took a while to get into a better rhythm of detoxing through the underarms. there's an interesting article by The Washington Post that delves into some thinking behind whether anti-perspirants may even make you smell worse by altering the 'flora' of bacteria in your pits.

here's a little review video i did a while back that explains things out loud,, in case you're interested:

this works for me 99.9% of the time, and there isn't any need for me to try anything else - i've found my holy grail for my underarms. so i hope you give it a shot! and if you have any questions about it please let me know because i'd love to answer them.

if you want to know more about my journey to natural beauty, catch up with my last blog post, 'what cleaner beauty means to me'.

thanks for reading, and i hope you stop by again soon x

Thursday, 17 May 2018

what cleaner beauty means to me

i believe that clean beauty is important for everyone. and i've personally been using a natural skincare, bodycare and haircare regimen for the last 12 years of my life.... here's why...

in my late teens i had a job at a well-known high street cosmetics company, and it took me a long while to learn that the products we were marketing as 'green', 'eco' and 'natural' were actually rammed full of ingredients that were toxic. i felt so annoyed that a company could so easily misrepresent themselves - and people would so easily fall for the marketing and pay such a high price for those products.

i guess there's three things to this:

  •  firstly, people don't tend to look at ingredients labels - usually they tend to look at an advertisement and a price label
  •  secondly, people do like the idea of a 'greener' brand
  •  thirdly, people see usually the origins of a companies ethos and not how it develops - The Body Shop used to be similar to Lush (actually they are sort of half sisters) and the products were hand made, and then the company expanded and was bought by L'Oreal. now, inherently i think the brand is much the same as it was before that takeover, as with most mass production, there seems to be a dip in quality if you want to see the same price. anyhow, the important thing here is, whilst some of the ingredients are fairtrade, lots of the rest of them are toxic, and it's very different from where the brand started. 

one item that comes to mind as a particular bestseller from those days was the Hemp Hand Cream, which was always bought by people who thought that it was an eco product, partly because of the packaging and the name - but it rates a scary 8 on the EWG website!!

which leads me to one of the most important steps in my cleaner beauty journey - the EWG website. the Environmental Working Group have put together the Skin Deep Database, where they are continually adding new products and scoring them in terms of their levels of toxicity (0 is not toxic, 10 is super toxic). it's been a really helpful resource for me when looking for new products or ingredients. unfortunately not all products are on there, but i often type in the ingredients.

the main problem i had from switching over to cleaner beauty products was actually how my skin reacted! i'd been using a simple routine for a few years and then as soon as i added natural skincare products i started to break out. i was 19 and i got my first proper spots! not very good for my self confidence at uni... i was supposed to be past that now.

it turns out that a lot of the cheaper natural skincare brands used heavy oils which really don't work well with my skin (arguably most skin under the age of 50). and seriously 12 years ago the whole natural skincare market was nowhere near as vast, comprehensive or well-researched as it is today!

but i was sure that it was the best decision for my skin. and here's the main reason why i stuck with natural skincare even when i had acne....

some of what we put on our skin may be absorbed into our body.

for me i didn't need a percentage, even if it was just 1% it was too much. and there are certain places in my body where i know the % has to be higher - like my lips, my eyes, my underarms.

and so, i slowly experimented, trying out new products until i found my HG (Holy Grail) for each thing in my arsenal. and there was so much experimenting and failure, that i even started my YouTube channel to document the things i liked and the things i didn't. also, because not many of my friends seemed to care about what they put on their skin (although that is changing a little now, thanks to Goop), i found a community of like-minded people who i trusted to recommend me new products.

it's important when you start on your cleaner beauty journey to be know your boundaries as to what you think is acceptable and how you'll choose your products, because every single company is different. some are really into small production and supporting small/local businesses. some are very much into sourcing high quality ingredients. some are into trying to get 'better-for-you' products into the wider market. each of them have their benefits.

for me, i like a range of brands and love to support them if the products are of good quality. and i do find that a lot of companies have a champion product that stands out amongst the rest. if you're not familiar with natural beauty brands, i would recommend getting a bunch of samples from various online stores, so you can try some things out.

it also helps with not spending too much money on products that don't work for you. because the prices of some of these products are pretty high! you can get samples or minis from Naturisimo, Content Beauty and Glow Organic.

keep an eye on my YouTube channel for reviews of my HG products, like my favourite natural deodorant or my favourite natural under-eye concealer. and please keep asking me for specific items you'd like to see a review of. i've really began experimenting again, after using the same products for years on end - mostly because, vain as it sounds, i started to see fine lines on my face and wrinkles on my forehead, and wondered if there was a natural solution to slowing down that process. i also wanted to try out some of the incredible new organic makeup lines available - because there're LOADS to try!

much of what my content is about is trying out products and reviewing them so there's another voice and opinion out there. how else would you know that the Weleda Pomegranate Regenerating Body Oil makes your legs look silky smooth and smell delicious all summer? there are more and more voices speaking for the cause of cleaner beauty, and i'm proud to be among them so i can help you find products that perform.

so, if i were to give you a place to start i'd say to start with your most used item and google like crazy for alternatives and seek video/blog reviews of them. ask your favourite instagrammers for advice and what they might suggest. seek truthful people who seem similar to you in terms of skin type/hair type etc. what works for one person doesn't always work for another - but if their skin is similar it's more likely to help!

obviously cleaner beauty is just a part of a more holistic picture - i think most skincare 'problems' stem from something deeper than skincare, so make sure you look at the whole of your life.

final thing to say is, this post was written in conjunction with the fabulous Weleda and their #CleanerBeauty campaign - they're a fabulous brand to start off with, and perfect if you have kids (my son has only ever used Weleda products - toothpaste, body wash, nappy cream - since he was a tiny baby). also Pete has used their Skin Food for years as his daily moisturiser. i was so honoured to be a part of spreading the message of cleaner beauty.

any questions you have, please ask - i'm here to help x