Vegan Coleslaw

20141030_162557Poppy is currently eating this for her dinner. She does have it on top of sweet potato but all she is interested in is the coleslaw! I don’t blame her, it is tasty stuff. Like most of my recipes you can adapt it according to your personal preferences. I usually add shredded kale but we had run out today. You can add more cashew nuts to the dressing if you want it to be thicker, the more you add the thicker it will be, but you don’t need them at all if you prefer, you could try adding tahini for a bit of thickness or nothing if you prefer a very runny dressing, the flavour will still be there. We eat this with salads, in wraps, sandwiches, on top of a burger, in a buffet, alongside a chilli…a delicious way to add some veggies to your meal.

Veggie Ingredients:

2 grated carrots

1/2 grated cabbage

4 spring onions, chopped

Large handful kale, processed in blender to shred (optional)

For the dressing:

1/2 cup cold pressed olive oil

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup water (you can add more if it is too thick)

1/2 cup cashews, ideally soaked for 4 hours (or more)

2 cloves garlic

1 tablespoon maple syrup

Squeeze of lemon juice

Pinch of salt

Simply blend all of the dressing ingredients and add the the carrot and cabbage mixture. Taste and add more vinegar, maple syrup, garlic or salt according to your personal taste. This recipe will serve about 4. 

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VegFest London 2014

P1040599At the end of September a friend and I went to VegFest in London (with the babies!) It was busier than I expected, which was difficult with the babies, but I am not suprised because the event had a lot to offer. Whether you are interested in vegetarianism, veganism, you are dairy-free or just interested in healthier eating or greener living, it was a great place for information, tasters and discussions. In fact the less you know about veganism the more you will gain from the event! I will definitely go again next year, when I can hopefully leave Poppy behind! Because there were so many talks, demonstrations and workshops we would have loved to stay for, but the babies were getting restless. We managed to pick up loads of leaflets though, all reaffirming my reasons for going (mostly) vegan and motivating me to try harder! As for the dairy debate, all I can say is that I am so glad we no longer consume that junk, and I can’t believe how brain washed people are into believing it is good for them! I will put some links at the end of this post if you want to educate yourself further on this matter.
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For those of you who haven’t got a clue what vegan’s eat then take a look at the photo’s below and know that it is not just slop or lettuce leaves! Granted, the doughnuts are not going to be the healthiest choice, but my point is that you don’t HAVE to be health obsessed to make positive changes to your diet, and you can still have a treat when the mood strikes. On the other hand, healthy choices can be delicious too! We had a wrap filled with all sorts of healthy goodies for lunch. I was completely stuffed and yet could probably have devoured another it was beyond delicious. The choice of food was amazing, from chocolate to cheesecake, burgers to burritos. If you think veganism is restrictive, think again!
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There were also stalls with beauty products, clothing, petitions and more. The children’s area looked like good fun with cooking classes and other activities, and there was a cinema area that was showing informative films. And it wasn’t limited to vegetables! There were also discussions on raw food diets, lots of information about healthy and not so healthy fats, sugar, juicing and even green products such as cloth maternity pads! Overall it was well organised, despite the queue to get in and the broken lift fiasco, and I would have loved to have spent more time there. However, I don’t think I would want to take kids again as it was too busy to focus on everything and them! For the price of the tickets it was well worth a trip, although be warned, you could easily spend a fortune on all the tempting stalls.
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Some of the posters and flyers were eye-opening. I initially chose to cut down on meat for health reasons but I can’t deny that the facts on farming make me feel pretty sick and they do make me think twice if I ever get a meaty craving. It is too easy for us to detach ourselves from the reality, when we buy our meat all neatly packaged up in the supermarket with pictures of happy animals on the front. We are allowing outrageous torture to animals and damaging our environment at the same time. If you do eat meat, at least know exactly where it comes from and how the animals are treated. But even organic doesn’t always mean cruelty free due to the very fact that farming is a business and therefore certain procedures have to take place in order to meet demand, and don’t be fooled by the words ‘free-range’ either.
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There is loads of information out there on the health benefits of vegetarianism, veganism and going dairy-free AND it is better for the environment. It makes me laugh when people think that vegan’s don’t get enough nutrients. Sure, there will be unhealthy vegan’s out there, but if you are following a plant based diet with plenty of variety, some raw foods, good fats and natural sources of protein…you are bound to be getting exactly what you need. People often wonder if Poppy will be bought up as a vegan, as if they are worried that she won’t grow properly or have lifelong problems because I am so irresponsible I am depriving her of protein! But I am not worried in the slightest because I know that everything she needs is available in the fresh, wholesome foods we eat. Most of the information we are given about dietary requirements are inaccurate and even worrying. The popular eat well plate for example has a small section suggesting that we need some foods high in sugar and fats (with photo’s of fizzy drinks and biscuits). No one in the world NEEDS these sorts of processed foods, ESPECIALLY not a baby! Of course you can enjoy them in moderation if you choose, but this information is given out in schools which I find irresponsible and misleading for parents who don’t know any better. I have taken Poppy’s health into my own hands so that I can be absolutely sure she only gets the best.
P1040537 They weren’t as energetic on the journey home!

For more info take a look at the following links:

http://www.viva.org.uk
http://www.milkmyths.org.uk
http://www.vegansociety.com/try-vegan/why-go-vegan
http://www.grownathomewithlove.wordpress.com/tag/food-intolerances/
http://www.peta.org/issues/animals-used-for-food/factory-farming/cows/dairy-industry/
http://www.vegsoc.org/
http://www.govegan.org.uk/
http://www.london.vegfest.co.uk/

Gluten-free, sugar free, vegan breakfast muffins

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Sometimes I just fancy something new for breakfast, and sometimes that ends in disaster. Especially when it comes to baking as I’m no good at guessing quantities and figuring out how to bind ingredients together or make sure it rises. But much to my surprise my recent experiments with breakfast muffins have turned out very well. I looked at a few recipes online, realised we had none of the ingredients in the cupboard, and made something up myself. I used flax eggs and banana to bind the mixture, although you could also use a vegan egg replacer instead of the flaxseed mix (the banana may even be enough but I felt safer using something I knew would definitely work!) You can add anything you like, such as dried apricots, cacao nibs or nuts, and adjust the sweetness with your choice of natural vegan sweetener. I like the fact that it feels like you are eating a cake but there is nothing naughty in there at all! They are also great for when you need breakfast on the go or something to grab when you first wake up, which is why I have just made a fresh batch for our holiday. I try to be prepared so that we are not tempted to eat out too often which will no doubt be unhealthy and expensive (I have been baking bread and making soup today too!) These muffins are easy, tasty, great for little hands and full of goodness; perfect for baby led weaning as well as lunch boxes!

Ingredients:

3/4 cup chickpea flour

3/4 gluten-free self raising flour (I used doves farm)

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

2 tablespoons milled flaxseed with 6 tablespoons non-dairy milk

3 bananas, the riper the better!

1/3 cup olive oil or coconut oil (melted)

1 tablespoon molasses

1/2 cup sweetener (agave, maple syrup, honey if non-vegan)

1 apple, grated

Small piece of ginger, grated

Mixed seeds of your choice (I used, chia, pumpkin, sunflower, golden flaxseed)

Handful desiccated coconut

Handful chopped dates

Method:

Mix flours, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and nutmeg in a bowl.

Prepare your flax eggs by combining the milled flaxseed and non-dairy milk and setting aside for a couple of minutes for the seeds to absorb the liquid.

Meanwhile, mash the bananas and add them to the flour mixture.

Add the flax eggs and combine well.

Stir in the oil, sweetener and molasses, followed by the rest of the ingredients.

Spoon into cupcake cases and bake in the oven at 180 degrees for around 20 minutes, or until they start to turn golden brown.

Leave to cool before serving with a cup of tea!

Enjoy!

Why we won’t be wasting our holiday money on sun cream

SL270745I have always loved sun bathing, I could literally lie in the sun all day long. Luckily I rarely burn, but having Poppy has, once again, made me swot up on my knowledge, in this case with regards to sun exposure and what our safest and healthiest options are.

I already knew that I wouldn’t want to be using a regular high street brand sun cream on Poppy, due to the endless chemicals they were bound to contain. But for those of you who are unfamiliar with these chemicals I urge you to go and check the labels, and make better choices. That is, if you decide to use sun creams at all; I will explain why we will be using very little sun cream during our holiday to Italy and why we have only used it once or twice during the hot English weather we have been so lucky to have had recently.

What is the problem with regular sun creams?

Where do I start? Increasing research is indicating that rather than protect against skin cancers, sun creams can actually increase your chances of getting cancer. There is more than one reason for this.

IMG_0597First of all it is simply the chemicals that are used in sun creams, many of which have been found to form formaldehyde and other cancer causing substances when mixed with other ingredients. I am not going to list ingredients here or reference studies, but there is loads of info out there, so if you don’t believe me go and have a look yourself. Some ingredients in your sun creams may be linked to cancer and others produce free radicals when exposed to sunlight, which I am guessing is highly likely if you are applying SUN cream?! Vitamin A is in many sun creams, look out for retinyl palmitate and retinol, and when exposed to sunlight this speeds up the development of skin tumours and lesions. On top of this, considering the skin absorbs 60% of what is put on it, I don’t like the idea that sun cream contains parabens, which are not only suspected carcinogens but also disrupt hormones, increasing your risk of breast cancer and altering male sperm count. Artificial scents added to sun creams also contain hormone disruptors which can accumulate in breast milk! No thanks! All of the nasty ingredients in sun creams can be absorbed into the blood, as well as potentially causing allergic reactions and skin irritations.

Some creams are worse than others, and the next paragraph may surprise you. Hands up if you use higher SPF’s if you are going to hotter places? Or if you know you will be in the sun for a long period of time? I used to! Research shows that first of all a lot of these high SPF’s didn’t actually live up to their claims during testing, and offered much lower protection than they advertised. But, more interestingly, the SPF number is not a good indication of the UVA protection. To understand what this means you need to understand the science of the sun a bit better.

There are two types of rays which we are interested in; UVA and UVB. Both are capable of causing damage but we know less about the dangers of UVA rays. What we do know is that they penetrate much more deeply than UVB, and as I will talk about in a minute, UVB can actually be incredibly beneficial to us in that it is the best source of Vitamin D we can get. In fact until recently sun creams only offered protection against UVB rays, so we were blocking the good stuff (Vit D) and letting in the bad. Sounds pretty scary to me! So back to these high factor sun creams which we all assume offer higher protection. They actually still allow many UVA rays through, because these are very difficult to block. However, in order to increase the protection against UVB these creams must contain larger amounts of chemicals. So ultimately the increase in chemicals could increase your risk of skin cancer, and seeing as there is absolutely no evidence that high SPF’s reduce your chances of cancer at all compared to lower ones, surely you are better off choosing a lower concentration of chemicals to smother all over your skin, aka lower SPF creams. Better still, opt for a more natural sun cream, or only use one if you absolutely cannot avoid staying out in the sun without covering up. If you can avoid it, there are much better options.

Better protection against harmful rays:

Covering up with loose clothing provides very good protection against the suns harmful rays. We are planning on taking plenty of light clothing that we can cover Poppy up with whilst we are away, for the times that we feel she has either had enough sun or when we know we will be out in it for a long time. Of course there will definitely be a sun hat on that list too. As well as that, the most sensible thing to do is to seek shade when you feel you have had enough sun, which I admit is something I never used to see as an option. I wanted the best possible tan, but was unknowingly putting my health at risk because I felt safe with my high factor sun cream on. In fact, research suggests that people who use sun cream the most are more likely to develop skin cancer, perhaps because of this false sense of security. SPF 50 does NOT provide double the protection of SPF 25. Please don’t be tempted to stay exposed for twice as long, you are only letting more harmful UVA rays through and are more likely to burn because of your trust in the product that just can’t live up to expectation. Even if you don’t burn, do not assume that no damage has been done! You may find that your children will naturally seek shade and allowing your eyes to measure the strength of the sun accurately, i.e. without sunglasses may help you and your family instinctively know when it is time to get under the umbrella or go inside. For the time when we really cannot control sun exposure we do have a more natural sun cream, which we will apply to our faces and anything that cannot be covered up. However, this is the last resort rather than our number one essential. There are plenty of alternatives to sun cream, which I have not had the chance to research properly. Oils that have naturally high SPF’s, for example raspberry seed oil, can be an excellent, 100% safe alternative that I will definitely switch to in the future.

Having said that, there is another method of sun protection that can be very effective in preventing the damaging effects of the sun. A sun tan! So do not lose all hope, you can still come back from your holiday with a healthy, sun kissed glow. A sun tan is our bodies natural mechanism to protect its cells from UV radiation. But the way in which you get this sun tan is key. You must build it up gradually, which we have been doing ever since the sun decided to shine down on us this Spring. As soon as you are exposed to the sun, you produce melanin, the pigment that makes you darker, which collects on the sun-facing side of the cells, acting as efficient little umbrellas and protecting the cells against UV rays; in other words preventing mutations that could cause skin cancer. It makes perfect sense to me. Our bodies are amazing machines, and surely we are able to cope with being out in the sun, we used to be hunters and gatherers! Interestingly, people who work outdoors have a decreased risk of melanoma, compared to those who work inside and are exposed to sun rays through glass, which absorbs UVB and lets most UVA pass through. It is true that once you have a sun tan it is less likely that you will burn, at least that is certainly the case for me. But because we have less exposure to sun these days, it is important that you do not go from no sun at all to an exotic holiday where you stay out in it all day before your body has built up it’s protection. Even with a tan you must still be careful. The sun is stronger than ever and whilst there are many benefits to sun exposure, you must treat it with respect.

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Major benefits of sun exposure: 

As I have already mentioned, UVB rays are the best form of Vitamin D available to us. Unfortunately many people are severely lacking in Vitamin D, and Vitamin D deficiency is often found in sick children and associated with the worst outcomes. Vitamin D is good for balancing hormones, boosting your immune system, fighting disease and loosing weight. That’s right, loosing weight! Have you even noticed how you just don’t feel as hungry when you have been in the sun, like when you are on holiday? That is because Vitamin D regulates the hormone that is responsible for appetite control. By applying sun cream BEFORE we go out in the sun we are preventing ourselves from getting any of the amazing benefits of Vitamin D that we all so desperately need. In fact, we are making our bodies far less able to fight the very cancers that we are all so wary of getting in the first place. Higher levels of Vitamin D have been linked to better survival chances amongst cancer patients. For this reason, we have decided that we will expose Poppy, and indeed ourselves, to direct sunlight with no protection whatsoever for a certain amount of time at every opportunity. Now, the amount of Vitamin D you are able to produce will vary according to the time of day, where you live and your own body, so I cannot tell you how long you should stay in the sun unprotected. The best thing to do is cover up or seek shade as soon as you notice even the slightest hint of pink on your skin. This could be 5 minutes or it could be 45; everyone is different. After this point your body will not be able to produce any more Vitamin D. It is worth noting though, from what I have read, that it may be unwise to avoid the sun between 11am and 3pm as we are so often told to do, as this may mean you miss the window for optimum Vitamin D production.

Other benefits of sun exposure are probably more familiar to you. A release of endorphins, which may be particularly welcome if you suffer from SAD, an increase in energy and effective treatment of skin diseases (my eczema always clears up on holiday), amongst many other things. It seems backwards to me to believe that something that can make us all feel so healthy on so many levels is going to kill us. So whilst I will be much more careful than I was before, I will never stop worshipping the sun completely!

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Asparagus gaucamole and avocado sandwich

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Sorry about the photo, back to using my rubbish old phone camera for a little while! I saw this recipe for asparagus gaucamole in one of the free supermarket recipe magazines, and seeing as I had just bought 3 huge bunches of asparagus I thought it was worth a shot. I liked it because there weren’t too many ingredients and you didn’t need anything special that could only be bought in that particular supermarket…which is often the case!

I had to add avocado because, well, I just adore it, and the result was a very tasty, refreshing sandwich, perfect for a hot summer’s day!

Ingredients:

Big bunch asparagus

1 small red onion

1 red chilli (I used orange and used less, although in the end the freshness of the other ingredients meant it wasn’t as hot as I thought it would be)

1 clove garlic

Handful fresh corriander

Zest and juice 1 lime

Half 1 avocado

Spoonful of veganaise or mayo

Bread

Method:

Cut the asparagus into roughly 2cm and steam the tips and the rest of the stems seperately for about 3 mins (you can steam them together but will have to seperate afterwards)

Whilst the asparagus is cooling finely dice the onion, deseed and finely chop the chilli and the garlic and corriander.

Mix everything but the asparagus together in a mixing bowl with lime zest and juice, adding the asparagus tips when cooled.

Blitz the rest of the asparagus in a food processor into a lumpy paste, I added a drizzle of olive oil at this point too and a pinch of salt.

Spread the asparagus guacamole over a slice of bread and spread the other slice with mayo and avocado. Put it together in a sandwich and serve with vegetable crisps and a glass of elderflower cordial for an alfresco lunch!

 

Creamy Celeriac and Cauliflower soup

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Very thick and creamy soup, with hardly any ingredients, easy and healthy!

Ingredients:

1 whole celeriac, peeled and chopped into small chunks

1 whole cauliflower chopped

1/2 white cabbage, sliced into ribbons

2 cloves garlic, crushed

Drizzle of olive oil

Enough bouillon to cover the veggies

Pepper to season

Seeds (optional) 

Method:

Fry garlic and cabbage in the olive oil on low-medium heat for a few minutes, stirring every so often to make sure it doesn’t burn. 

Add celeriac and cauliflower to the pan and cover with the stock. 

Simmer until veggies are cooked.

Blitz and season with pepper, and sprinkle with your choice of seeds (I used shelled hemp seeds and sunflower seeds!)

Enjoy!

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Super Saturday Breakfast

ImagePoppy’s tooth still hasn’t cut through, and she was up a lot in the night. Nothing will settle her, not even Mummy’s milk, so I was feeling very sad for her. She woke up this morning in a slightly better mood. I, however, am feeling rubbish! This lack of sleep definitely isn’t helping my body fight the ickyness, so I needed a good breakfast to give it a helping hand. I am hoping this fresh juice and delicious porridge will do the trick, with the juice boosting my immune system and the porridge pushing me through my day of studying!

Immune boosting juice:

1 or 2 apples

1/2 cucumber

A good chunk of ginger (for all it’s immune boosting super powers!)

1/2 a lemon

2 or 3 carrots (for their vitamin C)

Put all of the ingredients through a juicer and enjoy! The ginger is very strong so if you are not fighting illness you can use less of this, but I needed it’s goodness today.

Super Porridge:

Organic porridge oats (I blitz mine in a mini blender because I prefer them finer which makes a creamier, comforting porridge!)

Coconut milk

1 big teaspoon coconut oil (melted in when heating)

1 tablespoon honey

2 dates and 2 dried apricots, chopped

Cacao nibs

Chopped pecans

Shelled hemp seeds

Milled flaxseed

Sunflower seeds

Pumpkin seeds

Put all of the ingredients into the pan and heat slowly, stirring often. I haven’t put quantities as you can just put as much or as little as you like and of course you can leave out anything you don’t like or add extras such as different dried fruits or nuts.

But this combo was absolutely delish!

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Gradually Going Green – Part 2 – Bathroom

I promised I would write a post about our natural bathroom products, but I have been so busy time has disappeared. Poppy was poorly too, which was horrible and then I was fighting it. Now she is teething and crying 90% of the day, so I have barely had a chance to sit down and write. I should be doing my essay now, and considering I just wrote this post once and it deleted all by itself, I am feeling pretty fed up, so I am going to write this quickly. Apologies for any typos and a lack of creativity in my writing!

When buying bath and shower products try to make sure they are certified organic or at least read and understand the labels well. Many mainstream brands claim to be natural and use enticing phrases such as ‘Plant power’ and ‘Mother nature’ but they are still full of the nasty chemicals you want to avoid. Call me sad but if I am unsure on an ingredient I google it!

P1020575Shower gel: I use Urtekram Brown Sugar shower gel and I love it. I was bought 2 bottles for Christmas and have just under 3/4 of one bottle left. It is more expensive than average shower gels but a little goes a long way. It feels lovely, smells good and produces a good lather. 500ml costs around £7.50. Again I am ashamed to say I usually look on Amazon for good prices, but natural shower gels are available all over the internet or in health stores.

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Shampoo and conditioner: I have Urtekram shampoo and conditioner too, but have recently bought some Faith in Nature shampoo because it was a ridiculously good price at the time (£2.50 for 500ml). The Urtekram comes in 250ml bottles and you can find those for around £4.50, whilst the Faith in Nature is usually only slightly more expensive for double the amount. However, I must admit I prefer the Urtekram shampoo! It lasted me 3 months so I don’t think cost is too bad.

Bath smellies: There are natural bubble baths out there I’m sure, I just haven’t got round to trying them. But I do love love love natural bath melts! Tim got me some for Christmas and I have been addicted ever since. My Christmas ones were relaxing lavender and gorgeous patchouli. They leave your skin feeling amazingly silky, but they are oily so you might not want to wash your hair in the bath when using them. Alternatively you could just add a few drops of your favourite essential oil to your bath. This is a great idea for baby, it will create a stronger association between bath and bedtime, especially if you put a drop on their pillow at night too. I also love this idea because when you can’t fit in their bedtime bath the familiar scent on their bedding will ensure they still understand it is time to drift off because of that association. Use lavender or chamomile to relax them and send them into the peaceful land of nod.

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Toothpaste: We use green people toothpaste. It contains no fluoride, no nasties. It is more pricey than big brand toothpastes; I managed to get 2 tubes for £3.50 but it is usually £3.50 per tube, and they are not that big. It doesn’t taste half as minty as normal toothpastes but your teeth feel just as squeaky clean afterwards. I have also started oil pulling, which is a way of eliminating toxins from you mouth. You basically swish oil (coconut is good) around your mouth for a good 15 minutes and then spit it into the bin, rinse with salt water and clean your teeth. Sounds bizarre but apparently it is a brilliant way to detox with people claiming all sorts of amazing results, it can whiten your teeth and can even cure a hangover!!!

Hand soap: Our local health food shop stocks loads of natural hand soap and I picked some up the other day for £1.90. Before this I had some seaweed and dead sea salt soap from Wikaniko which I really liked. I chose it because I used to use dead sea salt for my eczema as a child, and now the only place I ever get eczema is my hands so I thought it might help. Despite my expectations the soap was surprisingly creamy. It cost £4 a bar so was quite a lot but I would still recommend it.

P1020588Deodorant: Deodorants are awful. There are strong links between deodorants and breast cancer, and the chemicals inhaled from spray deodorants or anti-perspirants are scary. In fact I was interested to discover after Tim had been in hospital with an irregular heartbeat, that the ingredients of his daily anti-perspirant was known to cause heart problems and even heart attack. Needless to say he no longer uses it. There are a few brands that do crystal salt deodorants. It is roll on but you apply it to wet skin, or wet the stick first and it lasts for months and months! It is unscented which takes some getting used to, but I will be making my own natural perfume when I have the time!

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Moisturiser: I use coconut oil on my skin and Poppy’s too. I even use it to remove my make up! Ocassionally I pinch a bit of Poppy’s organic baby lotion if I need to get off stubborn eye make up, but I will be doing a separate post on baby products soon. You can invest in all sorts of lovely natural lotions, but in my opinion it is unnecessary when coconut oil has a million and one uses!

I think that is it for bathroom. When cleaning the bathroom I use all of the same stuff I posted in my kitchen post! I will be writing posts on my beauty products and baby products soon so stay tuned! For now it is time for me to open a bottle of…I mean open my textbook!

 

 

Thai squash soup

P1020343I often use up leftover veggies in soups, and rarely know what it’s going to turn out like. Every now and then I discover something wonderful, and this was certainly one of those times. This veggie soup is absolutely divine, Tim said it was my best soup ever, and I make A LOT of soup!

I have called it thai squash soup simply because of the flavour the coconut milk and coriander give it, but apart from that it isn’t all that thai at all. It is very healthy of course, so simple and perfect for a grey day like today.

Ingredients:

(I used half these amounts as that’s what was left in our fridge, this will make a lot of soup)

1 Butternut squash

1 Swede

6 large tomatoes

1 large white onion

Medium madras curry powder (or your own choice of curry powder)

1 can coconut milk

Bunch of coriander

Enough veggie stock to cover the veggies in the pan (I use marigold bouillon for plenty of flavour and less salt and additives)

1 clove garlic (optional)

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Method:

Roast the butternut squash and swede in chunks, lightly coated with rapeseed oil and sprinkled generously with curry powder.

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Meanwhile fry the onion until soft and add some more curry powder (1 tsp) to this. Once soft add the garlic, chopped, and the tomatoes, chopped into quarters roughly, and fry for a further 5 minutes.

Once the squash and swede are roasted add them to the pan and mix all the ingredients well.

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Pour over the stock and simmer for 5 minutes or so (Because the veg are all cooked you are only really combining flavours and making sure it is nice and hot!)

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Pour over coconut milk and stir through. Blitz it all up with the coriander, saving some to garnish.

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Enjoy!

 

Gradually Going Green – Part 1 – Chemical Free Kitchen/Utility

I am going to be writing several posts about the everyday products we use in our house. The things that most of us use on a daily basis are full of nasty chemicals, and it can be overwhelming trying to make the change to a greener lifestyle. I have done it one step at a time, replacing things when they run out, with healthier, organic or chemical free versions. I hope these posts will make it easier for you to do the same, without feeling totally confused. There are loads of organic cleaning products out there, but you really don’t need to spend a fortune on anything special. So here is my list of kitchen essentials for the beginner:

ImageWashing up liquid: This is one I am thinking of changing. I have been using Ecover, which is a better option for a beginner, however it does contain SLES (Sodium Lauryl Ether Sulfate) which is something you really want to avoid. Apparently it hasn’t always contained this and people who have used their products for a long time are very disappointed as it is clearly advertising itself as an eco friendly green product. Once I have replaced it (soon as we have almost run out!) I will let you know. But if you want to make a better choice than your standard options this is available at major supermarkets and is good value.

 

All surface cleaner: I use white vinegar for every surface in the house. Because it is acidic it kills germs and bacteria and despite what you may think it won’t leave any scent after a few minutes. It is really cheap and I just pour it into a spray bottle to use all around the house. For a quick wipe down of kitchen work tops I will just use vinegar on it’s own, but you can add other things listed below for a more substantial clean. I also use vinegar to clean the fridge, and wash the shelves in hot water with washing up liquid.

Stubborn work top grime and cooker gunk: White vinegar with bicarbonate of soda. You can sprinkle the bicarb onto the muck first and then spray the vinegar over. I leave it to fizz for a few mins before wiping clean. Use a scourer for more stubborn dirt, but bicarb is very effective at cutting through grease and grime. I found it hard at first to find large boxes of bicarb but you can buy bigger boxes from Wikaniko (online or through a distributor) and it is cheap. The stuff you buy for baking works exactly the same though! Image

Sink: Again I often use more of a paste on the sink by mixing the vinegar and bicarb. This also works well on taps with limescale. For the plug hole you can get rid of nasty smells using half hot water and half bicarb. It should be quite thick to help unblock the pipes.

Floor: White vinegar, hot water and lemon juice. Lemon is another great natural cleaner as it is a disinfectant, is acidic so kills germs, has a mild bleaching effect and smells lovely! Neat lemon juice is great for stains (even on fabric with a little salt!) and grease. There are plenty of uses for lemons in your cleaning regime, and I would use them more but to keep costs down I keep things simple.

Essential oils: If you want to make your house smell nice then adding essential oils to your cleaner is a brilliant idea. Lavender or orange are both lovely, whilst tea tree oil is a natural disinfectant and may be preferable if you like that familiar clinical clean smell that comes with chemical filled cleaning products!

Oven: For inside your oven, where it gets really mucky, bicarb is a must. I hate to think of using oven cleaning products from a bottle,  which will leave a chemical residue which will then be heated along with your dinner, not nice. Again a nice thick paste with white vinegar and a scourer does the job. I told you that you really don’t need much variety in your cleaning cupboard!

ImageWashing machine: I have recently started using soap nuts and I am very impressed. They release a natural soapy residue and are also a natural softener, so you don’t need to use a separate fabric softener (although I never did anyway.) No, they don’t get every single tough stain out, but you can find instructions on google for making your own detergent with them and using that on stains before washing as normal. I haven’t tried yet but will do soon. They are about £9 for 1kg, and you only need 4-6 soap nut halves in each wash. I think it works out as something like 350 washes, so excellent value. They do not give your clothes that freshly washed smell, but again we have only become accustomed to that because of all the rubbish in normal detergents. You can use essential oils in your wash if you miss the smell, but I have got used to it quickly.

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Soap: I like a liquid soap in the kitchen, and because of the fact that you are preparing food it should be naturally antibacterial. So once again tea tree comes up trumps. This soap is by Faith and they have a great range of products, at reasonable prices. I always recommend looking online, because as much as I hate to admit it amazon do usually have the best prices. You can get these products in good health shops but you may pay a little bit more.

Coming up next will be part 2 – Chemical Free Bathroom! All of you everyday bath and shower products, but greener!