Archive for October, 2011

Benefits of coconut oil

Coconut oil is a truly wonderful addition to a healthy lifestyle, both in your food and in your beauty routine. Look for organic, extra-virgin cold-pressed coconut oil- it may be expensive, but it will last, and it’s so beneficial!

So, what is so special about it?

Coconut oil is far more resistant to rancidity than other oils you use in cooking, retaining its nutritional content for a long time.  It is anti-fungal, anti-viral and anti-bacterial, helps to increase metabolism, strengthens the immune system, aids digestion, controls blood sugar levels, aids absorption of minerals and tastes great.

How should you use it?

Try cooking with it as its nutritional properties are resistant to heat. It gives a lovely, delicately sweet hint to food.

Eat a spoonful or two a day, either straight, or stirred into green tea. The model Miranda Kerr swears by this.

Use it on your skin to heal infections, moisturise, combat the signs of aging, remove makeup and feed the skin with antioxidants. It has also been claimed to help with allergies, eczema and getting rid of warts and moles.

Use it on your hair for extra hydration, shine and softness.

Do you know of any other great ways to use coconut oil? Leave a comment and spread the word!

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Favourite places

Have you been to a place so beautiful and magical you will remember it forever?

Here are some of the places I have been to which have really left an impression on me, and I’d like to share them with you.

The Isles of Scilly

These are small islands about 30 miles off the coast of Cornwall, England. There are hardly any cars on the island, and you can easily walk around the biggest of the islands in a day. Beautiful beaches, woods, hedgerows, harbours, rock formations, ancient Celtic sites and a wonderfully safe, friendly atmosphere make this place unforgettable. Camp there and go for a walk around under a clear sky filled with stars- I’m not sure anywhere can beat this place.

St. Nectan’s Glen

Another magical place in Cornwall, this is an old sacred site and you can definitely feel there is something different about it. Near to the ruins of Tintagel castle, part of the legend of St. Arthur, you pass through what looks like a part of Lothlorien, with a gentle river trickling through tall trees and rays of light. St. Nectan’s Glen itself is a little clearing where a waterfall falls through a circular rock into a pool below. If you’ve ever wanted to feel as though you are in an enchanted fairytale, this is the place for you.

Tolox, Spain

I stumbled on this little village accidentally whilst on holiday in Spain. There are flowers everywhere, overflowing from hedgerows and windowboxes, perfuming the air. It’s stayed in my mind years later and I can’t wait to visit it again someday.

Venice, Italy

 

 

 

 

There are a lot of places in Italy I love (Assisi and Rome were so special) but there’s something about Venice that just stands out. I felt like I wasn’t on planet Earth. I think everyone should visit this beautiful place at least once in their lives.

What are your favourite places? Let me know!

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Powerful medicinal foods

Garlic

Yes, it’s a little smelly. But garlic is an absolute powerhouse of health benefits!

It fights viral and bacterial infections, heart disease, cancer, fungus, strokes, warts and moles. It also lowers high blood pressure and high cholestrol.

Apple Cider Vinegar

Touted as an effective remedy for a whole variety of symptoms, including acne, ezcema, heart palpitations, anxiety, infections and high blood pressure, this is really worth having in your life. Take it diluted in water, use it on your skin and hair, and see the results!

Blackstrap Molasses

This has been claimed to tackle tumours, anxiety, digestive problems, acne and joint problems, for a start. Add the fact that it’s a natural sweetener that’s actually good for you, increases your energy and is full of minerals, and you’ll know this needs to be in your cupboard!

Have you had success with any natural remedies? What were they?

If you are interested in reading about natural remedies, check out the website www.earthclinic.com.

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Chocolate- the healthy way

I love chocolate. Is there a way to eat this delicious food without ruining a healthy diet? As luck would have it, yes! Chocolate is actually a very powerful health food, as long as you get as close to the natural ingredient as possible and don’t eat it laden down with milk and sugar!

Why not try the following ways to enjoy chocolate?

– Eat dark chocolate with as much cocoa content as possible. I love to eat Green and Black’s organic dark chocolate with 80% cocoa, but as long as you exceed about 65% you can reap all the wonderful benefits, including antioxidants, ‘happy hormones’ such as endorphin and serotonin, the lowering of high blood pressure and high cholestrol, and even protection from the signs of aging!

– Try raw chocolate, such as those sold by www.rawrchoc.com. Raw chocolate retains even more nutrition as it hasn’t been damaged by cooking, so you absorb even more minerals, antioxidants, enzymes and vitamins.

– Use flaxseed with cocoa to give your cereal or yogurt a boost. Flaxseed itself is such a great food that I’ve written a seperate post all about it, but when you buy it with cocoa, it’s absolutely delicious. Try it with a bit of honey on a bowl of puffed rice for cereal that tastes like Coco Pops but feeds you with loads of nutrition to get through the day. This is the one I use, which is cold-pressed and tastes just great: http://www.linwoodshealthfoods.com/productdetails/13/ground-flaxseed-cocoa-strawberries-blueberries.aspx

– Purchase some really good quality organic dark chocolate powder, such as this one from Green and Black’s: http://www.greenandblacks.com/ca/what-we-make/home-use/cocoa-powder.html Use it with a good natural sweetener such as unrefined sugar, honey or molasses to make a comforting cup of hot chocolate.

Any ideas you’d like to share? Let me know!

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A better night’s sleep

Are you having trouble going to sleep, or getting good quality sleep? In my experience, these things help to ensure you get the perfect night’s rest.

– Try to sleep before 11pm and don’t wake up later than 7am. This is more in tune with our natural cycle and will encourage a deeper, more beneficial sleep than if you go to bed later.

– Don’t sleep more than 7 or 8 hours, you really don’t need to and it might damage your sleeping pattern. If you are really tired when you wake up, it’s better to nap after lunch. 15 to 20 minutes is a great amount of time to nap for an energy boost, but you can allow yourself up to an hour. After lunch is when our bodies naturally slow down a little and you will get more from this than if you stay in bed longer in the morning.

– Use the scent of lavender to help you relax. Invest in some good quality lavender oil and place a few drops on your pillow before you go to bed. You can also put it on your pulse points.

– Drink some camomile tea. Camomile is famous for helping to get rid of anxiety and stress, and if taken regularly can really make a difference in your life. Warm milk with a bit of honey or brandy is another great bedtime drink, and if you fancy a small snack, turkey contains a chemical that aids relaxation.

– Prepare for sleep. Don’t stay up as long as you can and reluctantly jump into bed only when you are exhausted. It’s better to let your mind adjust to the fact you’re going to bed. Enjoy the procedure- get ready an hour earlier, create a relaxing atmosphere, read a good book and feel yourself adjust from the pressures of the day.

– Use the healing power of touch. If a partner gives you a massage or strokes your head when you’re tired, it releases happy, relaxing chemicals in your brain and helps you to sleep. You can do it on your own, too- gently massage your temples, the sides of the top of your nose, your eyebrows, the back of your neck or the fleshy part of your thumb on the palm of your hand to help you wind down. You can also try placing your right hand on the top of your spine and your left hand on the bottom of your spine to encourage a feeling of relaxation and contentment.

– Try meditation. You might want to put on some calming music, visualise a tranquil scene or simply observe your own breath, but whichever method of meditation suits you will help slow your mind down and get you ready for some much-needed rest and rejuvination. My favourite night-time meditation involves me imagining I am lying on a perfect, comfortable cloud, travelling through the night sky with clear stars all around me.

What helps you get the perfect night’s sleep?

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Simple, quick and cheap food I love

If you want some inspiration for simple, healthy, quick and cheap food, here are some of my personal favourites.

– Turkey, brie and grape salad or sandwich. I like to choose good quality free-range, and preferably organic, turkey breast slices, a small block of brie and a handful of grapes (black grapes are my favourite because of the sweet flavour and extra antioxidants). Place the turkey on a sandwich, then slices of brie ontop, and finish with grape halves and baby spinach leaves, or use these foods in a salad if you want to cut down on wheat. It is so delicious and doesn’t cost much because you only use a small amount of each ingredient- a sample size of brie will do, a couple of slices of turkey and about 8 grapes, so you’ll be able to get a couple of meals out of it!

– Egg, chilli flakes and beetroot on corn crackers. Corn crackers are really versatile and should be in the cupboard of everyone who wants to cut down on wheat. One of my favourite ways to eat them is topped with scrambled egg with a pinch of chilli flakes and beetroot on the side.

– Mackerel with sweet potato and a good salad. Mackerel is an amazing food, it’s one of the cheapest fish you can buy, with one of the lowest levels of mercury. It is caught wild without all the health issues that arise from farmed fish, is high in nutrients including vitamin D and omega 3, and tastes simply delicious. Sweet potato is a great alternative to normal potato, with extra antioxidants and vitamin C, and the salad contains even more vitamins, fibre and raw goodness. Make a great salad by experimenting with colour and texture- mix green leaves with red tomatoes and yellow peppers or sweetcorn, for example.

– Chicken and mixed salad leaves on pitta bread. Take some wholewheat pitta bread (really cheap), some good quality chicken drumsticks (another cheap way to get meat) and some mixed salad leaves. I like to add a thin slice of cheddar as well. Mix the salad leaves up in a bowl adding a drop of honey, the magic ingredient that turns this into something special. Toast the pitta bread until it puffs up, break it open, place warm and freshly-cooked chicken meat inside, then the cheese, then the salad leaves, and a dash of mayonnaise if you like. Take a bite and come back and let me know what you think!

Do you have any recipes you’d like to share?

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