Green Eats & Health



    To say my hormones have been erratic since the birth of my son is on point. Erratic  and dangerously unpredictable about sums up my monthly cycle, or rather the manifestations of my premenstrual tension, a time when my hormones go completely wild.

    I had my first period six months after giving birth, when I was still exclusively breastfeeding. I considered perhaps this was affecting the way my PMT had intensified. It was around the time I was weaning the Bean, which meant that there were longer gaps during the day he didn’t feed on the breast. I didn’t bother visiting my GP, I rarely do. Instead I did lots and lots of research. Most of it referenced the modern diet and hormones that enter our body’s from animal produce. This was one of the stimuli  behind giving up dairy. A project that has been going well since its inception, on the 1st of August.

    What were my symptoms?

    1. Nausea: Initially I felt the nausea was so intense, I thought it was morning sickness. So much so, I was prompted to take a pg test. The nausea has so far recurred each month.

    2. Back ache: I wouldn’t experience back ache pre-menstruating prior to giving birth. However, it now seems to be a feature during PMT period, and can begin a week before my period starts.

    3. Intense fatigue: While this isn’t distinctly different to pre-birth premenstrual symptoms, it is a lot more profound and while I could attribute it in part to having a busy 1-year old, I feel drained of energy and nothing seemed to work in boosting my levels back up, where before birth, there were a number of ways I could increase my energy levels if need be.

    4. Emotional: Feeling overwhelmed with emotions, to the point that I could not rationalise with anything. Undeniably the most difficult symptom of this PMT. I became argumentative, unreasonable, weepy, hysteria and basically felt mentally foggy. I’d also experience moments of dread and anxiety, waking up at night feeling hopeless and fearing everything. This did not occur before giving birth.

    What actions did I take?

    1. Recognition: Recognising to severity of the problem has been crucial in trying to manage it. it wasn’t immediately obvious that the symptoms were drastically  different to my pre-natal PMT. It was only with hindsight and reflecting on my behavioural  changes (about 3rd period post-natal) did I realise the symptoms had worsened.

    2. Research: I decided to conduct my own research without input or advice from a third party, at least at first.

    DAIRY: The first convincing argument hat I read, suggested giving up dairy at least one week before your period. Citing a combination of reasons, from hormone imbalance to reducing your animal protein to improve water retention, I acted promptly, by abstaining completely, and still do.

    OTHER FOODS/DRINKS TO AVOID: foods that contain high levels of: sugar, caffeine , alcohol and salt are all said to impact on your hormones and disrupt the natural balance

    HERBS: I researched a LOT about herbs and about the benefits of certain herbs that have the power to ‘clear foggy minds’ and ‘restore mental clarity’ and ‘return you to your former self.’  So, my PMTEA as I have aptly named it contains the following herbs for reasons explained below:

    PMTEA recipe (sourced from Neal’s Yard)

    • BURDOCK ROOT – is known as a blood purifying agent and diuretic. The latter is especially good f you are prone to water retention before your period. Another reason to avoid salty foods as well. The most compelling action the burdock root has that convinced me it needed to make into my PMTEA is its power to help the liver metabolise hormones such as oestrogen, this will ease hormone imbalance.
    • CHAMOMILE – “Soothe, calm, relax, unwind…” they say. Which is why this herb made it into my PMTEA. So many the manifestation of my PMT: feeling out of sorts, angry, ugly, fat(!!), greasy, uncomfortable, all stem from this basic unnecessary evil: anxiety.
    • LEMON BALM – has been used for centuries. It  is known for its calming properties, and power to reduce anxiety and ease the symptoms of insomnia. As anxiety is a symptom associated with PMT, this is why it made it to me PMTEA pot.
    • SKULLCAP – before entering Neal’s Yard, this was not on my PMTEA list to ingredients to procure. However, the sales assistant convinced me its one of the best herbs for foggy minds.
    • GINKGO BILOBA – I took this while studying for my A-levels in the hope it would promote a photographic memory! It did not. Its funny to be reintroduced to it some ten years later. While Neal’s Yard say: “Traditional remedy thought to aid memory and concentration,” I included it in my tea as it is thought to reduce breast tenderness (which I get really badly) as well as reduce water retention.
    • PASSIFLORA – is a traditional sedative, so don’t add too much. This was another latent addition to the PMTEA mix, encouraged by the sales assistant. It helps ease anxiety and tension, and won’t knock you out.

    AND, is it working?

    After several POTs of PMTEA, I certainly feel far more balanced. Seeing and feeling these positive effects, I am now going to implementing more of t

    3. Determination: I decided that in order to restore order to my life and be more balanced I needed to be determined in my pursuit of quashing what had become the dreaded PMT. It is easier said than down. Avoiding coffee for example, is not easy, nor is sugar avoidance either.

    4. Yoga and running: When I say yoga I know it can be difficult to commit to a class when you’re a busy: mum/employee/business owner/student etc, so try and do about 10 sun salutations at home instead. Yoga and running will boost you circulation, which will oxygenate your blood and improve your circulation. It’ll also help to reduce your anxiety. These activities aren’t limited one per month; rather, you’ll feel a whole lot better if yoga, running or any kind of exercise is introduce to your weekly routine to really feel the positive effects.

    The next mission is to track down and try out dong quai. I have read very promising things about this herb and its potency on balancing out hormones. I am also going to take an iron supplement.

    Thank you to the following websites for aiding my research and promoting me to look into herbal remedies and create my PMTEA:

    Women to women 

    Alt Nature 

    Green Eats & Health

    Homemade Oat milk


    This morning I ran out of my favourite brand of oat milk. Apart from the cap, it is stored in a plastic free carton. It’s delicious and obviously convenient. Yet, for some time I have been stumbling on the recipe or rather, the method to make your own oat milk, with the overriding message being: “it’s very, very easy!”

    At the same time, I have been trying to come up with ways of saving money. It was one of those fortuitous pushes that we need sometimes, to get us into action.

    A quick google and I found a site with the suggested ratio of oats to water, as well as the method. Minus a cheesecloth, I plodded on using a sieve instead*. The speed at which I created the milk has convinced me I need never buy oat milk again. I merely need to stock up on the oats!

    The economics:

    A quick price review tells me I can purchase one kilo of organic oats for £1.40, the same price as one carton of my favourite branded (Nordic 😉)  oat milk.

    At a rough gestimation, I could make 15 litres of milk (one cup of oats creates one litre of oat milk). This is an astounding realisation and an incredible financial gain-bop bop. I currently consume 1 carton every 3-4 days (I know, I’m a complete oat milk fiend).

    The breakdown is as follows:

    1 carton every 4 days = 7 cartons per month

    7 (litres)  x 1.40 = £9.80

    This means I spend roughly £10 per month on oat milk alone (that’s a giant £120 per year).

    From my crude calculations, I could save £19.60 (×6 per annum) by investing in a kilo of oats and making my own! In other words, one pack of oats should theoretically last me 60 days (7 litres per month).

    If this has inspired you to make your own oat milk, you will need:

    • 1 cup of oats
    • 3 cups of water
    • tsp of vanilla or date suryp (optional if you want sweetness- I didn’t on this occasion)
    • a good blender
    • sieve or cheesecloth
    • jug
    • bottle for storage

    Method: Blend the oats, water and vanilla/syrup if adding, until smooth. This took about 5-minutes in total. Then sift the mixture or use your cheesecloth (which I can imagine works best) into the jug. Once all the liquid part of the mixture has been sifted, you can re-purpose the pulp for oat cakes or biscuits, while storing the milk in a glass bottle in the fridge for 3-days or until the smell indicates its no longer edible!

    The spontaneity of this mornings staple creation has inspired me to reappraise all my staple buys and consider whether it is not just more economical, but more natural, efficient, earth-friendly and satisfying to create my own at home:


    Bread: flat bread, loaves, sticks

    Biscuits: sweet and savoury

    and the Daddy: peanut and in fact, ALL nut butters.

    Watch this space. This seed has germinated and is preparing to grow branches. This would also ensure I choose the packaging and storage options with a conscious mind and heart.


    *cheesecloth recommended if you don’t enjoy a bitty texture in your milk and hot drinks.


    Green Cleaning

    Going green with your cleaning utensils


    Adjusting our lifestyles to be more sustainable requires a reassessment of every part of our daily regime, including what we use to clean. It might not be instantly obvious when we address the parts of our lives we want to make greener, but what we clean with, and more importantly how and what its made from, also impacts on our planet, which means our utensils need as much thought as the chemical free cleaning solutions we seek out.

    More often you find that the common household wash sponge, the standard yellow sponge with green scourer,  is made from plastic based foam and the blue and white gingham dish/surface cloth from viscose and EVA resin. Knowing what we do about plastic, we should empower ourselves to make better choices as consumers, and cleaning utensils are no exception: let us all refrain from plastic and go in search of kinder, earth-friendly alternatives that will biodegrade.

    These days, the larger supermarkets stock their own brand of ‘earth-friendly’ cleaning products (Waitrose Eco for example) and larger brands such as Ecover, all claim to offer an alternative to nasty  chemical based household detergents. While I want to focus on cleaning utensils, I would urge  shoppers to read and research the ingredients and the claims, as they can be wildly inaccurate. And often, good old-fashion vinegar and water is as effective.

    Since the larger supermarkets and many of the smaller independents stock these ‘ecobrands’,  I find it paradoxical that the same is not the case for earth friendly cleaning utensils to complement your ‘earth-friendly’ cleaners. Scourers, bottle cleaners, brushes, cloths, and so on, are still largely derivatives of plastic.

    As a result, I found myself rummaging a number of local shops, in search of biodegradable cleaning utensils.  To this end, I have had to think outside the box to find earth-friendly options, such as buying a nail brush for the bathroom sink and bath, and demoting my dish brush to the toilet once it was unfit for its original purpose.


    For example, a wooden potatoe cleaner is not limited to veg; we can use it to scrub the sink (although not concurrently) or in the bathroom. A wooden handled, hessian bottle cleaner does not simply need to be purchased for bottles and glasses (even though they’re amazing at this task), you can purchase for a myriad of other purposes and rooms besides the kitchen. And when it is too worn to for its original purpose, they can be demoted and used for another purpose.


    I have not purchased a ‘dishcloth’ for ages. The one I am using is crocheted and was produced by a cooperative in India. I call it a dishcloth as this is how they’re known, but in fact ours is used as a surface cleaner. In theory it can be used forever as it washes at 40 degrees (although we wash at 30) and after a number of washes already both are still going strong. Before washing I steep in vinegar to be sure I attack and kill bacteria. Some people like to boil theirs- this would ensure death the any deadly bacteria that could be lurking.

    As I have already mentioned, when we aren’t presented with all the solutions for leading a sustainable life, we must use our imaginations and think outside the box to facilities our vision, until the day sustainable is (once again) the norm.

    Here is the lowdown on my current cleaning utensils:


    This is a wooden with bristles nail brush that I use for the bath and sink. Its really easy to handle and will biodegrade once the brush has stopped working properly.


    This is a bottle and glass brush. I reuse so many bottle and jars that this really was an invaluable addition to my utensils. It is a vital part of my cleaning regime. The bristles as super-duper tough, I’ve had it for half a year and it shows no signs of waning yet.


    This was my dish brush but it became a bit worn and in truth, we weren’t getting on all that well. So I demoted it to the bathroom, where it has taken on the role of toilet brush.


    I love this crocheted cloth so much. It was made by ladies in India who work in a cooperative. I have two. One lives in the kitchen and is used for surface cleaning. The other lives in the bathroom for the tiles, mirrors, walls and so on. I wash them at 30 degrees and they literally feel as strong as when I first bought them. Apart from the colour fading slightly, I have faith these cloths will last a long time. But, when they do finally give in, they will be added to the compost heap as they’re 100% and therefore will easily break down and become part of the earth again.


    This is my loofah or luffah scourer. It’s a Michael’s original and produced in Philippines. I use this for all the dishes, pots pans etc and it too has lasted a long time. It’s completely natural so the entire thing will biodegrade once its fulfilled its purpose as a scourer.

    A bit more about Michel’s originals: I purchased this from Earthbound, a shop local to me. Michael’s Original is a washing-up loofah grown in the Philippines (they look a bit like dried up cucumbers) and are 100% biodegradable. Interestingly, loofas absorbed c02 when they’re growing! Double wammy!


    Eco force produce kitchen scourers from 97% post-consumer/industrial materials. They work really well and I use them for cleaning the worktops, scrubbing the sinks as well as the dishes.

    Continue Reading

    Green Eats & Health

    Organic Raw chocolate

    • On account of it being Organic September, I decided to try a bar of raw chocolate. I chose a bar of Enjoy‘s and opted for their ‘mild dark’ bar. First impressions are that it tastes very similar to regular rich, dark  chocolate, but in this instance, (at least it’s claimed) its a ‘superfood’ and therefore, supposedly a lot better for us than regular chocolate. If like me, you select dark chocolate anyway, which is high in antioxidants, raw chocolate in theory, takes it to the next level, which sounds (and tastes) pretty darn amazing so far!

    Unlike ‘cooked’ chocolate, the Peruvian criollo cacao used in Enjoy’s raw chocolate does now forgo its nutrients during the cooking process, and thus retains them, which is the basis of the claim that raw chocolate is akin to a superfood. This bar also boast ‘no refined sugar’, instead the cacao has been sweetened with coconut blossom, which according to Enjoy has a GI of 35, which is said to be better for us than other sugars. When chocolate attempts to be sold as a healthy option, it makes most consumers dubious of the claim, and they, like me, will probably conduct their own investigation to uncover why raw chocolate is so hip and happening right now!

    The taste factor

    Raw chocolate might claim superfood status, but for most consumers, it will still need to taste good enough to eat, that we  turn to it for pleasure first, and as a superfood second; because, lets face it, its still chocolate! My previous experiences of superfoods/fads (macca powder comes to mind) prepared me for the possibility that raw chocolate might be a bit overwhelming on the old taste buds; however, I was pleasantly surprised.

    I found that when eating this particular bar, was that it was so rich I needed only a few squares, due to its intensity (I did wonder at this point how intense their dark bars might be).  On that basis, I guess it hits the spot and is certainly a different kind of satisfying, to chocolate with little cocoa or cacao solids and loaded with refined sugar. The cacao in raw chocolate also gives you a jolt of energy  (similar to the after effects of a good coffee) which you might appreciate if you have lots of stuff to get on with, or as like me after a wakeful night while the babe teethes.

    So, what is raw chocolate is and how is it made?

    Enjoy’s ‘Mild dark raw chocolate bar contains just three ingredients:

    1. Raw cacao butter
    2. Coconut blossom sugar
    3. Raw cacao powder

    And is Vegan and soil association approved organic. According to Enjoy:

    “The chocolate is “raw” because the cacao is never processed above 42 degrees Celsius allowing the nutrients to remain intact.”

    Which means that the nutrient rich beans retain : iron, zinc, magnesium, copper and vitamin C, that ‘cooked’ chocolate doesn’t.  Cacao has already been identified as a superfood and is commonly found in energy boosting morning smoothies and chocolate cakes found in health food shops. Combined with the coconut blossom in place of refined sugars, Enjoy have made a  compelling case that their bars are a healthier alternative to regular chocolate, and possibly a number of other snacks that contain refined sugars too.

    What is coconut blossom sugar? 

    According to livestrong, coconut sugar is made from the sap of the coconut palm, not the fruit itself. Coconut blossom sugar contains the same number of calories and carbohydrates, but it is thought to have a slightly less dramatic impact on our body’s sugar levels than white sugar. It also contains some trace nutrients, but its not considered a superfood.  Coconut sugar contains small amounts of vitamin C, potassium, phosphorous, magnesium, calcium, zinc, iron and copper. And small amounts phytonutrients, such as polyphenols, flavonoids and anthocyanidin, and antioxidants, as well as mood-boosting vitamin B. The glycaemic index of coconut sugar is notably low, at 35, while regular sugar ranks between 65-70. This index measures the effect of carbohydrates on your sugar levels. The higher the GI, the higher the sugar rush, so its to aim for foods low in GI if you want to avid the adverse effects of sugar and carbohydrates. Therefore, while it is lower than regular sugar, coconut blossom sugar is still a processed sugar that does not contain any noteworthy health benefits other than carrying a lower GI than white sugar.


    Have you tried raw chocolate, and if so do you have a favourite? Let me know!

    Green Beauty

    Godiva, solid shampoo

    I’ve been using Godiva shampoo from Lush, it was an impulse buy. Nowadays, I prefer shopping in local shops, or shops that are actively anti-plastic, or at least try their best to cut down.

    There was a time however, when I loved all Lush’s products and would stock up ritually. These days, I am using an increasing number of homemade cleansing and beauty products, or sourcing really natural brands, most recently Zao. I’ll write a review on the products I’m trying out shortly, but to give you the heads – they’re just beautiful.

    So, this Godiva solid shampoo bar was purchased before our trip to France in early July. Meaning I’ve been using it for over a month. The smell is something else and filled the bathroom. Its that strong, I kept mistaking it for potpourri. Not a bad thing; its overwhelmingly floral, which I like, but that I ma aware that this won’t be to everyone’s taste.

    The shampoo bar contains lots of lovely ingredients: jasmine, cocoa butter, hibiscus and macadamia nut. Therefore, its really conditioning too. In many ways I like Godiva. My hair  (at the front?!) always feels clean, looks shiny and thicker, after use. Yet, for some reason, it seems to leave a residue on the back part of my hair, despite, since noticing this, giving it an extra good rinse. So this is obviously a drawback. Of course I might be doing something wrong…Especially as since becoming a mum, brushing my hair is no longer high on the agenda, so much so that a birds nest does frequently form from lack of brushing.

    Even though the sales adviser in Lush said this shampoo would be perfect for my hair type, I think my hair is too woolly in texture, and its always been unruly, that Godiva’s just simply unable to tame it!

    The other thing I noticed is, while it might proclaim to be good at de-frizzing ones hair, in the process, it make ones hair that much oilier. If like me, you’ve got naturally oily hair and prefer to wash it less frequently than more, using Godiva you’ll probably find because of the oil build up, your hair become greasier quicker.

    Overall, I think its a lovely shampoo, with a gorgeous jasmine smell and the perfect answer if you want shiny, soft hair (who doesn’t?) Lush are open about their synthetic ingredients, listing all of these on their website if you were searching for detailed . If you are OK with using these, this two-in-one shampoo could be , conditions your hair as well, so give it a try.

    I’ve got three shampoos from Funky Soap, that I’ve been trialling, all serve different purposes. Coming soon!



    Green Earth Green Eats & Health

    Cafe Ronak, Bristol


    Ever since my sister’s almond-milk latte came with an aluminium straw, Cafe Ronak has been high in my estimations. It might sound like a strange reason to like a cafe, but it shows their environmental overtones and hippy outlook, is more than just tokenism. They mean business, demonstrated by their use of reusable, rather than plastic disposable straws. And, this is really refreshing to observe.

    Vegan iced coffee

    Vegan iced coffee

    It is often the case that  a cafe or shop takes on an appearance to appeal to certain clientele, but really it is full of oxymoron’s. I am not claiming Cafe Ronak have it sorted, and is a model cafe for the green hearts to flock to, but it is certainly taking important and noteworthy steps towards a more sustainable business model.

    It does not just boast about the odd ecological act, but actually acts upon it. They offer customers water in a pitchers, that’s flavoured with fresh mint and lemon, with glasses by its side. The cutlery is stored in used aluminium cans. And there’s reminders in the toilet about the number of trees cut down to become paper towels. They suggest customers shake their wet hands twelve times and use just one paper towel. They offer wooden cutlery if you’re taking away. And recycled napkins. These might seem like insignificant things, but it’s all important. And most significant of all, I spied no plastic. Not a bit. Considering corporate models with a lot more revenue and capacity to be more sustainable use tons of plastic packaging  than one comparatively minuscule cafe on the Gloucester Road, this is an incredibly impressive feat and proof that its possible to run a successful business without embracing this planet-destroying material. Are you listening: Pret, Starbucks, Costa, Nero???!

    What’s amazing is, establishments like Cafe Ronak have the ability to subliminally inspire their customer base, who might repeat these small acts of reusing, recycling, and being generally more aware about the environment, in their home and or workplace.

    Secondly, and perhaps more pressingly, it could be that Cafe Ronak is experiencing  a rude awakening. One that forces us to consider the future of our planet, and our need to be more conscious, sustainable, ethical and humanitarian in our daily lives.

    One little cafe in Bristol will not change the world, but it is certainly important that it too, plays its part in what will hopefully transpire to be a global sustainable movement.  I’d say ‘so far, so good.’

    And obviously, they serve great food and drinks. They do amazing vegan caramel slices. I generally order their spiced coffee with a caramel slice whenever I feel the need for a little treat.

    Spiced coffee and vegan caramel slice

    Spiced coffee and vegan caramel slice