Happy Mother's Day! To celebrate the day this year, I was lucky enough to treat my Mum to a few beauty products* from Debenhams and their Mother's Day picks. When I was a little girl, my mum used to take me and my sister around her favourite Great British high street stores like Debenhams, but it had been a while since I'd been in and looked at their range, and I was pleased to find cruelty-free and natural options making their way onto the shelves.

When on our mother-daughter shopping spree, mum and I discussed our approaches to beauty products, skincare, and my mum's favourite makeup. We laughed looking back; growing up, I'd always been a bit nervous about beauty, and mum had liked keeping my skin clear of all makeup for as long as possible. In that way, I'd had to be sneaky, hiding a pair of tweezers so I could pluck my wolfy eyebrows (a BIG mistake) and blushing furiously the day I asked mum for a razor after realising the rest of my peers had shiny hairless legs in gym class.

Even now, we differ in our picks. I got excited at spotting Korres products, and picked up a Chamomile Soap Bar and a few bottles of their haircare, while Mum went straight for Urban Decay mascara, and Too Faced makeup (both cruelty-free brands, I assure you).

When we got to purchasing, I had to ask my mum what drove her makeup choices. She told me that she'd always been quite frugal with makeup, going for store-own products when possible, and had grown into a loyal customer of brands such as No. 7, Simple, and Dove. It's not surprising, when you start to understand the heritage of these brands and their multi-million pound advertising campaigns that talk to the "real woman".

It's always made me feel quite conflicted actually. Having learnt to look at the ingredients of all the products I buy, I know that Simple isn't all that simple... despite being perfume-free and colour-free, they are big culprits of green washing, stating they use the "purest of ingredients" while continuing to use lots of mineral-oil based ingredients, glycols and parabens (none of which are highlighted on their website, but you can find ingredients lists on Boots).

Simple and Dove are also owned by Unilever, who tests on animals in order to sell in the Chinese market and also on 'novel' ingredients (taken from their alternatives to animal testing page).

When I told my mum this, she was surprised. A loyal fan for many years, I doubt she'll change her routine to cleaner products straight away, but I've encouraged her to look for alternatives and try to avoid these 25 beauty ingredients I advocate against.

On top of that, I bought her a new bottle of Crabtree & Evelyn hand cream as an extra gift, and suggested she call me if she ever has a question (or just give the blog a read!) Last year I taught her how to cook quinoa, this year, to look for cruelty-free beauty. I feel like I'm slowly repaying her for all the lessons she's taught me over the years, and it feels good.

I'm sure by now you've heard of a juice cleanse, but what about a soup cleanse? Other than the age-old cabbage soup diet that sounds just ghastly, I hadn't until Press rolled out their new range.

About two years ago, I was really into my cleanses. Having started with a one-day cleanse, I pushed the boat out and bought a juicer, a bunch of organic produce, and drank my way through three days. In fact, you can read about my 3-day juice cleanse and even try it for yourself. The experience was a really positive one, despite being quite a foodie - I learnt the difference between mental cravings and physical hunger, made a bunch of tasty juices that I still drink to this day, and felt incredibly refreshed inside and out.

Well, I decided to give Press' new Nourish Cleanse* a try this time round. The setting was slightly different, taking up my Saturday a few weekends ago, and there was no real reason to be cleansing other than as a way to feel refreshed. For some reason, I treat cleanses like I do haircuts; they're perfect at the time of a big life change.

So, the cleanse itself... was good. The soups were tasty. The "leche" was delicious. But the juices were so gingery, oh my gosh it was a hold-your-nose-and-glug scenario. I think through the day, I looked forward to the soups and cashew milk the most, them having a smooth and creamy taste, but even when I do make juices I'm so careful with the amount of ginger that the Greenhouse 3 and Garden 2 juices blew my socks off.

Either way, I enjoyed the cleanse, and would recommend soups for anyone adverse to only consuming juices. I felt lighter, enjoyed lounging around the flat (a real rarity!) and am now looking for soup recipes with cashew nut bases. The only thing I would like to see is a cleanse that comes in glass bottles - less plastic waste.

If you'd like to give a cleanse a go, I'd also recommend following my key tips...

So, my first tip for cleansing, whether you're a beginner or a pro, is to prepare a few days in advance. I've written this up previously in my guide How to Prepare for a Juice Cleanse, but the essential takeaway is to eat a diet of raw, plant-based foods between 24 to 48 hours before starting your cleanse. This will get your body used to the nutrients you're going to receive and the lack of meat/dairy/eggs without taking away the fibre.

Then, onto the cleanse itself. Set yourself a guide for the day. Press provides an example day plan in the pamphlet that comes with the cleanse. My recommendation is, at the very least, to follow the order in which the cleanse has been designed. On the Nourish cleanse, the soups align with meal times, juices for blood sugar pick-me-ups, so you'll minimise your hunger and can hopefully run your day like normal!

Whether you've gone on a cleanse before or not, I always recommend having a back up snack to hand for those moments of weakness. There's nothing worse than feeling trapped with only a fridge of veggie juices... If you find yourself needing a little something extra, try a handful of unsalted cashew nuts. And remember, you can drink as much extra water and herbal tea as you want!

And if you'd like to give the Nourish Cleanse a go, or try one of Press' other cleanses, you can get one day free on a three-day cleanse with the code "CURIOUSLYCONSCIOUS". Happy cleansing!

Okay, I'll admit it; I suck taking photos at events. If you can ignore the low quality pictures, I hope you can enjoy the real gems that I uncovered at the I Am Zero Waste talk held last weekend!

It's probably appropriate to start with an introduction to the zero waste movement. While I'm not quite a fully-committed "zero waster", I do appreciate the movement and have slowly been adopting zero waste ways that fit with my lifestyle. Zero waste is a lifestyle choice where you throw away quite literally zero items.

Bea Johnson, on the left of the first photo, is an advocate and longtime zero waster. You might have seen her before with a mason jar in hand - that's how much waste her family made in one year. She visited London to talk about her lifestyle choice, and ways we can improve our reduced impact on the planet by following zero waste, and I was lucky enough to go along to see her.

By her side is Catherine Conway, the founder of Unpackaged, a concept store built around the idea of shoppers bringing their own refillable jars and bags to take away the foods she stocks. I love the idea, and apparently so do Londoners as she's since partnered with Planet Organic too.

So, onto Bea's presentation. If you've read her book, you'll be familiar with the most part of her advice, including her guiding principles: the five R's. These are, in order:
  1. Refuse
  2. Reduce
  3. Reuse
  4. Recycle
  5. Rot
To start, try refusing anything that will cause waste. Say no to exhibition freebies, ask companies to stop sending you junk mail, buy produce that doesn't come wrapped in plastic... It takes a combination of willpower, mindfulness, and this refusal to get started with zero waste.

Bea also mentioned the materials she looks for in products that are more planet-friendly, which I thought was actually quite useful. As metal and glass can be recycled over and over, they're a really great option, while paper and cardboard is also good for recycling, and wood or bamboo can be composted easily.

Another tip from Bea was to buy items in bulk. This reduces packaging, the cost, and you'll be surprised at how many items you can make out of just a few simple ingredients. For example, for pretty much any cleaning need, you only really need three items: bicarbonate of soda, white vinegar, and castile soap. This is all you need to make washing up liquid, window cleaner, bathroom cleaner... it's all dependent on ratios.

The final tip of the day was to look for items that have lifetime guarantees. Bea swears by her sons' Jansport backpacks, which she bought second-hand and then returned to the company for new replacements. While there is some conflict over whether the manufacturer will wholly recycle the old/used items, these kind of investments prevent excessive consumption and general waste over an entire lifetime.

Despite all the wonderful recipes out there for breakfast, I'm really quite a bore when it comes to my own. I get stuck in a rut, starting the week with a leisurely porridge, and ending on the first item that falls into my hand when I rummage in the cupboard. If you couldn't already tell, I'm not a morning person.

I've decided I'd like to be a little more prepared with my meals than I have been as of late, and breakfast is my first port of call. Over the last seven days I ate banana bread for breakfast, spreading on cashew butter when I had extra time and whisking two slices away in a small tub when I didn't. The fact that this is something I can prepare the night before and have it last all week is the best kind of breakfast for me, as someone who always gives herself 5 minutes too little time every morning...

This recipe is the first outcome of my involvement on the Live Lagom project with IKEA. The project has been running for seven years, and each year they choose a select number of people to look through their range to find items that will help them live better, be it in a more sustainable way, finding wellbeing, or bringing their family closer together.

As a spritely 24 year-old with a tiny rented apartment and flatmate, this has meant looking to reduce food waste, and improve the efficiency of our home (I could really do with cheaper bills!) In this recipe, I used a few essential IKEA items including their metal knives, chopping board made from sustainably sourced wood, and loaf tin.

So, here's my recipe for breakfast banana bread, a less sweet version of regular banana bread with flax seed for omegas and chia seed for protein and fibre.

Serves 5

4 overripe bananas
150g flour
100g ground coconut
20g flax seed meal
2 tbsp chia seeds
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
1 tsp ground cinnamon

  1. Line your loaf tin with baking parchment (beware of the plastic-lined ones) or smooth coconut oil on the sides and bottom
  2. Preheat your oven at 200°C, 180°C for fan ovens
  3. In a food processor bowl, add all your ingredients
  4. Process until smooth, and feel free to add as much or as little of each ingredient as you like - I'm not sure you can ever make a "bad" banana bread!
  5. Pour the mixture into the loaf tin and put into the oven as soon as it's hot enough
  6. Bake for 20-30 minutes (you can test to see if your loaf is ready by putting a fork in the bread and it coming out clean)
  7. Leave to cool on a wire rack, and slice each morning fresh!

In case the card shops and the blatant advertising hadn't warned you already, Mother's Day is almost upon us. I've actually always grown up remembering the day because more often than not, it lands on my birthday or my birthday weekend. I'll be honest, as a kid this was not okay. Why share my birthday celebrations with my mum? Not fair!

Now that I'm older, I'm actually almost thinking these two days should be in reverse. Thank you Mum for squeezing me out all those years ago, raising me and forever giving me an emotional safety net to fall into. You should be celebrated on the day of my birth, and I'll just settle for a simple shared one-day event to recognise my fortune being here!

So, if nothing else, please say thank you to your mum this Mother's Day. Appreciate her in the way she likes - and only you know that deep down. Here are a few other ideas that might make a nice addition too:

What's better than spending quality time with your mum? Perhaps spending quality time with your mum during a massage, facial, and steam! I love a good spa, but sadly my mum is a little averse to joining me in that. If your mum does like a spa though, I'd really recommend Spa Experience (multiple venues, good for being on a budget, full review) or for spa veterans, Banya No. 1 (London only, expensive but really worth the Russian experience, full review).

Forget the same old Elizabeth Arden tube, your mum deserves a little hint of nature. If you don't get chance to spend the day with your Mum this year, perhaps send her a little gift in the form of natural beauty. This past Christmas I finally got my mum a natural beauty hand cream that she now swears by over her Aveeno - the ultra-moisturising Pomegranate, Argan & Grapeseed Hand Cream from Crabtree & Evelyn. From there, perhaps a Balancing Rose Otto gift set from Balance Me, or Body Wash & Lotion from Green People?

Do you remember how good those butterfly cakes you and your mum made were? Despite the obvious conflict with my healthy eating, I'd love to have more of that quality time with my mum. Perhaps a good cook book (or try one of my favourite healthy cookbooks) and some ingredients to go with it will be enough to get us both back in the kitchen, and we'll have something to eat by the end of it too!