This simple drink is something I've recently taken up as a pre-yoga morning refreshment and thought I would share with you today - especially to those of you coming to the end of the 30 Days of Yoga practices! It's less of a recipe and more of a recommendation, as it's super for your digestive system.

Most mornings I need a big drink of water to really wake me up, and adding fresh lemon juice kick-starts my metabolism, gets my body ready for food and also rehydrates me quicky, as it's at an easily-absorbable temperature. I'd highly recommend it, especially for those groggy mornings when caffeine cravings are high!



LEMON DETOX WATER

1 lemon
1 glass of water

1. Squeeze lemon juice into glass
2. Fill up with tepid/boiling water, and drink!

Spirulina is one of the first superfoods I adopted into my kitchen cupboards as an essential. Starting off life as a blue-green algae, the dry, fine powder form that you'll probably find it in really is perfect for adding to smoothies, or mixing up with water for a crude protein boost. But what's the benefit of this ocean-smelling ingredient?

WHY IS SPIRULINA A SUPERFOOD?
Spirulina has one of the highest percentage per gram of protein than any other food on the planet - including meat. It is made up of 60-70% protein, and also boasts an array of other delicious nutrients too, with calcium, iron, magnesium, niacin, potassium, and B-vitamins being present. On top of this, it is an antioxidant, inhibiting oxidisation and therefore preventing potentially harmful chemical reactions in the body.

With all this said, spirulina is very much an acquired taste; you can grow to stomach it straight with water, but I'm really not prepared to go that far, and instead sprinkle a teaspoon into my morning smoothie, which blends into a deliciously fruity tasting drink.



SPIRULINA GREEN SMOOTHIE
1 overripe banana
2 handfuls of frozen berries
1 handful spinach leaves
250ml almond milk
1 tsp chia seeds
1 tsp spirulina powder
1 tsp wheatgrass powder (optional)

  1. In your blender, put in the banana in chunks, spinach, and frozen berries
  2. Next pour in a glassful (or 250ml) of almond milk
  3. Add on top your superfood additions - spirulina, wheatgrass, chia seeds etc.
  4. Blend up on the lowest setting for around 30 seconds, and enjoy!

Sources: Live Science  -  Merriam-Webster Dictionary
Happy Sunday guys! So... I have a total of thirteen minutes to complete this blog before it's Monday, mainly due to revising until these late hours, but also those nervous butterflies I always get before exams. However, this time round, they really aren't so bad - it used to feel like every exam, no matter if it's 30 minutes or 3 hours 45, was the date and time of the day of reckoning. And with that stress came muscle pain, headaches, and hair falling out - crazy!

Nowadays, it's a whole different story. With these little butterflies, is the knowledge that I've done enough study-wise, and that in being more present, and more aware of myself, these tests are not the holy seal of approval of the path that I'm following is the right one! This, combined with much healthier eating - no midnight binges, no chocolate cravings (well, raw chocolate has that covered - soon to be reviewed in its own blog!) and regular meal times has helped me keep a daily structure and healthy body acceptance.

I also have to thank Yoga with Adriene and her 30 Days of Yoga challenge - it's been around two years since I took up yoga, but it's been quite a rocky road, changing to full body workouts, gym sessions and then nothing at all. This is the first time I've really kept up a daily routine, and while each workout has its challenging poses, it's always nice to find comfort in the stretches and enjoy that little euphoric smile after completing each practice.

Well - it's now Monday, but the butterflies have melted away into my tea and I'm hoping you may be able to take away a few steps towards handling stress better in your life too! Wish me luck for tomorrow, and I hope we can keep up these journals every Sunday. Goodnight guys!
For Christmas, my lovely mum got me a teeny tiny one-man frying pan and egg poacher to boot. Ever since I've been adding poached eggs to everything! So now that my new foodie obsession is out in the open, here is the best poached egg recipe for you to try - it's pretty quick, simple and you can add any salady bits you've got lying around too!



VEGETARIAN POACHED EGG SALAD
Serves: 1

2 eggs
1 tsp vegetable oil
1 handful of spinach
1 small carrot
1 tomato
1/4 cucumber
+
Feta cheese
Mixed seeds
Lemon juice
Flat bread

  1. Pour boiling water into a pan, and put onto a medium heat
  2. Oil two egg poaching parts and place in the pan
  3. Crack two eggs, into each part respectively and cover the pan with a lid, turning it onto a low heat and leaving to simmer
  4. While the eggs cook, grate the carrot, slice the tomato and cucumber, and mix with baby spinach leaves
  5. Once the eggs are cooked, take them from the poacher, pop them onto the salad and score open the yolks
  6. Sprinkle on a mix of seeds, feta cheese, and lemon juice to bring out the salad's flavour
  7. Enjoy with freshly toasted flatbread or by itself!
So, this post has been in the pipeline for a little while as I've had to go for a little dig around to make sure all my advice is up to date! While I don't have a full set of restaurant-quality knives, I do know which knives do what, the best practice in keeping them sharp and essentially, how to make vegetarian cooking more enjoyable through the info I'm sharing below! Plus all of the guide is applicable to vegan cooking too, if that's your diet of choice. Let me know in the comments if you learn anything here or have any advice for knife etiquette too!

WHAT DO I NEED MY KNIVES FOR?
Putting it simply, your knives will be needed for three types of produce:

1. Bread
2. Cheese
3. Fresh produce

Eliminating the complex world of meat and fish knives, this then leaves us with five knives to master vegetarian cooking in the kitchen - two of which are essential, and the other three make certain skills easier:

1. Chef’s knife
2. Bread knife
3. Cleaver
4. Utility knife
5. Paring knife

For beginners to the kitchen, or those looking to invest wisely, start by purchasing a good-quality chef’s knife, which can be used for almost all functions, and a bread knife so as not to butcher fresh bread. The other three will be covered later, but are in no way essential so don't feel the need to invest in expensive sets!


THE PERFECT VEGETARIANS CHEF'S KNIFE
To verify the quality of your choice in chef’s knife, there are a few points to cover: 

- Are you happy with the weight and fit of the knife in your hand? Is it comfortable to hold?
- How well is the knife put together? What materials is it made of?
- In specific, what type of steel is it made from, and does it suit your cooking style? 

For info on the last question, hard steel knives stay sharper for longer but are harder to sharpen, and softer steel is the opposite. Furthermore, for a vegetarian chef’s knives, all-metal knives are often cited as suitable, with wooden-handled knives better suited for meat, and plastic classed as “cheap” despite some reputable brands such as Victorinox using it, but this is again, entirely up to you.

For a number of these knives, the blades can feature “granton” oval-shaped depressions that keep food from sticking, or even a serrated edge that will stay sharp for a long time, but is harder to sharpen once blunt. If you’re unsure, stick to a plain blade that you can sharpen at home (bread knives should be serrated, however).

It's also relevant to point out that a Japanese santoku knife can be used in place of a chef's knife, if that's what you prefer!


USING YOUR KNIFE
To perfect the chopping motion, imagine your hand following the movement of a locomotive wheel, remaining on the edge of an imaginary circle - it should feel like your blade never fully leaves the chopping board.

With your chef's knife, you’re going to be able to attempt a number of techniques:

  • Peeling - removing the outer skin of fruit and vegetables
  • Slicing - self-explanatory!
  • Julienne - cutting food into short, thin strips
  • Chiffonade - shredding leafy produce into ribbons
  • Dicing - chopping 1/4 inch cubes
  • Brunois - chopping 1/8 inch cubes
  • Mincing - chopping into teeny tiny cubes!

It's a good moment to now mention the other three knives that I lised above, as they can step up to the plate (quite literally) and help you in some of these, if you feel the need to move away from your chef's knife.

1. Cleaver: in a vegetarian’s kitchen, the cleaver can be used for cutting through tough produce such as squash and other hard vegetables. It can also be used on its side to crush peppercorns, cloves, garlic and other spices.

2. Utility knife: this is the halfway point between a chef’s knife and a paring knife, and while useful for slicing small fruits and vegetables, it isn’t totally necessary. Often it’s a good back-up for when your chef’s knife has already been used for something else.

3. Paring knife: as the smallest knife in the pack, the paring knife has plain blade and can be used for intricate and delicate knife work such as peeling.


KNIFE ETIQUETTE
Alongside your knives, it is also highly recommended that you have a wooden or bamboo chopping board rather than using plates, or chopping boards of other materials - it will resist your blades’ edges and prevent knives from going blunt quickly.

On top of this, the question of avoiding blunt knives is also key - a sharp knife is a lot less dangerous than a blunt one! So sharpening does seem necessary, although there is a difference between honing (using a honing rod to reshape the current knife’s blade) and sharpening (using flat stones to remove some metal from either side of the blade - these are best used once honing no longer restores full sharpness). These can be used together, but for the most part, a honing rod should suffice so long as you invest in a good quality set.


I hope you’ve found all the advice and information compiled here useful in your quest for the perfect blade, and let me know what you choose or already use in the comments below! Happy cooking.

Sources: Grub Street  -   The Kitchn  -  Serious Eats  -  Wired


It's been a month or two since I actually had my chops around the burger above, but the secret I've been keeping from you is a great one. The Vegan Grindhouse is a wonderful americana street food van that is constantly touring the Birmingham region with its vegan eats, and now, vegan workshops too!

I first stumbled across the Grindhouse through Twitter, and after following them for a little while, had the fortune of winning their 1000 followers competition! So I popped over to see them when they appeared at the Midlands Arts Centre's Food Market, and had one of the best burgers of my life. Forget of my vegetarian life, I mean of my whole life. This stuff was delicious.

Lisa and Andy, the couple behind the Grindhouse, are passionate about promoting veganism and good, tasty food, making all of their produce themselves and delivering it with a smile. I was really inspired after speaking with Lisa about their decision to go into the business, a risk I believe has really paid off.

So it's with a whole lot of respect that I'm recommending their first ever upcoming workshop. On January 24th they are holding an introduction to veganism, with light refreshments and lots of other goodies too. If making the transition from vegetarianism to veganism has been on your mind a lot, this is the perfect opportunity!

And for the rest of you, vegetarian, vegan, or not, if you're drooling at the opportunity to try some great americana street food in the West Midlands area, check out their tour dates here.

Now that the Christmas period has passed, you may be sat there wondering how best to save your money. How can you prioritise your needs over your wants? Where should you really be spending your money? It's a hard one to call. And while there are some bumper deals in the January sales, perhaps it's best to hold back just a little. Do you really need those super cheap Christmas present rejects? If so, take a little time to work out where your product is coming from. How is it made? Who made it? And what is it made out of? This is the mindset that Curiously Conscious is really trying to promote. So, below, I've gathered a few helpful shopping websites that give you this insight, that you may be inclined to take a look at before your shopping sprees - be it physical or online!

ETHICAL CONSUMER
While you will need a paid subscription to browse the site in its entirety, its ratings go into a lot of detail, giving individual company information, product ratings, relevant news and updates as well as recommendations from various charities and activist organisations.

GOOD GUIDE
With over 250,000 products listed and rated in its catalogue, Good Guide is the place to research the ethical background of all your household products. Scores take the impacts on health, environment and society into account, so whether you want to know the back story on your beauty products, or who produces Oreo cookies, the Good Guide is not just good - it's great. Its clean design and ease of navigation concisely encompass the wonderings of all ethical consumers, making it my favourite website to browse for product information.

MY GREEN DIRECTORY
This directory is business-oriented, so if you're searching for a green business for services from food shopping to eco-builds, this is the place. Support our independents, and make friends along the way; really find out who you're buying from!

KNOW MORE
The search function may be the same (enter the product, or company name you'd like to search in the box), but the site provides the function of raising awareness of corporate abuse along the supply chain, in other words, letting you know if there has been an abuse of human rights in the production of the item you've researched.

THE PLACE TO BIO
While this hasn't spread past France's borders yet, it's a fabulous guide for finding or checking which restaurants are "bio", i.e. organic, in regions across the country. If you're headed to France at any point, it's worth checking out!

SHOP ETHICAL
This Australia-based site is a great database to browse if you want to know which brands belong to which companies, where they're based and how the site itself rates them, from "Praises" to "Boycott Calls".

SKIN DEEP
This new entry (as of 19.01.15) is something of a revelation for natural beauty and cosmetics. You can search by product name, brand, or ingredients and each have a rating so as to guide you to their chemical sensitivity. A really great resource for make-up and beauty reviews too!

If you know of any other handy places to support ethical shopping, please comment below so they can be included on the list! And remember - you do deserve a treat every now and then. But make that treat really worth it - know what you're getting. Take care, stay mindful!

Happy New Year! Now that the festive season is coming to a close, you're probably feeling a little sluggish and need some fresh fruit in your life (other than fruit cake!). Here's what's in season in January in the UK.

FRUIT IN SEASON IN JANUARY
  • Apple
  • Clementine
  • Date
  • Grapefruit
  • Lemon
  • Orange
  • Passion fruit
  • Pear
  • Pineapple
  • Pomegranate
  • Satsuma
  • Tangerine
  • Rhubarb

VEGETABLES IN SEASON IN JANUARY
  • Beetroot
  • Brussel sprout
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Celeriac
  • Celery
  • Chicory
  • Endive
  • Garlic
  • Horseradish
  • Jerusalem artichoke
  • Kale
  • Kohlrabi
  • Lambs lettuce
  • Leek
  • Lettuce
  • Mushroom
  • Onion
  • Pak choi
  • Parsnip
  • Potato
  • Pumpkin
  • Purple broccoli
  • Radicchio
  • Red cabbage
  • Rocket
  • Salsify
  • Savoy cabbage
  • Shallots
  • Spinach
  • Spring onion
  • Squash
  • Swede
  • Sweet potato
  • Truffle
  • Turnip
  • White winter radish

NUTS IN SEASON IN JANUARY
  • Almond
  • Brazil nut
  • Chestnut
  • Hazelnut
  • Walnut

HERBS IN SEASON IN JANUARY
  • Bay leaf
  • Chive
  • Cress
  • Garlic chive
  • Lavender
  • Oregano
  • Parsley
  • Rosemary
  • Thyme