It's the final day of July! Gosh. This month has been jam-packed with changes, and bouts and bouts of joy. That's the reason why my face is the first favourite - not because I love my new curly lion's mane (!), but because I have to say a big thank you to everyone. So, here we go, my favourite things from this month:

1. Curiously Conscious' first birthday, and a big big thank you
Yes, I may have blubbed on in the last three blogs, but I really am thankful for all of your continued support, both in my personal life and on here. I've gone through so many changes over the last 12 months, and in this month alone I've ran my biggest giveaway yet, graduated, passed my driving test, and secured a new place to live. Whew. I don't think I could have done it with all the important people in my life, and you as readers count as them too! Thank you.

2. July's in-season fruits
While it hasn't been wall-to-wall sunshine in the UK, the fresh fruit this month has more than made up for it. I've swapped out pretty much all of my naughty treats for fruit - watermelon, cherries, apricots, flat peaches... they're all, so so good.

3. Summer berries smoothie
Alongside my love of stone fruits, is my love of berries - and with so many being in season now, you're sure to find a few squished ones around! Instead of throwing them away, try this delicious smoothie recipe for a sweet morning perk-up.

4. Warm rice and quinoa salad
It's been a while since I posted a "main meal" recipe, but this serves as a tasty lunch, and is a nice hybrid between impractically healthy salads and crazy quick ready-meals, perfect for at work or at university. I'll be writing more of these in the future too, due to me starting a new job in August!

5. Burt's Bees Lemon Butter Cuticle Cream
Perhaps its all the cooking I've been getting up to, but this cream has been adding a nice sheen to my nails all month now. As I'm moving away from a flat with a dishwasher, I can imagine I'm going to need it even more next month!

6. Plant-based cantaloupe ice cream
Finally, this month I posted my first ever guest blog - another huge thank you to Fit Food Emma for her plant-based peaches and cream overnight oats recipe. You can find my cantaloupe melon ice cream recipe on her blog, and subscribe to her there too!

This time last year, I uploaded my first ever blog and boy, I didn't know just how quickly this place would grow from a personal journal to proper website! It's so nice to reflect on the journey I have made so far, as well as appreciate the support and trust I have formed with you across these last 12 months.

I'd like to say thank you to everyone who's climbed aboard the Curiously Conscious express and I hope that, while we all have little things we believe have room for improvement, you have also experienced a personal growth, and awareness towards food, health, and ethical + sustainable living through this blog, as well as others. For me personally, there are so many great bloggers, writers, and inspirations that I have stumbled across in the last year, and I feel a lot stronger for finding them.

In honour of all this, I've decided to time my big reveal with this anniversary. Guess what? Curiously Conscious is now on YouTube! It's a massive leap for me, as I've never been one for parading in front of a camera, but I hope to support the content on here with a weekly video, whether it be a recipe, review, inspiration, or travel diary, I'm really looking forward to showing you just how I live through the medium of video. If you'd like, you can subscribe here, and keep up to date with everything on the channel.

Finally, a big thank you to everyone who took part in my giveaway - I was shocked by just how popular it was! Thank you especially to BukoHybrid HerbsMyProtein, and Rawr Chocolate for working with me to create some amazing recipes over the last 12 months, and for the prizes in the giveaway. Congratulations to Carmen, your hamper will be with you shortly.
Photo credit: YW Photography
I can't quite believe it - I've graduated from university! It's been a rollercoaster journey over the last four years (including one year working in Paris) and while it's cliché to say it, I've definitely grown in terms of character and how I want to live my life thanks to the experience.

One question that I've heard being asked a lot is how to stay healthy while at university. First off, I think it's worth reflecting upon the lifestyle choices you are making currently. If you're planning on going to university soon, you may have only just started contemplating your diet, fitness, and other related activities due to it being your first time of being truly independent.

I've got to admit, during my first year at university, I did not make very healthy choices. I loved the fact that I could eat pick 'n' mix for dinner if that's what I wanted (it never got this bad, but I would eat a lot of sugary foods, and so, so much chocolate). At that point, I hadn't really connected the dots between the nutrition of the foods I was eating and the way my body was processing them. On reflection, while I never had any serious health problems, I did go through cycles of gaining weight, being self-conscious, and overall I was never as happy about my body and health as I am now.

The way I live my life now changed due to my time in France, where I was exposed to a new food culture, and also a socially-accepted expectation of exercise in everyone's lives. I transformed my lazy 10-minute yoga sequences into 40-minute pilates at home, went swimming, cycled as much as I could, and ate so much fresh fruit and vegetables, I felt like I was repenting my first year sins.

After my placement year, I returned to England with a fresh approach, and combined it with both the food available, my student-level finances, and all that extra free time I had. In this respect, I believe I found a balance, almost a "best of both" scenario, so I'm hoping these key questions will help you start thinking about how you can eat and live healthier than you are right now, whether you're planning on going to university this year, or if you've decided to place your health and wellbeing above those sweet aisle dinners!

DIET
How much fresh produce do you eat? After getting into a good shopping routine, try swapping some of those pseudo-foods for fresh stuff, and you'll find it's cheaper (especially if it's in season), as well as better for you. I would often shop at the nearest establishment, but there may be fresh produces markets just around the corner that are a lot cheaper, or even larger supermarkets stocking larger ranges at cheaper prices.

Can you cook, or do you want it made for you? Cooking, or simply an enjoyment in food prep, will make eating healthily so much easier. Search for a healthy recipes of your favourite meals online, and cook in bulk to save money. I also found following healthy food accounts on Instagram pushes me to make pretty and delicious healthy recipes! Plus, if you're living with others, perhaps you could cook for each other too, and their cooking skills may just rub off on you!

Do you plan your meals, or eat on the fly? Planning in advance will save you a lot of money, as well as giving you the time to make sure your food is healthy, but I understand if you can't do this. Instead, always try to make a consciously healthy choice - buy a salad for lunch, with fresh fruit and a drink of water, rather than a meal deal. Have healthy snack bars handy (I love Nakd bars) in case you miss breakfast when rushing to a lecture. And try not to punish yourself if you do have a naughty meal - your happiness is worth more than those few extra calories!


DRINK
How much alcohol do you drink per week? Alcohol has never been a worry for me, but most drinks are loaded with calories, and also prevent you from choosing wisely both while drunk, and in that hungover state afterwards. The same goes for drugs, and anything else that will cloud your mind. Try to live in moderation, and prioritise what you want - that second glass, or to go for a run on Sunday?

Also talking about drink - how much water do you drink? While it may not seem important, you'll find yourself perked up, with fewer headaches, and fewer cravings during lectures if you keep a big bottle of water with you at all times. I have a handy glass bottle I take everywhere, and fill it with lemons and ice cubes too if I want a refreshing kick.


FITNESS
What kind of fItness do you do? University is such a great opportunity to diversify your fitness routines - from access to the gym, to joining sports clubs, to going to classes, you don't have to stick to what you know. Speak to older members, gym trainers, or simply older students to find out what's on offer, and try something new - you never know, ultimate frisbee might just be your calling!

Have no motivation to workout? Welcome to my (old) world! I found it easy to escape regular fitness routines, even when I was a member of the university gym, so instead I tried yoga videos and YouTube channels so I literally would have no excuse. I have now also integrated running into my workout routine after finding a nearby park, as well as using light weights on my yoga mat. Invest in fitness slowly, and if you don't like something, try something else! Instagram is also a great motivator for keeping fit, as well as eating healthy.


SLEEP
How much sleep do you get? This is something that took me a while to master - even while working full time, I would get around seven hours per night. Not good - this affected my food choices, starting a slight caffeine addiction, as well as my vision taking a turn for the worse - I went to the optician thinking I needed glasses, and he told me I needed more sleep! Nowadays, I get at least eight hours (this is the minimum you should get), and you'll find that your metabolism is higher, your mental clarity is better, and your memory will be stronger. One handy tip is to have light curtains, or leave gaps in your blinds to allow sunlight to creep in during the early hours. Your body will be happier to wake up to gradual light, than in total darkness!

How regular is your sleep? I have to say, even now my sleeping pattern isn't perfect, but don't beat yourself up about this. With lectures being at all times of day, you can fall into a strange fugue state if you don't sleep enough, so focus on getting eight hours every night and try to eat meals at regular times of day to keep your body on track. I also found that using a sleep app is a great way to reflect on your patterns and improve quality and quantity of sleep.


HAPPINESS
How happy do you feel? This point is a crucial one, as your wellbeing has a strong effect on your physical health, and academic performance too. Joining university, as well as studying hard, can be stressful, but you're not alone. Find something that helps you stay sane - whether that's preparing for lectures in advance, or talking to a classmate, you can and will get through this. I did, and I went through these periods too! If it's more serious than this, approach your Student Union or University for deeper pastoral care and advice.

How important is your health and diet in your happiness? While you may want a killer supermodel body, a surfer's tan, and beachy waved hair, it's not always realistic to pin your happiness on these aims. Celebrate every time you choose a healthy meal, cook a new recipe, and purchase fresh produce. Congratulate yourself after every workout. Plan an exciting breakfast for when you wake up after your eight hours of sleep. You're doing great - and one day you're going to wear a cap and gown to celebrate such a huge achievement!

Now that we're well into the summer, I'm really enjoying the juicy ripe berries that comes with the British sunshine! However, you may have also experienced a little mushiness with all this ripe fruit if you're buying it from longer production chains, so try sticking to farm shops or farmers' markets where possible. And if not - pop all your mushy fruit in the freezer, and make delicious smoothies and fruit ice creams!

That's pretty much where the idea for this summer berries smoothie came from. I love having a stock of frozen fruit in the freezer, and I'd needed more space for the newer berries so have found this delicious drink a great way to enjoy frozen mushy fruit - especially strawberries, as they don't thaw very well at all.

I'm also very happy to say that two of the main ingredients in this smoothie - MyProtein's pure almond butter, and Buko's organic coconut water - are part of my big plant-based giveaway to celebrate Curiously Conscious' first birthday! You can enter here now (if it's before 30th July 2015 of course!)



SUMMER BERRIES SMOOTHIE
Serves 1

1 ripe banana
2/3 cup of frozen berries
3 tbsp Buko organic coconut water
1 tsp MyProtein pure almond butter
  1. In a blender, put your ripe banana, frozen berries, coconut water, and almond butter
  2. Blend, and add a little more coconut water depending on your preferred thickness
  3. Decant into a glass. As it's summer, pop in an ice cube or two for an extra chill!

How cool is Cheryl Strayed? I’m in awe of her, and her journey in Wild (as well as having a little girl-crush on Reese Witherspoon in the film). While I haven’t been on many hiking trips, those that I have are firmly implanted in my mind as some of the best memories I have, and I intend to go on many more after being seriously inspired when watching Wild in the cinema (and now getting my hands on the book and DVD, eek!).

However, walking boots pose the age-old question for us veggies (and anyone else with an opposition to the meat industry): what should we do about all this leather? I’m very much of the stance that buying leather, even second-hand, isn’t the greatest idea, and while I do have one pair of leather shoes and a belt that originate from my meat-eating days (and will stay with me until they’re worn out), any new purchases have to be 100% vegan.

So it’s thanks to Trespass that I’m presenting my latest vegan leather shoes: these Tutti Womens Faux Suede Walking Boots*. Aren’t they pretty? Especially with the red laces, √† la Strayed. But are faux suede boots as durable as real ones?

Firstly, there’s the fit. As I have quite skinny feet, they are wide, but fit well with thick hiking socks, and they tie tightly onto the foot too. The shoe seems to be very well made – thick rubber soles, sturdy eyelets, and the faux suede is not only water resistant but breathable too. So far, so good.
As for the hiking experience – I’m yet to break these shoes out onto some trails, but having worn them in I know that they offer good all-round protection of the foot and the heel support is fantastic. As hiking boots, they are quite a lot heavier than any of my other shoes, but as a rookie I know that I’ll get used to the feel of it.

Will they last? Only time will tell, although I find the idea of leather lasting longer than man-made synthetics is often a fallacy, as other parts of the shoe usually wear away first. However, considering these boots are now on sale for £17.99 (with an RRP £54.99), you really can’t complain!

I’m really looking forward to going on a lot of rural walks with these boots when I move house in August!

I've been asked in the past about healthy lunches on the go, and while I'm working from home at the moment, I definitely understand the frustration with not having enough time or options to create something as equally yummy as it is healthy.

During my university packed lunch days, I found solace in large salads with couscous, either the pre-flavoured varieties (watch out for the salt!) or my own, from scratch. I'd usually prep them the night before, adding my leaves and any dressing in the morning. However, a cold couscous salad can become quite boring, and there are definitely healthier carbohydrate options out there.

This is where Uncle Ben's latest rice and quinoa* combinations come in. I was kindly sent their full range to give a whirl, and while I was at first sceptical, I found their pouches do have perks. While white rice can be a little too starchy and hard to digest, the Uncle Ben's medleys stick to wholegrain rice, quinoa, and pearl wheat in some packs. In the future, I think it would be nice to see wholly quinoa, pearl wheat, and wild rice options too.

Intriguingly, you can cook the rice in a pan (if you're anti-microwaves, like me). I would definitely say Uncle Ben's should adjust their instructions for this, as I needed a few big splashes of water in the pan when cooking, and it did take me more than two minutes. However, if you are working or studying and are looking for a healthy option to whip up under time/kitchen constraints, microwaving may be a good idea.

In my recipe, I used Uncle Ben's Pearl Wheat & Quinoa Medley*, although if you are a coeliac you could try another from the range (beware of those with soy in, of course). I always think a warm salad makes a nice change, and while this one is a little heavy in the grains department, they're slow-burning and will give you enough energy to get through a hectic afternoon at work or university.



WARM RICE + QUINOA SALAD
1 packet of Uncle Ben's Pearl Wheat & Quinoa Medley
1/2 red onion
5 cherry tomatoes
1/3 tin of chickpeas
Handful of coriander
+
Splash of olive oil
1 tbsp tahini
Squirt of lemon juice

  1. In a pan, boil 20ml water and add the Pearl Wheat & Quinoa Medley, stirring once and keeping the lid on for four minutes (or alternatively, microwave the pouch for two minutes)
  2. Slice the red onion into rings, halve the cherry tomatoes, wash the chickpeas and grab a handful of coriander
  3. In a bowl, mix everything together
  4. Splash the olive oil, lemon juice, and tahini over the salad and enjoy!

It's two weeks until Curiously Conscious' 1st Birthday, and I'm finally able to tell you about my huge plant-based food hamper giveaway! I've been organising this for months, and I'm so excited to finally reveal it all to you today.

One lucky reader is going to win over £100 worth of plant-based foods that I've enjoyed cooking with and reviewing across the past year - I'd say that all of the bits and bobs included are essentials in my cupboards now, so if you're looking to eat healthier, try out a few recipes featured on here, or are already a big fan of plant-based recipes, this one is for you!

Below is a list of what I've picked to be included in my giveaway - over the months, they have all become necessities in my kitchen. I've also linked the recipes I've used each item in, so you can get a better feel for why each product is so special to me, and what you can cook up if you win!



PURE ALMOND BUTTER
Yup, it's my favourite - a huge, 1kg tub of pure, smooth almond butter worth £10.99 from MyProtein.com. I'm still on my first tub after over three months, so I wonder how long yours will last you! Here's a snippet of what I've made using the deliciously creamy almond butter: almond butter and maple smoothie, and a huge plant-based chocolate flapjack.

ORGANIC VIRGIN COCONUT OIL
I'm not quite sure how I lived before coconut oil, but now you can indulge with a giant 920g tub of organic virgin coconut oil worth £16.99 from MyProtein.com. You can read about how coconut oil matches up compared to other coconut products here, or why it's one I prefer over other plant-based oils here. Here are some great recipes featuring coconut oil too: chewy coconut cookies, and high-protein banana pancakes.

ORGANIC RAW CHOCOLATE
I first came across Rawr after winning a big ol' bounty of their bars, and now I can't get enough of them! I'm therefore giving away a huge 500g pouch of raw chocolate goji berry chunks, worth £16.95. From stopping my chocolate addiction, to aiding my through my final year exams, I owe a lot to these little bites of happiness. You can read more about why I love them so much here, or see the chocolate flapjack I cooked up with their goji berry raw chocolate chunks here.

ORGANIC SPIRULINA POWDER
I'm also giving away a 500g pouch of spirulina powder from MyProtein.com, worth £16.99. Spirulina is also one of nature's best complete plant-based protein sources, so it's great if you're vegan. I've enjoyed popping a spoonful of spirulina in a number of my smoothies, and it's a good way to up your protein intake after a workout! Here it is in a smoothie, and also a smoothie bowl.

ORGANIC MATCHA GREEN TEA
I'm really happy to also be giving away a 40g mirron glass pot of ceremony-grade japanese matcha green tea from Hybrid Herbs, worth £24.97. You can find out in-depth why I love matcha green tea, and why Moonlit Matcha is the only way to go, in my recent post about it here! Plus, there will be a few more recipes featuring matcha green tea popping up soon.

ORGANIC COCONUT WATER
I've written countless posts on why I love coconut water, so I'm super happy to also be giving away five cartons of organic coconut water from Buko, worth £9.95. You can read more about why I love Buko so much here, and keep your eyes peeled for a recipe featuring their coconut water coming soon!

GOJI BERRIES
These little pieces of sun-dried heaven often top a lot of my cooking creations - from flapjacks, to smoothies, and smoothie bowls, they add a nice colour and bite to a recipe, as well as being packed full of antioxidants. I've included a pack of Neal's Yard Wholefoods Sun-Dried Goji Berries worth £2.39.

CHIA SEEDS
Finally, you can't be going without chia seeds! These gems are complete plant-based proteins, and can be added to smoothies, or even sprinkled on salads. I've included a pack of Neal's Yard Wholefoods Chia Seeds worth £2.69.



To enter Curiously Conscious' birthday giveaway, simply click on the competition form below. Postage is restricted to UK-based entrants only. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
When you switch to a diet that is high in fresh fruit, veggies, nuts, and herbs, you may become a little more picky over what you buy. I certainly know that I have - so much so that I often spend as much as I would have done in my meat-eating days. A lot of the time, people think that vegetarianism, and other diets linked to vegetarianism, are a lot cheaper to maintain, but there comes a moment where you look at the plastic-wrapped veggies and green bananas, and you want something more.

As I've argued in the past, buying local, organic produce is your best bet in terms of sustainability. First of all, you are supporting your local economy, and in some small way, protecting the environment by increasing demand for organic produce. This of course comes at a price - organic is usually more expensive, as farmers often have lower yields for crops that have not been chemically altered. A controversial opinion I hold is that food, notably fresh produce, is priced too cheaply - and we should be prepared to pay more for ethical and sustainable practices, no matter what the industry.

However, when addressing the nutritional content argument, things become a little vague. I've had to defend myself a few times when I mention this as a factor against pesticidal use, and GMOs, but the idea that organic is better for us is three-fold:

TIMING
According to the wisdom of Isabella Beeton, once fruit, vegetables, nuts, and herbs are picked, their vitamin content starts to drop rapidly. Even while refrigerated, their nutritional content will decline. Think about your supermarket produce - this has been picked in the field, transported in refrigerated trucks, left in the shop, and then you've brought it home to also refrigerate rather than eat straight away. That's a long time! When buying organic produce, the chances are that the supplier is also a more direct source than supermarket chains. Farms and farmer's markets are often more abundant in organic produce, and by reducing the time it has taken for your food to reach you, the higher the nutritional content too. Even in supermarkets, the majority of organic produce that I have seen has been grown in the UK. This reduction of time between picking to plating means less nutritional content has been lost.

What we can do to consciously improve the nutritional content of our produce further, is to also time our shopping habits correctly too. Buying what you need for one or two days in advance is the healthiest way to shop in this sense, as it reduces the time food waits in your fridge too.

SEASONALITY
If we eat organic food, we are normally eating according to the seasons too, whether it's a conscious decision or not. I'm a big advocate of eating seasonably, generally for its reduced impact on the environment - for example, air freight accounts for 11% of the food industry's transport emissions, despite making up 0.1% of all food miles. However, there are indeed nutritional benefits from eating seasonal produce too. Fruits, vegetables, nuts, and herbs will be at their best, nurtured and sweetened until they are naturally ripe, rather than being incubated or frozen and then defrosted to be put on the shelves. Many sources agree that seasonal produce tastes better, and I believe this is due to the timespan that produce has gone from seed to being picked - natural sugars do not have as long to turn to starch, maintaining their fresh taste and optimum nutritional content.

SCIENCE
According to a recent scientific analysis, organic produce really is nutritionally better than produce grown with pesticides in the exact same conditions. By removing a plant's need to fight against pests, it stops producing as many antioxidants as an organic plant would. And antioxidants play an important part in our diet - while it may sound like sci-fi by saying they fight "free radicals" in the body, beta-carotene, lycopene, and vitamins A, C, E, are all antioxidants. As for the free radicals thing - we're essentially saying the body will undergo more oxidative stress without antioxidants, giving way to ageing quicker and the development of other health conditions too.

On top of that, organic food has substantially lower amounts of toxic metals and chemical residues. While these are still below regulatory level, if you're basing a substantial proportion of your diet on fresh fruit, vegetables, nuts, and herbs, as I do, you may feel the need to take this into consideration.

WHAT ABOUT FROZEN?
I think it's diligent to highlight that there are some exceptions to the rules above, such as frozen produce. It very much depends on the produce in question, but the general freezing process involves blanching and then freezing produce that has been pulled from the ground only hours before, locking in a large proportion of nutrients.

On the subject of blanching, it's also a good idea to note that there are cooking methods which also significantly deplete nutritional content, such as wilting leafy greens or frying mushrooms. As a general rule, make sure you know how its been processed - both before and after its entered the kitchen!

Sources: Eat the Seasons  -  Friends of the Earth  -  The Guardian  -  Mrs Beeton's How to Cook  -  What's in Season  -  Wikipedia

Here it is! I had a great time making this plant-based ice cream, and teasing all you on Instagram with a picture of the melon itself. What you can't see is the juice slowly dripping down my arm as I was taking the photo!

I chose to use cantaloupe melon due to it being in season, as well as it being my favourite artisan ice cream to buy when I was living in Paris. There's something so addictive about its cloying flavour and natural sweetness!

You can find the full recipe on Fit Food Emma's blog; the recipe is not only plant-based, but also vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, dairy-free, refined sugar-free and raw. And don't forget to check out Emma's recipe, plant-based peaches and cream overnight oats, that she's featured on Curiously Conscious!
I first came across Ojamin during the Be:Fit London event I attended a few months back. The concept of their Herb & Fruit tonic* was something I had not come across before; offering a unique combination of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals, it was like a natural answer to supplements.

Normally, I’m not a fan of capsule or tablet supplements – if you’re lacking something in your diet, find nature’s provider. Also, as a vegetarian, the majority of clear capsules use gelatine so is a complete no-go. However, with Ojamin, you mix a teaspoonful with 150ml of water twice a day to simply add on extra nutrients in the diet. The tonic has a pleasant, citrus, and earthy taste too. Considering I’m generally a plant-based veggie, I approve of its complex mix of fruit and vegetable extracts without any chemical nasties in traditional medicines or supplements. On top of that, its ingredients are organic, free from pesticides, fertilisers, and GMOs.

Does Ojamin work? And for what? You ask. Well, considering I am rarely ill – a little hayfeverish at times, but nothing more – I’ve found the tonic similar to my lemon detox drink I sometimes make. It’s a primer for the body, boosting any lacking nutrients, and working with a healthy diet to make you your healthiest self. I’m not sure I would explicitly recommend it for a specific ailment, or even class it as a medicine, which is what it comes across as in the information leaflet included. Instead, it’s better seen as a holistic health measure that anyone can benefit from. Instead, as a detox tonic, it helps you stay on path with a healthier diet and supports mindful eating choices. Just like a good diet, Ojamin’s Herb & Fruit tonic will boost your body’s systems and motivate you to eat better in-between its morning and evening 150ml shots.

Emma wrote to me a little while ago, inquiring if I'd like to swap a few recipes with her - of course, I jumped at the chance! She writes a really great foodie blog called Fit Food Emma, that also features fitness and lifestyle posts. Here's a little introduction to her and her healthy living views, as well as the delicious peaches and cream overnight oats recipe she cooked up especially for Curiously Conscious!

What made you start blogging about healthy food?
I fell in love with healthy food in 2013 after discovering how much more awake and energetic I felt when I swapped refined sugar and processed foods for natural spices and lots of vegetables! I wanted to share my love for simple, delicious, nutritious meals and show everyone that healthy eating doesn't have to be expensive or involve hard-to-find "superfoods". After writing recipes for brands and bloggers, I decided to create my own blog to share more recipes as well as fitness tips and my London highlights.

What type of food do you personally eat and why?
I personally eat a low sugar omnivore diet, however plants usually take over most of my plate! I eat a balance of protein, low GI carbohydrates and healthy fats. Lots of my meals are vegan or vegetarian and I try to eat as sustainably as possible. For example, I try to choose restaurants with ethical procurement policies where possible, am reducing my dairy intake, buying grass-fed beef and have signed up for organic, seasonal veg boxes. I've noticed a significant improvement in my energy levels and bloating since reducing my sugar intake, and eating less dairy and red meat (and choosing the most sustainably, kindly farmed options) reduces my diet's environmental impact.

What else do you get up to when not in the kitchen?
I love fitness and usually exercise at least four times a week. This varies from lifting weights to outdoor walks, pilates, high intensity circuits and stretching/relaxation sessions. I try to travel as much as possible - I explored Asia, Australia and New Zealand for three months after graduating and now try to see as many new cities and counties as possible by taking advantage of long weekends and cheap advance train tickets! I also love visiting festivals and expos to discover new foods, gadgets and activity ideas.

This dairy-free, plant-based breakfast is inspired by bircher muesli. The coconut milk adds a lovely silkiness, creating a summery peaches and cream flavour which makes this dish a perfect pudding as well as a tasty way to start your day.



PEACHES + CREAM OVERNIGHT OATS
Serves 1

1/3 cup oats
1 tsp ground golden linseeds
1 - 2 tbsp finely grated courgette (optional)
100ml unsweetened coconut milk, or 20g creamed coconut dissolved in 80ml boiling water
1/4 - 1/2 cup dairy-alternative milk (unsweetened almond or Koko coconut milk work well)
1 flat peach, chopped into small pieces
+
Nut and seed mix
Peanut butter
1/2 flat peach
  1. Combine the oats, linseeds and courgette in a bowl (omit the courgette if you are going to eat the dish immediately, as it won’t have time to soften)
  2. Stir in the coconut milk, dairy alternative milk and chopped peach
  3. Cover and leave to soak in the fridge for at least half an hour – preferably overnight
  4. Uncover and add a little more milk, to reach your preferred consistency
  5. Add your favourite toppings (Wylssdon nut and seed mix, creamy Pip & Nut peanut butter and half a doughnut peach) and tuck in!
To note, this recipe is also nut free (without toppings) and refined sugar free. The recipe can very easily be scaled up or down to suit all appetites!

If you'd like to keep up to date with more of Emma's recipes and blogs, you can visit her blog at www.fitfoodemma.com, and also find her on Twitter, Instagram, and Bloglovin'.

As I said in my last post, we're closing in on the first anniversary of Curiously Conscious (can you believe it?! One whole year!) so I'm redefining the two concepts that make up my blog's bread and butter - mindful eating, and conscious living.

For me, the principle of conscious living came about over a period of time where I was scrutinising all aspects of my lifestyle. I suppose it's when I first coined, and then created, Curiously Conscious - I'm always looking to educate myself about more sustainable and ethical approaches to living, without compromising on quality of life, or happiness. Over the last year, conscious living has come to embody one main principle, with a number of key aims that I am always working towards:

  • Researching and understanding how to respect the earth through a sustainable lifestyle by:
    • Sourcing goods that are produced sustainably
    • Changing to products that are natural, non-toxic, and earth-friendly
    • Reducing general consumption
    • Abstaining from products with excessive packaging

...And above all, being aware of the impact of each and every action, purchase, and piece of rubbish I create. It's almost impossible to say that anyone could reach all of these goals, let alone in one go, and even inspirations such as Bea Johnson, Colin Beavan, Lauren Singer, or climate-change activists like Naomi Klein would tell you that no good can come from straining to be that perfect. However, it's definitely been an eye-opener to keep educating myself (and writing my findings on this blog) about conscious living, as well as on products and organisations that also are attempting to be more sustainable. And hopefully, if we work together, we can influence others to also live more consciously and respect the earth too!
We're coming up to the first birthday of Curiously Conscious, so I thought it was about time I defined the blog's main notions. Mindful eating and conscious living have become mantras in my daily life, yet they don't quite have the same hype surrounding them as other lifestyle trends do. I think it's key to explain why these two concepts really mean a lot more to me than any other buzzword at this present time, and why they will outlive them too.

The theory of mindful eating was first introduced to me through Rachel Bartholomew and Mandy Pearson's book of the same name. Aiming to "stop mindless eating, and learn to nourish body and soul", the main principles I took away were to live presently when making choices around food, and to listen to body and mind so as to be nourished in all areas.

Now that I have spent a year blogging about my healthy food finds, yummy recipes, and guides to certain cooking aspects (eating seasonally, juice cleansinghealthy restaurants in Paris, plant-based milk alternatives... you name it, if I've internally questioned something, there'll be a guide about it on here), I feel like I've created a mindful eating dimension of my own. I've always been an inquisitive person, but with food, I somehow accepted unhealthy pseudo-foods, the heavily unsustainable meat industry, and cruel intensive farming practices for a long, long time. Now, after re-educating myself, mindful eating has become a three-fold concept:

  1. Nurturing the symbiotic relationship between food and the body
  2. Eating in a way that promotes acceptance, sustainability, and happiness
  3. Partaking in education around food, cooking, and agriculture

I hope in some way, I have and will continue to promote all of these aspects in my writing. I feel like so far, I have passionately uncovered the reasons for seasonal and local eating, and explained why (and how) I became a vegetarian in depth. However, as with mindfulness comes acceptance, so I also want to stress that I accept everyone's diet and lifestyle choices, although the contemplation of the three pillars of mindful eating, no matter what each person's conclusions are, will always be something I advocate.

On top of my hopes, if you do want to know more about mindful eating, I would highly recommend reading the Mindful Eating book that sparked the flame of one half of this blog, as well as contacting me personally - I will always be happy to help and chat directly with you! You can comment on this post directly, or find me via email, Twitter, or even Instagram if you prefer. And as always, keep up with the posts on Curiously Conscious, as I continue to expand into all three of the areas further and help everyone become a mindful eater!

As a keen cook, I'm not the sort to have my nails long and painted unless it's a really, really, special occasion. On top of that, after converting to green and cruelty-free beauty, I've found nail polishes mainly don't fit into either of these categories. I suppose I use the term of "beauty" loosely on this blog, considering I actually invest more in skin and hair care, rather than make-up. So, my nails have been paint-free for a long while now. But I have been using this - Burt's Bees' Lemon Butter Cuticle Cream - and I don't think I could ever go back.

As much as I recently denounced Burt's Bees' troubling cruelty-free status (make your mind up for yourself, please), I can't say I disagree with the ingredients list here - the cuticle cream uses beeswax, which I don't see as a unsustainable or harmful to bees. In fact, while I'm an avid fan of honey, I do pick fault with royal jelly, and bee venom, both of which are created by enforcing unnatural circumstances to a hive, but for wax and honey, they can be easily produced and extracted without ill effect. To each, their own.

For this cream, I apply it chiefly to my fingernails (although it does work on toes as well), both on the cuticle and around the nail. I find it prevents the skin from breaking and keeps my skin nourished enough to withstand the messier side of cooking that I often find myself in. The light lemon fragrance is also just divine! I really feel like I'm pampering myself when I apply it.

As for those of you who are keen nail polish junkies - I also found this cream helped my nails recover after a dose of white nail polish for my recent graduate ball - isn't nail polish remover just awful? Both my cuticles and my nails are softer thanks to the cream.

(R.I.P. Burt Shavitz, the man behind the name (but not so much the brand). He was a kind soul!)


Along with the summer being here, so is Wimbledon - a.k.a. strawberries and cream time! As noted by a few fellow bloggers, the sunny weather does make eating vegan a lot more difficult - ice cream offers and BBQs being our most awkward moments. Well, even though I'm eating predominantly plant-based, and always vegetarian, this organic vegan-friendly single cream substitute by Oatly had to have its own mention on Curiously Conscious as I found it a really great alternative, with widespread availability in supermarkets too.

Obviously, whipping up a pot of strawberries and cream doesn't take a recipe, but by using Oatly's oat cream, you can ensure it's organic (so long as the strawberries are too!), as well as low fat. The "creamy oat" cream is in fact a little thicker than single cream, and has a very mild taste that does not detract from the main flavours of whatever dish you put it with.

I do have to mention the two downsides to this cream alternative - it uses a small amount of palm oil, which makes it a little hard to determine if sustainable (Oatly notes that they only use organic palm oil, as well as it being "documented as sustainable" - you can read more here to make up your own mind), and this oil means there is a teeny proportion of saturated fat is present in the cream.

That being said - there's no animals directly harmed in the making of this cream, and nor is your diet choice when chilling out with friends watching the tennis!

From my numerous blogs on coconut water, you know by now that I'm a big fan. Ice cold on a summer's day, I don't think anything could taste fresher - or be so darn good for you. So, why am I featuring coconut water yet again on Curiously Conscious?

Buko organic coconut water* is a little earth-friendly cut above the rest. While it doesn't have that pink glow like Unoco, it comes with an ethical twist that takes us all the way to the Philippines; in fact, Buko means "young green coconut" in Filipino.

Buko started in the Philippines, with a close proximity to the farmers tending to their coconut palms. This link led to growing all the coconuts organically, without any pesticides or fertilisers, making a coconut water that is truly a cut above the rest in terms of eco-friendliness. On top of that, Buko has also teamed up with Cuipo, donating a portion of their revenues to the organisation to protect rainforest around the world.

Considering I'm all about living consciously, this ethical side to the brand definitely sways my preference for coconut water to Buko. Not only is it earth-kind, it also is subtle-tasting and Soil Association certified organic. Right now, you can purchase Buko's organic coconut water from their website. Also, keep your eyes peeled for a recipe featuring the coconut water soon!

We're into July! I can't believe that's half the year done, but I suppose if you're living consciously from day to day, time doesn't really mean anything! The main thing I'm appreciating about this hot (and terribly humid) weather is the change to sweeter fruits, with stone fruits also being crazily cheap down at the market! I'm talking cherries, apricots, peaches... everything I've been munching (and uploading to Instagram!) recently. See if you can find some of the following near you this month:

FRUIT IN SEASON IN JULY:
  • Apricot
  • Banana
  • Bilberry
  • Blackberry
  • Blackcurrant
  • Blueberry
  • Cherry
  • Currant
  • Fig
  • Gooseberry
  • Greengage
  • Kiwi fruit
  • Loganberry
  • Medlar
  • Melon
  • Nectarine
  • Peach
  • Plum
  • Pomegranate
  • Raspberry
  • Rhubarb
  • Redcurrant
  • Strawberry
  • Watermelon
  • Whitecurrant
  • Woods strawberry

VEGETABLES IN SEASON IN JULY:
  • Asparagus
  • Aubergine
  • Beetroot
  • Bell pepper
  • Bramley apple
  • Broad bean
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Carrot
  • Cavolo nero
  • Celery
  • Chili pepper
  • Courgette
  • Courgette flower
  • Cress
  • Cucumber
  • Elderflower
  • Fennel
  • French bean
  • Garlic
  • Globe artichoke
  • Kohlrabi
  • Lamb's lettuce
  • Lettuce
  • Marrow
  • Mangetout
  • Mushroom
  • New potatoes
  • Onion
  • Pak choi
  • Peas
  • Potato
  • Radicchio
  • Radish
  • Red cabbage
  • Rocket
  • Runner bean
  • Samphire
  • Spinach
  • Spring onion
  • Squash
  • Sweetcorn
  • Swiss chard
  • Tomato
  • Turnip
  • Watercress
  • Wild nettle

NUTS IN SEASON IN JULY:
  • None that I'm aware of!

HERBS IN SEASON IN JULY:
  • Angelica
  • Basil
  • Bay leaf
  • Borage
  • Chamomile
  • Chervil
  • Chives
  • Coriander
  • Dill
  • Fennel
  • Garlic chives
  • Hyssop
  • Lavender
  • Lemon balm
  • Lovage
  • Marjoram
  • Mint
  • Oregano
  • Parsley
  • Rosemary
  • Sage
  • Sorrel
  • Tarragon
  • Thyme

Sources: BBC Good Food  -  Eat the Seasons  -  Eat Seasonably  -  Natural Food Finder  -  What's in Season?