I'm poorly! It feels like the first time in months - years, even - that I've actively had to sit back and rest due to illness. However, I've struck gold by staying stocked up on eucalyptus oil - this versatile plant-based oil has a number of wonderful uses for easing cold and flu symptoms.

It's been a combination of things that have led to this - I was definitely on the edge of a burn out at one stage - and I suppose this is my body's natural way of calling out and telling me it needs a little TLC. As always, it's playing the listening game, but sometimes that's just not possible with work and other commitments. So, here I am, taking a day to rest my body, top up my vitamin banks through lots of fresh fruit and veg, and easing my tiny sinuses from their sorry state.

It's why I'm putting my eucalyptus oil* in the limelight today - I was actually planning on writing about its benefits as a massage oil, but its therapeutic properties when all bunged up definitely apply more right now. Do you ever have flashbacks to when you had sick days as a child, when you're sick in adult life? I definitely do, and while I think I've outgrown the hot blackcurrant squash and children's videos (oh gosh, does that make me old?), the smell of eucalyptus oil sends me right back to when I would slather Vicks all over myself while laying on the sofa. That's its key scent, and it makes perfect sense to use it in its pure state nowadays.

Eucalyptus oil is made by steam distilling the leaves from eucalyptus shrubs. It provides natural antibacterial, antifungal, antiseptic properties in its neat state, and the oil is a great decongestant, helping to expel excess phlegm and relieve your airways from the pain of a cold.

There are a number of great ways to use the oil for these benefits, and they can fit around your lifestyle, depending on the severity of your symptoms:

If you've ever steamed your face, adding a few drops of eucalyptus oil can transform this from a skin treatment to nasal decongestant. You can do this by boiling water and pour into a large bowl on a table, adding a few drops of eucalyptus oil to the water, and then hovering your face over the bowl to enjoy the soothing steam. If you've never steamed before, a few key pointers - do not place your face too close to the bowl; you only want to feel the steam on your skin and inhale it. Take a break after a few minutes - you will sweat, and find yourself needing a wipe up, so keep a towel nearby. And if you're a steaming veteran, try popping a towel over your head so it traps the steam going to your face - this is very intense, so make sure to take a breather every couple of minutes!

If you're only being slowed down by a runny nose, you can bring eucalyptus oil along for the ride during your usual routine by adding a few drops to a handkerchief or soft cloth off-cut. It may seem an easier idea to add this to a tissue instead, but not only will you forget and blow your nose in it, but the oil will evaporate when left in your pocket.

Following on from the soothing handkerchief, you can also prepare a fresh one for when you go to bed, popping it on your pillow to help you breathe easier at night. You may want to slide this under your pillow case so it doesn't move about, but I wouldn't recommend adding oil straight to the pillow case itself.

This is one of my favourite ways to enjoy eucalyptus oil - a few candles and wax melt definitely help me to relax, so adding the scent to your burner will help diffuse it in the room, and make it much more enjoyable to breathe in.

I hope these ideas help if you're struggling with a cold right now! I'm (fingers-crossed) on the mend, and it's been nice to use a little aromatherapy to relieve my flu-y symptoms.
Never have I been so touched by the care that's been taken in the selection, presentation, and delightful flavours that come from tea. Cha Tale is really on to something - if you like your teas, this gourmet tea tasting treat is definitely for you. Just wait 'til you see what's inside!

You must know by now that I'm a real tea fan. They're perfect for that morning perk up, for nighttime relaxation, and everything in-between. So it came as a pleasant surprise when I opened up the chirpy yellow box with hand-stamped logo to find three teas I had never tried before, nor tasted anything of the sort!
Cha Tale specialise in fine teas, with really unique flavours and delicious health benefits too. I opted for the Detox box* for my first try, as I was also intrigued to find out if these teas could help with digestion, as well as taste great too. Within the box I found three sachets - aren't they pretty! I actually felt bad for imprisoning these in my tea strainer, as I would have loved to leave the ingredients to float around my cup to look at rather than drink!

In this selection, I really enjoyed tasting plant-based elements that I had never heard of before, such as apple blossom flower, which leaves you feeling soothed and calm while still having a tangy apple taste and slight sweetness. By far though, my favourite was the detox tea, which infused a number of ingredients that boost digestion (cassia seed), provide key vitamins (vitamin B, C, and beta carotene in chrysanthemum), and antioxidants (goji berry), while also having a pleasurable taste (likely from the rock candy, which is a simple sugar sweetener).

If you're a loose tea lover, you're definitely going to want to try this. Cha Tale operate as a subscription service, where you will receive one box monthly with a number of sachets to try. These sachets can make up to 40 cups if you make sure to keep your strainer dry once used, and re-steep the ingredients for the number of minutes specified. In fact, it's a common belief in certain parts of the world that a second brewing is always better than the first!

Lucky for you, I have a very special discount code from the lovely people at Cha Tale for you to try your first box for £1, with free postage inside the UK. If you hop on over to their site now, choose your box, and enter the code 'BESMA20' at the checkout, you can try these delicious drinks for a teeny tiny price!
Look how creamy that water is... yup. That was once in my foundation brush. Gross! Here's my natural brush cleaner 'recipe' that you can do at home to make sure your brushes stay clean and in shape.

As a little recommendation, you should clean your brushes once a week to prevent bacterial growth and any other strange bits and bobs getting in there. Right now, I'm storing my brushes on a washcloth in open-air, so a dust mote or two often float in there - if you do this too, definitely make sure to clean them regularly! One day I'll have a beautiful set of makeup drawers, one day...

You'll need:

1 tbsp castile soap or a natural washing up liquid
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp warm tapwater
1 dish

  1. Add your soap and olive oil into a dish, and add a splash of warm water
  2. Now mix together using your first brush - the solution should get bubbly and creamy pretty quickly, while your brush will be thick with soapy liquid
  3. Go through your brushes, mixing into the liquid thoroughly but not too roughly so as to protect the bristles
  4. Change your solution if necessary - I only have four brushes in my makeup bag, but if you have more I'd suggest cleaning out and starting again
  5. Now that your brushes are all soapy, run them under warm water while circling them against the palm of your hand - this will get out all the soapy solution
  6. Now pad your brushes dry on a towel, using the flat sides only to do this
  7. If you have the ability to hang your brushes upside down, do this - it's the best way to let them dry while maintaining their shape
  8. If not, place flat on a towel and leave to air dry for around 12 hours - this varies per brush 
  9. Note: never leave to dry standing up, as this ruins the bristles!
I've spent a long time mulling over a strange emotional raincloud that's been following me around recently but I think I've realised my problem - perfection is simply a step too far. Ever feel like you're struggling to meet your own expectations?

Perfectionism isn't a rare trait per se, but the phrase 'nobody's perfect' does ironically spring to mind right now. I've started to realise that while I put so much of my thoughts on paper here, I don't really express what's going on in my personal life, and that needs to change! Wellbeing, or wellness as an umbrella term, is unequivocally entwined with life's key priorities, whether that's studying, work, or tapping out another blog about an incredible new item that's made its way into my life.

I'll be honest with you - it's my dream to make blogging the reason why I wake up in the morning. I'd love to create a gang of likeminded readers and writers, and of healthy, sustainable people through my blog, and we form an online community that supports each other and spreads ideas about living in a more green, more nutritious way far and wide (and I could bake a cake made out of rainbows and smiles and we'd all eat and be happy...). So far, I think a few hours' work per day is paying off on that front - the support and acceptance from people I've connected with over the last year or so has been enormous, and I thank you all for that.

However, I've started to realise that there's a vague pressure that's been growing like an unruly balloon in the back of my mind - I care for you all an awful lot, and I want that to come through in how I write. I will only ever recommend products that I love for example, and I often turn down reviews if the organisation doesn't seem to have a shared ethos that we do here. I take a lot of time curating Curiously Conscious, and with all the recent changes in my life (new job, new home, so many new faces) I've been finding it tough to get a work-life balance going.

So I've decided to nip this in the bud, and talk about it here: finding a balance between your commitments, your wants, and your needs, is actually pretty hard. And I've struggled recently, sacrificing time I've needed to sleep, or making subpar food (toast is never, ever, dinner) in order to keep everything afloat. But I think now that I've realised my problem - I've not been truly looking after myself, I've been committing to crazy deadlines, and the idea of posting perfectly written, daily blogs while maintaining a full-time job is insane - I can start to find a better solution. Do you ever have that - you take a second to reflect on your wellbeing, and suddenly realise you've been treading wayyy too close to the brink of a burnout?

As from now, I'm going to start reflecting on my wellbeing more - both here and through a period of meditation every day - while I also stop mentally fixating upon impossible tasks. I have a lot of plans invested in CC, and I'd really love to make more content for you to read, watch, and enjoy, but I can't do that if I'm tired, hungry, and emotional all the time!

In fact, that idea is exactly why I started writing Curiously Conscious in the first place. Society can't tick over if there's no planet for it to live on. And the same goes for everyone - we can't carry on working, whether it's our passion or not, if we have no body to live in! So whether it be through a mindful yoga practice every morning, a quick meditation in the afternoon, or shutting out your light a little earlier in the evening, take care of yourself, realise that you're doing your best. Living consciously starts with yourself, your mind, body, and soul - and sometimes even its biggest advocates have to remind themselves of that!
Oh. My. God. I am in love with this cheese. It's better than actual cheese - and healthier too. I've never really been the sort that dabbles with alternatives, but I'd genuinely recommend this cashew cheese to anyone, no matter their diet. Why should vegans keep these things all to themselves?!

Spreading the cashew cheese love has been somewhat of a fun little experiment. When I've introduced people to the idea, they've looked at me like I'm crazy. Why would anyone want to mess with cheese in the first place? It's creamy, it's umami, and it's downright delicious. And to be honest with you, I'm normally the sort of person who avoids 'alternatives' too - if I'm going vegetarian, I'm not going to crave that meaty taste from strange concoctions. Earlier on in the year, I enjoyed a vegan cheeseburger in Paris, but it was something of a naughty treat. I don't cook like that at home though - I like to enjoy the vegetables I eat, the wholefoods I mix throughout my diet.

Gozo Deli's Casheese* (yes, we're talking cashew cheese here) is pretty much a revelation in my kitchen. It's got that fizzy zing that regular cheese does, yet it's not just a plain mild cheddar - the French herb variety tastes exactly like fragrant cream cheese with herbes de provence, the smoked paprika gives Manchego cheese a run for its money, and the basil pesto is like Boursin's Italian cousin. I have had so much fun dipping, spreading, and cooking with these, that I'll also be revealing my favourite dinner recipe with these soon too.

And the best part? It's much lower in fat than regular cheese (20g per 100g, rather than 33g for mature cheddar), it's still relatively high in protein (9g per 100g, compared to 25g), and it's made with activated cashews and live cultures, giving your gut something to be happy about.

Overall, I'd really recommend you heading down to Gozo Deli to give these a taste test. The cheeses are currently stocked in a number of health food stores across London, however their website will soon be taking online orders - I'll give you the heads up when that comes around. I'm definitely going to be reordering - if not hunting them down in the city - when I'm all out! And if I get the chance, I'm going to convert completely - I'm not a fan of the dairy industry, and this is such a fine alternative that I doubt I'll miss the 'real' thing!
Chances are, if you're into natural beauty, health foods, and regular fitness, you also are bit of a green cleaner. While you may have been brought up in a household full of bleach like I was - bleach sprays, bleach wipes, bleach bath cleaner... so much bleach it's quite literally eye-watering - we don't need to pass this trait on, and nor do we have to be wasteful when it comes to cleaning the kitchen! Here are my five top tips on how to clean your kitchen a little more sustainably...

1. I've teamed up with Ecover to try out their new Lemon & Aloe Vera Washing-up Liquid*, and I'm recommending it as my first top tip when it comes to a greener kitchen. On top of their 'plantplastic' refillable and recyclable bottles, the liquid is now more concentrated, cleaning up to 40% more plates. I can personally vouch for this, as the first time I tried filling my sink up to wash dishes, even a little squirt was too much and I ended up giving my pots a bubble bath! In fact, you can now get £1 off your first bottle by heading to this page here too!

2. If you wash by hand, don't leave the tap running. It's amazing how much water you can get through with the tap constantly on, so instead, fill up the sink and scrub your pots in that. It may seem a little gross, but if you always make sure to clean your sink (I like using a leftover lemon half, after squeezing out the juice, to rub my sink down with), it's perfectly sanitary.

3. Take the time to work out which are the most eco-friendly settings if you use a dishwasher. The average dishwasher uses more than a sinkful of water per wash, so try using quick-wash, low-water, low-heat settings to minimise water consumption. It's also handy to remember that the manpower saved by using this contraption still is lost in the form of electricity, so if you've only got a few dishes, give them a scrub yourself.

4. Switch to reusable cloths. This one seems like a no-brainer, but it seems that the generally accepted convention is to use kitchen roll for just about everything in the kitchen. Why waste money on buying more paper, when you could simply throw cloths in the washing machine when dirty? Try cutting up old clothes, or finding thin tea towels to do the job - I have a set of jay cloths that have been washed over and over.

5. Split your waste before it gets to the bin. This way, not only is it easier to take out recycling and trash without sifting, but you can also take the time to separate food waste and either have your council collect it in a food waste bin (check with your local council if this is possible) or invest in a compost bin if you have a garden. For the record, there are many types of composting bin, so to check which you will find most appropriate, as well as it fitting to your living arrangements, I'd recommend having a read of this guide - sadly I don't have a garden to house a compost bin yet, but one day I'll live the dream!
How beautiful is this bangle? Now what if I told you that it's made from recycled brass, and handmade by Kenyan crafts-women protecting their trade? I love jewellery that tells a story, especially when it's a fair and sustainable one.

So Just Shop support and promote ethical initiatives throughout their online boutique, offering an eclectic mix of traditional and modern designs in their fair fashion boutique. I was lucky enough to pick this beautiful waves bangle* for this review, and I'm sure you're going to see a lot of it in future ethical fashion posts to come - it's possibly my favourite piece of jewellery in my little collection, combining ethics with style in a way that I really love.

The waves bangle is made by Savannah Chic, a women-led group that specialises in artisanal creations made using local and recycled materials in Kenya, promoting investment in key skills and development through fair trade. And for the record, their skills are definitely up to scratch - the bangle is lovely to wear, smooth and heavy, which makes it a lovely statement piece!

The reason why I'm featuring So Just Shop rather than simply showcasing this bangle is because they share an ethos so close to my own - that with every product you buy, there should be transparency, but not only that - each purchase made empowers those that are part of the production chain, from the ground up. You can find out more about So Just Shop and its founder, Jennifer Georgeson, here.

On top of this, I'm lucky enough to offer you an exclusive discount code if you'd like to purchase something from So Just Shop! Simply enter 'CuriouslyConscious' at the checkout to receive 10% off your entire basket - the offer runs until 11th October 2015.
It's the last day of Organic Beauty Week here on Curiously Conscious! I've enjoyed sharing my latest green beauty favourites over the last few days, and this one really tops them all when it comes to skin care.

It's fair to say that before trying Botanical's Radiance Serum*, I was a face oil virgin. Why? I couldn't tell you, because this little bottle of organic joy has really revolutionised my skincare routine. For a while now, I've been applying plant-based oils to the tips of my hair, to my legs after shaving, and even using them to take my makeup off, but I never really thought they would help much when it comes to my dry skin. How very wrong I was!

So far, I've been using this serum for just under a month and it's really made a huge difference to my dry cheeks and forehead. I apply a drop from the pipet (so cute) to each cheek, and one to my forehead after cleansing both day and night (I'm also thinking of integrating some natural toner in that routine at some point), and rub in upwards circles with my hands across my problem areas. When I sleep in it, I wake up with soft, plump skin, and it seems to have reduced my blemishes too.

On top of that, I also apply a drop to each problem area before applying make-up, which leaves a dewy glow when using a simple skin tint and bronzer.

The serum itself is principally made from apricot kernel oil, sunflower seed oil, and grape seed oil. You may notice that I've taken the latin names from the ingredients list to write that, and it does make sense really - no-one wants to think about applying cooking oil to their face - but the way in which these oils (and many more) have been infused together has made a perfectly balanced serum suitable for dry skin, as the majority of the oils are high in oleic acid. The organic nature is also a boost, as it's sometimes difficult to break down the chemical make-up of oils when exposed to pesticides and other chemical nasties, but these are nice and clean.

Botanicals is also a big supporter of the Soil Association's Campaign for Clarity, in which they are calling for transparency when it comes to green beauty. The best tips that I have garnered from the campaign is to always check the ingredients list, and also take note of any independent certifications - many of which can easily be checked online. (In fact, if you're looking for a place to start when it comes to reducing the nasty side of your beauty shelf, take a look at the 25 harmful ingredients I recommend avoiding in general). Botanicals is also offering free postage when you spend over £10 in their online boutique throughout Organic September, which makes it the perfect time to try out organic beauty.
Want to try natural skin care products, but don't feel like you can afford it? I'm a really big fan of AA Skincare's Essentials Collection for this exact reason - they make buying green beauty affordable.

I certainly know how it feels to start looking at switching over to green beauty, and thinking that you're way out of your price range. As a curious student, most things were definitely way, way, wayyy out of my price range! Luckily now, with my new graduate job I can dabble with more expensive options, but we've all got to start somewhere!

That's why I'm showcasing AA Skincare's Lavender & Tea Tree Moisturising Face Lotion* here. The lotion is creamy and aromatic - combining two strong flavours that blend surprisingly well together - which feels nice and cool upon application, and keeps skin supple during the day. I've been using it as a day cream for a while now, and I think this is on par with the Yes To Carrots Rich Moisture Day Cream, while also having antibacterial qualities thanks to the tea tree.

As I have dry skin across my cheeks and forehead, I was impressed that it kept my face smooth for the bulk of the day, although I do prefer a moisturiser and face oil to really look after my skin. On that basis, I would recommend this for normal to oily skin types rather than dry, although it's fine for sensitivity.

At this moment in time, it's worth noting that while the lotion is made up of primarily natural ingredients, and is paraben free, as well as being cruelty-free (although this needs to be clearer on the packaging!) it's not Soil Association certified as being organic. However, as part of Organic Beauty Week, I thought it may be good to point out that AA Skincare's parent company, Amphora Aromatics, does make a range of certified organic skin care gems, which you can find here. These too are also very reasonably priced, and are a perfect gateway into green beauty.
It always feels a little risqué to write about things like this, but feminine hygiene is a natural, regular and frequent purchase for all women, and thus the subject of finding sustainable options ought to be talked about without any kind of taboo.

As part of Organic Beauty week, I thought it would be useful to go into why organic feminine hygiene products are probably the most important organic purchase any woman could make. Did you know that a sizeable percentage of regular tampons or pads are made from plastic? Considering how big the movement away from BPA plastics has been for consumables, you'd have thought that these more intimate products would have had their time too - especially seeing as the average woman uses more than 11,000 tampons in her lifetime.

That's why I've been going organic for a while now - organic cotton is not only the most natural option around, it also supports the environment, and prevents cotton-field workers from being exposed to harsh chemicals too. I've recently come across Organyc's feminine hygiene range*, and I'm delighted to find out that their tampons are 100% Soil Association certified organic cotton - making them biodegradable too. As for their pads - they're made with a mix of organic cotton, and biodegradable biopolymer, also making them biodegradable.

The sustainability benefits are two-fold, too. Reducing waste is often one of the first goals to have when 'going green', but do we ever really think of the bathroom? Even the idea of having a recycling bin in there is a little bit out of the ordinary, but it's surprising the amount of paper and card used in that teeny tiny room! This is the other side of why I really love Organyc's range - all its packaging is made from cardboard or paper, which is perfect for composting or recycling.

Needless to say, I've found there to be no difference between these organic products and 'regular' ones, plus they're very similar in price, although I'd recommend buying online and in bulk!
It's organic beauty week! As part of the Soil Association's Organic September, I'm celebrating with many others the benefits of organic beauty, and why it's so much better than regular cosmetics. First up - it's the first thing that touches my skin in the morning - is this beautifully light cleanser...

Organic beauty is perhaps the best adjective to use when explaining and classifying natural beauty. As I've learnt over the last year or two, the cosmetic and skincare aisles are awash with 'natural' claims and green themes, but neither of them really constitute much unless they have some form of certification.

For Living Nature's Sensitive Cleanser*, this comes in the form of a BDIH Certified Natural badge, which means the plant-based ingredients have to be organic, while ingredients from animal origin can only be produced by them  (i.e. milk, honey), meaning it does not promote animal slaughter for cosmetics, nor use of meat industry by-products. All ingredients have to be cruelty-free too, even if supplied from elsewhere. I'm pretty impressed by that little badge to be honest, as it holds all of what I've proclaimed in the past to be my ethos, making sure beauty brands work with nature rather than abuse or work against it.

So, onto the cleanser itself - this is like applying a liquid cloud to your face! I love circling my fingertips around my eyes in the morning, whether it be after splashing with warm water or while in the shower, and how it soothes and wipes away any sleeping dust. I'm thinking that's the organic coconut working there, while the harakeke provides antibacterial properties. As it rightly says on the back, the cleanser works without irritation, even on very dry or sensitive skin. It's the lightest and softest cleanser I've come across that does the job of removing eye makeup too (albeit, I use a more natural variety) with a few swirls around the eyes when washing your face.
When it comes to skincare, I'm a bit of a purist. I love one-ingredient products - coconut oil is great for removing make-up, apple cider vinegar mixed with water is a wonderful toner for your body... but I haven't really mentioned jojoba oil*. Here's why it's one of my top picks for a simple, natural skincare routine.

First, it's probably a good idea to explain why jojoba is great for certain skin types, but terrible for others. You may have come across the terms linoleic and oleic acids - these are natural chemicals that feature in varying amounts in plant-based oils. If you really want to go into it, both are unsaturated fatty acids, where oleic is omega-9, and linoleic is omega-6.

Our skin naturally produces a certain amount of both of these oils, which can either be a help or a hindrance. For example, certain types of acne are caused by a deficiency in linoleic acid in the skin's sebum, i.e. natural oils. Applying oils therefore is a great way to balance your skin's sebum production and hopefully reduce any kind of inflammation, whether it be oily or dry skin.

The golden rule is to use oils high in linoleic acids if you have oily skin, and use oils high in oleic acids if you have dry skin. I found this article by Dawn Michelle really useful in figuring out which oils are best - and it turns out, jojoba is a perfect match for my skin type, as I'm a mix between dry cheeks and and oily t-zone.

As a head's up, jojoba oil only has a subtle grassy scent, which quickly subsides after application too. In this way, it's a perfect base to mix with other stronger-smelling natural oils, such as tea tree oil to apply to spots, or eucalyptus oil* for headaches (eucalyptus oil is what they put in Vicks! After all these years, I now know exactly what that childhood nighttime smell is made from!).

In fact, as a carrier oil it's extremely versatile and I'm planning on applying it in the tips of my hair after washing instead of my regular almond oil (another carrier oil) too. My boyfriend uses a mix of jojoba oil with other lovely smelling oils for his beard too! And it can also be used as a simple moisturiser, or even make up remover too.

Finally - it's pronounced 'ho-ho-ba'! It's taken me 22 years to realise this, and I still think 'yo-yo-ba' sounds nicer, but whatever - it's a miracle oil, I'm not going to argue!
Remember when I went on my three-day juice cleanse? I certainly do, and while an overall pleasant experience, I know that my juices would definitely have been enhanced if I was using the Juico UNO slow juicer* to make my juices with.

Here’s why – while the nutritional content of my juices would have remained the same, considering both my old juicer and the Juico UNO are slow, masticating juicers, the smoothness of the cold-pressed juice and the amount made would have been dramatically increased. I was very surprised to find that the Juico UNO only needed to juice fresh produce once to produce a firm, dry pulp, meaning all the juice had been yielded first time round. Furthermore, the fine sieve-like holes in the bottom of its rotating “screw” made sure my juices were smooth all the way through.

In terms of sustainability, it’s also nice to see that Juico make sure all the plastics used in their juicers are BPA-free, as well as their juicers running at a lower wattage than regular ones, saving electricity.

Right now, the Juico UNO is probably the best bit of kit I have in my kitchen – it’s quieter than my blender, sturdier than my food processor, and easier to clean than either of them. However, it does come at a price – it retails at £299, but is currently on sale for £219. I know that juicing can come across as a miracle weight-loss cure, but really, investing that kind of money means you should be drinking juices at least a couple of times per week in order to validate purchasing this. The same can be said for those of you who enjoy a juice at a juice bar – if you’re buying a few per week, it’s time you bought your own Juico UNO. It’s a really beautiful piece of equipment, and I would reserve it for serious juice enthusiasts.

Thanks to Thrive Magazine, I was able to road-test this juicer, and they’ve also provided a further 5% off code for anyone looking to purchase the Juico UNO. Thank you Thrive! If you do get one, I hope you’re as happy with it as I am with mine.

Caffeine free black tea - Kromland Farm organic rooibos tea
Recently, I've gone a little crazy for tea. I usually start my day and end my day on a cup of the stuff, but I've recently discovered a secret about rooibos tea - it's caffeine free!

It's rare that I use the word natural on here when it comes to food, because it's very hard to distinguish where this boundary lies. However, unlike black tea, which is made from tea leaves, rooibos offers a tasty alternative that is naturally caffeine-free because it's a tisane rather than a tea. Tisane is another word for herbal tea, and rooibos uses dried plants coming from South African shrubs - this means, like all other herbal teas, it's perfect as a bedtime brew!

I've recently been sipping on Kromland Farm's Organic Rooibos Cinnamon & Orange Tea*, which has an amazing smell - like a mix of Christmas and a holiday in Seville! It's actually been helping me to step away from adding any sugar to my teas too, as it's naturally sweet, and doesn't need any milk either (although I always opt for soy or almond when I do have my 'regular' brew).

Rooibos tea is also wonderful in that it contains loads of polyphenols, which are antioxidants, helping to heal the body in all sorts of ways, preventing illness, and ageing! Also, the fact that their rooibos is organic is great, as it's benefiting the environment in which its grown, the workers who handle it, and our health as drinkers too - it is Organic September after all!

Finally, I just wanted to mention how much I love the Kromland Farm packaging - it's just so cheery! Like a bright smile leaping out of the kitchen cupboard every time you open the door. I've been feeling a little rough round the edges in the evenings, as I'm still adjusting to my new job and new flat, but this tea and my whistling kettle are getting me through!
It's here! My first recipe video, with a little voiceover too! However, it's this cleansing green juice that's the real star of the show - just because summer's over, doesn't mean we can't continue to have delicious summery drinks...

In creating this recipe, I thought I would combine two new passions – first, the Juico UNO juicer*. This slow juicer rocks! In comparison to my previous slow juicer, I’ve found it to be very reliable, quiet, and easy to clean too. If you’re a regular in juice bars and want to make them for yourself, it’s a worthwhile investment. And second, the green juice I had while in Cambridge. I made sure to watch carefully when it was made so I knew exactly how to make my own - and it's really yummy!

Serves 1

1/2 medium cucumber
2 sticks of celery
1 medium green apple

  1. Start by slicing all the deliciously green produce into finger-like pieces
  2. Pop them all into the juicer; I would recommend juicing the apple last
  3. Decant into a glass and serve!

As for the pulp, while there’s not much from one juice, you could try making some juice pulp crackers rather than throwing it away!

This video and post is the first part of a two-part series I've created in association with Thrive Magazine and Juico. If you're thinking of purchasing a Juico Uno juicer as seen in my video, you can also get an added 5% off using the code below!

"Are eggs bad for you?" I asked myself. Hmm... Well, after doing some research, I can proclaim that they're not. And neither are these two beauties bad for the environment, or for the chickens themselves either.

I know this post is going to be a little controversial for my vegan readers, and on the whole, I'm a big supporter of the vegan diet. A lot of what I eat is "accidentally vegan", in that I will crowd my meals with veggies and plant-based alternatives. On top of that, I don't drink milk, and I don't regularly eat cheese. However, there is an exception to all this: eggs.

I'm going to start with a confession: since turning vegetarian, I've always felt a pressure to go vegan, as if it's naturally the next step. There's the acceptance of your new healthier and more sustainable outlook, but the feeling that you're not quite doing enough... However, I have to return to my reasons why I turned vegetarian to really bring to light why I'm sticking with it. First, there's the treatment of animals; second, the scarily high meat-based diet that society generally promotes, causing all sorts of health issues.

On top of that, my boyfriend recently highlighted to me the importance of knowing where products are sourced, and that's one of the main conscious living practices for me - staying informed. So when I found out that my local egg supplier is Dinton Farm, I couldn't have been happier. They provide free-range conservation grade eggs, and the farm actively works with nature, while also giving chickens the real freedom they deserve. It was the trifecta: treatment, sustainability, and health (as I eat probably two egg-based meals a week).

So why do I still feel guilty? I think there's a fine line when it comes to mindful eating, and while I know I can find plenty of plant-based sources of protein (and I do!), I can still enjoy eggs knowing they have been produced sustainably. So what's the problem? I think deep down, there's always been the risk of wanting to pigeonhole my diet. Drawing a little box around my food choices while abstaining from meat, sugar, whatever. But life isn't like that, and my diet shouldn't be either.

Really, what I'm trying to say is that there's a balance between eating healthily, sourcing what you use sustainably, and living happily. I've learnt that if I want that cheesy pizza, go for it! But I don't eat pizza every night. So the same applies here: if I don't want to drink milk, don't! But I shouldn't feel like I have to declare myself a vegan either. Eating flexibly, and listening to my body, are my main priorities. I personally also don't eat white rice, because it gives me indigestion. Yet there's no diet out there that rules that out...

And as for the eggs - yes, they're high in fat, but they're also a complete protein, and high in iron and vitamin A. If you're feeling guilty, try and find a local supplier - visit the farm, or phone them up. See what their practices are, because not everyone is Bernard Matthews.
Mixed berry and almond smoothie bowl recipe
It's been a while since I wrote about smoothies! I'm a total convert to smoothie breakfasts, and I especially love a smoothie bowl when I have the time - this one is a pretty little favourite of mine...

To make this smoothie bowl, you'll need the most part of your ingredients to be frozen - I often chop up bananas and freeze them for exactly this purpose, along with any over-ripe berries I've not had time to eat.

Serves 1

1 frozen banana, sliced
3 tbsp frozen berries
1 tbsp almond butter
100-150ml plant-based milk
4 almonds (optional)

  1. In a blender, add your frozen sliced banana, berries, almond butter, and around 100ml plant-based milk (I've been using soy as of late, although I personally think almond milk is better)
  2. Blend, mixing in-between with a spoon if necessary - you could add a little more milk if your blender needs better traction!
  3. Once it's come together, spoon into a bowl and add any toppings you like
I can't believe I've only just tried cacao! The superfood sister of cocoa, raw cacao contains many more antioxidants, and has a stronger aroma and taste than cocoa. But what makes them different?

In the picture, you'll be able to see the three sorts of cacao bean products I have in my kitchen cupboard: cocoa powder, organic cacao powder* from Rise Organics, and cacao nibs. They sort of show the scale of refinement; cacao nibs are made by crushing raw cocoa beans, cacao powder is made by cold-pressing unroasted cocoa beans, and cocoa is made by roasting and processing cocoa beans. As with most foods, the less refined, raw versions are usually much better for us, with living enzymes still being present in the food.

There are many other benefits to switching to cacao: while more expensive per gram, it has a stronger, possibly even less bitter taste than cocoa. I love swapping cocoa for cacao in my chocolate and peanut butter smoothies, making it a slightly fruitier, sweeter taste, with less powder needed (I'd say 3/4 of the normal amount quoted for cocoa is enough!).

Cocoa also provides a low dose of caffeine (roughly 60mg in a cup of hot chocolate, which is less than the 90-150mg in a cup of coffee), making it a perfect addition to breakfast smoothie bowls, plus it has been proven to brighten your mood, and its antioxidant content boosts your health in all sorts of ways. On saying that, I should really explain - healthy food is a multi-pronged illness prevention and aid in staying healthy, so it can never really be pigeonholed to doing just one thing! Antioxidants are a great example of this, from staving off cancer, to preventing premature skin ageing.

Overall - I'm not going to give cocoa a second glance, unless I ever want to cook with it. Cacao is a much better swap for all its raw applications, and I prefer the taste too!
September is here, and with it comes harvest season! Guess where those runner beans are from... Yes, my garden! I'll be honest, I'm not the green-fingered one in my house, but I do know how to cook a mean runner bean sauce with rice.

If you're a seasonable eater or would like to try to eat seasonably (benefits include fresher produce, reduced pollution, supporting local food chains, and more nutrient-dense food), this long ol' list below may come in handy when shopping or meal planning. You'll also find these items will be cheaper in shops in general!

  • Apple
  • Apricot
  • Banana
  • Bilberry
  • Blackberry
  • Blueberry
  • Cherry
  • Crab apple
  • Damson
  • Fig
  • Gooseberry
  • Grape
  • Greengage
  • Loganberry
  • Medlar
  • Melon
  • Nectarine
  • Peach
  • Pear
  • Plum
  • Pomegranate
  • Pumpkin
  • Quince
  • Raspberry
  • Red currant
  • Strawberry
  • Woods strawberry

  • Aubergine
  • Beetroot
  • Broad bean
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Carrot
  • Cauliflower
  • Cavolo nero
  • Celeriac
  • Celery
  • Chard
  • Chili
  • Courgette
  • Cucumber
  • Endive
  • Fennel bulb
  • French beans
  • Garlic
  • Globe artichoke
  • Kale
  • Leek
  • Lettuce
  • Mangetout
  • Marrow
  • Mushroom
  • Onion
  • Pak choi
  • Parsnip
  • Peas
  • Pepper
  • Radicchio
  • Radish
  • Rocket
  • Runner bean
  • Salsify
  • Spinach
  • Spring onion
  • Squash
  • Sweetcorn
  • Tomato
  • Turnip
  • Watercress

  • Chestnut

  • Angelica
  • Basil
  • Bay leaf
  • Borage
  • Chamomile
  • Chives
  • Chervil
  • Coriander
  • Cress
  • Dill
  • Fennel
  • Garlic chives
  • Lavender
  • Lemon balm
  • Lovage
  • Majoram
  • Mint
  • Oregano
  • Parsley
  • Rosemary
  • Sage
  • Sorrel
  • Tarragon
  • Thyme