Why eat flaxseeds?
The moment I turned vegetarian, protein sources were all anyone could talk about. Eggs, nuts, whey... Really, they should have been pointing me towards flaxseeds!

When you go from eating meat to calling it quits, there are a number of nutrients you have to consider, including protein, but also b vitamins, and omega fatty acids. Plant-based complete proteins are something I did a lot of research into in the beginning, and they've served me well - in fact, I've never noticed a difference in the speed of my nail growth or hair growth, and my body clearly hasn't wasted away! But when it comes to the other nutrients, I wasn't really quite sure about what I was missing. Flaxseeds, or flaxseed oil, essentially covers all of the areas that I missed.

I'm sure you've seen people consuming cod liver oil daily - well, flaxseed oil contains three times the amount of omegas 3 and 6. Which is really quite amazing, considering it's a wholly plant-based food! On top of that, it contains no cholesterol, compared to cod liver oil where one tablespoon has 26% of your recommended daily allowance.

And the reason why omegas 3 and 6 are important in your diet is that they are essential for a healthy body - they aid the creation and maintenance of brain and nerve cells, and they cannot be created by the body itself. You have to eat them to get their essential benefits!

As well as being a great omega 3 and 6 source, flaxseed is also a high in polyunsaturated fats, which are suggested to prevent heart disease, as well as protect against diabetes, and alzheimers. It also has many polyphenols, a.k.a. antioxidants, as well as a good dose of vitamin b1, copper, manganese, magnesium, phosphorous, and selenium.

I've luckily now picked up a better routine when it comes to flaxseed, and I include it where I can - I put flaxseed meal in my overnight oats, and organic flaxseed oil* in anything that will absorb it, whether it be smoothies, porridge, or even cakes. You can also eat it neat, with a spoonful or two a day covering over your body's needs, although it does have a rather bitter taste (no-one said this health thing was easy!).
Detox lemonade
With the cold weather slowly creeping in, it's time to start topping up those naturally summery vitamins and aid digestion with a morning detox drink - and this little recipe has added fizz!

It's been a little while since I took up my lemon detox water routine, and now that I'm working full time, it's actually pretty difficult to make extra time in the mornings for lemon water, yoga, breakfast, and all the usual ablutions. So instead, I've come to making a speedy alternative that not only keeps my vitamin c levels high (to ward off all those new colds going round!), but also tastes great, and readies my digestive system for whatever the day throws at me (and my mouth!).

This detox lemonade recipe is great for popping in a bottle and taking to work - in fact, a number of my co-workers make their own variations and take them to work too! The cool temperature makes it perfect for transporting in comparison to lemon detox water, and it doesn't need to be drunk immediately upon rising either.

The crucial factor in this recipe is the sparkling water - it makes all the difference in terms of texture! So I've been putting my SodaStream Power* to good use recently, especially with this and my healthy virgin mojito recipe - the benefits of sparkling water are pretty great if you're a regular fizzy drink lover, and will help you overcome those cravings too.
Detox lemon water


DETOX LEMONADE RECIPE
Serves 1

1 lemon
400ml water

  1. First, you're going to need to make your sparkling water. With a SodaStream Power, you can quickly do this by carbonating the water - I do this with a large 400ml serving, pressing only once for a level of fizziness that I'm happy with!
  2. Next, slice up one half of your lemon to pop inside the bottle
  3. Now squeeze the other half into the base of the bottle, using a small sieve or your fingers to catch the pips
  4. Finally, decant the sparkling water, filling until you reach the top of the bottle or glass
  5. As a side note - this water is best drunk fresh, within a few hours of making!
When I first came across mushroom tea, I was a little bit grossed out to be quite honest. I imagined some sort of miso soup affair – a salty, fishy-tasting broth with strange bits floating about in it. Fortunately, mushroom tea is nothing like that!

I suppose the initial reaction to the idea of mushroom tea might take a little shaking off (and a brave first sip after brewing your first cup!) but there's a whole load of reasons why you should give it a go.

The tea that I’ve started off drinking recently contains chaga mushrooms – this was introduced to me as a beginner’s tea, although I do have friends that rave about reishi mushroom tea. Chaga mushroom grows as one large truffle-like blob on the side of birch trees, and it contains an incredible cocktail of benefits, the most potent being its exceptional amount of antioxidants (many, many more than blueberries or açai powder).

Aside from its rejuvenating properties, it also boosts the function of your immune system - perfect now we're coming into colder weather - and is antibacterial, and anti-fungal too.

As for the chaga mushroom tea* that I've been drinking - it's really nothing like my first imaginings!  When brewed as a simple tea - half a teaspoon of the fine pure mushroom powder, with a cup of hot water - it has a warming, earthy taste with a sweet top note, and I actually really like it as it is, although it's an even sweeter treat with a splash of maple syrup too.

You can also enjoy the chaga mushroom powder completely raw, in a smoothie or even mixed with foods - I'm yet to do this, but I think it's an even better way to appreciate its health benefits, as exposing extracts such as this to heat could potentially reduce its effectiveness.
Are Lush products natural?
As the third and final part of my investigation of 'natural' high street brands, I take a look at Lush and its cosmetics, and personal hygiene products.

I've been to a lot of Lush stores, I have to admit. Birmingham, London, Paris... pretty much every city I visit for more than a few days, I've entered into the powdery-scented shop. It's no secret that I've been a big fan of Lush, posting blogs about the various products I've picked up and tried over the years.

So it may comes as a bit of a surprise when I say that I've now grown a little sceptical of the brand. While it has some incredible PR going for it - from its Against Animal Testing campaign to the Lush Prize - it's very clear that the buck stops at cruelty-free beauty, rather than natural and cruelty-free.

Did you know that Lush only has one Soil Association certified product on its shelves? The lucky Therapy Massage Bar holds that title, but even that contains a percentage of non-organic elements. You would have thought that other products would be verified, if one has been - which leads me to believe that no other item in their range is 70%+ organic. Not one other.

Which leaves me in a little dilemma. Right now in my makeup bag, I have a number of Lush products that I truly loved, but have fallen out of love with since this revelation. My Light Yellow colour supplement and Feeling Younger skin tint contains parabens, something I used to be pretty lax about, but now I would rather find a more natural alternative - I mean, there are plenty on the market! For my Success liquid eye liner, there's even ingredients that come up blank on EWG's Skin Deep database - forget my key 25 Harmful Ingredients list!

After speaking to Lush, I've been told that their stance on parabens is that they are safe synthetics, and where they use the ingredient 'perfume', it's still of a safe, green origin, but protects them from fakes being made. While this may be true, I do think that a company with such a friendly approach to cosmetics is due to take it one step further and introduce a truly green line of cosmetics in their stores.
Beautiful and ethical ideas can strike just about anywhere, and when it comes to the realm of green beauty, it doesn't get more natural than traditional organic soap from socially conscious The Online Medina in Tunisia.

This unscented organic camel milk soap* is one of the more exotic natural beauty items that has made its way to me so far, but I am actually really happy to be featuring it. Camel milk not only makes for a creamy, replenishing washing experience, but it supports the local community who make the soaps and rear the camels themselves.

The Online Media is a socially conscious organisation started around the versatility of traditional North African towels called foutas, and has branched into other traditional items, such as argan oil, and harissa paste. When it comes to natural beauty, they really are purists - their soap contains five plant-based oils (olive, coconut, sweet almond, castor, argan), cacao butter, and camel milk. Yes, that's really it - and it shows just how possible it is to create beauty products without harmful ingredients.

In terms of my trial with the soap bar - well, I've been impressed from start to finish to be honest! I received my soap in a box made entirely from recycled materials - which I too recycled - and hung my soap up on the door knob of my shower, ready for washing. You may have read, but I really like to clean my body with soap rather than shower gel, as I dislike the strange greasy residue that gels leave on my skin. This soap is perfect for anyone with sensitive skin; it smells faintly of the fatty camel milk within it, and makes a nice soft lather that doesn't strip the skin of its natural oils, in fact replenishing them through the five plant-based oils it contains. In fact, if you're looking for a more familiar scented soap, they also make camel milk soaps with essential oils.

It's also great to note that camel milk is rich in proteins with antimicrobial qualities, caring for skin while gently cleaning too. As noted by Katya, the lovely founder of The Online Medina, the soap does melt away quite easily hence its rope - you can hang it quick easily to dry out and preserve between washes.

However, the most impressive element about this soap is the fact that it genuinely does relieve minor skin conditions, or at least it has helped me get rid of a small patch of blocked pores on my arm, which I've had for quite a while. While I can't comment on its effectiveness to treat psoriasis, acne, or eczema, I do think it's worth giving it a try if you're looking for a natural alternative to chemical soaps and creams!
They may be a little primitive, but they're one of my favourites - rock cakes! I'm more of a cook than a baker, but sometimes these little childhood treats can derail my clean eating, so I've started baking the cleanest recipe I could imagine!

Do you ever have little flashbacks to your childhood, especially centred around food? It can't just be me - Mum's flapjacks, Grandma's Victoria sponges... I loved those sweet treats and the infantile happiness that came with them!

Classically full of butter, egg, white flour, and refined sugar, rock cakes couldn't be further from my day-to-day mindful eating regime. Here's how I swapped out the not so great ingredients:

White flour was changed for organic sprouted oats* and organic wholemeal buckwheat flour - a lot less gluten, and a lot more fibre to aid digestion. Butter gave way to extra virgin coconut oil - still a fat, but plant-based, high in LDLs, and I also reduced the amount used too. Refined sugar was swapped out for unrefined coconut palm sugar - as an afterthought, I would actually recommend an unrefined light brown sugar, unless you really love the nutty taste of coconut palm sugar.

I also got rid of the egg by making a 'flax egg' instead - something I'd read about recently, and wanted to try. While I'm still quite happy to eat eggs, I wanted to add some extra fibre, and also keep the recipe vegan too. See step three of the recipe for exactly how I made my egg.

And there you have it! A tasty 'upgrade' with all those memories and flavours left to enjoy!



VEGAN ROCK CAKES
100g raisins
100g extra virgin coconut oil
150g unrefined sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
140g organic wholemeal buckwheat flour
275g organic sprouted oats*
1 tbsp flax seed meal
1 tbsp flax seed oil

  1. Preheat your oven to 180°C, and line two baking trays with baking parchment, or conversely use two glass lasagne dishes - I found these did not stick at all when cooked
  2. In a small bowl, weigh your raisins and add 50mls water, leaving to soak
  3. In another small bowl, mix your flax seed meal, flax seed oil, and 2 tbsp water, leaving to rest in the fridge - this is your flax egg
  4. To melt your coconut oil, weigh into a glass and put the glass into a small bowl, pouring boiling water around the glass
  5. In a large mixing bowl, pour in your sugar and then the melted coconut oil on top, mixing thoroughly before adding the now thick flax egg, sprinkle of cinnamon, flour, and oats
  6. Mix well with a wooden spoon, pouring in the final ingredient - raisins
  7. Now on your trays, add spoonful-sized dollops of the mixture, leaving a little room between each for some spread - I made 16 in total
  8. Cook for 12-15 minutes, until they're golden brown. Careful not to let the raisins catch!
  9. Remove from the oven, and slide a spatula underneath each to ensure they do not stick when cooling - you could use a cooling rack but they are a little crumbly
  10. Now grab a cup of tea and enjoy!
As the second part of my high-street beauty investigation, I take a look into Bare Minerals, and just how 'bare' their cosmetics really are.

A good while ago, I visited my local Bare Minerals counter for a makeup revamp - I wanted a personalised service that still stuck to my natural beauty principles.

AT THE COUNTER
Going to the counter was quite a daunting experience, as I've never been a fan of critiquing my features in the mirror while strangers helped me try to achieve a new look - hairdressers used to be my version of the dentists! However, forgetting that I was being sold a service, I actually had a good time once I had been seated and my makeup gently removed.

The shop assistant who applied my makeup was good in noticing my skin's condition - at the time, I had quite red, dry cheeks and I wanted to hide that. Instead of just listening to me asking for a coverup though, she first moisturised my skin and then applied Redness Remedy, a yellow-shaded powder that aims to calm down red tones.

Next she colour-matched my skin to a shade of Pure Brightening Serum Foundation, applying it with a flat-ended Perfecting Face Brush and showing me the techniques I needed to recreate it myself. Afterwards she went over any remaining blemishes with an SPF 20 Concealer - suffice to say, I came away with a beautiful skin tone, but I was caked.

After everything, I bought the redness solution, foundation, and concealer - this set me back just over £70, which still makes me flush hot and cold thinking about it. I'm totally for paying out for natural, organic products that are effective and last, but unfortunately I've found the redness remedy powder to be quite useless (my blemishes are also more under control now), and the foundation remains a cakey affair, which isn't great for my dry skin.

WHAT'S IN THE INGREDIENTS?
My main question here though is if these products are actually natural! At the time, I was quite happy to shut my eyes and buy into the Bare Minerals marketing, but what story do the ingredients tell?

Well, turning to my list of 25 harmful beauty ingredients to avoid, I found the ingredients lists to be full with metal oxides - something which may not seem all that troublesome, but when likened to aluminium's effects in certain deodorants, makes me think they shouldn't be anywhere near my skin.

In this sense, I suppose those are the minerals that Bare Minerals refers to - the rest of the lists were peppered with plant-based ingredients and a few not so clean scents such as limonene and linalool, which can cause irritation. On top of that, there was a lack of clarity where the ingredient 'soil minerals' was used, which is never fair.

NOT ORGANIC
As I've noted before, a lot of these products cannot be certified as organic because they are made up of non-living ingredients, but this strays into the dark area of not knowing whether something has come straight from the earth such as spring water, clay, or sea mud, or whether it's had a little tampering along the way.

NOT VEGAN
From reading more about the brand, it also turns out it is not vegan - carmine is freely used, as is beeswax, so if you're looking for vegan beauty I suggest trying smaller independent brands. In terms of cruelty-free status (testing on animals, rather than use of their byproducts), apparently Bare Minerals is cruelty-free, but is not certified, nor displays it on their packaging, and it is known that their parent company is not either.

So, will I be returning to Bare Minerals? Sadly not - both for the impurity of their products, and their general mediocre performance. I love a good brand that promotes natural alternatives, but unfortunately for me, they are simply not natural enough.



MORE IN THE SERIES...
Are The Body Shop products natural?
Are Lush products natural?
25 Beauty Ingredients I Avoid
Before moving to Paris, I really didn't understand the sparkling water craze. After a year of sharing carafes of the stuff, and even sampling the local sparkling water fountain, I love it - I still drink it now I'm back in the UK, and make some delicious drinks with it too!

When I was really young, I remember going to a sleepover, and sneaking downstairs to the kitchen with a friend to drink what we thought was lemonade in the fridge - the shock I had when it was fizzy salty water! I spat it out in the sink and learnt my lesson the hard way! Now however, I'm a fan of those fizzy little bubbles and distinct aftertaste, but I've come to question just how healthy sparkling water is.

Pure sparkling water is simply a mixture of drinking water and carbon dioxide, created by dissolving the gas into the liquid. To keep it this pure, I've been using a SodaStream Power*, which does exactly that with the press of a button. In this set up, sparkling water is actually just as hydrating as drinking water, with no nasty surprises involved - a number of shop-bought alternatives actually contain sweeteners or artificially added extras, something I didn't know about for a long time.

In fact, sparkling water has been my little treat for a while now, as it's given me the ability to make healthy drinks that still have that satisfying fizz without the unknown additives and spoonfuls of sugar that come in cans and bottles. On the sustainability side of things, this is also a bonus - I've been using my SodaStream to make batches of sparkling water to take in my glass bottle at work, saving plastic waste as well as protecting my teeth (sparkling water is slightly more acidic than regular water, but it's not at all harmful, whereas regular fizzy drinks are acidic and sugary - terrible for dental health!).

I guess the biggest plus for me having access to sparkling water at home is that it's stopped me reaching for sugary alternatives, and I've come to create a quick recipe or two that not only taste great, but are topping up my vitamin C intake now that the weather is getting colder. Read on to try out my healthy virgin mojito recipe!



HEALTHY VIRGIN MOJITO RECIPE
Serves 2

500ml sparkling water
1 small lime
1 handful mint leaves
1 tsp unrefined brown sugar (optional)
+
2 bottles or glasses

  1. Fill your SodaStream Power bottle to the line, slip into place in the machine and choose how fizzy you like your water - I'm tame, selecting only one burst of carbon dioxide, but it truly depends on your taste buds!
  2. Next, slide up half one small lime - it's surprising how strong they taste
  3. If you're being fancy, you may want to roll the lip of your drinks containers in unrefined brown sugar to make mock cocktails
  4. Now rip off a handful of mint per person, wash under the tap and place in your bottles along with the sliced lime, sharing the leaves and slices equally
  5. Pour in your sparkling water - watch how the bubbles fizz!
  6. Finally, take the other half of your lime and squeeze across the two bottles evenly to give it a final kick, stir, and voilà!
This is a little story about my affairs with fluoride-free toothpaste - while it seemed like a great idea, there were a few caveats that I've learnt over the last year or so, and you may want to contemplate them too before switching over...

Switching to an 'au naturel' lifestyle may seem a little daunting at first, but once you get into finding alternatives in the realms of beauty, food, and fashion, routines usually fall into place. Researching products before purchase has become a key part of being a conscious consumer, but I unfortunately did fall into a few traps when trying to switch to a fluoride-free toothpaste.

You may firstly be wondering why fluoride is something to be moving away from. According to the British Dental Foundation, fluoride is a mineral that can be found in drinking water and foods, as well as toothpaste. In regards to dental health, fluoride can greatly help by strengthening tooth enamel as well as reducing the amount of acid produced by bacteria.

When sitting down to do research on the subject, I actually found it hard to find an unbiased factual account of fluoride's general affects on the human body, other than the protection of teeth, or a number of claims that it affects the pineal gland in the brain and can lead to strange developments in the body. While I do not endorse either opinion on here, my main goal in life is to strike a happy balance between natural products and my health and wellbeing - and chemical-bound toothpaste just doesn't quite cut it for me.

However, after now brushing without fluoridated toothpaste for a good while, I can say a few things - firstly, a lot of fluoride-free brands are not vegetarian or vegan. My first tube of Aloe Dent Toothpaste actually contained shellfish, something I was shocked to find out when nearing the end of the tube. Considering a lot of the conscious consumer market do reduce the amount of meat in their diet (whether it be for sustainability, cruelty, or health), it does seem a little nonsensical to keep this ingredient in the formula. Thankfully, Aloe Dent's Whitening Fluoride-Free Toothpaste doesn't contain shellfish, which is something I have now switched to, but it wasn't a nice experience to start with.

Second, is the plain fact that no matter how you change your toothpaste, you will still be exposed to fluoride in one way or another. Here in the UK, it is artificially added to drinking water in the name of dental health. It's a strange practice, as this is not a worldwide phenomenon - in fact, many European countries do not artificially fluoridate their water supplies, and show no real difference in terms of their population's dental health. On top of this, many foods and drinks also have it added, meaning you will never truly eradicate it from your diet.

Third is the pure and simple fact that sometimes, fluoridated toothpaste can actually be a medicine. Before switching to fluoride-free toothpaste, my dentist actually prescribed me a higher dosage of fluoridated toothpaste from my usual shop-bought paste to help prevent cavities from increasing in size between my teeth. I'm all for a natural lifestyle, but to ignore the personalised advice of a medical professional seems pretty darn risky, and I in no way endorse it. Please make sure you talk to your dentist about the subject or at least find out whether your teeth can cope without fluoridated toothpaste.

Now, if you've come out of the other end of all my recommendations still wanting to hop on the fluoride-free train, you may want to take your time considering the alternatives available. I would strongly suggest starting off by changing to a mint-flavoured paste without fluoride, so you can ease into the more alternative methods - from Lush's chalky toothy tabs, to propolis or fennel flavoured pastes, right down to pure bicarbonate of soda, there's a lot out there, but they do seem to require a minty-fresh sacrifice on your part!
There's no denying the allure of The Body Shop - their cosmetic boutiques are beautifully crisp and clean, with a natural, earth-friendly vibe. But are their beauty products all they're cracked up to be?

I recently visited The Body Shop on Oxford Street to find out whether their beauty products are as natural as they purport themselves to be. On my visit, I purchased this pretty lipstick in the shade 'Hot Date', along with a bronzer, and a face + body brush for application. All in all, this set me back just under £30 - not bad for a high-street shop in general. I was also informed by an assistant that the brush was made of synthetic bristles, as are all of their brushes, and that The Body Shop does not believe in animal testing - another tick in my book.

When I got home with my goodies, I then dug out my ingredients to avoid list, and found very little nasty surprises. The main issue for me was the perfume in the lipstick - an unnamed ingredient which does not help in discerning whether or not the chemicals used could be harmful.

Along this line of thought, the inclusion of tin oxide in the lipstick and bronzer, as well as magnesium aluminum silicate in the bronzer alone did lead me to looking up the bulk of ingredients on the EWG Skin Deep database, finding that both come from naturally occurring minerals with low cause for concern.

As with all natural beauty products, it really depends on where you draw the line. Non-living ingredients can never be glassed as organic, thus substances like clay, sea mud, and water, are all inorganic. However, in comparison to other green beauty brands I like to purchase from, I was surprised at the amount of unrecognisable chemical names - I usually can decipher latin names for plant-based ingredients, and these were surprisingly few and far-between, hidden at the bottom of the ingredients lists.

For a brand as a whole, I'm still impressed by how much they have stuck to founder Anita Roddick's vision - all of their range is cruelty-free, and they are actively against animal testing, as well as actively campaigning for human rights, ethical trade, and protecting the planet (you can find out more about all of these on their Values page). Of course, a lot of this is bloated business-speak without the same degree of implementation as smaller brands - their environmental policy summaries reducing emissions and minimising packaging for example, yet the bulk of the packaging I received was made from plastic. But for a high street brand, they could be a lot worse.

And that is where I suppose the final blow comes in - just under 10 years ago, The Body Shop became part of the L'Oréal family. While it remains true to its original self, it does form one pillar for a questionably unethical super-brand. It's true that L'Oréal declared it no longer tests on animals, except where it is a legal requirement, since March 2013, but it by no means advocates the use of natural products where possible in its other cosmetic branches.

Overall, I'm going to say that I'm happy to continue using the items I purchased at The Body Shop, and I would definitely recommend it as a brand to start converting to if you are not already a natural beauty fan, but realistically there are many much cleaner independent brands that wholeheartedly believe in natural cosmetics and their benefits.
It's giveaway time! I'm really excited to be invited to this year's BBC Good Food Show London, and I'd love for you to come along with me!

As with every giveaway on Curiously Conscious, I get so excited to give you the oppotunity to enjoy something I do - with the BBC Good Food Show in London, I'm eager to learn new culinary skills from the likes of Mary Berry, Paul Hollywood, Michael Roux Jr., Tom Kerridge and James Martin, and then try them out in healthy recipes!

On top of cooking, there will be over 200 exhibitors with foodie bits and bobs to taste and try, as well as kitchen equipment, baking goodies, and more. The event will be hosted at Olympia London, on 13-15th November 2015.

To enter my competition, all you need to do is follow me on Twitter, and enter your username in the form below - you can then also pick from the other options to increase your chance of winning! Please note that this competition is open to UK residents only, as tickets will be sent to you before the event. Tickets are only available for Friday 13th or Sunday 15th November 2015. Good luck!



a Rafflecopter giveaway
Here they are, perfectly spiralled strands of carrot, potato, and in previous posts, courgette - but which spiraliser actually works best? Having tried two now, I can tell you that some really are better than others...

When I tried out my first spiraliser, I immediately likened it to Victorian copper jelly moulds - they will be at the height of culinary fashion for a few years, yet they seem quite limited in their real-life use.

Now, I do think this assumption is a little off, but it all comes down to the spiraliser in question. I invested in my first around six months ago, a small handheld version I picked up from eBay for a tenner, and chewed a few fresh veggies to pieces. Granted, there were a couple of instances that did work - courgettes were a sure bet so long as they were ripe enough - but I really struggled with root vegetables. On top of this, I would have to put a lot of effort into making smooth, well-formed courgette noodles, with the little elbow grease I do have getting completely used up, and having a lump of courgette left over that I would end up slicing anyway so as not to waste it. In the end, I left it rolling around in the back of a kitchen cupboard because of how much effort it actually took to use.
This is my new Gefu Spiralfix Spiraliser*, and while it was given to me to try out by the lovely family at Steamer Trading, I have to say it's made me change my outlook on spiralising completely. It slices courgettes with ease, as well as carrots and potatoes without any real frustration at all. On top of that, it doesn't take up an entire work surface, which was my qualm when contemplating a better one - I much prefer veggie noodles over wheat ones, but I rarely eat wheat noodles more than once a week!

To use this spiraliser, you need to cut your vegetables so they fit inside the top compartments diagonally, and then choose your spiraliser setting - there are three, from thin to thick, with a fourth ribbon setting. Then all it takes is a slight pressure while rotating the lever, and your spirals will all be caught in the bottom, leaving only a thin slice of vegetable left at the end - so much less waste than my first one.

From the first photo, you can see that potato and carrots come out perfectly, and the other delightful element is that if there is any leftover spirals, you can detach the bowl from the bottom and place the lid that comes with it on top, making an air-tight container perfect for the fridge (it's good to note that all plastic used is BPA-free).

If you've been sitting on the fence when it comes to spiralising, I would definitely recommend assessing how much pasta and noodles you eat, and how much you enjoy fried veggies and raw salads before investing. If you're like me and love to try out lots of healthy recipes, they can be a dream - so long as you choose the right one wisely. For me, that was this effective yet compact one, which may be triple the price of a handheld but actually does the job. If you're a budding chef, you may prefer the larger variety - but I just want something that suits my irregular veggie noodle urges!
September was a rather cheesy month! Here's my favourite recipe that I made using the wonderful cashew cheese from Gozo Deli - I can't wait to get more in my fridge to make it all over again!

While this dish may be simple, I've learnt over the years that often the best tasting wholefood dishes are. This healthy Mediterranean-inspired recipe lets the cashew cheese be the star of the tastebud show, but also nourishes the body with a mix of plants and textures.

I've also recently taken spiralising to the next level - I will be comparing my new and old spiralisers on the blog tomorrow, so you can find out the easiest way to create vegetable noodles!



PLANT-BASED CREAM CHEESE + COURGETTE NOODLES
Serves 1

5 cherry tomatoes
1 medium courgette
2 tbsp smoked paprika casheese*
1 tbsp olive oil
Handful olives

  1. In a small frying pan (if you have one with a lid, use that), add a splash of olive oil and heat
  2. Add the cherry tomatoes, rolling in the oil quickly, and then pop the lid on, leaving them to sizzle and split their skins
  3. While the tomatoes are frying, spiralise your courgette, and then add it to the pan, leaving the lid off now and stirring every few minutes
  4. Once the courgette noodles are soft and warm, slide them into a pasta dish and spoon through the casheese - it will melt a little due to the heat, yum yum yum
  5. Now pop on the olives, and voilà!

Hello October! It's been a rough end of September (despite my holiday in Amsterdam, an abrupt five hour train delay, unexpected overlay in Brussels, and delayed house move has me feeling all worn out) so I'm actually looking forward to the longer evenings and curling up with a hot cocoa (or a chaga mushroom tea if I'm being really healthy!)

Along with the change of season comes the change of fruit and vegetables that are in season. Make a note of the following when popping down to your local market (or even supermarket) to make the tastiest and healthiest meals you can this month...

FRUIT IN SEASON IN OCTOBER
  • Apple
  • Banana
  • Blackberries
  • Cranberries
  • Dates
  • Figs
  • Grapes
  • Pear
  • Plum
  • Pomegranate
  • Raspberries

VEGETABLES IN SEASON IN OCTOBER
  • Aubergine
  • Artichoke
  • Beetroot
  • Broccoli
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Celeriac
  • Celery
  • Cress
  • Cucumber
  • Garlic
  • Kale
  • Lettuce
  • Leek
  • Marrow
  • Mushrooms
  • Onion
  • Pak choi
  • Parsnip
  • Peas
  • Pepper
  • Potato
  • Pumpkin
  • Radish
  • Rocket
  • Runner beans
  • Spinach
  • Spring onion
  • Squash
  • Swede
  • Sweetcorn
  • Sweet potato
  • Tomato
  • Turnip

NUTS IN SEASON IN OCTOBER
  • Chestnut
  • Hazelnut
  • Walnut

HERBS IN SEASON IN OCTOBER
  • Basil
  • Bay leaf
  • Borage
  • Chamomile
  • Chervil
  • Chives
  • Dill
  • Garlic chives
  • Lavender
  • Lovage
  • Majoram
  • Mint
  • Oregano
  • Parsley
  • Rosemary
  • Sage
  • Sorrel
  • Tarragon
  • Thyme