Supplements are a tricky thing. When it comes to eating a mainly wholefood diet, mindful eating usually takes care of looking after your vitamin and mineral needs, but do you know when it's worth taking hold of a little helping hand?

I've actually resisted writing about supplements for a long time now. I've never been a big believer in topping up my diet in any other form than food, having been raised without pills wherever possible (of course, medication, vaccines, and painkillers did all feature), and I'm also very wary of giving health advice as I'm in no way a qualified to do so.

However, over the last few weeks, I've been trying out Viridian's High Five Multivitamin and Mineral capsules* and alongside them, I've researched a little into the mighty multivitamin and its benefits. What I've come to realise is that while I personally may not be in desperate need of topping up my vitamin and mineral reserves, they are a complicated thing to look after and everyone has different requirements. Multivitamins cover all bases.

For me, what's interesting is the range of side-effects that the lack of vitamins and minerals can cause - from tiredness, drowsiness, and lack of energy, to diseases like scurvy - showing that while you may think you need another coffee at work, or are all too frequently popping a painkiller, it may be a lack of a certain vitamin or mineral that is causing your body to try and communicate its issue.

My personal experience with this multivitamin has been a bit mixed really, as my urine (gross, I know) turned a bright yellow the days that I took the tablet, showing I was in fact consuming too much vitamin B. That being said, the High Five Multivitamin is supposed to have higher levels of vitamin B5, so it may be that it's simply too strong a version for my body. In terms of other vitamins and minerals, it is possible to have too much of those as well (note, certain vitamins are stored while others are flushed, so overdosing is possible yet rare), but I personally didn't note any other real negative. In fact, I felt more alert and happier when supplementing my diet. I general though, I don't think I need to take a multivitamin, although I would definitely recommend Viridian for anyone looking to do so, as their range is clear and easy to understand, with many vegan and organic options that come in glass jars.

Now that the winter is upon us, it's also especially good to find a secondary source of vitamin D, other than the sparse bursts of sunlight that we're too busy indoors to really appreciate! For this, I've also tried Viridian's Organic Vitamin D capsules*. They too are vegan, and it may actually be worth investing in these if you are plant-based vegan and hiding inside all day, as the general sources of vitamin D are the sun, fish, eggs, and fortified foods such as cereal. In this time of year, plant-based sources alone might not be enough, so these tablets are a good alternative as they are a concentrated version of vitamin D from mushrooms. I personally found these tablets had no adverse affects either, so would happily recommend them to anyone who believes they're in need of a top-up. Each capsule contains 400iu, and the RDA is from 200-800, meaning 1-2 capsules per day is plenty.

Finally, while I've already established that I'm no doctor, I would recommend speaking to one if you do believe you're genuinely lacking in a certain vitamin or mineral. Supplements are a good way to top up, especially if you can have your concerns verified by a health professional. If you're looking to find out more about the exact amounts of vitamin and minerals you need in your diet, try this article by Harvard Health. And of course, you should always take supplements alongside a healthy diet too - they are in no way an alternative to eating well!

As the last part of my Christmas Gift Guide, I thought it should go out with a bang - quite literally. If you're looking to be the big spender this Christmas, or have to get one super special present, ethical gifts really are the cherry on top.

1. Plumen 001 Original Metallic Screw Fitting in Copper, £54.90
2. ECO Round Wall Clock, £39.95
3. Neal's Yard Pure Essence Eau de Parfum No.1 Frankincense, £39.00 for 50ml
4. Neom Happiness Home Candle, £45.00 for 425g
5. Wills London Women's Knee Length Buckle Boots in Black, £94.95
6. S30 Vitamix White, £399.00
7. People Tree Kira Open Knit Jumper, £71.97
8. Mosami Marigold 'Happiness' Stud Earrings, £55.00
9. Booja Booja The Special Edition Gift Collection Hazelnut Truffles, £13.90 for 138g
10. Wilby Primrose Black Citibag, £95.00

Looking for something special for a special someone? Whether it's your husband, boyfriend, or simply a male best friend, there's plenty of ethical gifts you could pick out for him this Christmas. Here are my favourites...

1. Silverstick Hiking Dove Socks, £12.00
2. Scaramouche & Fandango Eau de Toilette Fragrance, £24.95 for 50ml
3. Calming Aftershave Balm, £15.50
4. Wills London Vegan Wallet in Black, £25.00
5. Bluebeard's Revenge Blue Handle Shavette, £9.99
6. Patagonia Mens Fisherman's Rolled Back Beanie, £22.95
7. Klean Kanteen Neptune Blue Vacuum Insulated Wide Bottle, £24.95
8. Konjac Premium Gentlemen's Sponge with Bamboo Charcoal, £8.99
9. Komodo Marlowe Striped Marl Wool Jumper, £46.75
10. Green People Limited Edition Men's Gift Collection in Stag, £15.95

Fancy picking up some beautiful presents but still want to be mindful of your finances? Here's my mid-range picks for ethical gifts that are as pretty as they are wholesome.

1. Urban Bird Nest Box, £26.95
2. Lifefactory Raspberry Glass Bottle, £17.99
3. Long Jogi Bag with Purse in Black White Jacquard print, £18.75
4. Quinoa & Artichoke Hair Care Travel Duo, £16.95 for both
5. Deliciously Ella By Ella Woodward, £20.00
6. People Tree Happy Cats Long Line T-shirt in Grey, £39.95
7. Ocelot Chocolate 70% with Raspberry and Vanilla, £5.99 for 75g
8. BM Beauty Mineral Blush in Velvet Dawn, £7.95 for 3g
9. Discovery Collection in Instant Calm, £20.00
10. Zoya Nail Polish in Kylie2, £10.95

Looking to get some healthy, natural, or sustainable gifts that don't break the bank? Here are my top picks this year - and a lot of them are even cheaper than the quoted price due to Black Friday promotions.

1. Bobble Lime Bottle with Carry Cap, £9.99
2. Raw Halo Mylk + Salted Caramel Raw Chocolate Bar, £3.99 for 32g
3. Koba Round Wire Bowl, £14.95
4. Gold Multi-Hoop Earrings, £5.95
5. Plenish: Juices To Boost, Cleanse & Heal, £12.99
6. 'Love What You Do' Enamel Mug, £7.95
7. EOS Lemon Drop SPF 15 Lip Balm, £5.99
8. Pacifica Tahitian Gardenia Roll On Perfume, £12.00 for 10ml
9. Beefayre Bee Happy Orange & Jasmine Votive, £8.95 for 90g
10. Organic Surge Shine Boost Bundle, £12.95 for both
Blueberry and baobab smoothie bowl
Superfood powders are one of my favourite recipe additions - but do you know just how good they are for you? As well as share with you my favourite new smoothie recipe, I take a little look at baobab and its superfood status...

I've always found it a little tricky to get my head around superfood powders - exotic names and flavours are the first mystery, and then their health benefits the second! However, I have been a fan of baobab for quite some time, and along with its citrus scent is a wonderful boost of vitamins and minerals that I really enjoy in a morning smoothie (smoothies are my go-to breakfast, don't you know!)

There's actually a clue in taste of baobab as to its health benefits; the citrus notes relate to the high vitamin C content. In fact, one dessert spoonful (around 5g) provides 375% of your vitamin C needs for the day, along with a good amount of potassium, calcium, and iron. This makes for a good combination, as iron and vitamin C work together for effective absorption in the body, in the same way that vitamin D and calcium pair up too.

In case you're wondering where baobab gets its super powers from, it's perhaps reflected in the tree it comes from - they're tall, strong plants that grow for years in Africa, flowering with large, heavy white flowers that develop into the nutritious fruit. And the mystery behind baobab isn't uncommon - it's only really been available in Europe since 2008!

Coming up to Christmas, it's also good to recognise baobab's humble beginnings - as one of the great tree fruit from Africa, you can support the growth of such nutritious food for its local people by Growing Hope with TreeAid.

In the meantime, enjoy this recipe - I've been using Minvita's baobab powder* recently, and it's great to have a large amount stocked away for whenever I fancy it. For a smoothie bowl, you'll need a frozen chopped banana. If you'd like a straight smoothie, go for fresh!



BLUEBERRY + BAOBAB SMOOTHIE BOWL
Serves 1

1 ripe banana
1/2 cup frozen blueberries
1 spoonful Minvita baobab powder*
1 tbsp almond butter
250ml plant-based milk

  1. Pop the banana in your blender, along with the blueberries, baobab powder, almond butter, and plant-based milk - I usually use soy, but almond is richer
  2. Blend for a minute or two - I find if you leave the frozen banana to sit for a few minutes before blending, it'll be a lot easier
  3. Pour into a bowl or glass, top with almonds, and enjoy!

Here's what I picked up on my way around BBC Good Food Show London last weekend! While living a sustainable lifestyle definitely advocates a lower rate of consumption, when I say haul I have to stress that I have eaten every one of these delicious treats already... Oops!

To give you a quick overview, the BBC Good Food Show was a showcase for numerous food and drink brands, with events during the three days ranging from taste testing to watching Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood cook up a storm - and I have to say to be in the same room as the lovely Mrs Berry was a dream come true!

On the day, I was happily surprised at how big the healthy eating presence was at the Olympia was, hence my haul exceeding my pre-planned budget somewhat (note to self, mindfulness applies to finances too!) but I couldn't not pick up some of the above goodies, along with a large falafel wrap for lunch which was really needed. For some reason, these events always wear me out!
So, for the haul itself I have to say that I really enjoyed some of these enough to give them their own review (these will be shared over the course of the next month or so) but here are my overall thoughts:

  • Stoats: Think porridge, but in the tastiest of ways. I actually snaffled down the apple and cinnamon version of their oaty bars before I'd gotten off the train home, and the guys behind these oaty treats were so nice to talk to too!
  • Cru8: If you're looking for luxury in the world of vegan and paleo temptations, Cru8 is the place to go to. Alongside the almond macaroons I picked up (I have one left in a jar and I'm trying so hard not to go and eat it as I write), they make kale crisps, bread, crackers and more, plus their rebrand is just beautiful.
  • Nurtural World: This family-owned company make some intriguing nut butter mixes, my favourite being their macadamia butter - I've never seen it elsewhere but it's like a less-sweet white chocolate spread.
  • Perk!er: If you're as quinoa crazy as I am, you should try their quinoa bars - they're a delicious alternative that I really enjoyed snacking on at work without the guilt of chocolate or sweets.
  • Farrington's Mellow Yellow: As a vegetarian, finding alternative sources of omegas 3 and 6 are just as important as protein. Farrington's Mellow Yellow rapeseed oil is one such alternative, and it's perfect for frying too.
  • Genuine Coconut: The prize for my favourite find at the Good Food Show goes to Genuine Coconut - delivered in the coconut itself, it's so obviously fresh and organic that the surprising sweetness of the coconut water was a complete bonus too!
  • Emily's Fruit Crisps: While a little expensive, these fruit crisps are a perfect sweet snack, and their crunch is just so satisfying!

If you went along to the show, I hope you had as good a time as I did - I can't wait to visit again next year!
Coffee has always been a little questionable in the healthy living world, but with a little research, and mindfulness in my approach, I still love to take pleasure in the humble coffee bean and its delicious drinks from time to time.

The easiest way to really explain why coffee is a contentious issue is to understand caffeine's effects on your brain and body. Caffeine actually works in a pretty simple way. Around 45 minutes after you started your cup of joe, the caffeine will have entered your bloodstream and is making its way to your brain, where it blocks the adenosine receptors - a hormone which dampens brain function, meaning energy-enhancing processes are promoted, releasing adrenalin and boosting your metabolism. Sounds pretty good right? The only issue is this activity can actually become addictive (as I found out when indulging my usage of the espresso machine at my place of work a few years ago...)

Addiction always brings up the notion of drugs, but as with so many foods, there are various affects on the mind and body, and it's the mindset of 'a pill for every ill' that is counterproductive. To really nourish the body, we should really be able to get by with seasonal, fresh produce prepared in a wholesome way (usually 50% raw) and with moderate treats. Coffee is one such treat that I love to have every now and again - and while it may have more caffeine than tea (surprisingly, only a smidgen more - 95mg per cup of coffee vs. 75mg per cup of tea), it's an indulgence I will always savour.

And that's why I really enjoyed trying out Nomi's range of cold brew coffee*. Forget your average Starbucks cup chock-full of sugar and other oddities; Nomi specialise in freshly ground coffee so that it's naturally sweeter than preserved variants, while brewing it cold means the taste and nutrients is also saved. The two types I tried were possibly the purest shop-bought coffee I'd ever had - Tokyo Black is 20% cold brew coffee, 80% filtered water, while Kyoto Iced had the addition of full fat British milk, and natural cane sugar. They also sell an almond milk version called Osaka Almond which I would have loved to try as I rarely consume cow's milk. On top of that, they are all sold in glass bottles, a much better alternative to plastic and a happy addition to my kitchen cupboard too! And as for taste - they're smooth, cool, and just plain delicious when you fancy a pick-me-up that's more than the average brew.

In this way, coffee can still be included in a healthy, sustainable diet (it'd be nice to see the coffee Nomi use coming from a fairtrade source) without any trouble at all. Of course, always listen to your body, but also feel free to enjoy delicious coffees such as these as and when you fancy. Mindful eating doesn't promote habits, but it does promote happiness!
Natural beauty inspiration can strike anywhere - so it shouldn't come as a surprise that the original balms from Chambers & Co are now making their way into the natural skin care arena!

As the wintery weather has started to set in, I've been rejuvenating my skin care routine with enriching and deeply nourishing products. The same goes for my hands - colder tap water, drying environments, and washing up in general all cause my skin to lose moisture - so I've switched up to a really nourishing, natural aloe vera hand balm* from Chambers & Co.

Right now, the pot is sat at my beauty stand, meaning I'll apply it when I also do my face moisturising routine in the morning and at night too. So far, it's made my skin feel supple and it also smells so lovely - it probably spends more time under my nose than on my hands! The bergamot and lime essential oils blend into a lemon + lime scent, plus it dries incredibly quickly, meaning I can get up and go as soon as I've put it on.

The best part though is the ingredients list. Chiefly made from coconut oil and aloe vera leaf extract, all the ingredients are easily labeled by their common names and all come from plant-origin except the beeswax, making this balm non-vegan, but it is still cruelty-free according to the founder. I've always said that the purer the product, the better, and this is definitely one of the best I've tried out!

Happy Monday! It's time for another giveaway, and this time round I'm lucky enough to have three tins of organic matcha green tea to give away to three lucky readers!

As you probably know by now, I love a good cup of matcha, and I've even dabbled with it in smoothies and desserts too. The tea is extremely high in antioxidants, with a range of vitamins, and high chlorophyll count too. If you're a fan of green tea, you will definitely enjoy matcha as its taste is similar, with a creamier feel (or at least the way I like to drink it is!)

I'd like to say a big thank you to Living Matcha for providing the three 30g tins of organic matcha green tea for this giveaway. They specialise in organic matcha green tea alone, and their packaging is really ingenious, with a can-type lid to prevent any powder escaping on its journey to you!

To enter the giveaway, all you need to do is follow the prompts on the box below, choosing whichever option you'd like to enter by (or if you're really keen, all of them!). The competition is open to UK residents only, with one tin per winner. Good luck!



a Rafflecopter giveaway
Last weekend I visited a bubble of calmness floating high above the noisy hustle and bustle of Regent Street - Qi Wellness Centre. I went in a fatigued, frustrated soul and came out completely refreshed...

Saturday morning I had a bit of a nightmare - my train was cancelled, and the second delayed. I took the tube, and missed my stop. By the time I rolled up to Qi Wellness Centre, who had invited me to their open day, I was a bedraggled mess, wet through and late to my induction.

Yet even upon entry, I knew that I was holding onto unnecessary emotion - the soft lighting, calming scent and beautifully clean entry hall convinced me of that before I had even taken off my shoes and was shown into the introductory talk to Qi.

You may be wondering what exactly Qi is - and so was I on first hearing about it. Qi (pronounced 'key') is another variant on 'chi', the important life force that flows through us from the yin and yang energy from nature and beyond. While I'm in no way a spiritual expert, I can completely appreciate this concept of balancing forces, and the uneven, urban lifestyles we lead bringing discomfort both mentally and physically.
Throughout the course of the day, with my fellow beginners, we took part in a number of activities that connected us to our bodies and minds. After the introductory talk under the gaze of the protective glass eyes on either end of the room, we took part in chanting, then moving to warm-up exercises similar to sun salutations while remaining stood, as well as hip openers before taking to our floor cushions. Sat simply in the quiet, hum-free meditation room was really quite refreshing - it's hard to find a place that quiet in London, even in your own home.

It was there that we were invited to practice pranayama, or alternate nostril breathing, and then to meditate, with softly-spoken instructions from Leanne, a practitioner at the centre. I began with visualising energy flowing from the tip top of the head to the toes, a similar practice I've tried when meditating previously, and the snippet of time flew by! The golden light I had been focused on turned to easing the slight aches and pains in my body until I was truly comfortable, and truly still. Lifting my eyelids upon 15 minutes, I was surprised to see how quickly I had sunk into the calmer places in my mind - the morning's frustration was completely forgotten.
After this, we were told about the at-home practices offered by the centre - the place is so pristine, yet I hadn't noticed the only piece of technology in the place, a camera discretely positioned on the ceiling so as to permit joining sessions from home. If you're unable to visit the place itself, it may be worth logging on to enjoy the tranquility that the centre exudes through its practices.

To finish the day, we were each scheduled in for a treatment. While nibbling on the hummus and nuts provided as refreshment, I took to reading a review framed near the entrance, which mentioned something to do with odd massages and burping, so I did feel a little anxiety return. But when Alex, my treatment practitioner, took me to a room, again I felt at ease, laying back on a massage table without any embarrassment at having her hands read my body. She massaged my torso through my clothes, exhaling in a strange, methodic way, discovering the tightness in my abdomen from a tough week at work, the pain under my right shoulder blade from poor posture, and finally the excess emotion I had been carrying. By the end of the session I genuinely felt lighter, and I told her this while wiping away a few tears that I couldn't fathom! It was an odd experience, but she said the exact same thing had happened to her the first time she was treated too.

I left shortly after, a-glow from the time I had spent there, with a somewhat deeper understanding of the way my body works, storing emotion in an almost physical way within my body, as well as the true necessity of meditation. I promised to return again soon, and I know that I'll feel just as good the second time round too.
Colder weather is here - and coming with it is drier skin! I've always had to moisturise my legs, and especially well during the winter months, so it's nice to have found a thick, creamy, natural body butter that suits my needs.

What's your skin like during the colder months? For me, I still have a problem with oily skin on my upper body, but my legs, hands, elbows, and feet suddenly all crave moisture! After trialling Shea Yeleen's range of butter creams, I've found the perfect cure - Lavender Honeysuckle Shea Butter Cream*.

I've been really happy with the way the shea butter works with my skin - after shaving, it leaves my legs soft and smooth without any razor burn, which is usually the issue I have with body moisturisers. After reading through the ingredients, I've come to deduce that it's the high percentage of shea butter and plant-based ingredients that helps with this, including sunflower seed oil, olive oil, calendula flower and chamomile extracts, and coconut wax.

When it comes to shea butter, there are a number of reasons why it's great for the skin - first, it melts at body temperature, making it super easy to quickly absorb into the skin, and it nourishes throughout, being high in vitamins a, e, and f.

Of all the products I tried, the Lavender Honeysuckle scent was definitely my favourite - it smells flowery and fresh at once, which actually quite odd to imagine but trust me, it's so pleasant to apply after towelling off each morning. I also enjoyed using their Lavender Ylang Ylang handmade soap*, which dealt with my oily upper body well while showering, and smelt lovely and light, making for an overall pampered experience when washing!

Also good to note is Shea Yeleen's ethical efforts towards its production - as a member of the Fair Trade Federation, it works with two different women's cooperatives in Northern Ghana, improving the wellbeing of the women through economic independence thanks to the living wage that they're paid and the training they receive. I'd definitely like to see more of that in natural beauty!
If there's anything I've learnt since starting my mindful eating journey, it's to listen to my body, and with that I've learnt that chocolate totally wrecks with my skin. Luckily enough, there is a pretty darn wonderful alternative, made with 100% organic raw cacao too...

My love/hate relationship with chocolate is pretty simple - I love the taste, but I hate the way it makes my skin so damn oily! Gross! If I eat more than two chunks, I'll wake up the next day greasy and spotty - no matter what. However, if you're like me and can't cut it out completely (and believe me, I've tried), there are some really great alternatives available - Ombar being one of the best. It truly is a moment of enlightened bliss to eat!
One of the things that has been missing for me when it comes to raw chocolate is that 'melt in the mouth' sensation, and I've got to say that Ombar has nailed it with their Coco Mylk bar*. This one was by far my favourite, as it tasted so close to milk chocolate without the dairy. Oh, did I mention the whole range is vegan?

Other flavours I've tried include Cranberry & Mandarin* (my second favourite - think chocolate orange but more 'real' tasting), Goji Berry*, and 72% Raw Cacao*. Even if you're a dark chocolate fan, raw chocolate is definitely a step up, with the same creamy taste but no heat involved in production, locking in a little extra nutrients despite them being sweet treats!

I think the other cool addition to these is the inclusion of 'friendly bacteria' - I'm a big believer in kombucha and its health benefits (it clears up UTIs like nobody's business) - so to have this alongside lesser refined sugars (Ombar uses unrefined coconut sugars as well as fruit to flavour their chocolate) and the fact that's its raw is a really big plus.

And as it's a Friday, I've got to say, treat yourself! Mindful eating is not about restrictions - it's all about enjoying the taste of your food alongside its health benefits, and Ombar certainly brings those two things together. So if you're going to grab chocolate this weekend, try giving raw chocolate a go - I promise your body will thank you for it.
Curiously Conscious on Instagram
Sometimes it's a little difficult to distinguish the blurry lines between social media starlets and real life - I know I've fallen for it quite a bit! But I do think there is a happy medium no-one is talking about...

First, I've just got to say - I love writing these personal posts! I'm hoping to get my camera out again soon and start 'vlogging' to give you a glimpse into my reality, but for now it's in the form of a post. And I suppose that's part of the problem really - you can't see me tucked up in my pyjamas just gone eight o'clock (because I'm that cool) with a messy bun and a stack of washing up to do, but that's where I am right now. And I'm writing to tell you that the commotion that Essena O'Neill has caused from her drastic change from Instagram beauty to complete realist is actually awesome, but I think it's being twisted a little from my perspective and that a mindful approach to any kind of platform is best.

To anyone who hasn't read her story, essentially she has blown the lid on social media being used as a business, with popular accounts accepting product placements, alongside photo editing and tweaking to create fake lives that the majority of users aspire to, or even compare their lives to and feel jealous, upset, and sad because their lives aren't as 'perfect'.

Strangely enough, I'd been enjoying Essena's channel recently so it was a bit surreal to see her face in the most popular posts on the Guardian yesterday. The latest video I had watched was about her deleting her Instagram photos and writing candid captions that explain the way a photographer would make her look good during meditation, or she would pose in a certain way with a product she had been paid thousands of dollars to promote to her followers. Equally saddening is that she's become a victim of this situation too, and is only now realising that self-acceptance and love can't come from a follower counter.

So I thought as someone who is quite active online, both on Curiously Conscious and across social media, that to a certain extent she's right - but there is a positive way to use social networks too. From my personal experience, I've been both the end-user, looking at beautiful girls posing in twisted yoga positions and feeling guilty for sitting on a sofa scrolling through those photos, but I'm now too starting to understand the responsibility that having a presence online has.

For me, social media is very much a sharing tool - and yes, it's super easy to get bogged down in the numbers, and yes, I do like seeing new follower notifications like anyone else does. But really what I believe it means is that I've inspired someone to want to see or read more of the content I'm creating - whether it be healthy recipes, natural beauty reviews, or something else that has positively affected my life - hence why Curiously Conscious exists in the first place.

And while it may be a sad truth when I say that not everything in my life is as pristine as my white-white-white Instagram feed, did you really expect that it was? The reason I didn't blog last Friday? I was out with a friend, and sometimes you've got to put down your tech and really enjoy yourself. My new hair colour? Yes, it's out of a box - and no, it's not good for my hair or the environment, but I really can't afford a cut and soy dye for £150 right now, as much as I would love to do that and feature it on here.

As with the mindful approach to life, there's always a happy medium, and a positive way to use the tools we have been lucky enough to have in front of us. For me, that's the desire to blog, research, and go out into the world looking for clean and green things that excite me and probably do you too! But there also has to be that balance - my boyfriend and I were recently discussing how computers are almost like a fascinating second-brain, so it's easy to see how people can get caught up in an online life rather than a real one.

The other side of the coin is that as a content creator, I do have dicey choices to make in terms of funding my blog. If the day ever comes around where I can support myself through income on my blog, I would jump for joy - just as a writer would on publishing their book, or an artist on selling their paintings. Monetising for the sake of money doesn't make a good blog though, and I'm very very selective with what I feature on here, ensuring anything I do write about is something I myself would want to read about as a follower of other like-minded blogs. I also aim to be as transparent as possible, with a disclaimer, asterisk-marked PR samples, and sponsored post footers for all to see - despite having been asked to not disclose that information (those 'marketers' should really know better).

So in my opinion, while Essena does have a point - self-appreciation is much more about finding a contentedness inside yourself, and within your actions, than your social standing both online or in reality - I actively want to see amazing things from you all! I want to hear about your day and how you smashed it at the gym. I love scrolling through Instagram seeing others achieve yoga positions they never thought they could, or create a delicious healthy recipe for themselves last night. Go out there, speak to others, meet up with friends, and be your own inspiration - while sharing those happy moments and positive finds online for the rest of the world to see and enjoy too. I know that's what makes me feel best and I really hope positivity can be shared many times over than the negativity that is being focused on in the media right now.
West Country Heating eco-friendly radiator
Living a green lifestyle is often easier said than done, and this is especially true about your home – is it insulated? How efficient is your heating? However, there are a number of environmentally friendly technologies out there that can be easily introduced into your home.

As with a lot of green lifestyle ideas, the other great element is that they save you money too. These three ideas work efficiently and use less energy, while reimbursing you with the installation costs many times over.
Here are my favourite eco-friendly systems that I’d love to have in my house someday:

RAINWATER HARVESTERS
Rainwater harvesters help to reduce the depletion of the earth's ground water, which has a dramatic impact on the planet due to an ever-increasing human reliance on fresh drinking water.

They work by gathering rainwater that accumulates on the roof of a property via drainage systems. This water is then gravity-fed down into underground pipes before entering a filter designed to prevent debris like leaves and soil from contaminating it. Once this process is complete the water is ideal for human consumption!

The rainwater tank is usually situated underneath the lawn of a property and works through the use of a pump mechanism that recognises when water pressure has dropped somewhere in the home, such as when a tap is turned on. Once a pressure change is identified the system can then promptly supply water to where it is needed.

SOLAR PANELS
Solar panels are one of the more common energy saving devices for modern homes – I love spotting them on people’s roofs as they grow more and more popular! They work by converting sunlight into electricity, making it capable of powering anything electrical in the home.

Solar panels adsorb sunlight thanks to a specially crafted design comprising of photovoltaic cells built using semi-conducting materials. Even though we’re in the UK, where sunlight is particularly sparse, solar panels function effectively on both sunny and cloudy days. Another excellent benefit of solar panels is they are inexpensive to use and will not incur high energy bills, because after all, sunlight is totally free!

Did you know, energy specialists believe that each solar panel currently in use around the world is actively preventing at least one tonne of carbon from entering the environment every year? This means that if each home and business had solar panels installed the global benefits would be immense.

ENERGY EFFICIENT RADIATORS
One of the simplest processes for installing an energy efficient system onto a property is to simply update the heating system it is currently using. Modern electric radiator systems offer outstanding green technology thanks to advanced environmentally friendly engineering, and they look great too – I wish that was my home in the picture!

Now that we’re getting colder weather, I’m particularly conscious of my heating system’s energy consumption – both for the environment and for my pocket. Luckily, energy efficient radiators have wholly nullified the need for the old energy-guzzling storage heater systems that some homes still use. Modern designs require just a third of the energy consumed by older systems and do not release trace amounts of carbon like old storage heaters do. This is a particularly good benefit, as the combined release of all this carbon has had a negative environmental impact over the years and can cause breathing difficulties when used over long periods of time, particularly for asthma sufferers.

Sponsored by West Country Heating.
Pumpkins aren't just for Halloween! I love the bulbous orange veggie for warming recipes, including this chunky stew, which I normally pair with wholegrain rice.

Now that the 'day of the dead' has come and gone, you might be wondering what to do with your leftover pumpkins - this is just the thing for you! As a simple one-dish recipe, you can leave it on the stove to simmer until it's just the way you like it, and if you want to go the extra mile, you can even blend it up into a soup to have with seedy brown bread - yum!

Like a lot of the recipes I write about, this one is 'accidentally vegan' - I only just realised after eating it today! It makes the most of British seasonal veggies, and has a nice warming kick from the black pepper, perfect for heating up after a fresh walk on a Sunday morning.



WARMING PUMPKIN STEW
Serves 4

2 tbsp olive oil
1 large red onion
1 medium pumpkin
4 tbsp lentils
1 vegetable stock cube
1 tbsp black pepper
+
Handful of pumpkin seeds, shelled

  1. In a large saucepan, pour in two tablespoons of olive oil and apply medium heat
  2. On a large chopping board, finely slice your onion, and add to the pan, covering with a lid and cooking until translucent
  3. While your onion cooks, prepare your pumpkin - I slice it into melon-like pieces before removing the skin and dicing the flesh
  4. When the onion is translucent, start adding your pumpkin into the pan, returning the lid each time
  5. Once all of the pumpkin is in the pan, dissolve your stock cube with half a cup of boiling water and pour into the mix
  6. Now add the lentils and black pepper, mixing thoroughly before leaving on a low heat to simmer for 15-20 minutes with the lid on
  7. If serving with rice, cook this now - wholegrain usually takes 15-20 minutes so you can time your pumpkin stew with that
  8. Once the time is up, your pumpkin should be lovely and soft - you can either mash it, or break the pieces down with a wooden spoon to a chunkiness of your preference, serving as you wish!
The eleventh month of the year is here... And it's suddenly bitterly cold scarf weather with bluish walks to work and darker afternoons and the sun goes down before five o'clock... not my favourite time of the year, but it's good in terms of hot, stodgy meals! Make a note of the following fruit and vegetables for when you pop down to your local market so you can make the tastiest and healthiest meals you can this month (please note that these lists are for the UK climate only):

FRUIT IN SEASON IN NOVEMBER
  • Apple
  • Clementine
  • Crab apple
  • Cranberries
  • Dates
  • Pears
  • Pumpkin
  • Quince
  • Rosehips

VEGETABLES IN SEASON IN NOVEMBER
  • Beetroot
  • Broccoli 
  • Brussel sprout
  • Carrot
  • Cauliflower
  • Celeriac
  • Celery
  • Chard
  • Chicory
  • Cress
  • Endive
  • Fennel
  • Garlic
  • Jerusalem artichoke
  • Kale
  • Kohlrabi
  • Lambs lettuce
  • Leeks
  • Lettuce
  • Mushroom
  • Parsnip
  • Pea
  • Pepper
  • Potato
  • Pumpkin
  • Radicchio
  • Red cabbage
  • Rocket
  • Runner bean
  • Salsify
  • Squash
  • Swede
  • Sweet potato
  • Tomato
  • Turnip
  • White radish

NUTS IN SEASON IN NOVEMBER

  • Chestnut
  • Hazelnut


HERBS IN SEASON IN NOVEMBER
  • Bay leaf
  • Borage
  • Chive
  • Garlic chive
  • Lavender
  • Oregano
  • Rosemary
  • Sage
  • Thyme