New Year's Eve is traditionally a time for partying hard and fireworks, but it also gives us the opportunity to relax and return to a more mindful state in anticipation of a new orbit around the sun...

Looking back on the year, I've got to admit I've been through a lot of mindless times. Completing my final year exams is now a blurred memory of stress and information overload; my first job since then also put me on an emotional rollercoaster that left me reeling. But out of these fires has come amazing events and opportunities: my graduation day, my new job in the heart of London, and an opportunity to cherish my family even more during the brief Christmas period as I returned home, a 'true adult' now. And alongside those, I also have the pleasure of reflecting on the constant pillars of support in my life: family, friends, my boyfriend Ash, the healthy living community, yoga and exercise.

It's on this day, celebrating the year gone by and the prospect of a new one with my loved ones that I'm mindful and thankful of everything that has happened this year, and I thank you to you for joining me on this journey too.

I hope that you're also feeling this beautifully light contented feeling as you read this and reflect on the amazing things that have happened this year in your life, and that you're motivated to deepen this through more conscious living, supporting sustainable enterprise, indulging in natural beauty, and cooking up delicious wholefoods. I look forward to starting the year with Yoga with Adriene's Yoga Camp, rising to the challenge of a new job, and practicing meditation. But even the simplest intention (I think that's a much more positive way of looking at a resolution) can bring the same pleasure, such as sleeping a full eight hours most nights, focusing on your meals as your eat rather than a screen, or composting your food waste. Whatever it may be, enjoy the moments when you set around to practicing and mastering your intention, rather than feeling guilty about the moments you don't.

Wishing you a beautiful 2016.

Besma
What a year it's been! As we draw 2015 to a close, I thought it might be nice to look back at the posts that stuck out - whether it be from my experience or your response!

1. YOGA
Yoga may have slowly dropped off my radar in December, but it's played a big part in shaping my 2015. From 30 Days practicing with Adriene Mishler, to my half-hour practices before my final year exams, it's definitely given me peace of mind and I'm aiming to take it back up in January 2016 too. Here's my story on how I got into yoga, if you're interested!

2. DISCUSSIONS ON FOOD
It's crazy how much has changed this year - I started off as a university student and finished as a woman moving into her second graduate job! Crazy! However, one of my proudest moments is completing my dissertation in French on the benefits of local food. It actually led to some interesting blog posts, including 'Is organic food better for you?' and 'What can we learn from eating local?' - please have a read if you haven't already!

3. GREEN PARIS
Paris has played a huge part in shaping my view on the world and notably on my sustainable and mindful approach to food. Later on in the year, I shied away from writing about the Paris attacks honestly because I couldn't thread a coherent view together. But really what I've come to say to anyone who talks to me about them is that life goes on; and we must, too. Paris remains one of the most beautiful cities in the world, with a rich culture and amazing healthy hot spots too, and should be celebrated. If you're planning on heading there, I suggest you check out my Green Paris series - and hit me up if you'd like further tips from a former habitant!

4. MY JUICE CLEANSE
So after my final year exams were said and done, I decided to reset with a DIY juice cleanse. It took a lot of prep (read how to prepare here), but I did it - and put together a juice cleanse plan if you want to go on one too! Plus if you don't have the time to do it yourself, you can check out my 10 of the best paid plans post too.

5. TAKING TO YOUTUBE
This has been one of the most daring moments of the year - starting the Curiously Conscious channel! While the videos have been inconsistent, I'm super excited to ramp up the frequency in the new year now I have a new camera to match. Stay tuned!

6. BRANCHING INTO FASHION
Another new addition to the blog has been my ethical fashion page - and it's gone down a storm with you all! When it comes to buying ethical fashion, I'm a stickler for the 'if it aint broke, don't fix it' regime, in the sense that there's no need to chuck out all of the items you've already purchased, but investing in key pieces to create a capsule wardrobe over time is my aim.

7. DISCOVERING SUPERFOODS
Was 2015 the year of the superfood? We've gone from blueberries and kale to cacao, matcha, and baobab, and I've genuinely loved it! I love discovering new tastes (even if some of them aren't to my liking - looking at you nori!) and I hope to continue my discoveries in 2016.

8. HIGH STREET BEAUTY
As I've delved into green beauty, I'm glad to have covered all the high street bases first. Featuring Bare MineralsThe Body ShopLush, and Burt's Bees, I've decided the best options are often online - but marketing definitely doesn't reflect the genuine ethoses of each shop!

9. SMOOTHIE BOWLS GALORE!
My breakfasts this year transformed from smoothies to smoothie bowls - check out the recipes and let me know which is your favourite!

10. HELLO GREEN LONDON
From Green Birmingham to Green Paris and now Green London... I've been moving around quite a bit over the last year and a half! Now I'm hoping to find a place in the heart of London and write a lot more about the best places to visit in the capital in terms of healthy, sustainable living, so look out for that!
Wishing you all a merry and mindful Christmas - enjoy the food, family, and festive cheer!
Besma
When is comes to the festive season, I do love to indulge a little - so it's nice to find a recipe that is both as healthy as it is indulgent.

It's a great pleasure this Christmas Eve to be featuring Kezia Hall's Christmas stollen energy bites recipe, along with her 'baking rationale'. I've been a fan of her site, Super Naturally Healthy, for a long while now - as a holistic health coach and online healthy eating course creator, she's just full of great recipes and ideas!

Here's her gorgeously rich recipe full of superfoods, along with her journey to healthy eating:

When is comes to the festive season it is all about the food for me. Of course family plays its role I suppose but it the pies, chocolate and endless excuses to have cookies and milk I love. But as a holistic health coach and recovering sugar addict I am also just as excited about staying healthy, energised and happy over the festive season.

You see I used to suffer from terrible digestive issues, depression, chronic bowel problems, crazy hormones and worse until I discovered that my one of my greatest loves, food, could actually be my medicine. Eating could actually help me heal - this was such good news! So I went on a journey of learning to listen to (and love) my body and find out what being healthy and healed looked like for ME.

Yet despite what you might think, this hasn't involved becoming a food bore and always eating salad. One of my great joys in life is eating things like cake and having a treat with my coffee. I have learnt that it all contributes just as much to my overall health as green juice does!

This Stollen Bite Recipe is the perfect example of speedy, delicious and drool worthy food that is actually going to add a spring to your step NOT an added wobble and do your body some good this festive season!

These are free from refined sugar, gluten, grains and dairy and don’t involve baking so even the most domestically challenged can produce these in a flurry! Full of healthy fats to keep you full and your blood sugar more stable and wonderful fibre from the dates, this is the perfect energy boosting alternative to a stodgy gluten-filled treat. Plus they take about 20 minutes to make and taste divine. The perfect post-Christmas shopping, present wrapping, energy boost in my books!

If you want more deliciously simple winter snacks and treat recipes that will do you good then check out my Eat & Be Merry Recipe eBook to so you can have your cake and eat it this winter!

So enjoy your festive treats this Christmas - just make sure they nourish your body inside and out!



HEALTHY STOLLEN BITES RECIPE
Makes 14-16 pieces

200g almonds
2 tsp almond extract
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/8 tsp cloves
1/8 tsp nutmeg
3 medjool dates
50g butter or coconut oil
Pinch salt
Zest of half lemon
+
50g dark chocolate

  1. Place all the ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth (roughly 1-2 minutes depending on quality of processor)
  2. Then in a small, glass, lined dish press the mixture until even, flat and firm. Alternatively you could shape into balls
  3. Place in fridge to set for 45 minutes
  4. Once set, melt the chocolate in a glass bowl over a pan of boiling water. Then use a spoon to drizzle over the top of your bites and allow the drizzle to set
  5. Store in the fridge in a sealed container and they will last for 2 weeks, or longer in the freezer
It seems that conscious consumerism is making a difference! Along with more options for sustainable fashion, beauty, and more, we’re getting our very own sites to source it from, with exclusive rewards. Bonsum is one of the best.

Shopping online is nothing new, but being rewarded for being mindful in your purchasing habits definitely is. Similar to a points card, Bonsum is the place to head if you’re spending all your hard earned money on animal-friendly, carbon neutral, fairly traded goods.

It’s simple really – by going to the Bonsum site, all you need to do is register and click through to one of the many sustainable places to shop online that are listed in its catalogue. Depending on the place you go to shop, you’ll receive a certain number of ‘Bonets’ per pound spent, which you can then use to reward yourself or further reward the causes you’re passionate about supporting, including donating to charities. For example, if I do my monthly online shop at Planet Organic through Bonsum, I’ll be a quarter of the way to treating myself to a large jar of Fushi Organic Coconut Oil, or half way to planting a tree in Brazil.

And what’s really great is that the number of stores (and rewards!) listed on Bonsum is constantly growing, with many reputable brands already signed up to the programme. Many places I already am a fan of are listed there, such as Abel & Cole, Green People, Big Green Smile, People Tree, and even Etsy.

The other aspect of the site that I like is that not only are all the listed partners already vetted for you, but their sustainable priorities are highlighted, with options including ‘Animal Friendly’, ‘CO2 Neutral’, ‘Detox Your Life’, ‘Fairness First’, and ‘Smart Sourcing’. You can even refine these options by choosing what is your personal preference in the sidebar. Sustainability is such a vast, umbrella term, so it’s great that all that it encompasses is visibly broken out for you.

If you’d like to know more or register at Bonsum, I’d recommend heading over to their ‘How it works’ page. You can also use the promo code 'curiouslyconscious' at the checkout to receive an additional 200 Bonets when signing up!

Sponsored by Bonsum.
Time and again I've said it - Living Nature is one of my favourite natural beauty brands. This body wash has even reinvigorated my love for shower gels over plain old soap!

When it comes to shower-time skincare, I'm a bit of a rookie. Other than moisturiser (which I love!), I've taken to avoiding shower gels and lotions for the fact that my oily skin does not gel well with the goopy nature of them all. Instead of cleaning my skin, I end up with a strange sheen or am overperfumed, which makes for unsightly break-outs and blemishes.

However, I thought I would give Living Nature's Nourishing Body Wash* a go, in the hopes that it reaches the bar that its other products have set. And, amazingly, it worked!

Now, before you invite this miracle worker into your life as well, there are a few things to note. This product does have a few scary sounding ingredients, such as decyl glucoside, and sodium lauroyl glutamate, but both of these score a lovely green one on EWG's Cosmetic Database. It's also not suitable for vegans, with manuka honey extracts, but the upside of that is its antibacterial properties.

One of the nicest things to note is the consistency and scent. For a lot of natural alternatives, there are sacrifices in either or both departments, but this body wash is perfect in both - a gel that lathers between hands or gloves, and smells clean, fresh, and pleasant, without too much of a grassy base!

And as I said before - it leaves skin soft, smooth, and clean, without a sticky residue or cloying smell. It's also good to hear that Living Nature's packaging combines calcium carbonate (chalk) and polypropylene, so it uses less energy and plastic to manufacture. By making the bottles and caps from the same material they can be more easily recycled too. Overall, it's a really good product and example that natural beauty doesn't have to be sub-par to generic brands.
It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas! I'm so excited this year, but for the first year living alone, I had the moral dilemma of sourcing a Christmas tree. Which is better - real, or fake?

When I put my mind to it, I found that there's actually quite a few reasons for both options. Real trees are natural, aren't made of plastic, and won't take 100+ years to rot in a landfill once we're done with them. However, fake trees prevent the cutting down of trees, last a lot longer (although on average only 6 years), and don't shed all over the living room floor!

I actually put out a quick question on Twitter on the day of purchasing my tree to see what others were buying, and it came back as a resounding result for real trees.

In relation to that, the best solution I've found not only permits you to have the 'real thing' in your home, but also provides another one to communities who truly need more trees. The Christmas Forest's ethical tree initiative provides sustainably-grown British and European trees, and for every tree sold, another is planted in Africa through its work with Tree Aid. If you live in or around London like I do, I'd highly recommend you go to one of their 10 pop-ups in the city.

On top of that, some were going the next step and buying potted versions that actually grow and last longer than the holiday season! I'd never actually considered this to be an option before, but I'm more than a little bit excited with my purchase - a snow-topped pot-grown tree that is sitting prettily in my window as I write. My new-ish flat has been in desperate need of plants and decorations alike, so this coupled with a few festive candles really puts a smile on my face when I get home to see it all set up. It finally feels like home!
This is probably the best yoghurt breakfast I have made for myself this year, and it's completely plant-based!

I've got to say, it's also pretty lovely to look at too. I know they say don't play with your food, but dressing up my breakfast is one of my favourite things to do when I have the time, whether it be a cheeky croissant and strawberries or a smoothie bowl. So when I was invited to try Alpro's Plant-based Yoghurt alternatives* I couldn't have been happier - another time to experiment with flavours and colours in the kitchen!

I decided to go for a mix of frozen berries (one of my freezer staples) with white chia seeds and whole almonds on top of Alpro Plain with Almond*. The final addition was a tablespoon of organic berry powder, which I stirred in after photographing to make a sweet, creamy breakfast bowl with added nuts and fruit pieces. And the best part is, this yoghurt contains a lot of wonderful 'wakey wakey' nutrients that don't come in your average yoghurt - the Alpro alternative is fortified with calcium, vitamins B12, D2, and E, plus all the toppings' have added benefits too!



PLANT-BASED BERRY YOGHURT
Serves 1

6 tbsp Alpro Plain with Almond*
Handful of frozen berries
4 almonds
1 tbsp white chia seeds
1 tbsp berry powder

  1. Start by spooning the deliciously thick Alpro yoghurt into a bowl
  2. Sprinkle over a handful of frozen berries, almonds, and chia seeds
  3. Now sprinkle or stir in berry powder - I like to use Neal's Yard Remedies' Organic Berry Complex
  4. Enjoy!
What is orthorexia nervosa
It might not be recognised as a truly clinical problem right now, but orthorexia nervosa is the term for an 'unhealthy obsession' with healthy food. Have you ever felt this way?

As we round up 2015, there's a lot of chatter about it being the year that 'wellness' got fashionable. What with Instagram-famous yogis, plant-based chefs, and clean eating books galore, I can't argue with that - I'm a huge fan of the wellness movement and the community it has created!

But unfortunately, there is a dark side; one that might not have yet fully emerged, in fact. Orthorexia is a term I only stumbled across recently, but it has definitely struck a chord. There was a point in time where I felt almost guilty for not having a smoothie bowl when I woke up, avocado salad for lunch, and some form of spiralised vegetable for dinner. I was making healthy changes day-to-day, but I remembered how far the fitness bloggers I followed ran, and how Deliciously Ella said she didn't regret going full-on plant-based without craving sweets, chocolate, crisps... everything I adored alongside my typical healthy diet and regular home-grown yoga sessions.

I've overcome all of that now - and I'm not going to lie, it took more than realising it was silly to pressure myself to eat well every day. Along with taking up mindful eating, where I make conscious healthy choices every day and learn to reward myself mentally for doing so, I also learned to let go of my perfectionist ways. Nobody is perfect, and while I used to wish I was, I know that I actually feel a lot happier now listening and understanding where I can get better, rather than being naturally perfect at everything. Wouldn't life be boring if that were the case!

Anyway, back to orthorexia. It usually starts out as an innocent attempt to eat healthy food, but develops into an obsession with food quality, purity, and its nutritional value. Along with this is a psychological tying of self-esteem with eating habits, rising above others when eating 'better' than them, punishing oneself for 'slip ups', and ends up in such a strict habit that this method of eating actually becomes ironically unhealthy. Less is it to do with what you put in your body or how you look after it; more, social anxiety, obsessiveness, and a fear of unhealthy foods. In extreme cases, it is linked to anorexia nervosa and bulimia.

It may be that you have also felt this way, and I do want to say here that self-diagnosis is always a tricky business, so if you do feel like you're falling for this in a big way, please see a doctor, or speak to someone you trust about how you really feel. For me, it was a minor blip before really finding my feet in the healthy living world - I'm lucky to have found serious inspiration along the way, and I love sharing what I do on a regular basis, but we're all human and while I eat predominantly well, always vegetarian, and exercise at least a few times per week, you won't see me instagramming that cake I ate in the office or a can of coke I was bought at the pub.

I personally think it's unhealthy to maintain such a strict outlook on life, almost in a self-preservation way that becomes it only for the sake of self-preservation, as you're not happy with the life you're living day-to-day. It doesn't help that we're surrounded by 'pure' images of health-obsessed celebrities, chefs, even bloggers, because there's nothing there that indicates their lifestyles are unobtainable, yet Essena O'Neil's recent outburst actually revealed that even the most inspiring people actually have dark days, and want more to life than a slender frame and a salad. So I hope in some ways, that if you stumbled across this from a quick search, or are a regular reader, that you're more than aware that no-one is perfect, and you're doing well by purely understanding what healthy food is and eating it as and when you can! For me, it's a passion, but I will never deny the pleasure that chocolate gives me; I just look forward to finding other, healthier things that make me just as happy and blogging about them!
Any gym-lovers here? Practicing yogis? I'm a bit of a fan of both myself, so I was pretty happy when I stumbled across a natural skincare range that cares for aching muscles and toning bodies...

I'm going to be honest - this review is going to be majorly about The A Cream* by Mio more than anything else. Every time I go to the gym, get home, and shower, I then apply the cream in some sort of fitness ritual that has got me to a place where I'm very happy about how toned my skin is.

At this point, I'm not quite sure how much is down to my twice weekly gym sessions, and how much is down to the cream, but either way it makes for a rewarding and luxurious feeling! The cream is thick, smells great, and genuinely has helped keep my body firm by making me enjoy going to the gym even more. And the best part about it is the fact that it's a natural beauty product that is targeted at 'active bodies' - something I really would like to see more of. Right now, I do struggle to find sustainable fitness gear, shaker bottle, and protein shakes... So I think I'm going to have to do a bit of digging!

The cream itself is made from organic shea butter, organic coconut oil, organic sweet almond oil, organic avocado oil, aloe vera leaf juice, and more, but with these as the predominant ingredients you just know it's going to be creamy and care for your skin. I actually like the fact that you need to apply liberally too as it melts into my skin easily, making it supple and happy after some serious cardio.

Also great is Mio's Sleep Better kit,* coming under their Liquid Yoga range. If only I had a bath to indulge in after fitness! I'm pretty sure their bath soak would have me melting away after a good run... although perhaps that's not a great idea as I'd be sure to never want to move again! Also nice is the space spray that comes in the kit - something for the mind as well as the body is a really nice touch. I'm a big fan of nice smells in the home, especially pillow spray, so I can really appreciate the zingy scent that gives me a moment to inhale and breathe deeply before sleeping or simply resting after a long day.

Finally, if you're wondering just how natural Mio is, take a look at their No Nasties Policy. I really appreciate their transparency in regard to their rationale behind certain ingredients being chosen over others, as well as knowing that they specifically do not use parabens, petrolatum, synthetic fragrance and colourants, xenoestrogens, PEGs, glycols and pthalates, and are cruelty-free too (although independent certification would be nice to see).
Colder weather means comfy clothes, and nothing beats the latest addition to my wardrobe - this organic cotton sweatshirt! Here's why I've been loving wrapping up warm in December, and spreading the organic love...

First off, enough of that hippy vibe - it's definitely a dangerous road to go down when talking about organic produce and sustainability! Really, I'm just pleased to find a top that not only is silky soft, suits my style (minimalistic, as I'm aiming to curate a timeless capsule wardrobe), and keeps me warm, but also promotes an organic lifestyle both inside and out.

When I first learned about organic cotton, I was actually shocked at just how many people are affected by the way generic cotton is grown. I've written about the importance of organic cotton in terms of it affecting your skin, but consider this: the chemicals sprayed on cotton crops kill off wildlife, leech the land of its nutrients, and run into natural water reserves. The places best known for growing cotton, such as Benin, aren't regulated for safety equipment of cotton workers; families have been poisoned by pesticides getting in their food even. Organic cotton promotes a better standard of life for both those involved in the production chain as well as the wildlife around it.
So, here's me in my Ally Sweatshirt* by Beaumont Organic - looking a little peeved at standing in the cold but enjoying it nonetheless! I paired it with my Wool & The Gang scarf that I knitted last year to keep me toasty too. I'm pretty sure I chose the coldest weekend this year to do this as well, so I suppose it's a testament to the sweatshirt that I was still warm by the time I got home.

The other nice element to Beaumont Organic is their traceability - this sweatshirt was made in Portugal, in a safe environment, providing fair wages and good working conditions. I'm pleased that this is now easily-accessible information, especially since partaking in the #WhoMadeMyClothes campaign and watching The True Cost, where I learnt that 1 in 6 people on the planet are involved in the fashion industry. That's a lot of people, so it's good to know that I'm supporting fair treatment of the workers who make my clothes.
One of the pleasures of blogging is the ability to find and write about exciting new things going on in the world of healthy, natural living. When it comes to natural beauty, Rossi Uvema is the hottest 100% natural luxury beauty brand right now.

When it comes to beauty brands, there’s a lot to sift through to truly understand what’s really in the pretty bottles and under the green labels – it’s why I wrote on my 25 Natural Beauty Ingredients to Avoid that my golden rule is to always check the ingredients list. Even then, certain natural beauty brands use preservatives, and while organic brands have to use over 80% organic ingredients, that still leaves 20% to play around with.

Luckily, Rossi Uvema is the place to go if you’re looking for a totally pure experience. They use 100% plant-based ingredients to create their beauty products, so you don’t even have to worry about understanding which ingredients to avoid as there are no synthetics in sight!

What’s also nice is the price tag – Rossi Uvema’s premium products measure up in effectiveness, and are matched to ‘regular’ luxury beauty products too. Their rhodiola & gingko face moisturiser, a personal favourite of mine, comes in at under £20. That’s another thing to note – they use a range of botanicals that I’ve not seen elsewhere, giving a fresh twist on natural beauty and the exotic scents of their products.
As you may have guessed too, I also really like the look of their products. Their intense cleanse, moisturise + tone rhassoul clay face mask has that lovely brushed glass style packaging, and for only £15 it’s actually quite a steal! And it’s been perfect for this colder weather too, when my skin needs to drink up even more moisture than normal – fortified with plum and almond oil, it’s left my face quite literally a-glow.

And alongside their cruelty-free status and British manufacture, they invest in sustainable causes too. As great supporters of Clean Oceans International, a non-profit that is supporting the clean up of ocean pollution through innovation, education, and direct action. This coming together of natural and sustainable interests is something I’d love to see more of, and it’s wonderful that Rossi Uvema are taking the lead amongst natural beauty brands on this front.

If you’d like to find out more about Rossi Uvema, and see their entire collection of plant-based beauty products, head on over to their website, or find them on Facebook and Twitter.

Sponsored by Rossi Uvema.

It's December, and while that low sunshine may look pretty, it's also pretty darn cold outside! That of course doesn't stop the well-equipped market men and women from selling the freshest local produce that's in season. Here's a full list of the British food that is in season now:

FRUIT IN SEASON IN DECEMBER:
  • Apples
  • Bananas
  • Bramley apples
  • Chestnuts
  • Clementines
  • Cranberries
  • Dates
  • Grapefruit
  • Pears
  • Pomegranate
  • Quince

VEGETABLES IN SEASON IN DECEMBER:
  • Beetroot
  • Broccoli
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Celeriac
  • Celery
  • Chicory
  • Cress
  • Endives
  • Garlic
  • Jerusalem artichoke
  • Kale
  • Lambs lettuce
  • Leeks
  • Lettuce
  • Mushrooms
  • Onions
  • Pak choi
  • Parsnip
  • Potatoes
  • Pumpkin
  • Raddichio
  • Red cabbage
  • Rocket lettuce
  • Salsify
  • Savoy cabbage
  • Spinach
  • Spring onions
  • Spring green cabbage
  • Squash
  • Swede
  • Sweet potato
  • Turnips
  • White cabbage
  • White radishes

HERBS IN SEASON IN DECEMBER:
  • Bay leaf
  • Borage
  • Chives
  • Garlic chives
  • Lavender
  • Oregano
  • Rosemary
  • Sage
  • Thyme