Over the last year or so, I've become a big fan of breakfast. Here's my favourite recipe to date - maple and walnut porridge!

I used to really disregard breakfast because I hated mornings. I never really pieced the two together until I was forced to get up early every day for work, and get back into a routine, which made me hit horrendous lows mid-morning if I missed my first meal of the day.

Nowadays, I've got a great routine for those colder wintry mornings - a tasty porridge along with a cup of tea, and my slippers too as my new flat is just so terribly cold (damn you single glazed windows!)

To add to the health benefits of oats (high in manganese, phosphorous, copper, biotin, vitamin B1, magnesium, fibre... and also a great provider of slow-burning energy), I've been enjoying Flahavan's Multi-seed Porridge Oats* which contain flax, sunflower, pumpkin and hemp seeds too. These all have their redeeming qualities, principally omega-3, protein, and fibre, along with all the wonderful benefits that flaxseeds give. If you're vegan or vegetarian, flax is definitely a worthwhile addition to your diet!

To make my ultimate porridge however, you'll need to get your hands on some dried fruit, berries (fresh is better) and a splash of maple syrup... Trust me, you'll never want to go back.



MAPLE + WALNUT PORRIDGE
1/2 cup of Flahavan's Multi Seed Porridge Oats
1 cup of plant-based milk
+
1 tbsp maple syrup
Handful of walnuts
Handful of blueberries
Sprinkling of dried fruit

  1. In a pan, add your oats and milk - oat milk is amazing with it, but obviously makes things a little drier so you may have to add some water too
  2. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon on a medium heat on the hob until the oats have absorbed all the liquid
  3. Pop into a bowl, top with your extras - dried mango or currants are great alongside the walnuts and maple syrup - and enjoy!
Do multivitamins work
It's a pretty big question, and one I've spent a month investigating - on myself...

You may remember a time when I asked if you need supplements to be healthy - the residing answer was that so long as you had a nutrient-rich diet, you probably didn't, but even then it's nice to know you're all topped up.

Well, I've gone one step further and tried our four different types of multivitamins* over the course of four weeks, with some genuinely surprising results.

WEEK 1: RADIANCE MULTIVITAMINS WITH IRON
I started the trial with the 'lesser' of the pack - in fact, I ordered all four types into a rough scale of their strengths, starting with the weakest. Radiance Multivitamins with Iron didn't actually make me feel or think any differently to normal, but as the week wore on I did feel a little better in myself. I also got into a good routine, taking them just before breakfast with a large glass of water, keeping myself hydrated too!

WEEK 2: RADIANCE MULTIVITAMINS + MINERALS
Switching up to the variety with both vitamins and minerals, I actually felt a little brighter. Now, I can't scientifically vouch for the effectiveness of any multivitamin that I've tried, but I spent the week surprised at how bouncy and energetic I felt without any other factors really varying from normal. As I'm so consumed with finding the best diet based on digestive health at the moment, I also liked the presence of yeast in these tablets, alongside magnesium, which is such a vital mineral to have in the diet but one that is hard to find naturally.

WEEK 3: VEGAN MULTIVITAMIN + MINERAL
In my third week, I gave the vegan multivitamins a whirl, and found they were no better or worse than the vegetarian Radiance varieties. The key difference with the vegan tablets is that they contain hefty doses of Vitamin B12 (200% of the nutrient reference value), which is the key vitamin that vegans need to focus on when foregoing meat and dairy products.

WEEK 4: ABC PLUS MULTIVITAMINS + MINERALS
By the time my final week came round I was on to the big 'uns - the ABC plus variety. These came in the form of horse tablets and a large shouty bottle not dissimilar to whey protein, so you can imagine I was a little put off at first. However, while they are definitely a lot harder to swallow, their benefits were a lot higher in the mineral and general dosage department. Other than the vegan tablets, these have a higher amount of pretty much every vitamin and mineral that the others contain, alongside other minerals it exclusively contained. Again, there was not a massive difference to my general observed wellbeing, but I actively reach for these and the Radiance Multivitamins and Minerals over the others now that I've finished my experiment. I'm not sure if it's subconscious, but I know for at least the next couple of months I'm going take one every day as there's definitely no harm in doing so!
You know how much I love tea. Black, green, white... Yogi Tea even. So it was with excitement that I myself could become the sugar lump in my very own bath tea...

I'm always searching for products that are natural, sustainable, and ultimately, just as good as their not-so-natural counterparts. A lot of the time, it's quite literally the 'trifecta' when you find exactly that. This bath set is one such trifecta.

Queen Tea's Tea-Tox Detox* box may be a bit of a mouthful to say, but it's more of an enjoyment to use. Made from completely natural ingredients, with all that are plant-based being organic, it not only cleanses the skin but it thoroughly cleans it thanks to the epsom salts and bicarbonate of soda. On the tea front, their tea-tox variety has calm notes of nettle and hibiscus, while dying the bath water a lime green.

As the first bath in my new flat (let's prey the plumbing holds up for future dips), I was definitely pampered, even adding a little cocoa butter bath milk* to moisturise my skin. However I would probably recommend the tea-tox "flavour" bath salts for when you're feeling a little under the weather - the addition of eucalyptus always reminds me of Vick's!
It's pink, it's pretty... and its as good in the kitchen as it is in the bathroom. Here's why Himalayan rock salt is the new big thing.

I've got to be honest, I never thought I would post a blog about salt. Salt is not a typically healthy ingredient, with a high-salt diet having clear links to causing high blood pressure. Then again, too many bananas can cause potassium poisoning, so I suppose a mindful, varied diet is always the best option.

When it comes to Himalayan pink salt* however, I've got to say that on first glance it's just super pretty! Like little crystals, I almost feel bad using it in my cooking, instead wanting to display it just as I do my Himalayan salt lamp. But what are its benefits, if any?
The main reason Himalayan rock salt has risen to prominence over the last few months is that it purportedly contains more minerals (up to 84!) than regular table salt, making it another vehicle for minerals in your diet - these include magnesium, calcium, and potassium.

However, as the recommended daily allowance of salt is just 4g, it's actually questionable whether there is much benefit in switching to it for culinary uses. The pink colour of the salt comes from the presence of iron oxide, making it a nice tabletop addition to a meal, but I wouldn't actually say it does much more than that. I am personally a fan of unrefined sea salt and sea salt flakes, and Himalayan salt comes in a close second.

Aside from its use in the kitchen, Himalayan salt is surrounded by mysterious rumours about it cleansing the air and even alleviating respiratory problems such as asthma. For this, salt lamps are required, using heat from a candle to disperse the salt in the air of a closed room. While I also cannot vouch for its effectiveness, I personally like the calming light that my salt lamp emits, making it a really nice addition to my flat.

Really, my favourite use for my pink salt is in a clean and simple foot spa. Using one cup of salt with one cup of bicarbonate of soda in a large flat bowl, the skin of my feet has been gently softened over the last few weeks while keeping them clean too.

I suppose the one caveat is the sourcing of Himalayan pink salt; as the name suggests, it comes from an area close to the Himalayas, the Khewra Salt Mines in Pakistan. This is in fact the only place in the world where pink salt is found, and while the mines look to be manned in a safe condition, workers are paid on $3 per tonne of salt that is mined (source). While I suppose all wealth is relative, that doesn't sound like a lot to me...
I'm going to be honest - this spaghetti is not the prettiest of sights when cooked. However, I've got nothing but good things to say about it, along with my favourite recipe to have with it too...

I was really intrigued when I first came across Explore Asian's range of organic bean pasta*. Not only is it organic, it's made from 100% beans (the varieties I tried were soy bean and black bean), making it plant-based, gluten-free, and pretty darn incredible!

On top of that, the pasta provides nutrients far better than regular wheat spaghetti, as it is extremely high in fibre and protein per portion. One serving will give you over 50% of your recommended daily allowance of protein (find out exactly how much protein you need in your diet here) and 48% of your fibre. While my boyfriend focuses more on plant-based protein (he's also vegetarian), the fibre aspect really hooked me as I'm so heavily focused on digestion and how it so deeply affects general wellbeing. A high-fibre plant-based diet is definitely my calling at the moment.

When I say the pasta doesn't look great cooked, I'm likening it to the thicker varieties of wholewheat pasta or spiralised courgettes that I so love. This pasta is actually more like vermicelli in thickness, and tends to ball up once cooked but the texture and taste remain pretty close to regular pasta. It's a wonder why no-one came up with it earlier!

As for my favourite recipe, it's got to be a variation of my plant-based spaghetti bolognese recipe, with a little soy mince added in (I'm not too wary of soy, but I do understand why others are) and a few extra additions such as orergano and chopped celery if I have any in the house. I've always been a bolognese fiend and with that recipe I know I always will be!
Green perfumes are notoriously hard to find, so it's with excitement that I'm reviewing the first organic perfume range I have ever come across...

The next thing in line with my love for skincare products is my love for smellies - I love anything that smells good! Be it a fresh yoga mat cleanser, my lavender pillow spray, or even the smell of coriander when being torn up to go in a salad, I love poking my nose into delicious scents.

So it's no surprise that I've always loved a good bottle of perfume or three, but up until this year they've all been synthetic affairs. I don't tend to stick with a certain type of scent either, so when Sinne Firenze invited me to try their range of organic essential oil blends*, I was super excited!
In their range is four blends: Refresh Me, Balance Me, Delight Me, and Calm Me. I really like the concept that each scent is associated with a feeling, whether its something that is internally triggered or matched depending on how you feel that day.

Of the four, Delight Me is my favourite because it has a sweet zing from the ylang ylang and citrus ingredients. Calm Me comes in a close second, as it soothes through its patchouli scent when I apply to the pulse points on my wrists. However, with all of the range, they're lovely to apply and inhale, but dissipate pretty quickly.

Personally, I think it's due to the purity of the product - how could a mix of fair trade and organic essential oils not be completely absorbed by my skin over an hour or so, just like my facial oil? And perhaps it's for that reason that pure perfumes are hard to find!

Either way, I think these perfumes are great due to their purity, the vegan ethos of Sinne Firenze themselves, and even if they are wholly absorbed by my skin more quickly than synthetic perfumes, I can simply pop my chosen roll-on in my bag and apply throughout the day!
While I'm an ex-chocaholic (a few months in and counting!) I do love the taste still, and this cacao alternative really hits the spot.

This is one of my go-to morning smoothies when I need a sweet boost to get me through the morning - if you like Reese's Cups, you'll really, really enjoy this.

As per the photo, you can make this as a smoothie or a smoothie bowl depending on whether your banana is frozen or not (and the same goes for all smoothie recipes). You can also make this with cocoa if you don't have any cacao to hand. Read my quick guide if you'd like to know the difference!



CHOCOLATE + PEANUT BUTTER SMOOTHIE RECIPE
1 ripe banana
1 tbsp cacao powder
1 tbsp peanut butter
400ml plant-based milk
+
1 tbsp chia seeds
Handful of almonds
  1. Pop everything into your blender
  2. Whizz up until smooth - for a smoothie bowl, you may need to stir a few times
  3. Decant into a bowl or glass, sprinkle extras on top, and enjoy!
The zero waste lifestyle is a seriously intriguing concept, and one that I'm slowly adopting. I've been a big fan of Bea Johnson for a long time, so with the release of her paperback book comes a little review and giveaway!

Zero Waste Home: The Ultimate Guide to Simplifying Your Life is one of those books that will get you itching to get up and make changes in your life, almost instantly. In a world of high consumption and low consciousness, it makes a change to hear about someone who is mindful of literally everything that she gets ahold of; whether it's food, clothes, and especially waste.

There are a number of similarities that I like to think tie myself and Bea Johnson's journeys together - both inspired by traditional French living (her French, me a French student), we both hold dear simplicities such as local fresh produce and a good picnic in the countryside. What makes Bea amazing is the fact that she essentially woke up one day and realised how contrived her and her family's lifestyle had become. A big consumer of unnecessary products and with more than a few full rubbish bins a week, she realised something had to change. Now, her family make around one jarful of waste per year.

While it might seem (and be) impossible to reduce your waste to that extent, the beauty of Zero Waste Home is that it tackles pretty much every aspect of your life and offers less wasteful alternatives, which not only will save you money but often time and health as well. From brushing your teeth with bicarbonate of soda to keeping a homemade handkerchief near, Bea goes over all the steps she's taken on her quest to help the earth and also improve the quality of living for herself and her family. She even gives you recipes for DIY natural beauty products, advises as to which compost bin is best for you, and explains why getting rid of her television has brought her family a lot closer.

As such a big fan, and the start of a mini giveaway series on the blog this month, I have three copies of Zero Waste Home up for grabs! All you have to do is follow a few (or all) of the options in the box below, and be a resident of the UK. Best of luck!



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