I love a good cooking session, but as of late I've been finding that I cook a lot of healthy dishes that I rarely post about on social media. In an effort to be a bit more 'real' than some of the polished dishes you see floating around Instagram, I'm going to be posting montages of my cooking processes, in a fashion where you see exactly what it takes to turn organic, fresh produce into delicious meals that are possible for anyone to make.

The first of these is my pesto courgetti. In this, I make plant-based pesto from scratch, and then add to lightly fried courgette noodles with a few added extras to make it a meal you can easily recreate yourself. It's something I whip up all the time, if not with regular pasta, fried onions, garlic, and mushrooms, and wilted greens.





PESTO COURGETTI
Serves: 1

30g basil
2 garlic cloves
1 handful cashew nuts
2 handfuls pine nuts
100ml olive oil
1 lemon
Pinch of salt
+
1 courgette
Splash of olive oil
1 tomato, chopped
Sprinkle of pine nuts
Pinch of chilli flakes

  1. Start off by tearing up your basil from the stems and then the leaves themselves
  2. Pop the leaves into a food processor, followed by garlic cloves, cashew nuts, pine nuts
  3. Chop your lemon in half and juice directly into the food processor, catching pips in your hand or a small sieve
  4. Pour in your olive oil, put the lid on and process until it reaches your desired pesto consistency
  5. When you're happy, pour the pesto into a bowl, and refrigerate for a short while to firm up
  6. In the meantime, spiralise your courgette(s) - I use my Gefu Spiralfix Spiraliser, find out why I prefer it here
  7. Lightly fry the courgetti in a small frying pan with a teeny splash of olive oil, and wait until they soften and brown slightly before serving straight into a bowl
  8. Then add in your pesto, chopped tomato pieces, pine nuts, chilli flakes
  9. Mix up and enjoy
Last week I had the absolute pleasure of visiting a Spa London in Kensington to rest, relax, and recuperate. I'm going to be frank; I've never visited a spa before, but this has definitely set the bar for future experiences!

While I'm a relatively new Londoner, there are definite new stresses and strains that come with city living, and as I felt with my trip to Qi Wellness Centre, finding a bubble of tranquil peace in such a hectic place is often quite difficult. I've also found that even when I don't think I'm stressed, my body retains knots and kinks that work themselves out on days like this.

Spa London's Kensington branch is based in Kensington Leisure Centre, a short walk away from Latimer Road underground station. I arrived slightly after my booked time (which is bad of me, I know) but there was no fuss in changing my start time to slightly later on, including my treatment, which was really accommodating of the staff there.

On arrival, you're asked to fill out a health form, and then take a cloth bag filled with your towelling robe, foam slippers, and a beach towel for use within the wet areas. I've got to say, while it didn't cross my mind at the time, the place was sparkling clean, so it even felt okay to walk around without the slippers on.

Once you're dressed in your swimsuit under your robe, you are given an armband with the entry code to the spa (as the changing rooms are shared between gym goers and the spa) and are left to then choose what course you want to take. Inside the main room, there are recliners for relaxing between rooms, along with a place to get ice water, ice chips, and a shower with different rain settings. In fact, you can see this all on Google Maps too.

The spa consists of three main parts - a sauna, a steam room, and a jacuzzi - which mean you can take the traditional route of heat and cool, or mix it up yourself. I went for the sauna first, and only lasted five minutes before I could feel myself struggling, but looking back on it, it takes a while to acclimatise your body to the different experiences there. The sauna is great for when you want to sweat in a dry heat, with crackling hot coals in the back and toasty wood to bring on a deep sweat. The benefit of this is increased blood circulation in the body, and of course a skin cleansing too.

After a 15 minute session in the jacuzzi, I discovered just how wonderful the steam room is. Out of everything, this was my favourite place to be, with 80-100% humidity meaning my skin ramped up the sweat and mixed with the hot eucalyptus air, almost like a heavenly jungle feel when you close your eyes! Even breathing in felt delicious, although with both heated rooms I'd recommend taking in a cool drink to keep yourself hydrated.

Finally, it was onto my facial - the treatment I had chosen out of the long list that Spa London Kensington offers. This was where I really felt my body melt away, as I was treated to a massage, then deeply moisturised through a number of lotions and potions from their extensive Elemis range. To note, Elemis does not test on animals and uses predominantly natural ingredients, although I can't vouch for everything that was put on my skin.

The best part of facial was when my eyes were covered with oil-soaked cotton balls, and a thick face mask was applied and left to dry while my head was massaged and I drifted somewhere between ultimate relaxation and sleep thanks to the soft music and lighting in the room. I don't think I've known such bliss! 

My beautician's advice after the treatment was also key - while I could go for rich, deeply moisturising products for my skin, I need to eat and drink well to keep it up. Holistic advice is always best, and I really appreciated her honesty.

Finally, before I left I was able to take a shower and dry my hair in the faultless facilities. I don't think there was one thing I would change about my day, as I was able to use whatever facility I wanted when I wanted due to the small number of patrons sharing the spa with me, although there are female only days, if you would find that more comfortable.
You know me - I love a plant-based recipe, and Deliciously Ella has always been the place to go for that. Well, when I'm done cooking up (or keeping things raw) in the kitchen, it's equally important my cleaning is as healthy and sustainable as my diet is...

As of late I have genuinely been interested in how I can keep my house clean without using bleach or strong chemicals, for both my own wellbeing and that of the environment. Unfortunately, with a lot of domestic cleaning products, there's no legal requirement for clarity, so it's actually pretty hard to find out what ingredients are sourced and used. However, there are a select few enterprises that go above and beyond when it comes to clarity and looking after the environment, and method is one of the best. Their number one rule is that all their products are non-toxic and biodegradable, meaning it's safe for you, your pets, your home, and your planet!

Alongside their conscious approach to formulating their products, they are completely cruelty-free, does not use GMOs, and are ammonia-free, bleach-free, chlorine-free - even gluten-free, if you're worried about that!

So it's no surprise that healthy living advocate Ella Woodward is just as passionate about a healthy home, and has paired up with Method to celebrate their latest blends, turning the complimentary scents into fully-blown plant-based recipes.
Out of the Pomegranate Surface Cleaner, Clementine Washing-up Liquid, and Almond Wood Floor Cleaner, Ella whipped up a pomegranate salad, clementine sorbet, and almond soup - all of which are inspired! The pomegranate salad is definitely my favourite recipe of the three, so I'm lucky enough to share this with you here (you'll have to head over to the Deliciously Ella + Method site for the rest!)

If you do give any of these a go, make sure you share it with the tag #EatCleanMethod - that goes for method products too!



POMEGRANATE, PARSLEY + BUCKWHEAT SALAD
created for method by Deliciously Ella

150g buckwheat
400ml water
2 tsp ras el hanout
olive oil for drizzling
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 carrots, peeled and julienned or grated
2 oranges, peeled + pith removed + sliced into circles
1 large bunch flat leaf parsley, leaves picked
1 small bunch dill, fronds picked
1 handful fresh mint leaves, roughly chopped
1 pomegranate, seeds removed

  1. In a saucepan, cover your buckwheat with the water, bring to the boil and simmer for about 5 – 8 minutes, until most of the water is absorbed. drain the buckwheat through a sieve and rinse with cold water. drain again and then put into a bowl, mix in the ras el hanout, oil and seasoning.
  2. While your buckwheat is cooking, peel your carrots and then using a julienne peeler, shred the carrots into thin strips and mix into your buckwheat. next cut the skin and pith from your oranges, then cut them into thin circles and mix into your buckwheat salad, letting the flavours all meld together.
  3. Pick the leaves from your parsley and chuck onto a serving platter, then mix through with the buckwheat. throw on your dill, mint and pomegranate seeds and give another mix, then serve.

This post is sponsored by Method.
You may have noticed that while the bulk of my recipes are vegan, I'm not one for pigeonholing my diet. So why am I reviewing a vegan-only recipe book?

Well, Keep It Vegan by Aine Carlin* is a brilliant example of nutritious day-to-day recipes that happen to be vegan. We're not talking replacement recipes, meat alternatives, or strange get-outs for mayonnaise. Instead, her meals are simple, easy-to-follow and filling, while also seamlessly healthy due to her use of a rainbow of fresh fruit and vegetables.

To be honest, I think Aine Carlin, while promoting a vegan-only diet, does strike the balance right. Her recipes run from superfood salads to naughty peanut butter banana sundaes, and she has realistic ideas for dinner parties or impressing the parents too. I also find I return to her book quite regularly for recipes that are practical and usually make use of ingredients I already have in the house.
Alongside Aine's beautiful cookbook and accessible writing, she runs the blog Pea Soup Eats. The constant across both of these is the beautiful photography and out-of-the-box recipes that I'm always bookmarking to try!

My favourite of these so far has been her baked aubergine dinner with tahini dressing, which tastes summery but is filling enough to be a regular mealtime treat. It might be a little out of season now, but around May you'll start to see aubergines filling market stalls and supermarket shelves so keep this recipe up your sleeve until then and trust me, you won't be disappointed.



BAKED AUBERGINE WITH LEMON-INFUSED COUSCOUS

1 aubergine, halved lengthways
2 tsp harissa
4-5 tbsp olive oil
150g couscous
Juice of 1 lemon
Lemon zest
1 tsp smoked paprika
3 tbsp pine nuts, toasted
30g fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 tsp sesame seeds, toasted
Salt
Pepper
+
100g tahini
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp maple syrup or agave nectar
1/4 tsp salt

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4 and lightly oil a baking tray.
  2. Score the aubergine flesh diagonally both ways, creating a diamond pattern. Place on the baking tray. Spread a teaspoon of harissa over each half, covering all the crevices. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of the oil over each, season generously and bake for around 40 minutes until the flesh is completely soft, turning over halfway through to ensure the skin doesn't crisp or dry out.
  3. Place the couscous in a bowl with the lemon zest strips. Add 150ml freshly boiled water, cover and set aside until all the liquid has been absorbed - about 10 minutes. Discard the lemon zest and fluff the couscous with a fork.
  4. Scoop the flesh from the centre of each aubergine half, leaving enough around the sides to keep its shape. Roughly chop the flesh and place in a bowl. Stir through the couscous along with the lemon juice, smoked paprika and remaining olive oil. Season, then add the toasted pine nuts and parsley. Divide the mixture evenly between the aubergine skins. Return to the baking tray and bake for a further 15-20 minutes.
  5. To make the dressing, place the tahini in a bowl with the lemon juice, oil, maple syrup or agave nectar, salt and 2 tablespoons water. Whisk until smooth, adding a little more water if necessary - or use a hand blender.
  6. Remove the stuffed aubergines from the oven and serve with a dollop of tahini dressing and a sprinkling of sesame seeds and parsley.
Another year has come and gone - and what a difference it makes! 22 was very much a good year, with a lot of notable moments. I have to say, in a lot of ways I am more happy that I passed my driving test (so nerve-wracking, and I haven't even been in a car since!) than I am to have graduated... It's not that I don't value my degree, but I knew I was gunning for it for a few good years.

On top of that, I landed a graduate job, moved from Birmingham to the outskirts of London, only to up and move to another, better job in the heart of the city. And boy, I am loving it! While 22 was a gallery of beautiful things, this year was a day full of beautiful moments. It may have been a cold and cloudy day, but I had real good fun. Here's a quick snapshot...
My birthday fell on a weekday, and while I would take the time off, I genuinely enjoy my new role and the people I work with so stuck to the regular schedule. Up early, I headed out with The Kinks' This Time Tomorrow in my earphones and grabbed a bircher museli, smoothie, and a few treats to share with the office.

Working in a design studio in Waterloo, it was a quick walk to Lowermarsh for lunch. Even the mural was celebrating my day! I stopped in organic supermarket Greensmiths for a veggie quiche and salad, which I topped with hummus and olives back at work.
When I got in, my boyfriend arrived with a bouquet of roses and irises (I love exotic flowers the most) and took me out to Ethos, a vegetarian restaurant just off Oxford Street. Dimly lit and running on a pay-by-weight basis, it was a fun night out guessing the weight of our buffet choices and tucking in to some really delicious foods! I'll blog about the place in full in the next few days too...

At the end of the night, we topped it all off with a quick happy birthday sing-song around the plum frangipane I had also picked up at lunchtime. Sweetness all round!
When it comes to getting shut-eye, I am luckily quite the sleeper. I could honestly sleep as a sport - I fall asleep very quickly, and stay asleep for hours and hours without an alarm. However, I know this isn't the case for everyone - my boyfriend is a prime example of this.

Fortunately, there are a number of natural ways to help yourself drift off easier, and get into a better sleep routine in general. If you didn't know already, adults need around eight hours per night, and hours before midnight generally are more beneficial too. Here's a few tips for the next time you find it hard to fall asleep - as well as to improve your sleeping habit in general.

1. SET THE STAGE
I find I sleep very differently when I have given myself an extra half-hour to prepare for bed. Taking the time to wipe off my makeup, get into soft, fresh pyjamas, and scent my pillows and duvet with my favourite lavender pillow perfume (pictured above) feels like a real treat, and a ritual I would like to get into a habit of.

2. GET COMFORTABLE
Just like your pyjamas, your bed should be deliciously comfy - and can be sustainable too! I'm planning on upgrading to organic cotton sheets soon, but until then I'm really enjoying my recycled oblong pillows made from offcuts, and handmade alphabet wool pillow from The Knutty Knitter.

3. GOODBYE SCREENS + CLOCKS
By keeping your phone close and your ticking alarm-clock closer, you're setting yourself up for a fail. I put my clock and watch in a drawer before sleeping, and leave my phone on the side - if not further away than that. It might be a psychological thing, but I find I sleep much better when my phone is far away from my bed.

4. TRY CHERRY JUICE
It's perhaps an odd suggestion at first, but pure sour cherry juice* has been proven to improve sleeping, as well as other ailments such as joint inflammation. Try two spoonfuls per day and see if it works for you.

5. WHITE NOISE
Of all the things that keep my insomniac boyfriend up, it's his tinnitus. However, whether you're a sufferer or not, minimising sounds (other than a repetitive tick-tock from your clock) can help you drift off more peacefully. Try playing white noise to mask other distractions, or give earplugs a go to take the base out of anything that goes bump in the night.
I've started to think a little more consciously when it comes to green beauty. Not only is it prevalent now that I go for cruelty-free and natural brands, but my skin really does deserve a little more care, especially as I'm constantly trialling new products. It's the reason why Green People's quinoa skincare range has been more than a little intriguing since I first saw it hit their boutique.

I've always held Green People to be one of the shepherds of natural beauty, because of their no-nonsense approach and constant striving for organic ingredients over simply using and abusing the natural name-tag. Not only are they certified in that field, but they also have vegetarian and vegan certifications on their products too.

My absolute (and only) rule when it comes to buying natural beauty products is to know and understand the ingredients in each and every item I put on my skin. It does take a little research, but using my quick and dirty 25 ingredients to avoid list, along with occasional deeper research through EWG's Skin Deep site, has definitely helped. That, and now understanding the core influences on my skin (sugar, heat, hormones) along with its favourite ingredients (oils high in linoleic acid, for example), means I've become a little pickier about what I use, and more often than not I've found the products I choose are effective and good for my skin.

This brings us to these beautifully simple bottles from Green People. Who knew the quinoa revolution would stretch to skincare! In the shower gel*, the superfood is accompanied by plant-based ingredients from coconuts, aloe vera, and citrus-smelling botanicals, making it suitable for sensitive skin-types, and also a simple pleasure to use.

However, my favourite item from the range has to be their Quinoa Prebiotic Deodorant*. As I've said in previous posts, genuinely natural deodorants that work are hard to find! I've gone from gloopy ineffective roll-ons to salt crystals and back, but if you're looking for an elegant solution with no sacrifice from your regular roll-on, this is the one. Yes, it's pricey compared to Sure Crystal or whatever you used to use, but it doesn't block your pores, contains no aluminium, an ingredient recently listed as a likely to cause cancer, and fights bad bacteria by feeding your body's natural good bacteria through prebiotics. Much like your gut, your skin too has a sustainable friendly army living on it to protect you, and it deserves all the help it can get - especially if it keeps you smelling like roses! I've used mine for a few weeks now and would say it's actually more effective than my usual salt crystal deodorant that I go back to between testing other deos, so I'm going to swap in this one from now on - and if that's not a stamp of approval, I don't know what is!
Look at these women - actors, models, musicians, photographers. Even the Queen. International Women's Day, while it may become more and more controversial the closer we get to gender equality, is an important day to celebrate, whatever your gender.

Only a few weeks ago I had a scary realisation - I'm probably the first woman in my family to have ever experienced the world on a level playing field to men. I'm not exaggerating - my mother, only one generation above me, took Home Economics classes with other girls at school, joined the ranks of secretaries after college, and while she is an amazing mother and housewife, she's not been afforded the opportunities I so easily take for granted today.

Today I've thought a lot about Emma Watson's speech at the UN, and how it takes both genders to recognise a balance is needed - gender should not be a qualifier in any case, unless it's something specific such as casting the roles of Romeo & Juliet (and even then I'm sure there must be all-women casts, or gender switches, or gender fluidity in this realm... I love when boundaries like these are broken!)

And while it may seem a little premature to say it, for the majority of my life, my gender has not defined who I am or what I do. As a child I didn't want to be a princess, I hated playing hairdressers, and could never do a handstand (although there was some pressure there that I should do all those things based on my gender). Even now, I don't use my wily charms to get anything I want (although flaunting or appreciating your assets as a woman is a woman's right), and I've always sought after my career goals and hobbies through knowledge, perseverance, and drive - all of which are genderless qualities. What I'm lucky to have experienced, is a right afforded onto me in all of the major decisions I have made, whether it be university applications, job interviews, or publishing my writing online.

This right isn't experienced by every woman however. In the UK, women are still paid 14% less than men in the same job roles, and outside of Europe we see serious perversions of justice based on a person's gender. Unionised, relatively well-paid female tea pickers are still discriminated against in India, and female labourers in Africa still battle on for even the simplest of rights.


It's for this reason that I'm highlighting the few little changes we can make as consumers of products from these regions of the world. For me, this is chiefly green beauty, so I'm happy to say even these niche beauty boutiques are looking out for women of the world. L'Occitane, a French natural beauty brand, are donating 100% of the profits of their Ultra Soft Balm* to NGO's in Burkina Faso promoting women's entrepreneurship and independence, for example. Can I also say here just how sweet-smelling this is? If you like a balm that doesn't melt away in the pot after one swipe, this is the thing for you.

In fact, there are a number of organisations who do this all year round too. While I hope the main takeaway you have from this blog is that equality is coming but we all need to pitch in, these places will also support women who are less fortunate right now:

NATURAL BEAUTY
Shea Yeleen
Verita Skin

ETHICAL FASHION
Catrinka
Earth Education
Global Mamas
Jimani
Kerala Crafts
Made with a Purpose
NuoMui Shanghai
Picaflor
Ruby Moon Swimwear
Sseko Designs
So Just Shop
Women Worldwide
Worldfinds

ETHICAL GIFTS
Ki'pep'peo
When I first turned to healthy eating, I had absolutely no idea what superfood powders were. Even now, I still haven't tried a├žai berry powder, or bee pollen for example, but I sure do know which powders I will continue to purchase and which I can live without.

I suppose this list is very much a personal choice, and your tastes may differ, but I've found over time that there are some powders I just don't use, whether it's because they just don't taste good with many things, they're unnecessarily expensive, or I genuinely feel no effect from them.

It's always good to keep in mind that really, if you're looking to be healthy, a varied diet of fresh, organic, local fruit and vegetables that are in season is your best bet. They're cheap, and generally always available (whether it's at your local farmer's market, wholefoods store, or to order online), but it's true that there's nothing really chic about them like there is with superfood powders.

So, here's my run-down of my favourite powders that I will continue to stock in my cupboard, and my favourite places to buy them too.

1. CACAO POWDER
This one is a no-brainer for me. I love cacao smoothies, and while I could go without the nibs, the powder itself has revolutionised my breakfasts and also hot chocolate. I go to Rise Organics for mine, as it is Soil Association approved, and they people who work there are just lovely too.

2. CHAGA MUSHROOM POWDER
It's an odd one, and you've probably not come across it unless you saw my post on mushroom tea. Chaga mushroom powder can be taken dissolved into hot water, or added to cacao hot chocolate, but either way I know it's really really good for me, and actually doesn't taste half bad either. I go to Hybrid Herbs for this - they too are super nice!

3. MACA POWDER
There's always the question whether new-fangled powders have the effects they say they do. And while I wouldn't say maca is a genuine aphrodisiac, it does make me feel more awake, and also tastes delicious in my Chocolate and Peanut Butter smoothie bowl. I usually get this from Sevenhills Wholefoods as it's organic and vegan.

4. BERRY POWDER
It does what it says on the tin - made from a lot of sweet red berries, it's a delicious addition to oats, yoghurt, smoothies, or simply mixed up with water. I'd say this is more of a treat, but it is jam-packed with antioxidants, and I'm sure I could make a great raw cheesecake using this in the future. I get mine from Neal's Yard Remedies.

5. MATCHA GREEN TEA POWDER
You must know I'm tea crazy, so of course matcha is going to make it into my shortlist. While it might not taste great purely mixed into hot water (or perhaps that's my sweet tooth talking), I do love it with a swig of almond milk and drop of agave syrup. Again, Hybrid Herbs is the place to go if you want high quality grade matcha for a good price.

As for other powders, while I do dabble with baobab, moringa, wheatgrass, spirulina, and more, I can't say I've developed a relationship with them where I'll repurchase in the future. I always think it's worthwhile to be honest, and say that even if you see a recipe with a superfood powder or two that you don't have in your cupboard, you can probably get away with making it sans said powder. Don't feel like you have to go out and buy these - superfood powders are non-essential to a plant-based diet.
I don't know about you, but I've always found protein shakes to be quite aggressive. Sold in bold typefaces and bright colours, there's barely any recognition for those that aren't going hardcore in the gym.

On top of that, the majority of protein shakes are based around whey, a by-product of cow's milk. As someone who doesn't actively eat milk-based products (although I won't turn my nose up to it when I'm eating out) I have found it quite restricting in the past. Despite turning to organic whey protein in the past, I've now got a new alternative - USN's vegan protein*. Containing 18/22 amino acids that make up a complete protein, and all eight of the essential ones, it's a perfect alternative whether you're vegan or not. It's also

So, why drink protein shakes? I've learnt over time that while my diet does sustain the protein I need through beans, seeds, and pulses in general, protein is a great after working out, bolstering my intake and becoming a tasty reward that I look forward to when the going gets tough - it makes me go the extra mile!

The best thing about this exact protein is that it blends really well into plant-based smoothies. I chose the vanilla flavour to try out a few different recipes, and ended up liking it most in a really quick antioxidant filled berry smoothie using Neal's Yard Organic Berry Complex or at times spoonful of Hybrid Herb's Pitaya Extract* with frozen berries. However, if you're looking for a traditional "spoonful and shake" protein shake, go for chocolate, as vanilla does have a funny twang to it when taken alone. Next time, I may just go for that and try it with bananas and peanut butter - yum!

If you'd like to try this vegan protein - or any USN product in fact - you can get 40% off their range (excluding already discounted products) by entering the code CC40 at the checkout.



FRUITY VEGAN PROTEIN SHAKE
3 spoonfuls of USN Raw-Pro Vegetarian Protein
300ml water or plant-based milk
1 tbsp fruit powder
+
Sprinkle of chia seeds

  1. In a shaker bottle or glass, pour in your liquid
  2. Next add your protein and fruit powders
  3. Now mix - shake up in a shaker or whisk
  4. Top with some chia seeds for an extra protein kick and added texture