December 16, 2013

The Healthier Side of Christmas

by lrmetcalfe

cranberries

Christmas tends to be a time of year, when we splurge and eat too much of  the foods we know we really shouldn’t be eating.  However a lot of traditional Christmas foods, have brilliant nutritional benefits- so why not top up your Christmas diet with these goodies, and cut back on the naughties!

 

 

Cranberries

Cranberry sauce is a Christmas staple but cranberries are a superfood that you should enjoy all year round.
Cranberries are rich in vitamin C, fibre and antioxidants. Preliminary studies show that drinking cranberry juice is good for the health of the heart. Cranberries have also been shown to help maintain a healthy urinary tract, so may be useful for those who suffer from urinary tract infections.

 

 

Chestnuts

Chestnuts are different from other nuts- they are low in fat and have high a starch content, this means that they are low GL and make you feel fuller for longer.
Chestnuts are high in vitamin C, potassium, copper, magnesium, amino acids and antioxidants.
Chestnuts contain high levels of essential fatty acids, including linoleic acid, which are beneficial to cardiovascular health.

 

 

Brussel Sprouts

Brussels sprouts are rich in vitamin A, C, folic acid, potassium and calcium.
They are a good source of antioxidants, including the antioxidant Zeaxanthin, which studies show, is linked to preventing retinal age-related macular degeneration disease in the elderly.
Brussels sprouts are very high in fibre and protein.

 

 

Christmas Spices

Cloves- A popular topical remedy for toothache, acts as a mild anaesthetic, also has a powerful antiseptic effect.

Cinnamon- Can help to normalise blood sugar levels.

Ginger- Has an anti-inflammatory effect, a useful remedy for inflammatory conditions such as arthritis. It aids digestion by encouraging gastric secretion; it has carminative and anti-spasmodic properties, a popular remedy for stomach complaints and nausea.

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December 9, 2013

A Holistic Christmas Gift

by lrmetcalfe

If you’re looking for something a little different for your friend’s and family’s Christmas gifts this year, check out our holistic suggestions…weleda

 

A Pampering Treat

Why not treat your loved ones to a gift voucher for a massage or other complimentary therapy treatment. You can purchase vouchers from your local spa, health club or mobile therapist. Enliven Holistics provide mobile treatments in Birmingham, email me for more information: enlivenholistics@live.co.uk or find a therapist in your area www.theholisticdirectory.co.uk

 

Aromatherapy Gifts

Mix up your own bath oils and massage blends for your friends.

Almond and grapeseed oil, make great bases, add a blend of your favourite smelling essential oils (up to 10 drops for 50ml) and pour into a bottle. There are some beautiful bottles and containers on the market to make your gift look special, take a look at www.baldwins.co.uk or www.essentialoilsonline.co.uk for oils and bottles.

 

Natural Beauty Care

For those who love to look after their hair and skin the natural way, there are many organic and eco-friendly beauty products on the market.

My favourite gift sets include:

  • Burt’s Bees Essential Burt’s Bees Kit
  • Jason Organics Lavender Gift Set
  • Weleda Mini Body Oils Gift Set

 

Charitable Gifts

Why not buy your loved one the gift of helping another. There are many great Christmas ideas from charities which will benefit other people or important causes.

You could ‘adopt a hive’, this charity relies on donations to increase bee populations. Alternatively, Farm Africa, encourage gift-buyers to sponsor chickens or goats, providing a sustainable form of charity to people in Africa.

Check out Present Aid for more ideas…

www.farmafricapresents.org.uk

www.adoptahive.co.uk

www.presentaid.org

I hope I have given you a few ideas…Happy Shopping!

December 2, 2013

Warming Winter Soups

by lrmetcalfe

minestrone_0No time of year is finer, than Winter to whip up a delicious vegetable soup, using in-season British vegetables. Soups are easy to make, friendly on the purse and full of nutritional goodness.

Why not try one of these delicious warming soups, they are some of my favourite Winter recipes:

 

Minestrone Soup

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

3 oz spaghetti, broken into smaller pieces

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 medium onion, finely chopped

2 celery stalks, washed and finely chopped

6 oz carrots, washed and finely chopped

2 tins of chopped tomatoes

1 clove garlic, crushed

1.5 litres vegetable stock

6 oz savoy cabbage, washed and finely shredded

1tbsp tomato purée

salt and freshly milled black pepper

  1. Heat oil in a large saucepan, gently fry the onion. When golden add the celery, carrots and tinned tomatoes.
  2. Stir in the crushed garlic, add some salt and pepper, then cover and cook very gently for 20 minutes or so to allow the vegetables to sweat – give it an occasional stir to prevent the vegetables sticking. Then pour in the stock.
  3. Bring to the boil and simmer gently (covered) for about 1 hour. After that add the cabbage, tomato puree and spaghetti, cook for a further 30 minutes.
  4. Serve with crusty warm bread.

 

 

Spicy Sweet Potato Soup

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

1 large onion

1kg orange-fleshed sweet potatoes

25 g fresh root ginger

1 tbsb mild curry powder

1 tbsp vegetable oil

2 litres vegetable stock

1 lemon

Fresh corriander

  1. Peel and roughly chop the onion and sweet potatoes.
  2. Peel ginger and chop finely.
  3. Heat oil in a large saucepan, add the onion and ginger and fry gently until softened.
  4. Stir in curry powder and cook gently for 2 minutes.
  5. Add the sweet potatoes and stir to coat with the spicy onion mixture.
  6. Pour in the stock, bring to the boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes or until tender.
  7. Blend soup in pan using a hand blender.
  8. Add grated zest and juice from the lemon and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
  9. Serve garnished with roughly chopped fresh coriander.

 

 

Chorizo & Chickpea Soup

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

400g can chopped tomatoes

110g pack of chorizo sausage

140g wedge Savoy cabbages

sprinkling dried chilli flakes

410g can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1 chicken or vegetable stock cube

1. Put a medium pan on the heat and tip in the tomatoes, followed by a can of water. While the tomatoes are heating, quickly chop the chorizo into chunky pieces (removing any skin) and shred the cabbage.

2. Pile the chorizo and cabbage into the pan with the chilli flakes and chickpeas, then crumble in the stock cube. Stir well, cover and leave to bubble over a high heat for 6 mins or until the cabbage is just tender.

Ladle into bowls and eat with crusty bread.

November 25, 2013

Healthy Joints

by lrmetcalfe

jointsIf you suffer from the pain and discomfort of a joint problem, you may find that at this time of year, as the environment gets colder and damper, your issues worsen. There are a few simple steps you can take to improve joint problems…

Glucosamine
Glucosamine Hydrochloride, is a supplement commonly used by those suffering from joint problems. Glucoasmine is a precursor for glycosaminoglycans, a major component of joint cartilage, by encouraging healthy cartilage, arthritic conditions may improve.
Glucosamine, is available in a tablet and liquid form, as well as in topical creams and gels; it is often coupled with other joint protective nutrients, including MSM, Chondroitin and Omega 3.

Oily Fish & Omega 3
Eating three portions of oily fish or taking an Omega 3 supplement daily, could improve your joint problems. Omega 3, an essential fatty acid found in oily fish, has anti-inflammatory properties, and can help to reduce the inflammation associated with joint problems.

Fish high in Omega 3 include: sardines, mackerel, herring, tuna, salmon, anchovies. For some delicious recipes including omega 3 check out our article…Getting Fishy.
Alternatively, vegetarian sources of Omega 3 include linseeds, sunflower, pumpkin and sesame seeds, hazelnuts, cashew nuts, almonds and walnuts.

Joint friendly foods

Eating a healthy diet is essential, sufferers of joint problems who are overweight or obese, may find their condition improves if they change their diet and lose weight; the additional body-weight places extra strain on the joints.

Studies show that acid-forming foods including meat, alcohol and refined carbohydrates can acerbate arthritic conditions; increasing alkalising foods such as green vegetables and whole-grains (brown rice, millet, amaranth, spelt, barley and quinoa) may help. Eating three portions of oily fish each week may be beneficial too.

Try avoiding caffeine and swapping your coffee fixes for herbal teas, which naturally support joint health, such as, nettle or ginger tea.  To maintain healthy bones, ensure your diet is rich in calcium; look for low-fat dairy products, calcium can also be found in green leafy vegetables, dried fruit, tofu and yoghurt.

Vitamin D is essential for the absorption of calcium, it can be found in eggs, milk and oily fish, however, most vitamin D is made in the skin in response to sunlight, take a short walk each day to top up your vitamin D levels.

Gentle exercise
When your joints are aching, it is difficult to find the motivation to exercise, however doing a small amount of gentle exercise each day may help, try swimming, tai chi or walking.

Topical remedies  

I believe that a topical remedy alone will not make a vast amount of difference, however combining this with the correct diet, exercise regime and supplements could help. There are many topical arthritis remedies on the market, however I have received a lot of positive feedback from the following remedies:

Glucosamine Gel

A topical form of the more commonly used Glucosamine supplement, many arthritis sufferers report positive results from this gel.

Perskindol Gel

Ideal for sports injuries, this cooling menthol gel helps to relieve muscle pain and has a pain-killing effect.

Arnica

Available in a cream, lotion or gel, Arnica is a traditional herbal remedy which has an anti-inflammatory effect. A natural alternative to ibuprofen gel, it can be used for a variety of joint problems, relieving pain and stiffness. Can be used for sporting injuries as well as arthritis.

November 18, 2013

Reflexology Case Study…Treatment 6

by lrmetcalfe

Treatment Plan

Today is my client’s last treatment.  I want to make sure I give her a thorough treatment and discuss any health issues she has and long-term lifestyle changes she could make to stay healthy.

My client is suffering from lower back pain today, and she has had disturbed sleep for the past two nights as her daughter has been unwell with a cold.

 

The Treatment

I used cushions and blankets to ensure my client was comfortable and her posture was correct during her treatment, as she was suffering from back pain.

I focused on the reflexes for the spine, adrenal glands and pituitary gland.The ‘popping’ sensation was found in the reflexes for the thyroid gland, shoulder and lower spinal area.

The client’s feet were slightly swollen, so I focussed on performing a draining massage, working the ankles and up the calves.

 

Feedback

The client enjoyed her treatment and said she felt less tired and her feet felt less tired and achy.

 

Aftercare

To make sure she stays healthy and energised whilst her daughter is ill, I recommend my client ensures she takes her multivitamin and mineral supplement and eats a healthy balanced diet, high in fibre, fruit and vegetables and low in processed junk foods. She could also supplement with additional immune supporting remedies such as Echinacea.

My client has now completely given up diet coke and has improved her diet, she needs to ensure she continues this healthy lifestyle.

If her back pain continues, I have recommend she try having a Swedish back, neck and shoulder massage to relieve any tension, and uses cold compresses to reduce any inflammation.

My client has managed to stop taking her anxiety medication, so it is important she finds other ways to relax. I have suggested gentle exercise including walking, swimming and yoga to aid relaxation and promote the natural release of endorphins.

 

What my client thought of her treatment…

Did you enjoy your course of treatments?

Yes, my treatments were very relaxing and I felt pampered! I especially liked the massage section of the treatment.

Have you seen an improvement in any conditions or your health in general?

I generally feel better after treatment, my health is quite good anyway.

What is your favourite thing about a Reflexology treatment.

The ‘me’ time that I get, it forces me to sit down and relax; Louise makes me switch my phone off, which is rarely do.

Would you recommend this treatment to a friend?

Yes, definitely.

October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween- Pumpkin Recipes

by lrmetcalfe

PumpkinPumpkin.  This delicious winter squash, is not only great for a spooky Halloween decoration, but is bursting with health benefits too.

Pumpkin’s bright orange colour is due to its beta-carotene content, a provitamin that is converted to vitamin A in the body. Known for its immune-boosting powers, beta-carotene is an antixoxidant essential for eye health and has also been linked to preventing heart disease. Pumpkin is also a rich source of fibre and protein.

It’s not only the sweet orange flesh that has health benefits, the seeds are packed with goodness too. Pumpkin seeds are renowned for their zinc content, an essential mineral for immune health, and men’s health. The seeds also contain the minerals, magnesium and potassium; as well as phytosterols, which can help to maintain healthy cholesterol levels.

Why not try one of these delicious recipes, and make the most out of your Halloween pumpkin…

Pumpkin Pittas

Serves 4

Ingredients
• 1kg pumpkins or butternut squash, deseeded and cut into wedges
• 400g can chickpeas, drained, rinsed and dried
• 1 garlic clove, chopped
• ½ tsp chilli flakes
• 1 tsp ground cumin
• small bunch parsley, roughly chopped
• 2 slices white bread, whizzed to crumbs

For the salad
• 2 carrots, coarsely grated
• ½ small red onion, finely sliced
• 100g feta cheese, crumbled
• 4 wholemeal pitta breads to serve

1. Put the pumpkin in a microwave-safe bowl and cover with cling film. Cook on High for 10 mins or until soft. Tip the chickpeas, garlic, chilli flakes, cumin and half of the parsley into a food processor, then whizz until the chickpeas are finely chopped but not smooth.
2. Allow the pumpkin to cool slightly, then scoop the flesh from the skin and add to the chickpea mix with some seasoning and the breadcrumbs. Give everything a good stir, then shape into 12 little patties with your hands. Put the falafels on a plate and chill for 10 mins.
3. Meanwhile, mix the remaining parsley with the grated carrot, onion and feta cheese, then set aside. Heat the grill to Medium, then cook the falafels on a baking tray for 3-5 mins on each side until golden. Split the pitta breads lengthways and fill with the warm falafels and some of the feta salad.

Pumpkin Soup

Serves 6

Ingredients
• 4 tbsp olive oil
• 2 onions, finely chopped
• 1kg pumpkins or squash (try kabocha), peeled, deseeded and chopped into chunks
• 700ml vegetable stock or chicken stock
• 142ml pot double cream
• 4 slices wholemeal seeded bread
• handful pumpkin seed from a packet

1. Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a large saucepan, then gently cook 2 finely chopped onions for 5 mins, until soft but not coloured. Add 1kg peeled, deseeded and chopped pumpkin or squash to the pan, then carry on cooking for 8-10 mins, stirring occasionally until it starts to soften and turn golden.

2. Pour 700ml vegetable stock into the pan, then season with salt and pepper. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 10 mins until the squash is very soft. Pour the 142ml pot of double cream into the pan, bring back to the boil, then purée with a hand blender. For an extra-velvety consistency you can now push the soup through a fine sieve into another pan. The soup can now be frozen for up to 2 months.

3. While the soup is cooking, slice the crusts from 4 slices of wholemeal seed bread, then cut the bread into small croutons. Heat the remaining 2 tbsp olive oil in a frying pan, then fry the bread until it starts to become crisp. Add a handful of pumpkin seeds to the pan, then cook for a few mins more until they are toasted. These can be made a day ahead and stored in an airtight container. Reheat the soup if needed, taste for seasoning, then serve scattered with croutons and seeds and drizzled with more olive oil, if you want.

Pumpkin, Lemon & Poppy Seed Loaf Cake

Ingredients

• 225g peeled and deseeded pumpkin or butternut squash, cubed.
• 4 tbsp full cream milk.
• 1 large egg.
• 175g self-raising flour.
• 1/2 tsp baking powder.
• 1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda.
• 150g caster sugar .
• 1 1/2 tsp mixed spice.
• 1/2 tsp grated nutmeg.
• 50g unsalted butter, cut into small pieces.
• 2 tbsp poppy seeds.
• Grated zest of 1 small lemon.

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan160°C/gas 4. Grease a 900g loaf tin and line with baking paper or greaseproof paper, then grease well once more. Cook the pumpkin in boiling water for 10-15 minutes, until tender. Drain well and leave until the steam dies down, then blend to a smooth purée in a food processor. Scoop into a mixing bowl and mix in 3 tablespoons milk and the egg.

2. Sift the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, sugar, mixed spice, nutmeg and seasoning into the cleaned bowl of the food processor. Add the butter and process until the mix looks like fine breadcrumbs. Add to the purée and stir until just mixed, adding the remaining milk if the mixture seems dry. Stir in the poppy seeds and grated lemon zest. Spoon the mix into the loaf tin and bake for 45 minutes until well risen and golden.

3. Remove the cake from the tin and cool on a wire rack. Remove the paper and serve cut into slices.

October 30, 2013

Reflexology Case Study…Treatment 5

by lrmetcalfe

Treatment Plan

Due to other commitments my client has not been able to have a treatment for a while. This is unfortunate as sometimes this can affect the positive results we see from reflexology, but is often unavoidable.

However, my client has been well and has managed to stop taking her anxiety medication, after a long period of gradually reducing the dose.

 

The Treatment

My client is feeling sleepy today, so wanted to feel refreshed and energised by the end of the treatment, therefore I focussed on a firmer massage, and spent extra time on pressing the reflexes which are involved in energy production. I also used massage oil containing the essential oils of Grapefruit and Bergamot; both oils are refreshing and uplifting.

The client’s feet were warmer than usual; this indicates a possible improvement in the client’s circulation.

The ‘popping’ sensation was found in the reflexes for the thyroid gland, diaphragm and stomach.

 

Feedback

The client enjoyed her treatment and said she did feel more refreshed.

 

Changes/ Areas to focus on for the next treatment

Usually the client wants to feel relaxed, however today she wanted to feel energised. Depending on the client’s mood I will alter the treatment in accordance. The next treatment is the last in her course, so we will focus on the lifestyles changes she has made and how she can continue to improve her health without the treatments.

 

Aftercare

Client needs to ensure she is sleeping for long enough, and should have an early night to recuperate. If she continues to feel tired, she could try Bio-Strath Elixir, a tonic which helps to improve energy levels and contains essential nutrients.

October 15, 2013

Let’s have a brew!

by lrmetcalfe

ImageThis week, the weather has suddenly become very chilly. This time of year makes me want to cuddle up on the sofa with a steaming mug of something delicious. However did you know there are many warming brews you could try with added healthy benefits…

 

Indian Tea- Chai

Bursting with the spicy benefits of cardamom, cinnamon, fennel and cloves, this drink really warms the insides.

Makes 6 mugs

Ingredients

  • 2 teabags (everyday breakfast tea)
  • 6 green cardamom pods
  • 2 cloves
  • 6 fennel seeds
  • ½ tsp cinnamon powder
  • 2 tsps sugar
  • Milk

1. Boil 500ml of water in a kettle

2. Pour the boiling water into a saucepan, add the teabags, spices and sugar, stir.

3. Bring back to the boil and leave to boil for 15 minutes

4. Once boiled add as much milk as required to turn the tea to the preferred strength/colour

5. Bring back to the boil (watch closely, as at this point it has a tendency to boil over)

6. Once boiled, remove from the heat and strain off the spices and teabags.

7. Pour into mugs and enjoy

 

Hot Cherry Punch

Cherries are rich in antioxidants, and studies show they are beneficial for those who suffer from arthritis and gout. Together with the anti-inflammatory action of chilli, ginger and cinnamon- this delicious fruity drink packs a punch for joint problems!

Makes a large jug of punch

Ingredients

  • 2 litres cherry juice
  • peel from 3 oranges
  • 1 thumb-sized red chilli, pierced a few times but left whole
  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  • 10 cloves
  • 6 slices ginger

1. Tip the cherry juice, orange peel, chilli, cinnamon sticks, cloves and ginger into a large saucepan.

2. Simmer for 5 minutes, then turn off the heat.

(If you prepare in advance, leave the spices in for 4 hours, allowing them to infuse the juice)

3. Strain the spices and orange peel away, (re-heat if left to infuse). Serve in mugs or a heatproof jug.

 

Indulgent hot chocolate

It’s OK to indulge every once in a while, and the antioxidants found in dark chocolate, make this naughty treat a little more beneficial!

Makes 6 mugs

Ingredients

200g dark chocolate (70-80% cocoa content, for a spicier treat look for dark chocolate with chilli)

600ml milk

1. Break the chocolate into cubes and put into a pan with the milk. Gently heat until the chocolate melts,.

2. Bring almost to the boil, stirring constantly until smooth. Poor into mugs, top with marshmallows if liked.

 

I hope you will enjoy these delicious drinks, remember there are lots of healthy hot drinks on the market- my favourites include: Yogi Teas Classic Cinnamon Spice, Teapigs Green Tea with Mint, Starbucks Earl Grey. Why not find your favourite…

 

October 7, 2013

A Dry Spell…

by lrmetcalfe

moisturises

It’s getting colder, the days are shortening, the central heating is now on- and my skin is drying out!

For the past two Winters my skin has become noticeably dryer- I never thought I would miss my oily-teenage skin type, but I do!

There is nothing worse than patches of dry, flaky or sore skin. Many of us automatically turn to creams and lotions, but the skin also needs to be healed from the inside out. Here are some of my top tips for dry skin….

 

1. Eat more essential fatty acids

Foods rich in essential fatty acids are essential for healthy skin. EFA’s are the building blocks of healthy cell membranes and are important for maintaining the skin’s natural oil barrier, critical in keeping skin hydrated and healthy.

One of the best sources of EFAs is oily fish- mackerel, sardines, tuna, anchovies, salmon, trout and herring. Olive oil, unrefined walnut and sunflower oil, nuts, linseed, pumpkin, sesame hemp and sunflower seeds are also sources of fatty acids. For recipe ideas rich in EFAs check out my blog post Getting Fishy

 

2. Find a PH balanced skin care regime

When our skin is dry we all rush to the closest moisturiser, however some moisturisers can disturb the natural balance of the skin. The skin has a form of protection called an ‘acid mantle’, it is naturally slightly acidic. If a product is too alkaline or too acidic, this mantle is disturbed and skin conditions can arise. Many skin products can alter the skin’s PH, so look out for products which maintain the skin’s natural PH balance.

 

3. For dryness on the body…

Calendula is the key! I use Nelsons Calendula Cream as a body lotion; I find it really useful for the dry patches I get on my legs and elbows.

Or for a moisturising treat, after bathing try massaging in an oil blend of Calendula, with a drop of the essential oils of Roman camomile, geranium and lavender.

 

4. Rehydrate

Drinking plenty of water is key to making sure the skin is hydrated, it is also something we tend to neglect to do in the cold; it is much harder to guzzle down water in winter, than on a hot summer’s day. Try and drink 1.5-2 litres a day, hot drinks including tea and herbal/fruit teas count towards your daily water intake too.

 

5. Not too hot

Heat and humidity dry out and irritate the skin, try not to have the central heating blasting out too high, and open windows during the day to let out humidity and let in fresh air! As tempting and relaxing as hot showers and baths on a cold day are, try not to make them too hot- warm is enough and always use a good moisturiser or massage oil afterwards.

October 5, 2013

Reflexology Case Study…Treatment 4

by lrmetcalfe

Treatment Plan

At today’s treatment my client had had a stressful day, with a few issues at home and an unpleasant trip to the dentist, she had a tension headache and wanted to calm down and let off steam.

The Treatment

Today I tried to focus more on deep breathing with the client, to encourage her to relax.

Again due to her anxiety and stress I focused on the reflexes for the pituitary and adrenal glands. To try and relieve the client’s tension headache, I spent more time working the areas for the head, neck and face.

The ‘popping’ sensation was found in the shoulder relfex, which could be related to stress and her tension headache; there was also an imbalance in the lung reflexes.

I spent more time on the massage part of the treatment to encourage relaxation. I used the client’s preferred massage oil blend.

Feedback

The client enjoyed her treatment and said the tension in her neck had noticeably improved. Again, her feet felt warmed after the foot massage section of the treatment.

Changes/ Areas to focus on for the next treatment

The client’s course of treatments is now more than half way through; her next treatment is the penultimate. There has been a change to the amount of reflexes in which I am finding ‘imbalances’, therefore I can start to shorten the treatments.

Aftercare

Client is continuing to try and lead a healthier lifestyle, by looking at her diet, doing more exercise and drinking less caffeinated drinks and more water. I am pleased with the progress she is made, and want her to continue.