Archive for ‘Uncategorized’

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.

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!

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.

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.

September 18, 2013

Reflexology Case Study…Treatment 2

by lrmetcalfe

Treatment Plan
This week, I met my client and last week’s slight sore throat, had turned into a fully-blown (pardon the pun!) cold. She had blocked sinuses, a headache and felt ill and shivery.

From today’s treatment, the client wanted to have a little symptomatic relief from her cold. Her feelings of anxiety have been worsening this week; she thinks this is partly due to her cold and also because her daughter has started nursery school- so she also wanted to feel relaxed.

The Treatment
I commenced the treatment with the usual combination of cleaning the feet and relaxation techniques. The client’s feet were very cold again.

Due to her cold, I decided to focus on the reflexes for the head, sinuses, eyes, nose and face.

The client had a lot of ‘popping’ in these areas. There was also popping in the upper spinal area.

The client’s feet were still in immaculate condition, with no dryness or issues. However, her ankles were slightly swollen; the client believed this was due to walking a lot that day. I focussed on massaging, in long firm strokes up the client’s calves to try and relieve the swelling and encourage drainage.

Today I used a different massage medium- almond oil blended with the warming essential oils, ginger and black pepper. I also used lavender oil to help blend the oils together and encourage relaxation. The client loved this oil blend; she liked the smell and said her feet felt warmer during and after the massage.
Feedback
At the end of the treatment the client said she felt much calmer, her feet felt warm, her sinus pain had eased a little and she was able to blow her nose, whereas previously her sinuses has been to blocked to do this.

Changes/ Areas to focus on for the next treatment
At the next treatment I will use the same oil blend, hopefully the client’s cold will have improved and I can go back to focussing on making the client feel more relaxed and less anxious.

Aftercare
Client is still not drinking water, and is forgetting to take her multivitamin and mineral tablets- I pressed the importance of this.

The client’s sinuses are very blocked, I suggested she have an Ear Candling treatment to help to relieve this, she has booked this treatment.

I also suggested she do some steam inhalation daily, using a few drops of A.Vogel Po Ho Oil.

September 16, 2013

1, 2, 3…..Breathe…..

by lrmetcalfe

breathAfter a long break, I recently started practicing yoga again; and was amazed at how powerful I find this activity.

Due to back problems, I now have to stick to the basics- warm up stretches, simple postures and breathing exercises; however controlling my breathing is the part of yoga I find most effective.

It’s during the breathing exercises that I feel most relaxed, I often feel inspired or have new ideas, as my mind is cleared and becomes more focussed.

Breathing is the most basic of all human functions, if we stopped breathing in and out we would cease to be- yet we all take breathing for granted. We never think of the power that we can have over our health and our bodies if we took a few minutes each day to focus on the breath.

You may be surprised at the changes you notice just controlling your breathing for even 5 minutes a day. Try  sitting down and focussing on your normal breath for a few minutes, then start to control it- breathe in and out, slowly and deeply, inhaling and exhaling through your nose.

 

There are many breathing techniques, some extremely simple, others take a little more time to master. If you attend a basic yoga class the teacher will be able to show you many effective techniques. I want to mention a few of my favourites in this post:

Basic Abdominal Breathing/ Low Breathing

If you ask most people to take a deep breath in, we immediately suck in our stomach and force in a sharp inhalation of air through the nose. This is incorrect.

Inhalation occurs when the lungs expand to take in air, air is then exhaled when the lungs contract.

Focus on slowly expanding the abdomen as you inhale through the nose, hold your tummy still for a second and then slowly exhale out through the nose pulling your tummy in. Place your hand on the tummy to help you focus on breathing into this area. It can take a little getting used to at first.

Once you’ve mastered this, try counting while you inhale and exhale- in for a count of 5 and out for a count of 8- increase the numbers you count to as you become more practiced.

 

Full Breathing/ Complete Breathing

Full breathing is the deepest possible breathing. It involves the shoulders, collarbone, ribs, abdomen and diaphragm. Once you have mastered abdominal breathing, you can move on to this more difficult technique.

  • Lie on the floor and tilt your chin into your chest a little.
  • Keep the mouth shut, you should only be inhaling and exhaling through the nose.
  • Breath into your tummy, expand the abdomen.
  • Let the breath move up the torso and expand the diaphragm and rib cage
  • Then try and expand your chest, raise the shoulders a little towards the ears.
  • Feel the breath create warmth in the throat. As you inhale, you should also hear a sound in the throat.
  • Slowly exhale, lower the shoulders and chest, relax the ribs, relax the diaphragm, slowly relax and pull in the abdomen. The slower the better. Use counting to help you maintain control.

 

Alternate Nostril Breathing

My favourite technique, this exercise is extremely relaxing.

Get comfortable- sit on a chair, on the floor or lie down. If you are seated keep your spine erect and shoulders relaxed.

Place your left hand at your side or on the left knee, palms open to the sky.

Close the index finger and middle finger of the right hand in towards your palm. Keep the fingers in this position throughout.

  • Place the ring finger and little finger on the left nostril, to breathe in through the right nostril
  • Gently press your thumb down on the right nostril and breathe out gently through the left nostril
  • Then inhale through the left nostril
  • Press the left nostril gently with the ring finger and little finger, to exhale through the right nostril.
  • Repeat this for 5 rounds to begin with, increasing the number of rounds when you are ready.

After every exhalation, remember to breathe in from the same nostril from which you exhaled. Keep your eyes closed throughout.

 

Try and do a little deep breathing each day. It is especially good when you’ve had a tiring or hectic day. Breathing is not only relaxing but energising, so, you can also use it to give yourself a boost. Why not swap your mid-morning coffee for 5 minutes of controlled breathing!

In addition these breathing techniques have many other healthy benefits. Controlled deep breathing….

  • kick-starts the metabolism
  • improves the condition of the core muscles, improving posture.
  • encourages elasticity in the lung tissue, allowing you to take in more oxygen.
  • tones the abdomen.
  • strengthens the immune system.
  • is useful for sufferers of respiratory conditions.
  • reduces levels of tension and anxiety.

So what are you waiting for! Controlled breathing can be done anywhere, by anyone, all ages and abilities.

So breeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeathe!

August 26, 2013

Back to School

by lrmetcalfe

It’s that time again!kids

The summer is coming to a close and September is getting; we need to start getting back into the routine. So, I thought I would mention a few holistic helpers to make September a little easier.

Unmotivated sleepy children?

If your children are constantly tired and unfocussed at school, there are two ways you could help…

1. Make sure they have a healthy breakfast.

We all know the importance of breakfast, this meal essentially breaks-the-fast, that we have had whilst sleeping. The brain and body cannot function without this morning hit of energy. Look for slow-releasing carbohydrates, and combine with a portion of protein, if you can get them to eat 1 of their five a day too- this would be an excellent start.

Try one of these:

  • Wholemeal toast, with good-quality peanut butter and a sliced banana/strawberries on top.
  • Low sugar cereal- Weetabix, ready-brek or shreddies, with milk- I like whizzing a banana in with the milk too and pouring this on my cereal- a banana milkshake with cereal!
  • Eggs are a great protein rich start to the day- try cheesey scrambley eggs and wholemeal toast or boiled eggs and soliders.
  • Smoothies- let them get creative, put out a selection of fruit, milk and yoghurt, and get blending.Nakdbars
  • If you’re really in a rush, I love Nakd bars- they are packed with dried fruit and nuts and come in a variety of delicious flavours. One of these with a yoghurt or a piece of fruit is a must have for a busy morning.

2. Make sure their diet is rich in Omega 3.

Omega 3 is all over the news, and is especially important for children. Omega 3 is one of the group of what is known as- essential fatty acids, these are the good fats, the ones we should be eating (!) they have so many health benefits, but we just aren’t consuming enough in our diets.

DHA, has been shown to be the type of omega 3 which is most beneficial for children. Multiple studies have been done into DHA’s importance for a child’s brain development and learning; links have been made between low levels of DHA and behavioural disorders.

These fats are ‘essential’ meaning the body cannot produce enough of them, we need to consume them in our diets- leading us to the main dilemma, the best source of Omega 3 is oily fish- tuna, mackerel, sardines, trout, herring, salmon- not foods most kids love to eat!

Check out my ‘Getting Fishy’ recipe article for some delicious oily-fish recipes, or have a look at fish oil supplements, especially ones high in DHA. Many companies have become well practiced at disguising the ‘fishy’ smell and there are some pleasant fish oil children’s supplements around. My favourites are, ‘Biocare Childrens OmegaBerry’ and ‘Eskimo Kids Fish Oil- Tutti Frutti’.’

Children with itchy heads?

Head lice- eek! My skin is crawling just thinking about it, but September and back to school, often sees the return of these horrible creatures. Tea Tree oil is nature’s answer! To act as a deterrent use tea tree shampoo or rub a little oil behind the ears, around the hair line.

If the critters do invade, use ‘What Nits scalb rub’, which contains tea tree, eucalyptus and neem oil, follow with tea tree shampoo and conditioner, then use a nit comb to scrape out the invaders and their eggs.

Can’t get up when the alarm clock rings?

So, we have dealt with the little ones, what about mum and dad? We all know that horrid feeling when the alarm rings, and you just can’t work up the energy to get out of bed, as the mornings get darker this feeling worsens.

You could try a supplement of 5HTP, it is a naturally occurring amino acid and is a pre-cursor for the production of serotonin- the neurotransmitter which is associated with feelings of happiness and wellbeing and melatonin- essential for the regulation of the sleep-wake cycle.

Low energy levels, can often be improved by supplementing with a high potency muti-vitamin and mineral. Make sure the supplement is high in water soluble B vitamins and vitamin C as these are essential for regulating energy levels and the nervous system. Look for a timed release supplement too, such as ‘Quest Super Once a Day’.

I hope this will help and give you some healthy ideas to get through September.

August 19, 2013

The Fast Diet

by lrmetcalfe

The Fast Diet or The 5:2 Diet, is the latest fad sweeping the diet world.

A few of my family members and friends, have started to undertake this diet, after speaking to them, I was concerned about the basis for this regime. I thought I would do some research and write an article on my findings.

 

The Fast Diet- The Premise

Fasting has been a part of many cultures for hundreds of years, and it’s health benefits have been studied by many research programmes.

Early findings show that benefits of intermittent fasting (the style of fasting promoted in the 5:2 diet) include reduced risks of cancer, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, insulin resistance and immune disorders. However research is in the early stages, many of these studies have been done on animals or on small, human sample groups.

The author of The Fast Diet, Michael Mosley, designed the 5:2 diet, after filming a BBC documentary called ‘Eat, Fast, Live Longer’. Following his research into fasting for this programme, he decided to restrict his calorie intake to 600 calories for two days a week and eat ‘normally’ for 5 days a week. He lost 19lb and his body-fat percentage decreased. His blood chemistry was analysed before and after the diet and many risk markers for disease such as cholesterol and fasting glucose levels improved.

He wrote a book detailing his experiences and advocating this diet, in which two days a week men consume 600 calories and women 500 calories, eating normally for the rest of the week.

 

What I like about the fast diet-

The sections on insulin and balancing blood sugar were of great interest to me. The diet places emphasis on controlling insulin levels, eating low GI/GL  foods on fast days which keep your blood sugar balanced. There is a lot of research to suggest that by controlling blood sugar levels we can lose weight, increase our energy levels and reduce the risk of contracting diseases such as diabetes.

The meal plans for the fast days do look delicious, and I think it is important if you are following this diet, to try and follow these plans as they ensure you are receiving the maximum amount of nutrients for the small amount of calories consumed.

 

My concerns- What about the 5 days you are not fasting?

‘The Fast Diet’ book goes into great lengths to tell you what to eat on your fast days, and gives a lot of healthy choices; my biggest concern is how little is mentioned about what to eat on the five days a week you are not fasting.

When I first heard about this diet, it was from someone who was excited to do the diet, as he could eat all his favourite junk foods five days a week and then only had to diet twice a week. The book says ‘eat what you like 5 days a week’, and provides no further guidance-so what if I like to eat a diet high in saturated fat, processed foods and low in fruit, vegetables and fibre, 5 days a week?

Does eating a small amount of healthy food twice a week, compensate for 5 days of eating unhealthily? The book assumes that we all know how to eat healthily for the 5 days a week, but a nation that struggles with obesity and a UK diet industry worth 2 billion pounds, may suggest otherwise.

 

What dieters say… A woman’s point of view:

Why did the Fast Diet appeal to you?
I can eat normally for 5 days I only have to count calories/ cook special meals twice a week. This is convenient as sometimes on diets I end up cooking three meals for me, husband and 3 year old child.

Did you experience any side effects when completing the fast diet?

On fast days I was hungry and lacked energy but otherwise no.

What do you think the pros and cons of the diet are?

Pros – health benefits are major and only dieting for 2 days
Cons -hard to have a ‘normal’ day on a fast day as you’re quite tired

How long have you done the diet for, do you think it is sustainable, could you do it long-term?
I did it for two weeks but lost and then gained weight, as I was eating too much on non-fast days.  I will go back on the diet when I have lost weight to maintain, as it’s much easier than doing a diet every day. I stopped as I needed to lose weight more quickly as am planning to have a baby but will definatly do it again for the health benefits. I think it is sustainable and I could do it long term.

How much weight have you lost doing this diet?

I lost 4lb and put 2lb back on so lost 2lb over 2 weeks.

Did you experience any health benefits other than weight loss when doing this diet?
No, not that I am aware of.

 

What dieters say… A man’s point of view:

Why did the Fast Diet appeal to you?

I saw the Horizon programme on BBC 2. I have believed for some time that fasting could be beneficial to health, the programme listed the benefits and backed them up with scientific research, this prompted me to start the diet.

Did you experience any side-effects when completing the fast diet?

No

What do you think the pros and cons of the diet are?

Pros- I find the diet works for me

Cons- The con, which is true of all diets- they are difficult to follow

How long have you done the diet for, do you think it is sustainable, could you do it long-term?

Three weeks, I believe the diet is sustainable, if you have the will-power to continue with it.

How much weight have you lost doing this diet?

6lb

Did you experience any health benefits other than weight loss when doing this diet?
No other noticeable health benefits.

 

What the NHS says…

The UK National Health Service posted an article about the diet on its website, citing limited evidence for weight loss in humans, and a lack of good evidence for increasing lifespan, improving cognitive decline, and prolonging life in humans in real life (as opposed to animal and laboratory results). The conclusion was: “compared to other types of weight loss programmes the evidence base of the safety and effectiveness of the 5:2 diet is limited. If you are considering it then you should first talk to your GP to see if it is suitable for you”.

 

My conclusion…

Research continues on fasting, and until there is more solid evidence on the best way to fast as part of a healthy diet, I would think carefully and consult your doctor on whether the 5:2 diet is suitable for you.

At the end of the day, the basis of ‘the Fast Diet’ is good old-fashioned calorie restriction. We all know if we want to lose weight we need to eat less, eat healthier foods and exercise more. I believe one of the main reasons the fast diet is so appealing is because it allows us to eat the foods we love but know are bad for us.

However, if you eat healthily and increase your activity levels, there is no reason why you cannot treat yourself occasionally.

I believe that the minute we place ourselves on a ‘diet’ we are setting ourselves up to fail, a ‘diet’ suggests a short-term change.  We should place more emphasis on eating and cooking healthier foods and living a more active lifestyle for the rest of our lives.

August 5, 2013

Fun in the Sun

by lrmetcalfe

ImageTwo weeks in to the summer holidays- are you scratching your head as to fun things you can do with your children? I thought I would give you a few ‘holistic ideas’ of healthy ways you can have fun, which will make a difference to your health or to the environment.

Home-made ice lollies

Who needs the ice cream van? Make your own healthy summer ice lollies, easy to do and cheap to make, these refreshing lollies are great for hot summer afternoons. Just pick up a cheap lolly mould and save some old lolly sticks and get started. The possibilities are endless, but here are some of my favourites:

Bananarama Lolly- Peel a banana cut in half. Push a lolly stick into the cut end and dip the pointed ends in a little melted chocolate, roll in desiccated coconut, hundreds & thousands or chopped nuts. Leave on a plate until the chocolate has set, then put in the freezer overnight.

Strawberry Yoghurt- In a blender, whizz up some strawberries with some natural or strawberry yoghurt. Pour into lolly moulds and leave to freeze overnight.

Juicy Orange- Pour in your favourite breakfast juice to a lolly mould, my favourite is orange, but this would work with lots of different juices. Freeze overnight.

Garden camping

OK I love camping, I know I may be in the minority here, but it’s great fun for kids and nothing is better than waking up to the sounds of birds chirping. Take the expense and hassle out of the experience my camping in the garden.

You could make a night of it; have a barbeque, toast marshmallows, sing campfire songs and settle down to a night under the stars. The next morning you have the added luxury that camping away from home is sorely lacking- the comfort of your own bath and loo!

Your garden becomes a new environment at night, one many of us may not have discovered before. I found that we had a resident toad in our garden, when we slept outside during the recent heat wave.  (Don’t worry it didn’t hop in to my sleeping bag, we heard a strange noise coming from the pond and I looked it up online the next day!)

From 9th-11th August, the RSPB are holding a fundraising event, raise money for conservation by sleeping outside, in their ‘Big Wild Sleepout’. For more information visit: www.rspb.org.uk/thingstodo/sleepout

‘Spring’ clean

OK, so it may be a little late for ‘spring’ cleaning, but a good clear out is very therapeutic and is a great activity for those rainy summer days.

Get the kids to sort through their old toys by playing ‘trash or treasure’, creating piles of unused and loved items. Any toys that are in good working order can be sold on eBay or at car boots, given to charity, or check out ‘Freecycle’, a swapping website, where you can advertise unwanted items to other like-minded recyclers.

You could also make your own natural cleaning products:

Multi-purpose spray- Fill a spray bottle with water until it’s nearly full. Fill the remainder of the bottle with distilled white vinegar and add a small amount of detergent and lemon juice. Shake well.  Use on countertops, sinks, stoves, floors, and toilets.

Air freshener- Add lemon or tea tree essential oil to some cheap vodka and pour into a spritzer bottle, squirt for a fresh, sweet smelling home.

Get on your bike

I’ve recently rediscovered the joy of cycling, many of us take our children to the park to ride their bikes, but do we ride with them?

Look for a cheap bike, if you don’t have one already, often you can pick one up second hand, or borrow a neighbours. Pack a picnic and set off on your bike for the day.

Cycling is a great form of exercise, its low-impact, so it’s easier on your joints, and gives you the chance to get out into the great outdoors.

Check out the national trust website for organised family bike rides, through picturesque settings all over the UK. www.nationaltrust.org.uk/visit/activities/cycling

 

Create a wildlife haven in your garden

Make a wood pile- A wood pile is a great way to attract bugs and amphibians to your garden. Leave a pile of logs, garden cuttings and dead branches in one corner, preferably in a shady area. Fungi may start to grow on your rotting wood this is great for wildlife; it makes good food for slugs and snails which in turn attracts hedgehogs and garden birds.

Feed the birds- You can do this all year round, set up a bird table or bird feeders near to trees and hedges. You don’t have to spend lots of money on bird food. Birds will enjoy many of our kitchen leftovers, including: plain cakes, potatoes, stale bread, rice, soft fruits, apple cores and grated cheese.

You could even make your own bird feeder by pouring melted lard onto a mixture of seeds, nuts, dried fruit, oats, cheese and cake. Stir well in a bowl and allow it to set in a container, an empty coconut shell for instance. Place on your bird table when set.

Leaving an area of your lawn uncut, attracts insects, which provide food for birds.

I hope I have given you some new fun ideas for those long summer days!

July 2, 2013

A Very Healthy Read!

by lrmetcalfe

I love love love reading! I am a bit of a bookworm and combining my passion for books with my love of everything healthy and holistic has led to quite a large collection of health-related books.

For me a health book needs to be accessible, non-fad related (!!!) and easy to dip in and out of. Not something you would read cover to cover, but more of a reference for information, as and when needed. Over the years I have discovered some brilliant healthy reads and some awful ones; so to save you the trouble of ploughing through the health section of your local book store, I thought I would share with you my favourite healthy reads.

 

500500 of the most important health tips you’ll ever need- Hazel Courtney

Not the catchiest of titles but it definitely does what it says on the tin. This is the book I turn to the most and it has taught me a lot.

The book features various common health complaints, gives a brief description of the problem and then goes on to tell you which foods to avoid, which foods to eat more of, supplements or remedies to try and lifestyle tips. It is well laid out and easy to understand.

This is definitely my favourite health book. A copy for the home will be a useful addition to any family library; just be warned, the foods you usually need to eliminate are the things we all like best- coffee, alcohol, cheese and chocolate!

 

Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine- Thomas Bartrambartrams_encyclopedia_of_herbal_medicine

Thomas Bartram gave up 17 years of hospital service to become a medical herbalist. He founded the herbal remedy manufacturer Gerard House and also the publication Grace.

This book is an encyclopedia of not only every remedy you can think of but also every ailment. From Abdominal Pain to Zinc, it is a comprehensive reference book and a practitioner’s best friend; this book would also be perfect for those who are more dedicated to using alternative medicines.

 

the-illustrated-herbal-encyclopediaThe Illustrated Herbal Encyclopedia- Brenda Little

This is one of the books that started by passion for alternative medicine! My school library had a copy and at lunchtimes me and my friend would squabble over who would look at it- this sounds a little odd, but it is such an aesthetically pleasing book!

It covers all the uses of herbs, not just medicinal. It takes you through herbal skin care, crafts, cooking with herbs and a short encyclopedia of the most common herbs and their applications; all accompanied by beautiful photography. It will have you wanting to create lavender pillows, pomanders and tussie-mussies in no time!

 

 

The Complete Home Guide To Medication: A Practical Guide To Prescription & Non Prescription Drugs- Warwick Carter

Ever come home from the doctors with a box of tablets and wondered exactly what your’re taking and why? This book is a comprehensive guide to drugs, their uses and interactions. A really interesting reference for those of us who enjoy perusing the leaflets that comes with medication.  Great if you want to become more informed about pharmaceutical medicines.3d9a017b42a09bab841c1210_L

 

The Aromatherapy Bible: The Definitive Guide to Using Essential Oils- Gill Farrer-Halls

This book is a great beginner’s guide to aromatherapy; it gives a good description of each of the essential oils, their uses and contraindications. Also provides a lot of information on how to make your own aromatherapy products.

 

The Nature Doctor- Alfred Vogel

The-Nature-Doctor

Alfred Vogel (my hero!), was a Swiss naturopath and nutritionist born in 1902. His mother and grandmother began teaching him about herbal medicine from a young age, then when he was  21, he moved to Basel to manage a herb and health store. He became more and more interested in natural remedies, so he decided to study homeopathy, naturopathy and botany.

He was passionate about helping others and learning as much as he could about natural healing. He travelled regularly discovering the healing secrets of many cultures. His beliefs and methods became more renowned and popular. He started publishing his own health magazines and eventually went on to set up Bioforce, a manufacturer of high quality herbal remedies, the company has now been renamed as A.Vogel, to commemorate this great man. This book details his findings and beliefs, including many long-forgotten practices and remedies.

 

“ When we fall ill, lack of knowledge and ignorance as to the requirements of our body accounts for a good 80%”  Alfred Vogel (1902-1996)

 

With this in mind, why not pick up a health book and empower yourself…..happy, healthy reading!