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Green+Aquamarine: August 2015

Monday, 31 August 2015

Moorland Walks

I've rejigged my blog schedule somewhat to share with you a few photos of the beautiful countryside just a few miles from my home! Apologies for the slightly poorer quality photos; all were taken on my iPhone as I just jumped into the car this morning and went!

Moorland walks in National Park, the North Yorkshire Moors. Read for health and wellbeing posts.

Before the walk even got going I was surprised to find a young adder skin. Fortunately, we didn't disturb any of the snakes on our walk as like as not they would have been trodden on. It was a lovely surprise though, as it is always interesting to find evidence of wildlife.

Moorland walks in National Park, the North Yorkshire Moors. Read for health and wellbeing posts.

We walked around a ridge, before taking a steep, craggy track down into the valley below. I love scrambling up and down routes; it always makes me want to start fell running! Anyone know of tips on how to start fell running without immediately twisting an ankle?! Being a pretty quiet area, we only passed a couple of other walking parties, including a lady in her sixties or seventies who looked fitter than most people half her age! #LifeGoals much?

Moorland walks in National Park, the North Yorkshire Moors. Read for health and wellbeing posts.

Moorland walks in National Park, the North Yorkshire Moors. Read for health and wellbeing posts.

Being late August, the heather was out in full force, and smelt heavenly; just like the heather honey that gets sold all around the moors. Hill walking, or hiking, seems to be a popular pursuit on the west coast of the states, but is less popular here in the UK. Maybe it is the changeable weather, or the fact that for many, decent hill walks are a long distance away. I certainly don't go walking as often as I wish, but do try to get out regularly. For me, just getting outside contributes to living an active lifestyle even more so that sweating it out in the gym for an hour before sitting down for the rest of the day.

With the last few weeks of summer stretching out before us, I would urge you to get out and enjoy whatever happens to be on your doorstep, be it hidden gems and parks in cities, or open countryside.

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Thursday, 27 August 2015

Eating Healthily When Travelling

Eating healthily when travelling. Tips for not losing track when on holiday.

I think there is often a little bit of debate between whether you should have a healthy holiday, or if you should just enjoy the time away and indulge. Personally, I like the idea of striking a balance and finding lots of enjoyable, active activities and eating delicious foods. If you are still yet to take your summer holiday, or have another trip coming up, read on to see my tips on eating healthily abroad.

Eating healthily when travelling. Tips for not losing track when on holiday.

1. Stock up on healthy snacks

In the UK, healthy snacks and nibbles have taken the shops by storm. You can find the popular Nakd bars in even the smallest of convenience shops now, or order multipacks online. Popping packaged items into your main luggage should be fine with most airlines (always check first!) ensures that you have a source of energy to-go. Biona make these great little packets of healthy breads, such as pumpernickel that come already sliced into thins. If you are a little dubious about your breakfast options, these are great, and perfect for topping with mashed banana or avocado.

Eating healthily when travelling. Tips for not losing track when on holiday.

2. Shop local

From my mother, I have developed a great love of exploring foreign supermarkets. It sounds silly, but it is exciting to see what variety of food is on offer, and what makes up the staple foods in a different country. Alongside this, head to local markets for seasonal produce, especially fruit and veg. Take advantage of regional specialities -if you are visiting a coastal area, look for fresh (and sustainably caught!!) seafood. Keep your wits about you, particularly in places such as Morocco or Turkey where there is a strong market culture and don't be guilted into buying things you don't want. UK market traders are fairly reserved about enticing customers, so be prepared for a different experience.

Eating healthily when travelling. Tips for not losing track when on holiday.

3. Blend it up

Again, please check your airline policy, but recently, I have been hearing about holiday makers packing their travel blenders. If this appeals to you, grab your Nutribullet or hand blender and get ready to whip up smoothies and pestos on the go -just don't forget the power adaptors! If you are going self catered, it is always worth asking the property owner what equipment they provide, or if they have a blender that you could borrow.

4. Eat where the residents eat

It's always a little disappointing to arrive at a new, exotic destination, only to come across pizza places and English-style pubs. See if you can scope out a less touristy restaurant, or ask your travel rep if they recommend anywhere. Talk to people that you meet and ask for opinions. You may find something totally unexpected -the world is a global village, after all, and you will always find a blend of cultures. When in Greece, we mixed up seafood restaurants with a beachfront Italian, owned by a lovely lady who split her time between the two countries.

Eating healthily when travelling. Tips for not losing track when on holiday.

5. Eat your greens

Keep your nutrient and energy levels high by snacking on fruit and vegetables to ensure that you are getting you 5-10 a day. It is one of the cheapest kinds of food and will keep you sustained between meals. If you're following tip 3, a smoothie is the perfect way to boost your intake, and is nice and cooling in a hot country!

6. Relax

Ultimately, you are on holiday, and a week or two of not sticking exactly to plan is not going to do you any harm. Eating healthily is meant to be enjoyable, so if it is causing added pressure, don't sweat  it. Try not to go completely crazy (on the fizzy drinks and alcohol too!), and get back to your usual routine once home.

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Monday, 24 August 2015

S'well Bottles

Here on Green+Aquamarine, I like to talk about plastic a lot. Specifically, getting rid of plastic waste.  So today I am really excited to talk to you about S'well, an eco-friendly, insulated, fashionable water bottle.

 S'well bottles, Hip and Healthy, eco-friendly, sustainable, ban plastic, insulated

The Brand

S'well was set up five years ago by Sarah Kauss, after she grew tired of drinking warm water on hot days from single-use plastic bottles. The problem with multi-use plastic bottles is that they do eventually deteriorate, and even BPA-free plastic contains compounds similar to BPA, which can also be bad for you health. Glass is dangerous if broken, and aluminium leaves a metallic taste in the mouth. So, S'well turned to stainless steel, which has non of these issues.

The double-walled insulation makes the bottles able to keep hot drinks hot for 12 hours, and cold drinks cool for a staggering 24. Considering that most conventional flasks have a 6-8 hour insulation period, this is certainly impressive. As I will be going on holiday next week, this was the key reason that I bought this bottle, as warm water is just disgusting! The design also promises to be leak-free, even when dealing with steam from hot liquids.

 S'well bottles, Hip and Healthy, eco-friendly, sustainable, ban plastic, insulated

One of S'well's greatest aims is to bring plastic bottles out of the landfill and oceans. It is estimated that 200 billion plastic bottles end up in landfill, globally, each year. It is a pretty shocking statistic, but with S'well becoming an increasingly successful brand in the US and worldwide, hopefully this number will start to decrease!

Another thing that I really like about S'well is that the brand has a strong charitable ethos, working with Water Aid, U.S Fund for UNICEF and American Forests. It is a real pleasure to see brands ticking all the boxes on providing a desirable product that is sustainable and ethical.

The Review

I picked up my bottle from Hip & Healthy in the gorgeous Santorini print. It arrived speedily, beautifully wrapped with a note from the Hip and Healthy team, and the bottle itself came in a secure box. It is, by a long way, the most expensive bottle that I have seen, but with it's high-tech design and superb credentials, I can certainly see why. The 500ml bottle feels sturdy, and I appreciated the slight indentions on the lid, presumably to give wet hands a little extra grip. I haven't noticed any aftertaste so far, so I am really pleased with that. With so much choice in design and size (250ml-750ml bottles are available), S'well has really thought about their customer, making a product that is as suitable on the office-to-gym run as it is for summertime picnics. I think a lower price would make it a more accessible product, but only if it could be done without negatively impacting S'well's core values and charitable work.

S'well bottles are available in the UK for £29.95 at Hip & Healthy. In the US, the whole range is available on S'well's website. Psst! Until the end of the month Hip & Healthy are giving a sachet of Pip & Nut nut butter for every purchase, so get your skates on!

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Thursday, 20 August 2015

Piña Colada Smoothie

I am typing this whilst looking out of the window to a rather gloomy morning. In the UK, it has been a rather changeable summer, with glorious sunshine days being interspersed with deluges of rain and overcast weather. However, summer is at our fingertips in the form of food, so to brighten up your day, I am sharing this recipe for a healthy, Pina colada smoothie. (Alcohol optional!)

Pina colada smoothie, healthy, vegan, summer, mala beads, kilner jar, health bloggers,

The one time I have tried a Pina colada cocktail, I found it a little sickly, but this fresh, creamy smoothie is a world away from that, and all the lovely ingredients are bursting with summer flavour. As pineapple has such a high water content, you need very little additional liquid, making it very much a fuss-free smoothie. I have included quantities as a guideline for one serving, but really, I would recommend chopping up a whole pineapple and a host of bananas to share!

Pina colada smoothie, healthy, vegan, summer, mala beads, kilner jar, health bloggers,

  • 1 banana
  • 100g (a large handful) of chopped pineapple 
  • 2 tbsp coconut cream, or the solid part of tinned coconut
Pina colada smoothie, healthy, vegan, summer, mala beads, kilner jar, health bloggers,

Blend up the fruit before adding the coconut. Add either water or nut milk to achieve desired consistency and serve immediately.

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Monday, 17 August 2015

Om Yoga Magazine: September

With my interest in a holistic approach to nutrition, I have been reading about Ayurveda a fair bit recently. Yoga and Ayurveda are often described as "sister" disciplines, having come about from the same area at similar times to one another. In this month's edition of Om Yoga Magazine, Faye Hart and Dr Brennan touched on how to incorporate Ayurvedic principles into day-today yoga practice.

Om Yoga Magazine, Ayurveda, dosha

For those of you unfamiliar to the science of Ayurveda, an important part is that we are all made up of three groups of characteristics, and that one of these usually dominates. These are called doshas but could also be thought of as imbalances. So, for example, the Vata dosha can result in anxious, erratic and forgetful behaviour when out of balance, and so opposites are required to rebalance. If you would like to find out your dosha, I would recommend trying a couple of different tests online and comparing results.

Tailoring a yoga practice to your dosha is a great way to attune breathwork and pace to your needs. For Vata, slow breathing and steady movements are ideal. Try Iyengar yoga and practice Ujjayi breath. Pitta needs to release competitiveness, and a relaxed practice is ideal for this. Alongside more flowing classes, add in some yin yoga. In contrast, Kapha benefits from an energetic practice, balanced with steady breathing. Vinyasa yoga is dynamic and so works perfectly for this.

This article provided an interesting introduction to Ayurveda and how it can fit in with yoga. Would you adjust your practice to suit your dosha?

Disclaimer: I am an Affiliated Blogger with Om Yoga Magazine. Each issue I will write a post on an article from the magazine and share it with you. Have a look here to find about the other lovely affiliated bloggers. All photos in this post taken from the Om Yoga magazine. 


Thursday, 13 August 2015

The Yoga Burnout

In this month's edition, Women's Health Magazine addressed the surprising issue of a yoga burnout. It seemed ironic, that the activity, indeed; lifestyle that has become the pinnacle of healthy, stress-free living has resulted in fatigue and injury. Yet, as I read descriptions of women pushing themselves into unrealistic poses as they squeezed in back-to-back classes, I could understand the problem. I definitely have been at risk of pushing myself, always trying to reach near perfection in a pose, and to be the last to fall out of a balance. Luckily, I didn't go as far as some of the yogi's in the article, but it got me thinking.

So what is a yoga burnout? Whilst this is hardly a medical condition, it essentially drives down to not listening to your body or mind. Stressing yourself out by trying to get to a yoga class -and your preferred front of class spot -as soon as you finish work across town; back bending your way into strains and slipped disks; measuring your worth by the likes on your latest tree pose Instagram post... all these could be described as a yoga burnout. It ultimately defeats the purpose of yoga and ahimsa and can even put you at risk of injury or illness.

You can blame this occurrence on many things -the "alpha" personality type, a pitta ayurvedic constitution, or simply the Western world's drive for competitiveness. But all require a step back. Where calories are counted, and protein measured, it can be all to easy to jump in to a yoga class that promises sweat or calls itself "power" (not that we should knock a class for that... my sun power classes are one of the highlights of my week!). But it is important to find a balance and look after all aspects of our physical and mental wellbeing!

I first noticed that I was possibly at risk of becoming a yoga burnout when I followed a class aimed at the Pitta dosha. The teacher, Rebecca Snowball, explained how people with Pitta characteristics are prone to competitiveness and so she created a playful practice with lots of slow, steady holding of postures. This resonated with me and I have started to mix up flowing vinyasa-style classes with yin yoga and balances.

I think Women's Health really highlighted the importance of being awareness of injury and stress when trying to cram yoga practice. Listening to your intuition once you are aware of this is vital, I feel -whether to step back from practice, change your practice, or change your lifestyle for your practice.

Have you ever felt more stressed and sore from yoga than energised?


Monday, 10 August 2015

Ecover: Green can Clean

Ecover sent me their new washing up liquid and challenged me to use it for five washes to see if green can clean. Ecover have rehauled their cleaning soap with a range of delicious new scents, 99.8% plant-based content, and a promise of washing 40% more dishes than the previous formula. The bottle is particularly smart, being made from a mix of recycled plastic and sugarcane derived material, and so is completely renewable, recyclable and reusable. On top of this, the Ecover ecological factories claim to be "energy efficient, sustainably built and clean running".

Ecover, eco-friendly, plant based, natural

The company's Innovation Manager (how's that for a fancy job title?!), Tom Domen says that "Ecover has been on a journey to not only make products even less harmful to the environment, but to ensure that they match the performance of conventional cleaners".

To optimise the product's efficiency, Ecover recommends sprinkling baking soda on to burnt cookwear to dissolve grime, and pre-treating tea and coffee stains with lemon. Luckily I haven't had to deal with quite so many tough stains recently, but I found for normal washing, the Ecover washing up liquid has worked at least as well as any other brand, coping well with a continuing stream of bowls and dishes when I last had a cooking and baking session!

Ecover, eco-friendly, plant based, natural

I should say that I had a slight mishap with the bottle in-transit, resulting in a spillage after the lid popped off. This was, admittedly, whilst cycling back from the post office on a bumpy road, so shouldn't be too much of a risk. But I thought I would mention it, so that you know to pop the washing up liquid in a different shopping bag to, say, some of your fresh vegetables and bread from the supermarket!

Ecover, eco-friendly, plant based, natural

I am always one for an eco-friendly product to recommend alongside the other focuses of this blog, and I will be giving this one a thumbs up. Ecover washing up liquid is available online, and in Tescos, Sainsburys, Co-Op and Waitrose for a reasonable £1.60 for 500ml, or £2.40 for 1L.

If you found this post interesting, or have been using Ecover products, use the hashtag #greencanclean to get involved.

Disclaimer: I was sent an Ecover product pack for the purpose of review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.


Wednesday, 5 August 2015

An Interview with Neal's Yard

Alongside the DIY natural beauty that I have been creating, I have been making the switch with my products that I use to natural, ethical brands. I think one of the most well-known brands for this is Neal's Yard, which has been creating natural-based remedies since 1981, using aromatherapy principles. In terms, of beliefs, Neal's Yard is awesome -carbon neutral, organic certified, cruelty-free and fair trade, amongst many, many other accolades. I popped into their York shop to have a chat with Felix and Chloe and find out more about the brand.

Neal's yard, natural skincare, organic

One of my favourite aspects of Neal's Yard is their involvement on campaigns. The two I am most interested in is the Beat the Microbead and Bee Lovely campaigns. Microbead plastics are found in many exfoliators and enter the water systems and ocean where they become ingested by animals and move up the food chain, potentially to us. Neal's Yard instead uses yummy ingredients like rice bran, Argan shell, lotus seeds and sea salt.

In response to the rapid decline of bee species, including honey bees, £60 000 has been raised by Neal's Yard through their Bee Lovely products (that's about £10 000 per year since the line launched!). Alongside using organic, responsibly sourced honey to make the moisturisers and products, a petition has been taken to Downing Street asking for a ban on neonicotinoids, a group of insecticides that have been wiping out bees. To top it, the range smells so good -Felix described it as like carrot cake, which gives you an idea of how rich and sweet it is.

Neal's yard, natural skincare, organic

I asked what item was currently standing out as a hero-product, and was surprised to find that the answer was a diffuser. The Zen diffuser is ionising, has mood lighting and turns itself off so is really safe in a busy household. One of the diffusers was filling the room with scent from an in-house essential oil and it really was lovely.

Neal's yard, natural skincare, organic

To get a look at the York store and life as a Neal's Yard team member, Felix gave me the lowdown:
"York has an alternative health scene, which fits in well with Neal's Yard. There are lots of yoga studios, buddhist centres and independent holistic health practitioners in the city". Coworker Chloe is a yoga teacher, specialising in Yin yoga, and teaching in some of these yoga studios. I am hoping to attend one of her classes with a little luck!

Neal's yard, natural skincare, organic

The York store also has a therapy room, with services including reflexology, psychology, massage and facials offered. Felix is an aromatherapist, and is benefitting from the Neal's Yard graduate scheme, which offers professional support and further learning to support new practitioners. With these qualifications, Felix is more likely to be found making up his own facial oils himself than using the pre-made products, but loves the Men's moisturising cream. His favourite oils to use are lavender and tea tree. Felix also recommends rose hip oil, which is full of moisturising fatty acids, whilst relieving congested skin. I personally have been using a rose otto-based cleanser and have seen real improvements in my skin in the last month.

It was a really insightful afternoon, and I had a lovely time talking to Chloe and Felix. I couldn't leave without a few cheeky purchases, so bought myself a new Bee Lovely hand cream, and a pot of coconut oil just for hair, skin and body care, rather than having to use the oil that I use for cooking. I have learnt a lot more about the brand, and feel even more confident about what I am putting on my skin.

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