Random Health… Get some ZZZs with Sleepy Love

Do you ever have problems drifting off to sleep? Perhaps you wake up in the middle of the night, and your brain switches into thinking mode. Whether it’s anxiety, stress or general worries of daily life that are keeping you awake, Sleepy Love is here to help, and I was lucky enough to get to try it out, thanks to Lombardia Drinks and The Vegan Lifestyle Association.

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Sleepy Love is a special mango drink, which contains a combination of soothing and calming Bach Flower Essences.  But what are Bach Flower Essences, I hear you ask, and how exactly can they send me into the land of nod?

Bach Flowers are a safe and natural healing method. They restore the balance of mind and body by casting out negative emotions such as worry. These are the seven essences included in Sleepy Love:

Honeysuckle – For homesickness, nostalgia and bereavement. Great for those ruminating over the past.

Walnut – Helps with adjustment to change, and for letting go of the past. Can be used for those who can be easily led away from their ideals due to the opinions of others.

Rock Rose – The emergency remedy for fear or terror. Particularly good for panics and nightmares.

Impatiens – Helps those who are impatient or anxious.  Great for anyone who fidgets.

Cherry Plum – For those who fear losing control, or losing their mind. Worry about doing fearful/dreaded things.

Clematis – For those with a lack of interest and concentration. Good for those who withdraw from the world and daydream.

Star of Bethlehem – For those under great distress or unhappiness. Good for shock and post traumatic stress.

I’ve had previously wonderful experience from flower remedies before, particularly Rescue Remedy which I think contains the same 7 remedies as Sleepy Love. It was the thing that got me through lots of exam nerves and helped me to keep calm. This drink is just as wonderful.

It’s a really easy drink to make – just use a whole sachet for a strong drink, and half for a weaker drink – I actually found I only needed a third of a pouch at a time, as it packs quite a punch. Mix with hot – or cold – water and enjoy in a relaxing setting. Be mindful about drinking your Sleepy Love – taste every mouthful and breathe in the scents.

I’ve found it very effective indeed – it does take at least a week for the effects to kick in, as advised on the website, it’s a gradual build up effect. After the Bach Flower Essences have gathered in your system, you should feel more calm and relaxed, and find a more peaceful sleep. I certainly did. I wake up much less in the middle of the night now, and find it easier to go back to sleep if I do.

It costs £7.99 in Holland & Barrett for a pack of 4 sachets – which can give up to 8 servings based on half a sachet each time. You can also buy on the Lombardia Drinks website. It’s great value when you consider the difference a good night’s sleep can make to your day.

This review has been organised by the VEGAN Lifestyle ASSOCIATION. This is my genuine and unbiased review of the product.

Lombardia Drinks are listed with the VLA and you can see their listing here.    

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Random Festivals… Barefoot 2016

In June of this year, we moved up to Leicestershire from London to get some head space and discover a slower pace of life. By July, fully embracing the huge range of festivals and activities the county has to offer, we’d read about Barefoot festival and just had to grab some day tickets and go along to see what it was all about.

Barefoot Festival, a weekend of dance, music and relaxation. Try your hand at hula-hooping, soak up some great vibes from the bands, or shut off from the rest of the world in the Chill Out area, with a weekend full of yoga, meditation and mindfulness practices, designed to retune and refresh. There’s a chance to catch some show stopping Burlesque performances later in the evening, and even to participate in the spiritual experience of fire walking.

We couldn’t fit all of these activities into our single day, as it’s an absolutely jam packed weekend, but here’s a little summary of what we did get up to…

We started our day in the Bloom Yoga Tent with a Didgeridoo and Gong Bath. Having never experienced sound healing/relaxation before, it was quite an experience. It was initially difficult to shut down the background noises of people talking outside and the music from other activities, but eventually I found myself able to focus in on the vibrations and calming sounds. It was a very nice way to relax and meditate into the day.

We were then ready for some gentle stretching and opening in Yin Yoga. Yin Yoga is where poses are held for longer periods of time than in Vinyasa. Instead of fast, flowing sequences, the emphasis is on stillness, release and relaxation. Neither of us had been to a Yin Yoga class before, and it was easily the best practice we’ve taken part in. There was a lot of focus on hip opening, and releasing tension and stress from different parts of the body by opening, and stretching. Holding the poses for several minutes at a time was quite challenging and sometimes a little sore, but deeply rewarding. By the end, we both felt extremely refreshed, stretched out and ready to dive into the rest of the day.

We were pretty hungry at this point and went to explore the range of foods on offer. On the way, we saw this rather amusing sign on the Big Top tent (the sight of hula hooping, pole dancing, Charleston demonstrations and later on the big Burlesque show)…

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Whilst we did successfully find some lunch (namely a veggie burger for my hubby and a bean chilli with potato wedges for myself), we were a little disappointed at the lack of vegan food offerings. In fact, the food was rather meat-centric, which surprised us for such a mind and body, well-being and spiritual type event. It would be nice to go back next year and see a much better range of vegan food stalls (and less dodgy looking burger vans). I did manage to grab this gorgeous fresh juice slushie though…

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We went on to spend the rest of the day exploring some of the arts tents and listening to bands – watching people make all kinds of things from giant bunting to prosthetic masks. We could have joined in, but we were quite happy to spectate.

We saw several bands on the day and they were all fantastic. From gypsy punk rockers The Brandy Thieves, to the enchanting Fern Teather with her acoustic folk tones, it was a real treat.

We didn’t get to see everything there was on offer, as there’s just so much to do. There’s loads for children as well, if you’re coming with a family. You’d probably want to just avoid the Burlesque with the little ones!

Anyway, we both had an absolutely wonderful time, and next year we’ll be getting full weekend tickets with the whole camping experience too. I just hope the food is a little better!

Barefoot Festival will next be held on the 28th-30th July 2017.  I believe you can still get your early-bird tickets from the website at the moment. Tickets are available for the whole weekend, and include full camping, or just daily passes.

If you do go based on my review, please tell me if you enjoy it!

You can find more information here: http://www.barefootfestival.com/

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Random Tea…Tealogists Matcha Green

So, we know by now that I’m a big fan of matcha green tea – not only does it taste great, it makes you feel great too. It is, quite simply, stone ground green tea. But the leaves are specially selected, which means that it has 40 times more antioxidants than spinach, kale or acai berries, and a whopping 137 times more antioxidants than regular green tea.

The lovely Teaologists sent me a pack of their matcha to try out. It’s pure, organic, from a single plantation, it’s ethically harvested by hand on a private family estate in Kyoto; and only the finest, youngest leaves are freshly ground. By all accounts, this should make it some of the nicest matcha I’ve tried.

Matcha

Matcha does contain caffeine, but it’s actually around half the amount of a cup of coffee. It gives you a boost without the slump. I do actually have a slight sensitivity to caffeine, and yet matcha is the only caffeine containing thing I can tolerate. According to the expert Teaologists, this is because of the amino acid L-Theanine which has a calming and soothing effect on the mind. The caffeine is also more slowly released into the bloodstream, so it’s not an immediate rush.

There are loads of ways to use matcha, and I’ve tried them all. You can whisk it into hot water to make tea, you can make a creamy matcha latte with your choice of plant milk; you can make it into a juice shot, or you can add it to a smoothie for an extra nutrition boost. You can even add it to your baking – great for Halloween!

I found that the Teaologists Matcha makes a really smooth drink, however you choose to use it. It’s fine and absorbs/blends really easily. It has a powerfully ‘green’ flavour, if that makes any sense. For those of you familiar with the taste of matcha, this is great – it means it’s fresh and packed with chlorophyll. There was no bitterness at all to this matcha and it’s clearly of a superior quality.

You can buy the 40g bag of Ceremonial Blend Matcha pictured for £19.95 on the website. If you enter the code ‘monsoon’ at checkout, you will get a lovely 10% discount! Alternatively, if you just want to try it out, why not order yourself a Matcha Tea Starter Kit, for just £9.95, pictured below:

Teaologists_Matcha_Tea_Starter_Kit_Products

I received these items free of charge for review purposes. All opinions are my own.

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Book Review … Why Animals Aren’t Food

I was kindly sent a copy of Rohan Millson’s book Why Animals Aren’t Food by the Vegan Lifestyle Association.

Before I begin my review of this wonderful, in depth discussion of many of the current debates surrounding veganism and vegetarianism, I want to say that I believe that this book could be very controversial and seem extreme to those who could think it’s conspiracy theory. If you read with an open mind, you will discover a wealth of truths and a number of reasons as to why animals aren’t food; not just moral reasons, but well founded health reasons.

Right now, more people die from eating animals than from all other causes of death combined.

Millson discusses his belief that most of us are dying years ahead of what we should – from a lack of knowledge. Many diseases are in fact preventable and symptomatic result of eating animals and processed foods.

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I love the way the author uses comedy and sarcasm to make this very serious subject a more light hearted read. Junking – the eating of hyper-processed muck. I admit to being guilty of junking from time to time (a problem with several processed foods being vegan), but I suspect after reading this book, that will decline somewhat. Millson believes that only whole plants are food, and therefore for the basis of this book, junking is bad.

Millson makes a link with both animal products and processed plant products (non foods) causing illness. Malnutrition is commonly thought to be a lack of calories, but is actually a lack of real food.

If the extensive list of parasites and pathogens found in animal products don’t put the reader off, the pure quantity of additives and preservatives, environmental contaminants, as well as the residual antibiotics and drugs that are taken in from the consumption of animals, really should open your eyes.  I found it interesting to read about aluminium exposure. I’ve heard many parents talk in a concerned manner about the dangers of aluminium containing vaccines given to their children, but they don’t lend a second thought to packing a cheese sandwich in their lunchbox.  Aluminium salts are used to make cheese smooth and sliceable – a cheese sandwich provides more than 5 days worth of tolerable aluminium intake, according to the World Health Organisation. With strong links between aluminium exposure and neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s, it’s a good metal to be wary of. And that’s just one example from the chapter.

This book is so informative and so much fun at the same time. There’s even a reference to the Trekkie’s favourite vegan, Mr Spock. I do wonder from reading the author’s reference to the less famous Dr Benjamin Spock, who recommend that children be fed on purely whole plants, if Mr Spock being vegan was a tribute to this inspiring doctor – someone who must have been considered to have crazy and wild ideas at the time, suggesting a diet free from animal products.

With a full listing of the carcinogens and other nasties that are in the non-human animals eaten, it’s enough to open the eyes of even the most food aware vegan. From fats and cholesterol to ammonia and arachidonic acid – which leads to inflammation in the nervous tissues of the brain and can lead to depression. In fact, drugs such as ibuprofen actually target arachidonic acid. Rohan Millson suggests it would be easier to stop eating the animal and cut down on the drugs, and I have to agree! Sounds like basic common sense to me.

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And yes, Millson tells us how eating meat and other animal products will lead to cancer, diabetes, ADHD, Alzheimer’s, Asthma,  and a host of other health problems. He backs this up with reference to science, not pie in the sky claims. Millson describes how our bodies effectively treat animal products as a foreign body, and therefore produce the resulting auto-immune responses. Many bacteria and viruses are also passed to us through the ingestion of animal flesh. There are huge amounts of details and evidence for these in the book itself – I won’t go into these now, but needless to say, they are pretty damn hard to argue with.

Millson explains why animal protein is often nutrient poor, why cheese is addictive (but not food) and how what we eat affects our hormones. In fact, once you’ve read through his A-Z list of all of the stuff contained in the animal protein deemed normal to eat on a daily basis, I’ll be shocked if you’re not reconsidering your diet. After all, who really wants to ingest faeces, pus, growth hormones, second hand antibiotics and putrefying animal flesh?  From meat glue and mercury, to phosphates and sulphates, I’d love to tell you more about the dangers that lurk, but you’ll have to read it for yourselves, otherwise we’ll be here all day.

Millsom touches on the politics of meat eating, and the environmental impacts. He mentions a little on the moral aspects of eating plants, ‘You Shalt Not Kill’ and ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you’.  Even if you are not religious, it can be seen that many of our great religious teachings encourage us that animals are not food.

This book might seem like a lecture on the science behind why you shouldn’t eat animal products, and in reality it is. But it’s not scaremongering, it’s not propaganda and it’s not a conspiracy theory drawn up by the growers of vegetables! It’s just the hard truth that the meat and dairy industries have done a wonderful job of hiding from you for centuries. If you take one thing from this book, it’s that eating meat and animal products leads to disease.

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I can’t possibly do this book justice on a simple review, but what I must say is that it’s an eye opener. In summary, … suggests with the support of scientific evidence that the consumption of animal products are the cause of many diseases, including cancer , Crohn’s disease and diabetes. These diseases can, in theory, be avoided through a healthy plant based diet, due to the avoidance of things such as environmental contaminants, animal fats, preservatives, additives, parasites and residual drugs, to name but a few. This is why the author believes that animals are not food, and eating animal flesh and by-products are in fact poison. The book is like an encyclopaedia and really makes you think. As a vegan already, I knew some of the dangers and detriments to health, but I didn’t realise just how bad some of them were.  After a damning look at animal products, the author reminds us that it’s not all bad. He reminds us of the great things that can come from a plant based diet; restoration of health, compassion, restoration of nature and the environment, a resolution to feeding the world, control of climate change, preservation of water, sunlight and air quality, and prevention of the next great extinction event – wow!

I will leave you to think on what I have written, hopefully with a desire to read the book, and with the author’s last words.

Meating was our opportunistic past…

Junking is our ignorant present…

Planting is our beautiful future.

I hope to see you there.

This review has been organised by the Vegan Lifestyle Association. It has not been paid for and the copy of the book I received was sent free of charge. This is my genuine and unbiased review of the book.

 

 

 

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Book Review. Fiction… Jerry’s Vegan Women by Ben Shaberman.

In this fun and heart warming book, Ben Shaberman leads us through the life of Jerry Zuckerman, via the vegetarian and vegan women he meets along the way. 

It would be easy to think that this book would be crammed full of heavy vegan manifesto, but that’s far from the truth. In fact, Shaberman cleverly introduces a range of core vegan values into his colourful characters with ease and a respectful subtlety.

Jerry is a young and impressionable boy at school when we are first introduced, via his friendship with the compassionate and intelligent Gail. Gail is the first person to open Jerry’s eyes to the idea that eating meat is an option, and to the suffering of animals on farms. I fell in love with this clued in young lady.

I hate spoilers, so I will keep my further discussions of the inner workings of the remainder of this novel short and sweet. Throughout each chapter, we meet a different woman who has come into Jerry’s life. Some romantic, some platonic. This is by no means a vegan version of Mills & Boon (which the title could lead you to believe)!

There are some very strong women represented in this book, and I love them. It’s a shame that there aren’t more vegan men in the stories, however, and Jerry digs a fairly lonely track besides his colleague Marty at a vegetarian charity.

Each of the individual stories touched me in a different way. From animal sanctuary owners to chance meetings at conferences, there a an ecletic mix of vegans, showing that we’re definitely not all the same, and a mostly just normal human beings.

This novel gives a light hearted and fun insight into the moral and environmental reasons behind choosing a vegan diet, and a window into the every day lives of those who follow one.

I thoroughly enjoyed each and every story, and found myself longing for Jerry to find happiness and success. The end of the book – no spoilers – an absolute heart warmer and one which took me by surprise.

This is by no means a ‘Vegan Only’ read, and I think that omnivores and herbivores alike will gain pleasure from the well constructed and engaging stories.

Jerry’s Vegan Women is available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble, and you can take a look at Ben Shaberman’s website here.

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Recipe Book Review – Divine Vegan Desserts

You know you’ve found the perfect recipe book, when you open the pages and find yourself dribbling down your chin. No? Just me then. Oh well, I’m not ashamed. Lisa Fabry’s Divine Desserts has me doing just that, and with everything from simple poached pears and Summer pudding, to chocolate ganache and Black Forest Gateau it’s hardly surprising. A quick and simple dessert, or a masterpiece, this book has them all.

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Lisa describes the importance of using high quality ingredients. In this recipe book, you won’t find any call for artificial colours or flavourings, no hydrogenated fat, and a preference for natural sweeteners such as agave or maple syrup.

She explains how vegan cakes are kept moist without the use of eggs. I don’t know if it’s just because I love the word, but the squidgy fruit cake sounds divine!

There are stacks of gluten free and raw recipes too, so there’s no reason not to buy this book if you have allergies. In fact, this is one of the best options for a vegan with allergies. There are even hints on how best to make the cakes gluten free if switching the ingredients.

The huge cakes may take some preparation and a good dose of time, however I just love the teatime treats section – quick and simple, but just as satisfying,  In fact, I made these double fudge pecan brownies (with super healthy sweet potato) and they are one the best things I’ve ever tasted!

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I know it’s very early in the year, but there are -Ssssh, say it quietly – Christmas pudding and mince pie recipes to impress your friends and family with too. And for the summer months, there are sorbets and ice creams at the ready – did I mention that many of them  are sugar free!?

With recipes for biscuits, scones (complete with jam and cream) and some of the most delicious looking tarts and pies I’ve ever laid eyes on, this book will prove to anyone that you don’t need eggs and dairy to make dribble worthy cakes. Even the most determined of doubters! Give them any one of these puddings or pies and I doubt they’d be able to say a bad word.


Polite note: This review has been organised by the VEGAN Lifestyle ASSOCIATION. It has not been paid for and the copy of the book I received was sent free of charge. This is my genuine and unbiased review of the book.

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Random Tea… To Your Front Door

Love tea but bored of drinking the same flavours over and over?

Want to give loose tea a try, but not sure where to start?

Fancy a blend of zingy flavours all in one cup?

If you’ve answered yes to any of these questions, you’re in the right place. If you answered yes to all three, you might have a tea addiction like me, and therefore you’re still in the right place.

As my journalistic heroine Caitlin Moran once said:

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Oh Caitlin, you truly are the voice of sanity… and my every day excuse to eat a biscuit (or three) with my cuppa.

Anyway, I’m sure you’re wondering what this post is all about, rather than me praising the drinking of tea, the eating of biscuits, and the journalistic ramblings of Caitlin Moran. Well, actually, exactly that, but mostly in praise of one particular brand of tea… Piacha.

Piacha have a gorgeous tea bar in London, where you can drink tea to your hearts delight – I’m not sure if they have biscuits! Still, if you can’t make it to London, that won’t stop them – they send a packet of tea right to your door.

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This beautiful pouch of tea is the Chamomile Citrus blend, which Piacha kindly sent me to try. And this really is no ordinary tea. A punchy mix of chamomile, lemon verbena, rose petals, lime leaves and lavender. Relaxing and zingy all in one. You still get the subtle and soothing flavours of chamomile and rose, with a hint of lavender; then the lemon and lime really adds a sherbet like zing to the equation. There’s nothing quite like it – you really have to taste it to get it. My new favourite tea, with bells on!

You can buy a 30g pouch as a one-off for £5.30, or you can subscribe for a regular delivery and get 10% off. It’s also available in tea bag form (very handy for work).

Piacha pride themselves on high quality ingredients and skilful blending skills. Every single one of their unique blends has something slightly different and interesting about it. There’s a huge range of herbal teas, black teas, green teas and white teas. Something for everyone, and with free UK delivery too (50p for EU).

I’m 100% converted and next time I’m in London, I’m off to Piacha to find out if they have biscuits!

I was sent this product free of charge for review purposes. All opinions are my own.

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