Vegan Cacao and Peanut Butter Energy Balls

These energy balls are so gooey and delicious, I am currently obsessed with them! If you’re looking for an easy on-the-go snack to power you through the day, these are a great option!

They take just ten minutes to make and only need six simple ingredients.

Ingredients

100g pitted dates, about 6 large dates

45g roasted peanuts, about 1/3 cup

40g smooth peanut butter, about 2 heaped tablespoons

8g porridge oats, about 1 1/2 tablespoons

7g cacao powder, about 2 teaspoons

Method

Place the dates in a food processor and pulse until they form a smooth paste.

Next add in the oats, peanut butter, salt and raspberries and pulse again until they are well combined. Finally add in your roasted peanuts and pulse until they reach the consistency you desire – I like to have them a little chunky for a nice crunch.

Take a tablespoon of the mixture and roll into a ball. Continue doing this until the mixture has finished.

Place the rolled balls into the fridge for around 1 hour before serving. Store in an airtight container in the fridge.

Rachel x

 

Please note: This recipe and image was taken from http://www.deliciouslyella.com, no copyright infringement intended just a huge fan of these energy balls. 

Home Is Where The Health Is

Home Is Where The Health Is

We spend so much of our lives in our homes, yet  do we ever really consider their role in supporting our health? Here are a few simple tips for making your home environment healthy as can be.

In the kitchen

Swap plastic for glass

It’s really important to swap all plastics out of the kitchen, Use glass or stainless steel water bottles, glass food containers and steel lunchboxes. Teflon non-stick pans should be swapped for steel or something from Greenpan (greenpan.co.uk) which makes brilliant frying pans. Plastic water bottles may contain bisphenol A which, we all know can be an endocrine (hormone) disruptor.

BPA has been proven to leach into food, enter our bodies and mimic the hormone oestrogen. Because of this some experts believe it may be fueling the rise in hormone-driven cancers. It’s also implicated in obesity, neurological disorders as well as thyroid problems, male infertility and asthma. Currently, the charity Breast Cancer UK is campaigning for a ban on BPA use in food packaging – it’s already banned for use in baby products in all EU countries and a total ban for all food products in France. Avoid ingesting this toxic health hazard by using glass containers to store food, and never heating, microwaving or freezing any food contained in plastic – always spoon food out into glass or porcelain. Some companies have stopped using BPA in tin linings, but the majority still do. If in doubt, google a tinned product before you buy it. Keep clingfilm away from food too. Try sustainable food storage Bee’s Wrap instead (£15, notonthehighstreet.com) and never heat food wrapped in tin foil – aluminium leaches into the food and this heavy metal is implicated in Alzheimer’s disease.

Swap regular for organic

And of course, what you put in your pans to cook is even more important: Organic food is higher in nutrients and lower in pesticides which may be toxic. If cost is an issue, concentrating on the dirty dozen and clean fifteen (the crops that have the most vs the least pesticide residue) is a very good start.

Swap white for brown

White bread, pasta and flour should be swapped for wholegrain as the nutrients and beneficial fibre is contained in the husk which is removed during the refining process.

In the garden

Swap out the weedkiller

If there’s one change you need to make it’s this: get rid of glyphosate. What’s that you ask? It’s the potent toxic ingredient in weed killers like Roundup and it’s implicated in all kinds of horrible diseases like Parkinson’s and cancer. Recent independent studies showed farm workers exposed to glyphosate or Roundup are at least twice as likely to develop lymphoma (cancer of the lymphatic system). Roll up your sleeves and yank weeds out, or pour boiling water on them to kill them first.

In the bathroom

Swap antibacterial cleaner for natural

There’s a new warning about infertility, and your household cleaner is in the frame. Researchers at the University of California have found that exposure to common products damages human cells. Certain hand wipes, disinfectants and mouthwash contain things called quaternary ammonium compounds which kill germs by dissolving their cell membranes. But the latest findings suggest they do this by damaging the powerhouses of cells, known as the mitochondria, and they do the same to our cells too. This means the sex cells needed to start a family are at risk. Offending products named in the study include Tesco Fresh antiseptic disinfectant, Dettol surface cleaner and antibacterial wipes, Lemsip Max All In One Liquid, plus various Colgate mouth products. Also check all of your products for the ingredient triclosan – linked to cancer and used in Colgate Total, for example.

The solution? Go natural of course! There are hundreds of DIY cleaning product recipes online, or try Dr Bronner Sal Suds Biodegradable Cleaner (£8.95, dolphinfitness.co.uk), and all-purpose cleaner which you can use for laundry, cleaning surfaces, washing the dishes, mopping the floor, or to clean bathrooms and sinks.

In the living area

Swap man-made for natural

Embrace the principles of biophilic design, the idea of using natural materials to bestow wellbeing benefits upon inhabitants and improve the human connection to nature. It’s backed by science, with several studies proving that homes based on biophilic design has wide-ranging psychological and physical benefits, from improving sleep to reducing stress levels. Using natural materials, like silk or wool, or even water-based finishes, can do a lot to reduce toxins in the home, many artificial materials give off toxins throughout their lifespan, creating poor indoor air quality, and as a result negatively impact on the overall health and wellbeing of the occupants.

Throughout the home

Use eastern wisdom

A healthy home is one where the positive qi energy is flowing calmly and smoothly around each room, without obstruction. Large pieces of furniture that block doorways or routes around the house should be repositioned or removed. Systematically declutter under the bed, stairs and in any junk rooms or cupboards. Even if you can’t see the mess, it will still be stagnating the energy flow!

Boost natural light to stimulate the qi. Regularly clean windows and mirrors, and position mirrors to maximise the light in all rooms. Brighten darker rooms with lighter coloured paints, wallpaper and fabrics. Nature in your home will also uplift the energy. Use houseplants with soft, rounded leaves or fresh flowers. Avoid artificial ones and quickly remove any that are dying or dead. Natural, non-synthetic scents and oils will help stimulate or slow down a room’s energy. Carefully choose energising or calming fragrances to harmonise with the desired function of each space.

Rachel x

5 Minute Meditations To Change Your Life

Boost your happiness, recharge your confidence and get poised for success with these quick and easy meditations.

5-Minute Meditations To Change Your Life

FOR CALMNESS

This meditation for calmness strengthens the heart and lungs, leaving you feeling peaceful and better able to take conscious, heart-centred action.

Close your eyes and sit with a tall spine, shoulders back and chin level. Place the left hand on the chest, parallel to the ground with fingers together pointing to the right. Bring your right hand up to your side with palm facing forward. Bring the pinky and ring finger into the palm and hold down with your thumb, the other two fingers point up. Concentrate on the flow of the breath. Inhale deeply and fully and suspend the breath in for as long as possible. Then exhale smoothly and gradually and suspend out for as long as possible. Keep going for five minutes. To end, inhale and exhale strongly three times and relax. The suspension of breath should feel comfortable, do not strain. Focus on welcoming greater peace and tranquility into your life.

FOR SUCCESS

Staying focused requires attention and concentration. The key to improving this is not just trying harder to attend. The strategy of doing more of the same can sometimes have the opposite effect, leading to exhaustion from the strain. Instead, engage lightly with inattention. Get to know those moments of distraction and lack of focus intimately. Knowing inattention allows you to respond more quickly when you are distracted and bring the focus back to the task. The mindful route to success is one that knows both the attention and inattention and flexes the executive attentional muscle, switching between the two.

1) Choose your focus, set your intention.

2) Know that the mind will wander and distractions will arise.

3) When you see the mind move, that inattention of any sort has arisen, give a cheery wave to the distraction and refocus.

4) Repeat as many times as necessary!

FOR CREATIVITY

Sit somewhere quiet and peaceful and read the below words.

Within you there is a stillness, and in that stillness is the magic of limitless creativity – a sanctuary to which you can retreat and be yourself. Allow yourself to go to this place where there is stillness of mind so the wonder of life’s energy can work through you, allowing you to express yourself through creativity.

Alignment with yourself, others, the earth and the universe is eternally yours. Return to the stillness in your deep, gentle breaths and witness life breathing through you. As you read these words, allow the life force energy to enter your body with a calm acceptance.

Know that you are as one with the sun, the stars and the planet on which you live. Always return to the stillness in your breath. Float in the still waters of your greatness. Feel the ebb and flow of the world around you. Relax into the gentle rhythm of the dips and swells as the current carries you. Remain in the stillness of your deep, gentle breaths.

Take a deep breath in and create a sense of wonder that you once had when you were a child. Use this on your journey through life and enjoy the unfolding. Live now.

FOR CONFIDENCE

Authentic confidence comes when you believe something is worth doing, you know spirit is helping you and you know that spirit will enable you to handle events no matter what the outcome is.

1) Relax, close your eyes and take a couple of easy, deep breaths. Give your inner wisdom and spirit permission to be in charge.

2) Imagine a glowing ball of light out in front of you and let it represent your authentic confidence.

3) See a waterfall of beautiful golden energy washing the symbol and removing other people’s beliefs and opinions.

4) Let your spirit fill the symbol with wisdom, information and energies that will manifest and sustain authentic confidence for you.

5) Bring the symbol into the heart and let the energy spread to every cell of your body, your DNA, your chakras and into your entire energy field.

6) Let the energy fill your present and pour into your future. Now relax.

FOR HAPPINESS

Sitting comfortably on a chair with your feet flat on the ground, allow yourself to receive the support of the earth holding you. Breathing in to all corners of your belly, allow yourself to fully receive the life supporting you with your breath. In the centre of your heart imagine a beautiful flower effortlessly opening, revealing a vibrant light within. This is your inner light, your divine spark, the part of you that is connected to the flow of life.

When this light is turned on, it has magnetic qualities, drawing in everything that is meant for you. Imagine this happening. As you breathe and receive, your light gets brighter and brighter and those creations and experiences are effortlessly being drawn in by your magnificent light. Simply breathe and receive as your inner light effortlessly attracts what your heart most yearns for to you. And with every exhale, let go of what no longer is.

Rachel x

 

How to eat more sustainably

Image result for vegetables

We all know that eating less meat is good for our health and good for the planet. Last year, the largest scientific analysis to date found that avoiding meat and dairy is the biggest single way you can reduce your negative impact on the environment. Perhaps you’ve decided to swap some of the meat out of your diet, or gone vegetarian or vegan, as many people have, in an effort to eat in a way that’s more sustainable. It’s commendable, but unfortunately, the truth isn’t always as black and white as it seems to be.

The idea that a certain way of eating could be more sustainable and eco-friendly is certainly appealing, especially in the wake of the reports and news coverage about the catastrophic destruction we are doing to the planet. Veganism is often touted as the most effective answer for reducing CO2 emissions, however, it seems this brings a host of other problems in itself.

The fact is, just because something is vegan doesn’t mean there’s not a big impact on the environment. Take almond milk, for example. A fridge staple for many vegans, it can be used as a dairy milk substitute in everything from porridge to tea, and the growing shelf space given to it in supermarkets is testament to its popularity. But what people don’t realise is the damage being done by plantations in California, where more than 80 percent of the world’s almonds come from. It takes nearly 7000 litres of water to produce one litre of almond milk, and California has been in severe drought for the best part of the last decade.

THE TROUBLE WITH TOFU

Some tofu, a popular plant-based protein, is also far from innocent. Soy farming in Brazil is causing mass deforestation and destroying the country’s grasslands. Most of this farming is to produce feed for cattle, but still, it’s better to choose European tofu, which has a much smaller carbon footprint – some soy products from South America can have twice the carbon footprint of a chicken.

Avocados, whose rise to fame is credited to their Instagram-friendly appearance, have been in such demand that Kenya earlier this year banned their exportation and Mexico, which supplies almost half of the planet’s avocados, last year was considering importing a supply to feed its own citizens, creating a crazy carbon loop! The country makes so much from exporting the fruit that illegal deforestation to make way for avocado plantations is now commonplace.

The danger in simply saying certain ways of eating are better for the planet can lead to a very false sense of a box being ticked, a much more valuable approach is to think about everything more holistically.

There is no blanket rule for sustainable food. Common sense says that a free-range, slow-grown chicken from the farm down the road would have less of a carbon footprint than fruit or vegetables flown half way across the world.

It’s true that vegan foods that contain ingredients such as palm oil, which is devastating to forests, local communities and animals, are wreaking more havoc on the planet than locally-sourced eggs, for example.

So is locally-sourced a good signifier for planet-friendly purchases? It seems it is, in most cases, although there are exceptions. It sounds strange, but it’s backed up by a DEFRA report, which found New Zealand lamb has a lower carbon footprint than British lamb because it is grown at such a low intensity, even when shipping to the UK is factored in. Kiwi lamb aside, choosing fruit and veg that’s in season means avoiding produce which has been air freighted or grown in heated greenhouses. An easy way to do this is to use a vegetable box service like Riverford, which sources in-season food from a network of farms. The company extends the vegetable growing season as far as it can using polytunnels but never uses artificial light or heat. Some commercially-produced vegetables are grown in glass hothouses which burn gas or oil, and for every kilo of tomatoes produced this way, two to three kilos of CO2 are released into the atmosphere. When the weather no longer allows them to be grown in this country, Riverford trucks the fruits over from Spain, which uses just a tenth of the carbon compared with growing them in the UK using heat.

ORGANIC SOLUTION

Another way to ensure better sustainability is to shop for organic food, which has a lesser carbon footprint, Organic farming means working with nature. It means higher levels of animal welfare, lower levels of pesticides and no manufactured herbicides or artificial fertilisers. It’s a more environmentally sustainable way to manage the land and natural environment, which means more wildlife and healthier soils.

One final word of warning: next time you set off for the shops with your bags for life, confident you’re doing enough to offset your carbon footprint, remember this. You need to reuse a bag for life eight times before its footprint becomes lower than a normal carrier bag, and if you think your cotton tote lets you off the hook, make sure you use it 149 times! Some experts have said reusable, thicker plastic bags might be making the problem worse as there are now more in circulation than ever – so whatever you use, make sure you reuse it.

PLENTY OF FISH?

We know about the health benefits but, when it comes to seafood, sustainability isn’t entirely clear cut, as it isn’t just the individual species of fish that determines whether it is a good choice, but how and where it lived and where it was caught. Helpfully, the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) produces the Good Fish Guide, which it updates yearly. You can read in detail about any individual fish and its environmental impact by visiting mcsuk.org/goodfishguide/search but, in the meantime, here’s a quick guide of which to focus on:

5 most sustainable

  • Pollock (Alaska/walleye)
  • Native oysters (sail and oar)
  • European hake (gill or fixed)
  • Herring/sild (MCS-certified)
  • Coley/saithe (MCS-certified)
  • Haddock (from Rockall or MCS-certified)

5 to avoid

  • Seabass (caught at sea)
  • Dover Sole (from the Irish sea and pulse trawled)
  • Plaice (from southwest Ireland and caught using pulse trawls)
  • Sturgeon (wild-caught)
  • Squid (common or European squid caught in the English Channel with fishing gear other than jigs)

Rachel x 

 

Please Note: I was not paid or sponsored by Riverford in any way, I am just a big fan of what they do!

5 Of The Best Morning-After Foods

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GINGER

Make a brew with this medicinal root and your upset tum will thank you for it! Just finely chop or grate a couple of inches of fresh ginger and pour over a pint of boiling water. Brew for five or ten minutes then sip slowly – Voila! Hydration and a soothed stomach in a single glass.

EGGS

Gentle on a nauseous tummy the morning after, eggs help replenish some of the B vitamins depleted by quaffing a little too much wine, plus they contain cysteine which helps to get rid of the excess toxins left in your body by alcohol. Get cracking!

ARTICHOKE

The globe was used medically as long ago as 400BC for disorders involving the liver and digestion. It’s now known to stimulate the liver to produce more bile. Cynarin, one of the active compounds in the plant, is found in the leaves in small amounts, but becomes much more potent when extracted and dried. The compounds in artichoke also help to reduce nausea, vomiting, intestinal spasms and gas.

COCONUT WATER

Many of the symptoms of a hangover are caused by dehydration. Alcohol is a diuretic – it makes you pee out more liquid than you’re putting in to your body. Coconut water is rich in the minerals potassium and magnesium, which help your body to re hydrate more effectively than drinking just plain old water. But it does contain calories so isn’t ideal as a complete replacement for your normal two liters a day sipping.

BANANAS

If you’re feeling shaky and weak when you wake up, the chances are that your blood sugar is very low. Eating a banana will help get it back on track, plus it will pack a mean punch of potassium, something you lose when you become dehydrated through drinking alcohol. Upping your level of this mineral back into normal territory will help with any cramps, nausea or sickness you’re suffering too.

Rachel x

A Lack Of Sleep Can Make You An Angrier Person

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If I miss out on even the littlest bit of rest, I am the world’s grumpiest person. In my defense, it makes sense: Sleep is essentially the most important part of wellness. And according to a new study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, lack of sleep has the ability to intensify feelings of anger, which explains my unshakably grumpy disposition when I lack sleep.

Now, it might seem like it goes without saying that you’re mildly agitated when you don’t get enough sleep—who wouldn’t be? But according to the researchers at Iowa State University, there’s always been speculation about whether the actual sleep loss was to blame for exacerbated feelings of anger or if preexisting anger was responsible for disrupting the sleep cycle. So, they decided to recruit a group of participants in order to get to the bottom of sleep’s unique relationship with anger.

The scientists split the subjects into two groups: One group continued with their normal sleep schedule, and the second group was instructed to restrict their sleep by two to four hours a night for two nights. The first group turned out to sleep an average of seven hours a night while the second ended up getting around four and a half hours. And though the latter may seem extreme, Zlatan Krizan, Ph.D., an Iowa State psychology professor and one of the study authors, explained that this exemplifies the sleep loss we typically experience on any given day.

In order to measure anger and see if that sleep loss provoked it, the researchers had these participants then come into a lab after the sleep manipulation and rate a variety of products, once while listening to brown noise (which sounded like spraying water) and then while listening to harsher white nose (which sounded like a static signal). These uncomfortable audio-induced conditions were used in order to provoke anger, Dr. Krizan explained in the news release.

“In general, anger was substantially higher for those who were sleep-restricted,” he said. “We manipulated how annoying the noise was during the task, and as expected, people reported more anger when the noise was more unpleasant. When sleep was restricted, people reported even more anger, regardless of the noise.”

Clearly, proper sleep is of utmost importance in order to avoid unnecessary hostility.

So if you’re feeling angrier than usual, you might want to catch up on sleep. If you’re having trouble getting a high-quality snooze, don’t be afraid to get strategic about your sleep schedule—if not for its abundance of well-known health benefits, then at the very least to dispel some of your rage.

Rachel x

Sitting For Too Long Could Be Hurting Your Brain

By now, it’s common knowledge that getting your body moving regularly throughout the day is about more than just staying fit. Sitting for too long can lead to a slew of adverse health effects over time: Past research has shown that sedentary behavior can increase your risk for cardiovascular damage, obesitycertain types of cancer, and even early death. Yikes. And now, a study conducted at Liverpool John Moores University in explains how your brain could also be feeling the effects of extended physical inactivity. Fortunately, the researchers were also able to identify a strategy to offset the effects.

The scientists used ultrasound probes to study the brains of 15 healthy adults as they worked through three seated four-hour sessions. In the first session, the participants sat for the entire four hours uninterrupted. In the second session, they stopped two hours in to take a leisurely eight-minute walk on a treadmill before returning to their desks for another two hours. In the third session, they stood up every 30 minutes to walk on the treadmill for a quick two minutes.

The results came in squarely against long, consecutive work sessions: Those who didn’t get up at all in the four hours saw a dip in blood flow to their brains. The people who got up once midway through their sitting time did have increased blood flow while they were up and moving, but after they returned to their seats and kept working for two more hours, they ended up with even lower blood flow than when they’d started. But those with the frequent walking breaks in between? Their brains actually had more blood flowing by the end of the session than when they’d begun.

As common wisdom about “getting the blood flowing” suggests, the human brain needs a constant supply of blood to function properly. Blood is packed with oxygen and other healthy nutrients; even short-term dips in cerebral blood flow can slow a person’s thinking and memory. That means sitting at your desk for long stretches of time is not only bad for your health—it’s also eating into your productivity.

Moving your legs periodically (aka fidgeting) may help counteract a sedentary lifestyle. You can, of course, also make a point to stand up from your desk regularly or get a standing desk. If there’s no standing desk in your future, there are plenty of other ways to get the blood moving throughout the day: Try changing your sitting position often, give your eyes a break – every 30 minutes of screen time try to take a few minutes to look away from your computer, go outside and try to take the stairs whenever possible.

At the very least, have a bowl of brain-boosting blueberries handy—or within a two-minute walking distance.

Rachel x