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Green+Aquamarine: March 2015

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Hummus From Scratch

Green and Aquamarine, Hummus, Houmous

When I can, I love to make food from scratch in the kitchen. I really enjoy tweaking recipes and experimenting with flavourings. Last time I tried to make hummus (or houmous) however, it just didn't taste nice, no matter how much lemon I added. An old jar of past-its-best tahini was to blame and I didn't bother try again for a while. Fresh hummus is a regular feature at the deli where I work, and so, also wanting to make lots of the recipes from Rachel Khoo's Sweet and Savoury Pates, I decided to give it a go again.

First up, the tahini. This is a paste made from sesame seeds, and the basic recipe can be applied to make any nut or seed butter (see my almond butter recipe here). The amount of oil required will vary depending on the type of seed used, the condition of the seeds bought and the efficiency of your food processor. A tahini wants to be runnier in comparison to a nut butter; it should be just pourable. Once you have a rough idea of how much oil is required, you can make as much as little as required.

To sterilise jars and containers, wash in soapy water before drying and placing in a 120'C oven for fifteen minutes.

Ingredients (to make 300g)

  • 280g sesame seeds.
  • 4-5 tbsp sunflower or olive oil.
  • Pinch of sea salt (optional, or to taste).

OPTIONAL: Preheat the oven to 180'C/gas mark 4 and spread the sesame seeds on a baking tray. Toast for ten minutes, before allowing to cool slightly.

In the food processor, blitz the seeds into a fine powder, adding a couple of tablespoons of oil and the salt. Continue to blend, frequently stopping to scrap the sides down, until a smooth paste forms. Add the rest of the oil as needed. The blending process can take anything between 10 and 20 minutes, so be patient! When you are happy with the consistency, decant into a jar or airtight container, and store in the fridge. In the Middle East, sesame seed paste is also used in making pastries as well as hummus. It also can be made into a dressing for salads and vegetable dishes.

Green and Aquamarine, Hummus, Houmous, tahini


  • 200g tinned chickpeas.
  • 1/2 garlic clove, peeled and crushed.
  • Squeeze of lemon juice.
  • 2-4 tbsp olive oil, organic and virgin if possible.
  • 1 tsp tahini.
  • 1 tsp ground cumin.
  • Sea salt.
  • Cracked black pepper.
Simply blend all the ingredients together, adjusting the lemon, salt and pepper to taste. 

Green and Aquamarine, Hummus, Houmous, tahini, kilner, mason

Green and Aquamarine, Hummus, Houmous, tahini

Use 1/2 a lemon and its zest, with 5g of dried coriander to make lemon and coriander hummus.
Reduce the chickpeas to 130g, and add three chopped roasted peppers to make a roasted red pepper hummus.
Reduce the chickpeas to 100g and add two large roasted carrots for a carrot hummus.
Add 1-2 tablespoons of a pesto, or sundered tomato paste. Reduce the olive oil content as needed.

The above photos show a lemon and coriander variant, and a sundries tomato pesto hummus. It is really easy to adjust the recipe based on what extra ingredients that you have to hand.

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Thursday, 26 March 2015

Om Yoga Magazine: Spring Detox

Om Yoga Magazine is 50 issues old! In that time, it has become the UK's best-selling yoga magazine, branching out to a wide audience of women, men, parents, students and teachers of all sizes and abilities.

With April around the corner comes the cleaning up of diets and lifestyles. In Chinese Traditional Medicine (CTM), springtime is associated with the detoxification of the liver. Detox is definitely a buzzword at the moment, in terms of diet, environment and emotional health. One way to detox the liver is to increase bile production, which is crucial for digestion, and try to consume more alkalising foods. The liver takes up a lot of the body's stresses, especially emotional and dietary. Fatty, greasy foods, alcohol and stress can all make the liver congested and overworked, affecting its performance. Luckily, the liver is well-known for its rejuvenating characters and so a relatively short period of adjustment can make a difference to the liver's effect on your overall health.

Holistic nutritional therapist, Elizabeth Montgomery recommended her five tips to support liver health:

  1. Get to sleep early, as key liver detoxing occurs between 1-3am each night.
  2. Clean up your diet, as natural foods stress the liver far less than processed.
  3. Reduce stress -yoga, of course, is perfect for this, as is mindfulness practice and meditation. See my post on my mindfulness March challenge here.
  4. Don't bottle up and talk or process emotions. Exercise is a great way to release endorphins and clear your head.
  5. Limit environmental toxins. Synthesised chemicals are often necessary, but using as many natural cleaning products as possible, where appropriate, reduces your exposure to toxins that could harm you and the environment.
Elizabeth also shared her key foods to support liver health, as well as a few to avoid:

For my takes on clean eating, click on my Food category in the header, or follow my Clean Eating Pinterest board. The foods listed above aren't just good for your liver; they're great for your whole body, so make sure that your cupboards are well stocked throughout the year, and not just spring.

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. 

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Saturday, 14 March 2015

21 Day Yoga Slim and Mindful March Challenges

Sweaty Betty, Savasana top

If there's one thing I can't resist, it is a fitness or food-based challenge. I'm not sure why really, I guess the shake up routine, and the challenge of changing what I do appeals to me. I'm currently trying to avoid chocolate since I've been relying on it so much lately! However, I prefer community challenges over self-imposed rules. The tutorials and sense of support is so much better, especially when a challenge involves taking up something rather than giving up. This month it seems, I'll be taking up two challenges, which I thought to share with you today.

grokker, weight loss, yoga

The first is the 21 day yoga body slim down challenge. Run by Julie Montagu of the Flexie Foodie for Grokker, this challenge mixes a vinyasa yoga timetable with lots of healthy recipes to compliment your practice. I am part way through my first week, and just about catch up on yesterday's yoga session. Julie is a Baptise power vinyasa yoga instructor and has a certificate in plant-based nutrition, so she knows what she is talking about when bringing together these two sides of healthy living. The plan gives a timetable of four classes a week out of a total of eight videos. There is also a wide variety of recipes, covering breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks, some of which I have already tried or have lined up. I like how many of the recipes share some ingredients to make shopping more efficient and less wasteful. I can't wait to try the coconut smoothie bowl (featured in the almond butter porridge video) and really enjoyed the combination of lentils and quinoa cooked together. Julie's yoga classes themselves are 30 minutes long, and each have a specific focus on a body part. So far, I have really been enjoying the playful, flowing sequences. It takes 21 days on average to make a habit, so why not give this one a go and see where it takes you? You can find Julie Montagu's videos here, or visit the Flexie Foodie.

Pandora beads, mala beads

Secondly, Mala Collective is running a Mindful March challenge all throughout next week. From the 15th-21st, Mala Collective will be sending out guided meditations, mindfulness challenges and more every day. All you to do is to sign up to receive the emails with the Mindful March tutorials and get involved. Here's what Mala Collective have to say on the week:

"We have, on average, 60 thousand thoughts a day.
In our daily doings and with the thousands of things that stimulate our attention every day, there’s little space for us to stop and really listen to ourselves – unless we create the space for it.
Being mindful is paying attention, without judgement, to thoughts and feelings that arise on a daily basis. By cultivating awareness of these positive or negative thought patterns, we are able to change the story, and let go of what is not serving us."

There will also be opportunities to win prizes every day, so head over to Instagram and follow @malacollective to get involved!

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Saturday, 7 March 2015

Five Ways: Plank-based Ab Exercises

Planking is a common feature in many an ab workout. It is such a good core move as your upper and lower abdominals, and obliques, as well as your chest, arms and legs. Modifications on the plank can work out even more muscles, so I am sharing five of the moves that I think are most effective for strengthening your core.

Classic Plank

Green+Aquamarine Plank Workout

Always make sure that you have got the basics sorted. Incorrect form can, like many abdominal exercises, strain your lower back. Resist the temptation to either sag or stick your hips up in the air -you want to keep your body straight, from your head to your ankles. Stack your shoulders above your elbows with forearms resting out in front of you or touching together. Step your feet back behind onto your toes, lightly engaging your abdominal muscles. If this is too difficult, drop to balance on your knees. Build up how long you can hold the plank -30 seconds, 1 minute, 3 minutes and beyond!

Side Plank Twists

Green+Aquamarine Plank Workout

Green+Aquamarine Plank Workout

I have to admit, I often struggle with side planks. My ankles just always seem to get in the way! Like the classic plank, you want to form a straight line. Lying on your side, rest on your lower forearm and push your hips up. Either stack your ankles, or bend the top leg behind you. Raise your upper arm straight up so that your body is facing forwards. Swing your upper arm down beneath your body so that your body twists down. This targets your obliques and stretches the upper back. Aim for 10 reps on each side.

Mountain Climbers

Green+Aquamarine Plank Workout

Green+Aquamarine Plank Workout

My favourite! Depending on how fast to choose to go, this move can get your heart rate right up, so is great for circuits. Hold a press up plank position, with hands directly below shoulders. Bend your right leg forwards so that the knee touches the right elbow, or comes just outside. Straighten, and repeat with your left side. Once you've got the hang of it, start to speed up. I like to do 20 reps at a fairly fast pace as part of a set of ab exercises. To also target your obliques, bend the knee towards your opposite elbow.

Walking Plank

Green+Aquamarine Plank Workout

Green+Aquamarine Plank Workout

This is as tough on your arms as your core! Start in the classic plank position. Place your right hand on the ground where your forearm was, and push to straighten the arm. Repeat with the left arm so that you are in a press up plank, making sure that your hands are still below your shoulders. Come back down, right arm first. Repeat with the left hand, keeping proper form. Try one minute on and one minute off for ten minutes, or do a single set until failure.

The Crawl

Green+Aquamarine Plank Workout

Green+Aquamarine Plank Workout

Start standing, legs shoulder width apart. Bend forward as if to touch your toes (don't worry, you don't have to reach all the way!). Now reach forward with your hands and walk them forwards. Keep going until you are in a plank press up position, or slightly beyond. Then, walk back up to standing. Try five sets of five reps.

Here I am wearing a Nike Pro Tights (£28.00) and a Nike Pro bra (usually £22.00, see similar)

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Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Review: Lush Lullaby Shampoo Bar

Along with health and fitness, one of my main passions that I share on this blog is environmental protection. I want to use products that use ingredients from natural, sustainable sources that are cruelty free. With a particular interest in marine conservation, one of my main issue is plastic -it really is everywhere. I am really trying to keep my plastic waste down and it is so difficult when we rely on it for most products. Luckily for me, Lush has come to the rescue with their shampoo bars. The bars have been around for a while now, accidentally invented before even Lush itself was formed, but recently the brand has been showcasing the bars much more. The compact, solid shampoo is said to last as long as two to three plastic 250ml bottles as essential oils are not diluted by the water in traditional shampoos. Lush sells these totally unpackaged, with the option of buying a tin to keep the bar in.

Lush Lullaby Shampoo Bar

Recently, six new bars have been added to the original eight, suitable for pretty much any hair type. I was recommended Lullaby for my hair, which I later found out was designed with sensitive children's hair in mind. Due to the thinness of individual stands of my blonde hair, it can dry out easily, whereas my roots and fringe become oily between washes. The Lavender Absolute in the bar is supposed to regulate oil without drying. Other ingredients include oats, camomile and jojoba oil, all ideal for keeping my hair soft, healthy and shiny.

Lush Lullaby Shampoo Bar

Lush Lullaby Shampoo Bar

First thoughts:
I was pleased at how the bar gently lathered up. It didn't even look like it had been used so hopefully the shampoo will last as long as promised. I used the shampoo alongside Lush's Veganese, which I have been using for close to a year now. I let my hair dry naturally, but it still felt volumised, soft and looked clean. I woke up the next day with my hair still feeling fresh. Since switching to Lush hair products last year, I have found that my hair often needs washing every three days rather than every other before I have even gone near the dry shampoo. This shampoo bar looks set to do the same. The scent of Lullaby is very subtle, although some of the more citrus based bars such as Montalbano and Brazilliant have a stronger smell if you were looking for a fragranced bar.

Lush Lullaby Shampoo Bar

Overall, I am really pleased with this bar. To me, using naturally-based products just makes sense, and when it is ethically and environmentally-sound, it seems like a no-brainer. If this product continues to work as I have experienced so far, I think I will have been converted to the shampoo bar. If it lasts as long as promised, this is a cost effective and low packaging option that makes it accessible to all. Next on my list to try is Seanik, which uses lemon, seaweed and sea salt to add volume to hair.

Lullaby shampoo bar (55g) sells for £5.75. Have you tried a shampoo bar or low-packaging product?

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