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Green+Aquamarine: June 2015

Monday, 29 June 2015

How to De-Stress... Without the Spa Membership

There is something about the western lifestyle that seems to breed raised blood levels and wracked nerves. From the moment we get into secondary schools with exams and, potentially, all the way through our working adult lives, the word stress is constantly biting at our heels. My university offers mindfulness drop-ins for frazzled students as it becomes a commonplace issue. We have a mindset based around having it all and being the best, and I feel that sometimes we overload ourselves... I know that I can't help but get myself involved in projects and responsibilities! Technology makes stress even worse as we feel as though we always need to be "on". As a result, time becomes increasingly precious, leaving the one thing that we really need -relaxation -to fall to the wayside. Unwinding, is treated as something of a luxury, reserved for those with lots of time or regular access to spa-style treatments and expensive holidays. Luckily, there are plenty of things that you do that are pretty much free, and that aren't time consuming either.

stress, unwind, spa, relax, free

Listen to your body
Chances are, your job or lifestyle puts some form of stress on your body, be it a stiff back from sitting at a desk or dry hands from outdoor work. Give your body some love such as stretching or using that hand cream. If you feel comfortable in your skin, you will be much more settled, and won't have a physical effect subtly reminding you of work and stress.

Switch it off
Now, I am absolutely the worst at this, but we really need to turn our gadgets off! A quick glance at emails at 9pm can turn in to an hour of mindless browsing. It can disturb sleep patterns, but, more importantly, is a constant provider of low level stress from social media as we compare ourselves and are reminded of upcoming events. If you need your phone or laptop for offline reasons on an evening, such as texting or writing, then turn the WiFi off so that you are at least minimising distractions. But ideally have a chunk of time either every day, or for a whole day once a week to completely detox from technology!

stress, unwind, spa, relax, free

Nurture and nourish
In terms of the body, stress is a chemical, cortisol, that can make us physically unwell. It follows then, that you should want to keep your body as healthy as possible to avoid stress. Make sure that you are putting in lots of goodness in to your system. Eat a handful of berries for a boost of antioxidants teamed with yummy natural sugars to make you feel great. Speaking of being healthy...

Exercise is one of the best ways of beating the blues. Get your daily dose of endorphins in whichever way makes you feel good. Try running or swimming for escapism, HIIT or boxing for busting negative emotions, or weights for cool focus. And, of course, I'll always recommend yoga for everything. If you are really worked under, don't do too much intense exercise as it will likely make you feel worse. Aim to enjoy your workout, otherwise what is the point? Exercise needn't cost a penny, so is one of the easiest things to do to relax your mind.

Breath in a scent
Of all our senses, smell is the most closely associated with memory so utilise this to find your happy place. A spray of a nostalgic or calming perfume will bring your heart rate right back down, and candles or fresh flowers lighten the atmosphere of a room. Go for light, clean or fresh smells for the most uplifting effect, or warming, sweet scents for when you need comfort.


Wednesday, 24 June 2015

GIVEAWAY: Mala Collective Necklace

Can you believe that we are into summer already? On Sunday, the summer solstice was also the first UN International Yoga Day as well as fathers' day. Whether you spent the day meditation and practicing yoga at group events, with your family or just having a lazy Sunday, I hope you had a lovely day.

Mala beads, yoga, meditate

One brand associated with meditation and yoga -they have even collaborated with Lululemon -is Mala Collective. I have mentioned them in the past after meeting the founders at the Om Yoga Show last year. Mala Collective is a US based brand that works closely with small groups in Bali to make beautiful, hand-knotted Mala necklaces and bracelets. Mala beads are meditation jewellery made from rudruksha beads and precious stones. Many believe them to have healing powers that can realign the yogic chakras. However, if gem stone healing is a little New Age for you, I still think that these pieces are a gorgeous way to remind you of an intention or attitude. Counting the beads is also a useful mediation aid.

Mala beads, yoga, meditate

Mala beads, yoga, meditate
Organic Denim Shirt: H&M Conscious Collection; Recycled Tee: Teeki UK
Mala Collective were kind enough to send me two necklaces -one for me and one for YOU! Up for grabs is the Prana Mala necklace. Prana in yogic terms, is the energy that we must live to manifest dreams, and in Sanskrit translates as "vital life". This necklace, made from Green Adventurine, is said to help unlock this energy within you and clear the heart chakra. Wear this if  you wish to be reminded to keep your heart open. The Prana Mala is worth $77 or £49.

Mala beads, yoga, meditate

For myself, I chose the Manifest Mala, made with Green Jasper and Unakite. Between my university work, blog and projects beyond, I have lots of plans and intentions that I would like to manifest themselves, so I am hoping that this will remind me to keep striving forward!

Mala beads, yoga, meditate

On an additional note, I have just started a Facebook page for Green+Aquamarine and I would love it if you could give it a like! I have added the link on the Rafflecopter widget below to help you find it and for an easy entry. This giveaway is INTERNATIONAL, but please be aware that if your country charges custom fees I cannot cover this. The giveaway runs for a week until 12:00AM 1st July. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Sunday, 21 June 2015

Healthy on a Budget: Lentil Dahl

Once I discovered dahl at university, I found myself making it quite often for lunch. Dahls can be made from just about any dried, split pulse and make a delicious, healthy lunch. This recipe is a great example of how you can use spices to bring a simple, inexpensive dish to life. Dried spices are great as they last ages, and fresh ginger really does cost just pennies. My addition of rice to the lentils makes a dish that has a good balance of carbohydrates and protein to keep you full and satisfied. All the ingredients are full of so much goodness too -garlic, ginger and turmeric are all anti-inflammatory and keep your gut happy. Cumin aids in digestion and is rich in iron and vitamin C. I like to use coconut oil for it's health benefits and delicious taste, but olive oil is a less expensive option that is rich in omega 3. This dahl recipe can be served alongside curry for 4-6, or as a lunch for 2-3 people.


  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3-4cm chunk of ginger, finely grated
  • 150g dried red lentils
  • 80g brown or basmati rice
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste or one salad tomato, chopped
  • 800ml vegetable stock
In a saucepan, heat the oil over a medium heat and then add the garlic and ginger. Cook until golden, before adding the spices, lentils, rice, tomato paste and stock. Bring to a simmer, before covering with a lid and reducing the temperature of the hob. Stir occasionally, as lentils tend to stick. Cook for roughly twenty minutes until the lentils and rice are cooked through, adding a little extra water if needed. You are looking for a porridge-like consistency, but do adjust to the thickness that you prefer.

To serve, decant into a bowl with some natural yoghurt swirled in, or use full fat coconut milk if you  don't take dairy. If you have any to hand, some more chopped tomato or fresh coriander makes an excellent garnish. I used some zingy homemade tomato and lime salsa, which worked great.

Let me know what you do to keep eating healthily on a budget!

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Thursday, 18 June 2015

Natural Beauty: Mermaid Exfoliator

I still use quite a few conventional products along with my natural and/or homemade products but I have noticed that my skin, hair and body seems to respond much better to the natural, simple ingredients. I'm hoping to try and make much more skin and body care products myself over the summer. Today's recipe is great if you are a little short on time, both in the making process and in the shower. The oils and honey are cleansing and moisturising, whilst the sea salt is exfoliating and leaves your skin clean and polished. Sea salt is awesome, full of natural minerals and the large flakes are great for using in body care. So get your mermaid on and get scrubbing!

sea salt, honey, coconut oil exfoliator, body scrub


  • 4 tbsp good-quality oil such as cold-pressed olive oil or coconut oil.
  • 4 tbsp sea salt
  • 2 tsp honey

sea salt, honey, coconut oil exfoliator, body scrub

Simply combine all the ingredients together and decant into a jar or pot. I used half olive oil and half coconut oil. This is ready to use straightaway, but do give it the odd stir if leaving to set overnight. I love the natural scent of the oils, but you could also add a drop of an essential oil such as grapefruit. Obviously you will get different consistencies depending on what oils you use, so have a play around to see what you prefer. I find that the half and half mix of coconut and olive oil creates a thick, creamy scrub, whereas pure olive oil is perhaps closer to a traditional exfoliator.

Rinse off well after use to avoid any sticky residue. A light moisturiser applied to damp skin will have your skin glowing and thanking you all the more!

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Sunday, 14 June 2015

How to make time for fitness

There's a little saying that goes around that states "you cannot find time, but you kind make it" or thereabouts and it is something that I really believe in. I think many, or even most of us can say that we would describe our lives as "busy" and finding time for things like exercise and looking after yourself can definitely slip to the back of the priorities list.

Fitness tips

Every moment is an opportunity
Do you find that you have small gaps in your day? Lunch breaks, waiting for the train home, long commutes? All can be utilised. I catch up with emails and social media whilst on the bus, and then use the few minutes before work to do some beach yoga or exercises. Look out for evening classes if this is when you have your most free time then.

It all counts
You don't need a clear hour or two for exercise.  Throwing in a few ten minute sessions can be really beneficial, especially for flexibility and light muscle work. Set yourself a target of say, 50-100 press ups per day, in sets of 10-20 at a time. Or, if you have a slightly larger slot to workout in, go for a HIIT circuit. In less than half an hour you can be sweating and start to see serious results if you keep at it.

Fitness tips

Make you day active
One of the best examples of this is turning part, or all of your commute into a form of activity such as walking, cycling or running. Even if you have a long journey, see if you can get off the bus stop a little earlier or walk instead drive to the railway station. See what you can fit in during your lunch break. Even a walk provides great benefits, but also keep an eye out for short mid-day classes. Just don't forget to bring a few key toiletries to freshen up with!

Reset your alarm
If you can possibly manage it, sacrificing that extra hour's sleep is a great way to both get your exercise in and energise you for the day. The morning is definitely my favourite time to work out; it gets it out of the way in case anything comes up unexpectedly, and I always feel set up for the day. Go for a run as the sun rises, or sign up to a gym close to your work and lay out your kit the night before to make the a.m. workout as efficient as possible.

Fitness tips

Don't stress it
With all this being said, you don't have to micromanage, or beat yourself up if you can't always fit exercise in! Rest, both physically and mentally, is really important too.

I hope these suggestions helped and you are able to have more active days!

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Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Oxford Union with Deliciously Ella

So, yesterday I happened to spot on Instagram that the wonderful Ella Woodward of Deliciously Ella would be holding a talk for the Oxford Union that evening. I unfortunately am in Yorkshire at the present, so immediately texted my boyfriend Stuart who very kindly offered to go along on my behalf and take some notes for me. And did he deliver! I thought I would share a few tit bits of this insightful talk today.

Arguably the figurehead for healthy living, Deliciously Ella is now a very successful brand as well as a blog, with a book, app and exclusive merchandise. In the last few years, following a healthy lifestyle has started to become much more popular, and Ella has been one of many pushing this motion forward in the UK and beyond. Ella explained her journey into blogging and healthy eating, how we can follow her lifestyle and one of her own thoughts on other related matters.

Ella initially started blogging for herself, as a means of motivation to eat healthily. Diagnosed with an illness that at times left Ella bed-bound, she started to explore holistic treatments to relieve symptoms. Blogging has helped to make cooking more accessible to all, with eight year olds wishing to write blogs thanks to Ella. A positive of blogging is that you don't cater to anyone else's needs, or feel like you are doing work whilst putting your ideas out into the internet.

Eating Healthily
With many health fads out their for exotic ingredients and expensive supplements, Ella advocates eating natural food, ideally seasonally and locally where possible. A recent post on Deliciously Ella showed how you can do a two-person weekly food shop for under £59, which is the average supermarket spend. I spend around £25 on myself per week, so this is pretty good!

By cooking for yourself from scratch, healthy food can be tasty and appealing; something that surprised even Ella. That being said, she recommends not mentioning ingredients when serving new dishes to a new crowd and let them be surprised afterwards! In addition, Ella mentions that her cravings for unhealthy food dissipated as she ate them less and less. It took around three months, so when making a lifestyle change do bear this in mind.

Living Healthily
Ella provided lots of advice for being healthy in a broader sense. My favourite is her travel tip of bringing along a travel-sized blender when on holiday! Back at home, she recommends a blender/food processor combo, which can be bought for £40 if Magimixes and Vitamixes are unattainable for your budget.

Encouraging the group to look beyond the aesthetic, Ella recommends avoiding associating healthy eating with physical appearance, as this can be damaging to your mental health. Since October, Ella has instead been filling her body with endorphins as she has taken to exercising in some form or another every day. This doesn't always mean a sweaty hour-long class; yoga and walks count too.

Being Deliciously Ella
Ella is most proud of changing people, and really enjoys receiving emails and social media items that highlight where she has inspired people. By tweaking recipes bit by bit, Ella avoids expensive cooking disasters, and she stocks up on ingredients from places such as Holland and Barrett's or Amazon.

Although I wasn't there myself, it was really great to read up on the topics covered yesterday. I also have a signed copy of the Deliciously Ella book coming my way, so I am super excited! I reviewed a friend's copy of the book here.


Sunday, 7 June 2015

Moroccan Superfood Salad

Hey! Sorry it has been a quiet couple of weeks; I have just finished exams, moved back home and started a work placement. But I am settled in now, so things should be returning back to normal.

Superfood, quinoa, kale, pomegranate, salad

When starting to move to healthy eating, I always found a big barrier was salads. They never appealed to me beforehand, and there would always be a few ingredients or the dressing that I just didn't like. I wanted to make a simple salad that is filling, tasty and full of clean nutrients. This salad is perfect both as a side and as the main event of a meal. There is so much goodness in this dish:

Kale - this dark leafy veg is alkalising, full of vitamins, minerals and is very nutrient-dense.
Quinoa - this grain-like seed is a complete protein, so has all the essential amino acids. It is also high in fibre, making it a great food to keep you full and energised.
Chickpeas - another rich source of protein, contains iron, B-vitamins and magnesium, so is really great for vegetarians and vegans.
Pomegranate - this delicious fruit seed is another source of fibre, and contains many antioxidants and is thought to reduce high blood pressure and inflammation.
Cayenne pepper - this spice increases metabolism, and may be anti-fungal and anti-bacterial, as it is also used as a preservative.

Superfood, quinoa, kale, pomegranate, salad


  • 200g quinoa
  • 1tsp paprika
  • 2tsp vegetable stock powder
  • 1/2-1 tsp cayenne pepper, to taste
  • 1 bag of prepared kale, around 150g
  • 1 * 400g tin chickpeas
  • 1 large pomegranate
  • Olive oil
Superfood, quinoa, kale, pomegranate, salad

Preheat an oven to 160'C.
Rinse the quinoa and cook according to packet instructions, or with 300ml water. Add the paprika, stock and cayenne pepper with a splash of olive oil as it cooks. 
Cut the pomegranate in half, and squeeze over a bowl and sieve. 
TIP: Hit the outside of the pomegranate half with a back of a wooden spoon to get all the seeds out.
Drain and rinse the chickpeas, stirring into the quinoa in it's last minute or so of cooking.

To cook the kale, place into a large oven tray, and cover in a little olive oil. Make sure that the oil and kale are well mixed, then place into the oven for 5-10 minutes, until crispy and bright green.
Superfood, quinoa, kale, pomegranate, salad

Mix all the ingredients together and serve. This is also great eaten cold as a pack up or picnic.