Why I don’t Take Essential Oils Internally

This post is taken from the blog of Julia Lawless on her company site, Aqua Oleum.

Julia Lawless is a world-renowned aromatherapist, highly respected as an authority in the field of aromatic plants and oils. She believes ingesting essential oils is a dangerous method which she doesn’t encourage.

This is an excerpt from an article written for the Canadian Aromatherapy Association: BCAPA. I wrote the article because of a growing concern I have regarding an increase in members of public in the UK enquiring about taking essential oils internally. I want to make absolutely clear that the UK official Aromatherapy policy as supported by Aqua Oleum Ltd does NOT support taking essential oils internally in any manner by members of the public, as stated clearly on our labels. I myself consider this a very dangerous trend and would like to ensure that this practice is not adopted in the UK despite the internet and other sources, especially in the US, publishing misleading information in this field – as outlined in this article.

I am writing this article in Colorado with a large volume in front of me entitled: ‘Essential Oils Desk Reference’, a type of encyclopedia compiled by Essential Science Publishing and published in the US. In the section entitled ‘How to Safely Use Essential Oils’ it says at point 11:

“Before taking GRAS (Generally Regarded As Safe) essential oils internally, test your reactions by diluting one drop of essential oil in one teaspoon of an oil soluble liquid like blue agave, olive oil, or rice milk. Never consume more than a few drops of diluted essential oil per day without the advice of a physician”

How many drops are a ‘few drops’? In their ‘Essential Oil Application Codes’ in Appendix E at the end of the book, they divide oils into those that can be taken neat (such as lavender); those which need to be diluted to 50-50% – i.e “one part essential oil to one part vegetable oil for topical and internal use “- (such as basil and bergamot); and those which should be diluted 20-80% (such as lemongrass or clove). A 50-50% blend of an essential oil with a vegetable oil being recommended for internal use is not the same as a few drops! Generally speaking, in making a blend for a massage or body oil, I recommend using a 1% to 5% blend of essential oils in a vegetable oil base – depending on the subject, the specific oil and the region being treated. So a 50-50% blend is itself a very, very strong dilution for topical application… let alone internal use!

When in the same Appendix, an oil such as ‘Blue Tansy’ (Tanacetum annuum) is recommended for neat use while ‘Tansy’ (Tanacetum vulgare) is recommended for 50-50% use, the situation becomes even more worrying! Tansy (T. vulgare) contains up to 80% thujone, as stated in the constituent data section – yet thujone is a severe oral toxin. Moreover the average member of the public is not going to distinguish between tansy and blue tansy so may even be tempted to swallow tansy essential oil neat. Indeed, in another popular book published in the US, I found ‘tansy essential oil’ being recommended for treating tummy upsets in children by adding a ‘few drops’ to their bowl of yogurt in the morning!

In my ‘Encyclopedia of Essential Oils’, which is still used as a textbook for training aromatherapists on an international basis, I also list the essential oils which should not be used for aromatherapy purposes. Under the Safety Data entry for Tansy (T. vugare) it says:

“Oral toxin – poisonous due to high thujone content. Abortifacient. Should not be used in aromatherapy whether internally or externally. … The oil used to be used in alcoholic beverages – it is no longer used for flavouring.”

Another words, this oil does not even have a GRAS status due to its toxicity levels. I specifically decided to include such oils in my Encyclopedia as a form of education … to outline the reasons why such an oil can be dangerous. Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris) falls into the same category due to its high thujone content, yet it is also recommended for 50-50% usage in the Essential Oils Desk Reference volume. It is not that essential oils cannot be used internally under any circumstances, such as under the guidance of a Medical Herbalist qualified in this field … but the vague, inaccurate, contradictory and blatantly dangerous messages being communicated to the public regarding safety issues via all sorts of media sources these days, such as the internet and you-tube, is of very real concern.

See the post on Aqua Oleum here.

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My Thyroid Story

My first baby, Sebastian was born at the end of 2016, I had had an amazing pregnancy and can honestly say I felt better pregnant than in other times in my life. Although my birth recovery was hard (I ended up with a c-section at 42 weeks as baby was breech and decided not to turn or come naturally!), I revelled in the energy, joy and adrenaline I was blessed with as a new mother in the first few months with a newborn, even though I was feeding him every two hours, night and day.

Things changed when Seb was about five months old. I started feeling unable to tolerate the cold, particularly in the morning. Granted it was winter, but I would wake with freezing cold hands and feet and really struggle to get warm, even in bed. My encouraging postpartum weight loss suddenly seemed to reach a plateau, I was gaining not losing weight and all of a sudden my hair was falling out in handfuls, blocking my drains and sticking to everything, even ending up in my baby’s nappy. I felt anxious and a sickening tiredness swept over me that I was unable to recover from, even when I did sleep. All of a sudden I was struggling, not enjoying motherhood, unable to keep up with the demands of my now-mobile baby, normal household chores and simple outings to the supermarket. I felt exhausted.

We were moving house around that time so I assumed it was just stress, it was a difficult time for us being so far away from family support. My husband was managing our business, I was taking care of Seb and we would both pack bits of the house in the evening, trying to race against the clock of our looming moving date. I cried most of our moving day. I had become so unwell and exhausted I could barely function, our new house was less than a mile away and I pushed our baby in the stroller back and forth from one house to the other using the basket to transport any extra bits from our house, depressed, wondering why on earth my body felt like it was held down with lead. I felt like I had been poisoned.

However, I thought this might be normal for a new, breastfeeding mother of a very energetic child, and that I just wasn’t adapting to it. Weight gain (breastfeeding does make you crave carbs), hair loss (isn’t some post-partum shedding normal?!) and exhaustion (synonymous with sleep deprivation). But then my arms and legs broke out in horrible bumps, I got stinging eczema around my eyes and I stopped being able to taste my food. I couldn’t concentrate on a simple conversation about the weather and while my husband always joked about my terrible memory, I was forgetting everything from appointments to the dentist to names of my family members. The fatigue was unlike anything I had ever experienced, if I missed the chance to sleep while Seb napped I would cry in desperation wondering how I was going to get through the day.

Eventually I went to the doctors thinking I must have a vitamin or mineral deficiency. I had bloods drawn Friday afternoon and 9am Monday morning, the doctor called me in and revealed I had become severely Hypothyroid with my TSH over 100, higher than my doctor had ever seen, apparently.

I was dumbfounded. I had developed an overactive thyroid when I was 17, told I had Graves Disease and was put on thyroid-supressing medication for six months, after which I was told my thyroid function had returned to normal and I was discharged.

Looking back now it all makes sense. The next almost two decades of my life after being discharged from my endocrinologist saw constant fluctuations in weight, unexplained fatigue, persistent gastrointestinal issues which seemed to rule my life, acne, constant thirst and urination, periods of depression and anxiety, brain fog, achy joints and a host of other odd ailments that made me feel “off” most of the time. I went to the doctors often, and usually I got the impression they thought I was a hypochondriac or a nuisance. They looked at everything independently, and I don’t remember them testing my thyroid. If they did I never thought to ask to see the results.

I feel certain now I have had thyroid antibodies for over two decades which have gone up and down depending on my lifestyle at that time. How much damage they have done to my thyroid I won’t know without a scan, I’m almost too scared to have one and find out. I’d rather believe my diet and lifestyle interventions, along with my methods of using essential oils to rejuvenate my thyroid tissue will help bring it back to a state of normal. I know it’s going to take some time but thyroid tissue can regenerate; our bodies are amazing at healing when provided with the right environment, and I have every hope mine will.

Baby Oat and Raisin Bars

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I call these Baby Oat and Raisin bars because they are an excellent and nutritious snack for baby, are great as finger food and are so easy to make, containing just five ingredients. But since my boy is so fussy at the moment, he wouldn’t even try them so my husband and I ended up scoffing the whole lot for breakfast. They are perfect with a cup of morning Joe and are a great on-the-go breakfast option.

I have made these with gluten free oats, buckwheat flakes and quinoa flakes, the latter of which really didn’t work, they fell apart easily and tasted a little odd. I find the oats very chewy so good for grown-ups, whereas the buckwheat is a little softer and less grainy so may be easier to chew for those without a full set of teeth. This recipe makes about 10 finger-sized bars.

200g Gluten Free Oats / Buckwheat Flakes

80g Raisins

100ml Organic Apple Juice

4 tbsp Coconut Oil (melted)

2 tbsp Honey *

1tsp Cinnamon (optional)

*For babies over one year old

Mix ingredients in a large bowl then transfer to an oiled baking tray and cook on 200 degrees C for 15 minutes, or until golden on top. Cool and slice into squares or bars for serving or storing.

 

 

Essential Elements for Overall Wellbeing

There are many factors today that affect our health, many more than our ancestors would have faced. We are ever-evolving and adapting to our increasingly toxic world, but sadly not without a price.

Our vegetables are grown with toxins, the standards of our meat industry are questionable (at best) and our grains are overly processed, almost unrecognisable by our gut which has to work tirelessly to process and protect us from everything we ingest.

We put toxins on our bodies with the promise of looking younger and more beautiful, and we put chemicals on our skin to block out the sun, missing out on much-needed vitamin D.

We forgo sleep, maybe because we are too busy or too stressed, then we rely on coffee during the day to keep us going. We forget to drink water, or if we do, we drink it out of plastic bottles and then drink alcohol at night to relax, only to wake up feeling exhausted and do it all again.

Maybe we follow fad diets and extreme weight loss programs that appear to work for those posting perfect bikin-body photos but end up making us feel ill or gain even more weight.

Does any of this sound familiar? (And depressing?!). Thankfully, even when stuck in a health rut our bodies are amazing at adapting and recovering, and it really doesn’t take much to get ourselves back into balance, feel well, live well and look well.

When we focus on proper nutrition, hydration, exercise, sleep, and managing environmental toxins, we can get ourselves back onto the path towards optimal health.

Lets start with Nutrition.

I can’t stress enough the importance of good nutrition, we can so easily get into a bad rut with our diet and it can seem easier to keep doing what we’re doing than to break the cycle.

Many issues with our health these days result from poor diet, our food can be saturated with hidden fats, sugars and salt, it can be really challenging to eat well and nourish your body. Our global obesity epidemic isn’t reducing, in fact it’s only growing. In the West we rely too heavily on convenience foods, perhaps because we are too busy to cook, too tired or just don’t know where to start. A good way of looking at your food intake is to think, if it didn’t fly, walk, swim or grow from the ground then don’t eat it!

Let’s look at the basics:

* Cut the C.R.A.P – Carbonated Drinks & (excess) Caffeine, Refined Sugar, Alcohol & Processed Food

Carbonated Drinks – This means no soda; Coke, Pepsi, Sprite etc. There is no goodness or hydration in these drinks and they should not make up any portion of your hydration requirements for the day.

I’m not a happy mama if I don’t get my coffee in the morning but it’s not because I need it to wake me up, I actually find the juice from half a lemon with hot water much more energising. I just love the ritual of having a steaming hot cup of coffee and I love the smell and taste. I drink organic decaf. Organic coffee is obviously more expensive but so worth it as coffee can contain a whole range of different toxins in the processing period, which can upset our stomach. I hear a lot of people say coffee upsets their stomach but then find this eases when switching to organic coffee. Waitrose (UK) have a wonderful selection that isn’t too pricey. Caffeine should ideally be limited to two cups per day, otherwise it can affect sleep. Herbal tea is not included in this, herbal teas are a great alternative to black tea and has numerous health benefits.

Refined Sugar – Sugar is not just limited to the obvious list of cakes, pastries, sweets and sugary breakfast cereals, it can also be hidden in things like peanut butter and tomato ketchup. Read the labels on your food; the terms sucrose, glucose, fructose, maltose dextrose, lactose, high fructose corn syrup all indicate the presence of refined sugars. Check out my list of sweet swaps to satisfy a sweet tooth.

Alcohol – This is an interesting one, as I love a glass of wine and happen to be quite a dab-hand at making cocktails. So I’m not going to say I think we should all abstain from drinking alcohol, life is too short not to enjoy wine! But I think it’s important to stick to the recommended guidelines and to take regular days off from drinking. However in pregnancy, avoid alcohol altogether.

Processed Food – I have a really simplistic view on this; cook fresh, real food. Even gluten free packaged foods are still just processed foods. I try to think about the process of what I’m about to eat, how did it get on my plate? Meat from my butchers with vegetables from my local farmers market that I cooked on my stove? Or a plastic tray containing meat and vegetables, with a host of other ingredients I can’t pronounce that I heated in the microwave? You get the picture.

* Eat fish at least twice a week.

* Eat the rainbow – eat from all colours of the spectrum, think of beautiful red raspberries, delicious crunchy green peas, succulent blueberries, ripe red tomatoes, zesty yellow lemons, oranges and brightly coloured purple beets. There are so many beautiful plant food choices out there, I think there is nothing more satisfying than having a lovely array of colourful vegetables and fruits on your plate.

* Grow your own. This is time consuming and may take some effort but it’s a wonderful thing to get children involved in and can be simple and cheap (you can buy rocket as an example for pennies and it grows really easily in pots)

* Eat local – visit your farmers market if your town has one, they are a wonderful source of local food and it’s great to support local farmers and businesses. Or look to see if your region has an organic vegetable box business.

* Eat organic (whenever possible)

 

 A Note About Gut Health and Mental Performance

We tend to think the brain is in charge when it comes to your mental health, your behavior, and even your mood, but in reality, your gut has more influence on your brain than you might think.

In addition to the brain in your head, embedded in the wall of your gut is your enteric nervous system (ENS), which works both independently of and in conjunction with your brain. Scientists are increasingly convinced that the vast assemblage of microfauna in our intestines may have a major impact on our state of mind, (and I can attest to this. I always feel really down when I have a stomach ache, and not just because it aches, it seems to make me feel really irritable.)

Your ENS contains 500 million neurons and is thought to be largely responsible for your “gut instincts”, responding to environmental threats and sending information to your brain that affects your well-being.

This communication between your “two brains” runs both ways and is the pathway for how foods affect your mood.

This can also suggest that positive gut health can lead to a better state of mind and encourage mental performance.

I am a firm and passionate believer in probiotic and prebiotic foods, it’s one of the first things I do to support gut and immune health and I’ve seen great results in my GI issues with the use of pro and pre-biotics.

While pro-biotics are the good bacteria that live in our system, pre-biotics are the plant fibers that nourish these good bacteria that are already in the large bowl or colon.

Prebiotics, such as garlic, onions, leeks, artichoke, and bananas help these good bacteria grow, improving the good-to-bad bacteria ratio.

When buying over-the-counter probiotics, generally the higher the number of billions of bacteria, the more expensive the product. However I don’t think they are always necessary if you can manage it in your diet. It’s proving to be more beneficial to eat fermented foods, for example yoghurt, kefir, sauerkraut and kimchi. A recent look at the number of probiotics in sauerkraut showed it to be in the trillions! When buying sauerkraut it’s important to buy it from the refrigerator section as the bacteria don’t tend to have a good shelf life at room temperature. Even better, make your own!

 

Update on Life and Everything Else 

I haven’t written a post for a long time. A really long time.

Maybe I’ve been a little lazy, a little preoccupied with life (having a baby, moving house, co-managing an expanding business), and a little tired (recently learning I had become hypothyroid after a whole manner of fun symptoms), so I’m allowing myself a few excuses.

I’ve never faced such drastic changes and challenges in my life as I’ve done over this last year. Pregnancy and new motherhood being the most intense and joyful of these, without a doubt.

Our incredible, spirited little boy was born in November last year, a profound moment which drew a line in the timeline of my life that is – before Seb / after Seb. Birth and new motherhood is literally life changing, more so than anyone can ever tell you, more than you can ever really prepare yourself for.

So much has happened this last year, so many experiences I’d like to share about motherhood; my wonderful, healthy, nausea and exhaustion-free pregnancy (yes it is possible!), our breech birth, things that helped me with breastfeeding and getting used to life with a newborn, and easy baby weaning recipes.

I’m also attempting to find the root cause of my recently diagnosed hypothyroidism and my journey back to health beyond the standard “take this medication for the rest of your life” protocol. Lots of reading, research and experimenting so check back in if you find any of this interesting…!

In health and wellbeing,

Fleur 

x

Easy Banana Bran Breakfast Muffins

These easy Banana Bran Muffins are a great on-the-go breakfast option, a sweet healthy snack when you really want to resist cake, or a great way to get your kids to eat more fruit while tempting them with something “cake-like.” Even better, get your kids to help you make them.

I made these because I’d been craving a hearty bran muffin for weeks but no matter where I looked, I couldn’t find any that weren’t full of processed sugar. Sainsbury’s Blueberry Muffins really don’t compete with the goodness you can get from these. When in doubt, always make your own. And I follow that rule from food and drinks to cosmetics. Plus it’s much more fun!

These muffins take less than 30 minutes to make and are filled with antioxidant goodness from the dried dates or raisins, omega 3’s in the walnuts & pumpkin seeds, prebiotic goodness from the fresh bananas, fibre from the oat bran, protein and choline from the eggs and wonderful fatty acids from the coconut oil.

I make these dairy-free and with gluten-free flour. Because I add oat bran they’re technically not gluten-free, unless you can find a gluten-free oat bran, but they’re so adaptable you can amend the ingredients to suit your needs.

You can use any dried fruit or nuts you like but remember the fruit needs to be natural, dried, organic if possible and unsweetened, to maximise the antioxidants and limit unnecessary processed sugar. The fruit and banana make them sweet enough, trust me.

Ingredients – Makes about 12 muffins

200g gluten free flour

100g oat bran

5og chopped walnuts

80g chopped dried dates or raisins

40g pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds

2 tsp baking powder

2 mashed bananas

3 eggs

80ml coconut oil

160ml coconut milk

Method

Mix dry ingredients, nuts and fruit.

Whisk eggs and slowly add oil while continuing to stir. (May need to melt coconut oil until it turns to liquid, but not warm).

Mix eggs & oil with dry ingredients, then add banana. Leave the coconut milk until last so you can control that it doesn’t get too sloppy. Mixture needs to be sticky and moist, but not wet and sloppy.

Bake at 17oC for 20 mins or until a knife inserted comes out clean.

Enjoy warm with a little butter or almond butter and a hot cup of energising green tea, or crumbled on top of yoghurt.

The Dreaded “C” Word

Oh, the dreaded “C” word.

Despite increasing knowledge about the cause and prevention of cancer and advances in medical treatment, cancer still seems to be quite a taboo subject in society today.

From what I see, people don’t seem to want to discuss or even entertain the subject of cancer until unfortunately faced with it, whether that be through a loved one or a personal encounter with it. I don’t even see much interest in the subject of cancer prevention, which surprises me as preventing disease can be such a simple thing for us all.

And as we all know, prevention is always far better than cure.

I do understand not wanting to talk or think about cancer, or any other disease for that matter. Especially cancer because of such negative and fearful associations with it.

Look at the statistics; Cancer is in our face whether we like it or not and while I do believe conventional medicine has its place in some areas of our health, it doesn’t seem to be doing much for the rates of new cases of cancer or recurring incidences.

According to the Macmillan Statistics Fact Sheet from January 2015:

  • There are now an estimated 2.5 million people living with cancer in the UK, rising to 4 million by 2030
  •  The number of people living with cancer in the UK in 2015 has increased by almost half a million people in the last five years

I wanted to share my own experiences of cancer as it is one, if not the main factors that has brought me here today; to study nutrition and it’s effect on our heath, to provide knowledge and guidance to people suffering with any health ailment, not just cancer.

But most importantly, to support those suffering and provide hope because there is so much hope for our health and so much power in our hands to be well and stay well. It has been beyond my comprehension until now but in the last few years, I’ve learned that due to our recent understanding of and continuous studies into Epigenetics and Nutrigenomics, we are discovering that certain foods and nutrients have a direct impact on our gene expression. Therefore what we ingest has the power to silence oncogenes (cancer-causing genes) and increase the expression of cancer-suppressor genes.

Only 5% of all diseases are actually genetic, the rest come as a result of how our epigenetic switches, or tags, (that instruct our cells what to do), respond to how we live. So we can positively affect our own DNA by living a clean and healthy life. 

Isn’t that exciting?!

I have not thankfully, suffered from cancer myself. But sadly I lost my Father to cancer 15 years ago when I was 19 and my Mother has also suffered with it, although she  won that fight and is now cancer free. My Mum now spends a lot of time reading about cancer-fighting foods and uses essential oils regularly. We really believe this plays a huge part in her recovery and subsequent health.

Losing a loved one is always difficult; life-changing, heart-wrenching, gut-aching. Grief can be the loneliest time as no one really knows exactly how you feel and if it’s someone you are particularly close to, the void that is left can feel like an actual whole in your very being. In my case I tried to harden myself to it, I couldn’t cry for a very long time as I was afraid of what might happen if I let go and allowed myself to really feel grief.

So I drowned myself in anything and everything that would temporarily distract from that reality and became very unhealthy in the process, not realising that the spiral would only ever face downwards. My health suffered and then so did my mentality and it wasn’t until I focused on both of these things that I realised how connected they are. When I healed my body with real food and provided my body with living nutrients rather than alcohol and dried flavoured noodles, it was much easier to focus on my emotional state.

I don’t think the sorrow ever goes away completely but in time, you learn to keep living and try to focus on happy memories instead of focusing on loss. I started doing yoga and eating well and two years later, I went to live in the States where I started running regularly. I believe running was another huge turning point in my health and my mental state; the solitude, time with God, freedom, movement, endorphins and the empowering feelings of achieving more with each run was an incredible healer for me.

Interestingly though, I think I’ve struggled more this past year with losing my Dad than any. And I think that is down to my recent learning of nutrition and its effect on our health, how we can heal from disease naturally and all the countless stories I’ve heard from people who have done exactly that…. it’s a bitter-sweet feeling and it stirs my soul. I feel angry and cheated that we didn’t have these options when my Dad was sick, we didn’t have the foresight to seek alternatives to what the doctors were telling my parents. My Dad’s chemotherapy and bag of medicines became bigger, the doses larger and more frequent. And he became sicker and sicker.

When I look back I realise now I watched chemotherapy destroy my Father, every day my sisters and I came home from school. And at that time there was nothing we could do.

There is something I can do now though and that passion is driving me to want to try to save others the same fate. By sharing what I know and what I learn and there is a chance I can spare someone else the sadness of loss as a result of this evil that likes to threaten our health.

Watching the docu-series The Truth About Cancer last year, I found myself sobbing over my computer in an overwhelming wave of frustration that we actually DO have so much power over cancer, and regret that I couldn’t then do anything for my Dad. But I also felt excitement, passion, determination and most importantly hope. We don’t have to suffer a hopeless diagnosis or be afraid of our future. We don’t have to be afraid of cancer and no doctor, oncologist or anyone else can tell us that we do.

There is so much to learn about cancer; what it actually is, how it develops, what it responds to and what it doesn’t. We know that chemotherapy and radiation can destroy cancer cells, but it doesn’t often hit the stem cells; the root of the cancer so we later see it rear its ugly head on people again. It’s what chemo and radiation do to surrounding healthy cells that concerns me.

Cancer is a not a stand-alone disease, it’s a sign and a manifestation that the whole body is sick and suffering. Finding the cause of that sickness and targeting it at its very core is the only true way to healing and lasting health.

I cannot recommend enough watching The Truth About Cancer. There is information contained in these powerful episodes that every family should know.

I also hope to provide information on this blog from my studies and learning which I will always do my absolute best to obtain from science and fact-based research.

Thank you for reading, I wish you the very best in health.

Simple Spirulina Smoothie

Spirulina is a wonderful superfood packed full of nutrients. It’s a cyanobacterium, (blue green algae), and is a complete protein containing all essential amino acids.  As a protein, it doesn’t actually compete with meat or eggs as an example but it is, however, superior to typical plant protein such as that from legumes.  This makes it a great protein option for vegetarians or vegans.
Spirulina is an excellent source of many nutrients; particularly B Vitamins thiamin and riboflavin, and also dietary minerals such as iron and manganese.
It doesn’t exactly have the best taste unfortunately, I would love to find someone who has tasted Spirulina and doesn’t reference it to what must only be pond scum, but nevertheless it is very good for you.
So I drink it, whilst trying to mask the taste as much as possible.
I blended this really simple smoothie with banana, spinach, avocado and ice with one tablespoon Spirulina.

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Almond, Cacao & Raisin Power Bites

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These moreish little goodies are the ultimate sweet treats if you have a sweet tooth but want to avoid processed sugar.

Chocolate is one of the most loved foods in the world and in recent years we’ve started to learn that in its raw form, it is extremely beneficial to our health. (Yippee!)

Theobroma Cacao is a small evergreen tree that thrives in tropical climates; its fruit provides Cacao, or Cocoa which forms the basis of our much-loved chocolate. Unlike chocolate, which in its processed form can be high in fat and sugar, we can call cacao a superfood thanks to its high nutrient content.

The Cacao bean is incredibly rich in antioxidant flavonoids, fat (healthy fat!), carbohydrates, protein, polyphenols (resveratrol), minerals such as calcium, magnesium, sulfur, copper, iron, zinc and potassium, oleic acid which is a heart-healthy essential monounsaturated fat, fiber and vitamins E, B2, B1, B5, B3 and B9.

Cacao Powder has some wonderful health benefits including:

  • Brain function and nervous system – can contribute to the normal psychological function of the brain and provide support to the nervous system.
  • Supports normal muscle function and provides maintenance of bones and teeth
  • Can reduce tiredness and fatigue and support energy and metabolism
  • Contains Resveratrol which activates longevity genes

I made these with almond butter and raisins, raisins because they contain higher concentrations of phytonutrients, but you can make them using any type of dried fruit or nuts. I recently showcased some healthy food for a local charity event and someone told me these power-bites were just like truffles, so they might even make a nice healthy and thoughtful gift for someone instead of giving a standard box of chocolates!

To make these I used:

  • 1 1/2 tbsp Rainforest Foods Organic Cacao Powder 250g
  • Half a jar of Meridian Natural Crunchy Almond Butter 170 g (Pack of 3) – (Way better value to get three if you like Almond Butter as just one from Sainsburys or Tesco is around £4.50 but three from Amazon is only £8.37!)
  • Handful of Raisins or other dried fruit (organic ideally)
  • 1/2 Cinammon
  • 1/2 tsp Nutmeg
  • 2 tbsp of Coconut Milk; like Koko or Alpro, not the kind you get from a can. You want the consistency to be doughy not soggy so go gently with the milk. Start with one tablespoon and add more if the mixture doesn’t bind.
  • Desiccated Coconut

Mix ingredients together then form into small pieces with your hands. Roll in the desiccated coconut and chill for up to two hours before devouring. This will make about ten small bites, depending on the size you want them.

Enjoy your guilt-free sweet delights!

Really Easy Five Bean Chilli

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I think many of us love a good chilli and I’m fairly certain we all know how to make it, but did you know how packed full of goodness this delicious spicy dish actually is?

This is one of my favourite meals to make because it takes no time, you can vary it as much as you like, it’s full of goodness and it tastes delicious.

If you have children, you might want to tone down the spice but otherwise, add as much as you can tolerate and enjoy the burn!

I like to make a huge chilli at the beginning of the week then you have lots of options for the week; you can add meat, have it cold with a salad or reheat it with rice or a sweet potato.

I made this chilli with the following beans, vegetables and spices. I chose these beans particularly because they were the organic selection in boxes in the supermarket (I try to avoid canned food wherever possible as canned food contains BPA).

Beans
Black Beans
Kidney Beans
Butter Beans
Canelloni Beans
Chick Peas

Vegetables (use Organic where possible)
Two red peppers
One white onion (I prefer red for this but I didn’t have one at home)
Five cloves garlic
One box organic Passata
Two red and two green chillis (with seeds)
Two carrots, chopped

Spices
Turmeric
Cayenne Pepper
Paprika
Cumin
Coriander
Black Pepper

The Goodness

Vegetables, legumes, herbs and spices, and fruits are excellent sources of important cancer-fighting and anti-ageing phytonutrients and antioxidants.
A couple of examples in this chilli are Capsaicin, which is the active compound of chilli and hot peppers; it helps to protect DNA from damage and is a powerful anti-cancer phytochemical.
Garlic contains Allium Compounds, an important phytochemical with proven health benefits. Studies from China show that people who eat a lot of garlic are protected against stomach cancer, which may be because garlic is able to block the conversion of nitrates and nitrites (found in many preserved foods) into cancer-causing nitrosamines.
Curcumin, the principal curcuminoid of Turmeric, has been regarded as a medicinal herb for thousands of years and is often mentioned as having the ability to kill or prevent a number of cancers including breast, colon, prostate and skin.

We can see with just a few examples the powerhouse of goodness and nutrients packed into just one bowl of one of our easiest and most popular dishes. I hope this encourages you to make it more often.