Friday, 9 September 2016

The Never-ending Wonders of Flaxseed – My 7 Minute Hair Gel

Flaxseed, or Linseed as it is also known, has been in our kitchen cupboards ever since I can remember. It is an incredible superfood, containing the highest source of plant-based omega-3 fatty acids (Alpha-linolenic Acid – ALA) in the world, and it is incredibly affordable (£3.63 for 1 kg of organic brown Flaxseed), and very versatile.

I used it every day in my green smoothies; add it to my muesli, salads and as a gorgeously nutty topping on a bowl of mixed fresh fruits with a healthy serving of vegan yoghurt. I also cook with it, I put it in soups, homemade spelt bread and flapjacks (I will share the recipe with you next time).

Always grind/crush the flaxseeds before consumption to make it more bioavailable. Use a pestle and mortar or a coffee grinder to do so. It is always best to ground the seeds as you use them, but for convenience, you can always grind a few extras and store it in a glass jar in the fridge and remember to keep out of direct light.

If you don’t break the seed shells by grinding, you will end up passing most of the seeds into the toilet and missing on the amazing health benefits that these incredible seeds contain. It is really remarkable; three tablespoons of Flaxseeds contain:
  • 6,338mg of Omega-3 (ALA) 
  • 8 g of Fiber 
  • 6 g of Protein 
  • Manganese (35% of your Recommended Daily Allowance - RDA) 
  • Magnesium 30% RDA 
  • Phosphorus 19% RDA 
  • Selenium 10% RDA 
  • Vitamin B1 (31% RDA) 
  • It also contains vitamin B6, Iron, potassium, copper, zinc, and lots of fibre. 

It is no wonder that it has so many health benefits, amongst which are:
  • Help with colon detoxification (due to its high content of soluble and insoluble fibre)
  • Aid weight loss as it makes you feel satisfied for longer and it is low in carbs
  • Help reduce cholesterol
  • It is excellent for mental health because of the high Omega-3 content (brain fatty acids)
  • Can decrease the risk of heart disease, breast cancer, endometrial and ovarian cancer as well as prostate cancer.

I think you are probably beginning to understand why I like it so much :)

I had also read that Flaxseed is incredible for your hair, skin, and nails. The concentration of healthy fats and b-vitamins can help improve acne and eczema and reduce dryness and flakiness. For years I suffered from brittle nails that used to split and peel into layers. I used every nail product that came in the market for strengthening and hardening my nails but nothing worked. What I didn’t know at the time is that all those toxic chemicals contained in nail varnishes, nail polish removers and so on, were doing more harm to my nails (never mind to my body) than good. It goes without saying that this is no longer the case. My nails have never been healthier looking, stronger and whiter!

So I was sold on the idea of consuming flaxseed, but putting it directly on your hair?? 

I couldn’t believe it until I tried it a few months ago. Up until then, Aloe Vera had been my choice of natural hair styling product. I always loved the way it subtly defined my curls and left my hair soft and feeling clean with no sticky or greasy gel / mousse residue.

Flaxseed is even better! Not only it moisturizes your hair, it creates more hold without stiffness or crunchiness. You have to try my simple recipe; here it goes:

[Makes Approx. 150ml]
40g (1/4 cup) of Flaxseeds (Brown or Golden)
250ml (1 cup) of Filtered Water 

I have used brown and golden flaxseed in the past to make this gel. Both work perfectly fine, some people claim that golden flaxseed produces a better gel but one thing is for sure, the colour of the golden flaxseed is more pleasant to the eye; beige instead of grey. 

Soaking overnight is optional. Yes, you will get a better gel yield and it seems to make it easier to strain the gel as well as slightly reducing the time you need to cook it for. But the whole process will not take you more than 7 minutes. 

Here is a STEP BY STEP PHOTO GUIDE to the process:

Bring the filtered water to boil in a medium saucepan (If you have soaked the seeds overnight, cook it in the same liquid, slightly gelatinous by now)

Once the water is boiling, add the flaxseeds

When you get a whitish foam, reduce the heat to medium-high

Stir gently and cook for approximately 5 minutes

When the seeds stay suspended in the jelly, the gel is ready

Remove the pan from the heat and drain the gel into a bowl with a strainer

Use a spoon to push the flaxseeds through the strainer. Nothing gets wasted as the seeds will go straight into my compost bin to feed my organic vegetable garden :)

Whisk the gel to break up any clumps 

Whilst the gel is cooling down, soak or wash your pan and strainer before the gel sets and makes the cleaning more arduous. 

At this stage, you can add anything else you like (it is optional). A tablespoon of Aloe Vera gel or Epsom salts really enhances your curls.

Transfer the gel into a glass container and store it in the fridge. I find it lasts approximately 7-10 days without any preservatives if you keep it in the fridge. Don’t worry; you will know when it has gone off as it will start smelling a bit “funky”.

Use it as you would your regular styling gel, scrunching or smoothing it over your hair. I tend to saturate my hair with it and leave it to dry naturally. If in a rush, I use the blow dryer with the diffuser attachment.

You will find that it leaves your hair soft, well defined and without any stickiness or greasiness. If you find it is a little “crunchy”, scrunch it out with your hands. 

I love the natural earthy smell of the gel, but you can also add essential oils such as lavender, lemon or clove, which are also preservatives.

One note on preservatives, Citric acid, and Vitamin E oil are good natural preservatives but don’t be fooled by the well-known antioxidant Grapefruit seeds extract. I discovered recently that despite popular believe, grapefruit seed extract is not a “natural” product at all and certainly not grapefruit seed juice! but a chemically altered form of grapefruit seed treated with hydrochloric acid and ammonium chloride.

I love my new Gel. My hair feels amazing and it stays cleans a lot longer. It is 100% Natural, Good for You and Good for Our Planet

For more natural and eco-friendly beauty tips and recipes, check out my book Green Up Your Beauty. Message me for a Free Audible promotional code or a Review copy in exchange of your honest Amazon Review. 

As you have seen, ‘It is Easy, Simple & Cheap to Go Green’. 

Stay Healthy and Naturally Gorgeous!

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Wednesday, 7 September 2016

My Beetroot Harvest Smoothie

September is one of my favourite times of the year. The countryside is filling up with wild fruits and my organic garden is producing wonderful superfoods.

Yesterday evening Pilar and I took a walk in the local countryside, camera in hand and a foraging back in my pocket. Moving very quietly we saw both Muntjac and Roe Deer foraging on the very autumn fruits we had gone out to look for. Unfortunately, the light was fading fast so no worthy photos.

The bramble bushes are just starting to produce big, shiny blackberries. We harvested about a hundred big, ripe fruits as it's very important not to take too many at any one time. The wild animals rely on this annual harvest to fatten up to prepare for the winter. Only take what you immediately need, you can always go collecting another day.

This year I planted beetroot in between my runner bean plants. They've all done really well and I pulled four large beetroots for this smoothie. I also harvested the mint, apple, celery and spinach. it can't get fresher and more organic than this.

This smoothie recipe is sweet, smooth and delicious. It's also a great blood and liver regenerator. (fantastic hangover cure, apparently) Try and drink it fresh to get the best of the live enzymes and micro nutrients. This mix makes four and a half pint of deliciousness from my faithful MagiMix blender.

Give it a go and let me know what you think.

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Conversation with Brian May & Chris Packham HEN HARRIERS

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Finding echoes in the rocks from before Dinosaurs walked the Earth

During the Palaeozoic Era (spanning from 541 to 252.17 million years ago) this Trilobite died and drifted down to the bottom of a muddy, shallow sea where soft tissues quickly decompose leaving the hard exoskeleton which was covered in fine sediment and silt. Over time the sediment built over the body, layer upon layer compressing and eventually hardening into rock. As the encased body decays, minerals seep in replacing the organic material cell by cell in a process called "petrification." 

On Sunday 4th Sept 2016 about half a billion years since its death, I discovered this beautiful specimen at a local car boot sale. It drew me like a bee to honey. Since I was a small boy I've remained fascinated, even obsessed with all prehistoric life and the evidence left behind. I have many beautiful specimens but this quite large example will spend the next blink of geological time sitting on our fireplace.

Below is an artist's impression of what this animal would have looked like in life, swimming around, looking for food, mating and breeding and doing trilobite things as trilobites did. Of all the 100's of different and varied trilobite species discovered in the fossil record, none now remain, they are all a very long time extinct. If this fact wasn't so I'd have a large fish tank full of them.  

If I had a time machine one of the locations in ancient time I would visit would have been back to the Cambrian explosion (541 million to 485.4 million years ago) with a wetsuit, diving gear a collecting net. They remind me of giant, aquatic woodlouse and I've always had a soft spot for woodlouse much to the bewilderment of my better half.

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